Polymer Clay vs Modeling Clay (Which is Better?)

Basana Saha


If you are looking to choose clay for your next project and looking to know the differences between Modeling clay and Polymer clay, then this is the right guide for you.

You need to know the differences between these two clays as either of them may not work the best for you as they differ in many aspects in ingredients, color, durability, drying characteristics, and more.

Polymer Clay vs Modeling Clay

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Polymer Clay vs Modeling Clay

Modeling Clay Polymer Clay
Ingredient Modeling clay is oil-based Polymer clay is plastic-based.
Color Basic hues Wide range of colors
Durability Less durable More durable
Drying characteristics Does not dry or harden; reusable Hardens when backed

What is Modeling Clay?

Modeling clay is a flexible substance used in building and sculpting. Children, artists, sculptors, and art students use this material to create different figures and art objects.

There are four types of modeling clay: oil-based, polymer, dough, and firing clay.   

Pros and Cons of Modeling Clay

The greatest pros of modeling clay are its longevity and flexibility. It is long-lasting and highly flexible. It can be molded into different shapes and forms. One can use tools to blend, cut, texture, thin, scrape, and poke this material for the purpose of building or sculpting. 

On the other hand, it has a few disadvantages. The material is not food-safe. It is inflammable and not waterproof. It may be prone to cracking.   

What is Polymer Clay?

Polymer clay is a kind of modeling clay that is harder than usual modeling clay. They contain the polymer polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and no clay minerals in it. 

Pros and Cons of Polymer Clay

The most noticeable advantage of polymer clay is that it is very malleable and it does not dry. So far as its disadvantages are concerned, it has limited use. It is not the material that can be used for making a sculpture.  

Color Comparison

Both modeling clay and polymer clay come in a wide variety of colors. But the difference is while modeling clay comes in basic colors, polymer clay comes in different shades, including glitters, translucent, metallics, and even granite.  


Modeling clay is meant for non-drying applications. Therefore, they are less durable than polymer clay.  


Can you bake Modeling Clay?

Since modeling clay is meant for non-hardening art material, it cannot be hardened. This type of clay is not meant for baking. It will not become hard. 

Can you bake Polymer Clay?

Unlike modeling clay, polymer clay can be baked. It will get hard after baking. After baking, polymer clay turns waterproof. That is why it is an ideal material for making buttons, jewelry, and home decor pieces. 

Drying Characteristics

Modeling clay is meant for reuse and hence it does not dry. Baking modeling clay is not recommended either.

Polymer clay, on the other hand, is meant for one-time use and it can be baked for hardening. 

Storing Them

Both clays need to be stored in a cool and dry place. It is better to cover them because they will not dry out but dust and debris can stick to them, making them unusable.

Moreover, uncovered polymer clay may react to some plastics and wood finishes. It is best to keep the modeling clay inside the original package after use. 

Use of Modeling Clay and Polymer Clay

Modeling clay is used mostly for child art. Children can create different shapes and figures with modeling clay. They can undo their creation as modeling clay is soft and malleable. Reusability determines its use. 

Polymer clay is used for advanced sculpturing. It is mostly used for one-time applications. The material gets hard when baked. 

Which is better between Modeling Clay and Polymer Clay?

Both these materials have their specific uses. Therefore, it is not quite easy to say which one is better. Evaluating their characteristics and uses it can be said that modeling clay is best for children’s use whereas polymer clay is suitable for adult or advanced use. 

Modeling Clay vs Polymer Clay FAQs

Does modeling clay crack?

If improperly maintained, modeling clay can crack. Modeling clay is soft and brittle. It is susceptible to breaking.

Does modeling clay ever Harden?

Usually not. Modeling clay is a non-hardening art material. Its use involves remodeling and reuse of the same material. 

Do you need to seal Modeling Clay?

Yes, you need to seal modeling clay. That is because dust and debris can accumulate on it and make it unusable. 

How toxic is Polymer Clay?

Polymer clay is non-toxic. It is thus safe to use around children and pets. If a child or your pet consumes it can cause stomach ache and a yucky taste in their mouth. But otherwise, it will not harm them in any way. 


Let’s conclude the post on Modeling clay vs polymer clay!

I hope you got the differences and chose the right type of clay for your project.

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Basana Saha