The 5 Best Varnishes for Wood In 2024

Welcome to our review of the best varnishes for wood! Before we get into the pros and cons of our top 5 varnishes, let’s first discuss a bit more about varnish – what it is, why it’s used, and why you might want to consider it in the first place.

The 5 Best Varnishes for Wood in 2024 – Introduction

We all prefer the best varnish for wood, especially, when it comes to household furniture. The choice of whether and what to use to preserve and protect the wood depends on the type, location, color, depth, and gloss you are going for. Varnishing is the most common way to get your woods an attractive and glossy finish.

Varnishing on woods is done to get that clear, transparent, hard, protective and glossy finish. So, basically varnish is used in wood finishing applications to hide those natural tones and grains of wood that are normally visible.

Amazing fact about varnishing!

Varnishing was a technique well known in ancient Egypt. Early varnishes were developed by mixing resin and pine sap. Modern varnishes have eased out the difficulty, now varnishing is no more difficult than painting.

A varnish is a finish and protecting film and it is often mistaken that it is as same as the paint. Varnishes are not colored like paint.

Is There A Way To Choose The Best Varnish For Wood?

Thankfully, nowadays we have information about everything on our fingertips. Use that information to choose your varnishes according to your need. The task of selecting the best varnishing for finishing is no more tedious as there are multiple types of them available in market with different costs. Earlier, people used to visit markets and remained confused about which one to choose. However, now, you only need to read this article because by the end of this article, you would have selected the best option in your budget. The article will talk about the different varnishes that are available, how to apply and safety concerns.

In this article we will be talking about spar varnish, also called as marine varnish because it intended for its use on ships or boats in order to protect the timber from the effects of sea or weather. In order to protect your wooden products from damaging effects of water, then you must apply a coat of varnish especially made for meeting the challenges of marine.

best varnishes for wood

The 5 Best Varnishes For Wood in 2024 Are:

Below, we have listed some of the best and different types of marine spar varnishes that you can choose from.

S.No Top Varnish For Wood Product Link
1 Total Boat Buy Now
2 Rust Oleum Buy Now
3 Mccloskey Buy Now
4 Epifanes Buy Now
5 Marine Spar Urethane Buy Now

Detailed Reviews of Top 5 Wood Varnishes

Total Boat Gleam 2.0 Marine Spar Varnish

It is a premium Tung oil formula with a phenolic resin base and added UV inhibitors. It is usually coated on surfaces which require maximum water and UV resistance. Available in high gloss and satin finish that are water resistant, and easy to work with both old previously coated and new one.

It is easy to use, high glossy effect and quick drying formula. It also protects from UV rays. It is specifically intended for marine use. Thereby has a strong water resistant feature attached to it. It can be used for outdoor projects like decks and sheds etc.

It is made from Tung oil that leads to hard finish and it dries at a faster pace. The Tung oil tends to evaporate faster than most oils. However, other factors may influence on drying time, such as temperature and humidity. So, one can say the product depends on the environment or climate.

Best Top total boat gleam wood varnish


Pros Cons
·       Even Paint Distribution

·       Easy TO Clean

·       Deep RICH FINISH

·       Excellent UV Protection

·       Available IN Matte

·       Expensive

·       Requires Multiple Coats


Rust-Oleum Marinespar Varnish

If you want to have a natural beauty of wooden surfaces with crystal clear that will perform even in the harshest conditions. Rust-Oleum will give you the stunning finish and maximum protection against sun or any weather. It is tough, flexible and has a long lasting coating. It can expand and contract with changing weather conditions.

This one is oil-based, which means deep penetration into the wood for a lasting finish with the amazing shine. It will give you hard and durable surface, and will also darken the wood. It is almost like a stain, giving your surface a classic antique look. It dries crystal-clear. However, it takes more time to dry as compared to others. The oil-based nature of this product gives it a finish that is unique as compared to others. Most are water-based, despite hard and clear finish; it does not add much appealing effects.

Best Top varathane premium wood stain varnish


Pros Cons
·       Resists Water

·       Resists Mildew

·       UV Penetration

·       Oil-based

·       Flammable

·       Longer Drying Time

·       Bad Odor


Mccloskey Voc Man O’war Sparmarine Spar Varnish:

This gives the ultimate protection to both interior and exterior woods therefore remains flexible and absorbs the expanding and contracting seasonal movement of wood.

It is ideal for wood doors, trims, window sills, outdoor furniture and craft, railings and wooden boat.

Where to use:

  • Use this varnish on prepared base or previously varnished surfaces.
  • Do not use on wooden decks, or steps, wood boats or wood siding below the water level.

This is made with toxic and flammable chemicals that are unpleasant to the nose. It has a flexible Finish. This gives maximum UV protection, so one can say it will last longer. Resistant to Salt and other chemicals thereby it can be a great option for one who stays nearby ocean. People not living nearby ocean can go for other products as salt resistant does not make a huge difference to them.

This is a very high-gloss marine varnish. This product is suitable for both new and old wood, so it’s a great choice for restoration purposes.

Best top mano'war spar varnish for wood


Pros Cons
·       Maximum UV Protection

·       Resists Degradation

·       Provides Flexible Finishing

·       Resists Salt & Chemicals

·       Works For Interior As Well As Exterior

·       Bad Smell

·       Very Expensive

Epifanes Clear Varnish

It is known around the world, is considered the ultimate in high gloss finish. This traditional marine varnish is based on Tung oils, phenolic modified alkyd resins and maximum UV absorbance. It gives an outstanding protection for all marine and household woods and can be applied both interior and exterior woods. It offers superior flow and high durability.

It is a High-gloss marine varnish that is suitable for anything. Like other marine finishes, it is bit expensive. Though, it’s not as expensive as most products of that kind. This product is suitable for both new and old wood, so it is good for restoration purposes.  It resists UV light, therefore resists degradation leads to long lasting. And you do not have to varnish again and again, a major consideration for today’s busy schedule.

As per the reviews of the customer, the product is prone to bubbling up after a few months, so this is a drawback.

You all might be thinking, what bubbling up means?

It is a phenomenon which is observed in paint that contains innumerable ingredients. During the process, when everything is added together that ends up mixing in a lot of oxygen from the air around the product. Thereby, when the can is sealed air has nowhere to go and it turns into tiny bubbles that may get bigger once they are exposed to the open air again.

Another problem is with the cost, since the product is imported from Holland. Thereby import taxes will add to the cost which will make even more expensive.

Best Top epifanes varnishes for wood


Pros Cons
·       High Gloss

·       Suitable for indoor  and Outdoor

·       Perfect for marine use

·       Can be used on old or new wood

·       Resists UV degradation

·       Incomparable Flexibility

·       Water resistance in all weathers

·       Imported-Extra Cost

·       Probe to Bubbling


System Clear Marine Spar Urethane Varnish

It acts as a protective barrier against water damages. It also has the ability to expand and contract with changing temperature. It has a high level of moisture protection and can be a great choice for coating paddles or other wooden vessels. It comes in different finishes like high gloss, semi gloss and satin. This is the most affordable product and has both amazing features and advantages.

This is available in different forms. Like people who love to have a matte finish in their furniture can opt for this. The satin paint does a great job of sealing and protects the wood.

This can be applied over existing paint, other coatings, wood putty, and even epoxy. So, if you’re one of those people who like to use glue for a lot of household repairs, this product will suit you. It has a strong UV protection, which protects from dullness with exposure of sunlight.

Best Top marine spar varnish for wood


Pros Cons
·       Available in Gloss and Satin Finish

·       Easy to Apply over Epoxy

·       Resists dullness from sunlight

·       Fair Prices

·       Flammable

·       Toxic

·       Poor Coverage


Wood Varnishes Tips and Buying Guides

Varnishing protects, shines, and improves the look of any wooden object, and it locks the product from moisture, and all sorts of other things. There are some varnishes that give you a strong finish that will last for many years, and there are some others that produce flakes. So it is important to choose such a varnish that will give you both glossy and long lasting effects.

How to Apply Varnish? Tips for a Great Finish

Before you start to apply any varnish, make sure that the surface is cleaned and well prepared. Varnish has its own primer and undercoat, although in some cases it is better to thin the first coat with white spirit for solvent varnishes and water for water-based varnishes. Once the first coat has been applied and it has dried, then go for the second coat that too without dilution.

Dust and varnish don’t mix, if you apply your varnish in a dusty environment it will stick in the drying varnish and it will ruin the finish. If this happens you can sand it down gently with a fine grit paper and then apply another coat. Varnish can be applied with a brush or a roller. If you are opting for a roller then go with the short pile. Apply with the grain to get a smooth and even finish.

Different Types of Varnishes That Are Available

Interior varnish is for interior purposes, and should not be used outside because they will not have suitable UV resistance and other characteristics to withstand nature.

Floor varnishes: if used on exterior wood, then it will have a chance to degrade might be too hard and prone to cracking if used on exterior wood and it is likely to degrade in the increased UV light.

Yacht varnish: It is also called as marine (or spar) varnish, this is a varnish that is specifically used on boats whose primary purpose is to ensure that water does not penetrate to the wood.

Acrylic Varnish – These are quick drying and non-toxic water-based varnishes which generally have good UV resistance meaning that they can be used outside as well as inside. They can be used on other materials other than wood. Being water-based you can clean up with water, which makes it a user-friendly product, but they sometimes do not spread evenly as other varnishes. They are generally available in gloss, satin and matte finishes.

Exterior Varnish – As the name indicates these are specially formulated for outside use. They have added UV protection so that the wood beneath the layer of varnish is protected. They are often microporous which allows the wood to ‘breathe’ and have an added fungicide to prevent mold growth.

Polyurethane Varnish – These varnishes are often used for floors and areas which are going to get a lot of wear and tear. They are also heat resistant too but are not resistant to UV rays. It is available in gloss, satin and matte finishes.

Alkyd Varnishes –. They are modified natural or vegetable oils.

Major Constituents of Varnish

Varnish Oils: This is an ingredient that will harden on exposure with air to form a protective layer. The effect or the after look of the varnish depends upon the choice of oil that is gloss of the varnish depends on the oil.

Resin: This is the component that adds strength to the finished varnish. There are tree resins and even insect secretions to organic chemicals such as polymers and plastics are used as varnish resins. Like the oil the choice of resin will affect the varnish. The way that they react with the oil will have its own effects on the properties of the varnish.

Thinner (solvent): This is the ingredient that thins the oils and resins so that the varnish can be applied easily. The thinner can be a range of solvents, such as white spirit. Water can be used in some varnishes. More thin, the higher liquidity which is certainly not good.

Safety Concerns

As mentioned earlier also, these varnishes are flammable. It is advised to read the safety precautions for storage and disposal for varnishes at the back of the pack. Since these varnishes contain drying oils which are flammable in nature. All these drying oils, certain alkyds, polyurethanes produce heat. Thus, oil-soaked rags and paper can ignite into flames. It can ignite flames if proper precautions are not taken.

Best Varnishes for Wood – Conclusion

I hope this article has helped you find the best wood varnish for your project, and also assisted you to look at the basic features that are required while varnishing. Every product is unique and has its own features. Don’t think that all varnishes are the same; choose varnishes according to your needs.

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