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How to Varnish

By January 14, 2016 Boat Varnishing Tips

Timber is not only a practical & durable material to use in boat construction, it is also extremely beautiful. While anyone can put varnish on, to make the job look professional, it requires more care than slapping a coat of paint on the kitchen wall. There are a few tricks & a lot of care required. Wood finishes can be generally put into one of three categories. Oils & waxes, single pot (solvent based) varnish & two (or more) part reaction coatings. Oils & waxes are a special category that provide a temporary soft low-gloss flexible finish to the timber surface. They work best on oily timbers. As they do not really compare with modern varnishes they are not included in this evaluation. Single pot varnishes contain a mix of resins, oils & hardening agents in solution. The mix is painted onto the timber surface & then left for the solvents to evaporate, leaving the resins as a protective & decorative coating on the surface. They are generally easy to use & are ready straight from the can. They are flexible & will move slightly with the wood. Two part reaction varnishes are high-tech coatings that include both epoxy & polyurethane coatings. Generally, of the two, epoxy coatings stick to the timber better, are more flexible & have greater mechanical strength but do not last well in UV sunlight. they can be used as a base for polyurethane coatings that have better UV protection & anti-yellowing properties. These coatings are harder & usually require less maintenance than varnishes, but require significantly more work to remove than the softer one port varnishes when they eventually do break down.