While paint lends color, wood varnishes can provide an excellent lustrous finish and shine to various woodwork and furniture. But besides making your wooden surfaces shiny, wood varnishes can also boost their resistance to surface wear and tear.
We've prepared a comprehensive buying guide that tackles the things you need to consider when buying a wood varnish. Also, check out our top ten list below to make purchasing your next pint of wood varnish a whole lot easier!
Our recommendation articles are carefully researched and crafted by the mybest Philippines team of writers and editors. To stay true to our company’s mission and vision to help users’ selection process easier, we also collaborate with experts from various fields to ensure that our content stays factual and useful.
Table of Contents
Here are some key points to consider:
For more detailed information, read through our buying guide below.
Technically, varnish is similar to paint, minus the pigment. It is usually composed of resins and other solvent-based paint. It helps make wood waterproof and protects it from stains and scratches. However, there are several types of varnish that exist on the market. Read on to know which type is best for your purpose.
This component is made from plastic, making it the go-to varnish for painting wood floors. By creating a thin film of plastic over your floor, it heightens the latter's protection from everyday wear and tear. Due to its synthetic resin content, you can also use this as a finishing agent on your cabinets and other woodwork.
However, it typically lacks the UV resistance characteristic that other varnish types have. This means that you should only use it on indoor furniture and not on fixtures you display outdoors. Other than that, polyurethane is quick-drying and has a glossy sheen.
An acrylic varnish is non-toxic, which means it can be diluted with water and can be easily rinsed off your brushes using only soap and water. Its water-based feature also brings out a less odorous smell than other types. Plus, it is versatile since it can be used for both indoor and outdoor woodwork. If you have children around, consider getting this varnish type to ensure safety in the home.
With its ability to withstand various elements and certain weather conditions, exterior varnishes are indeed aptly named. Not only do they boost protection through their UV-resistance feature, but they also often include a fungicide to prevent the appearance of molds.
Furthermore, they enable the wood to 'breathe' due to the microporous component of the varnish. If you're the type to receive guests in a small garden party or dinner, coating your furniture, wooden tables, and chairs with an exterior varnish will benefit you in the long run.
A yacht varnish makes your wooden surface water-resistant. Thus, it is traditionally used for boats to stop water from seeping into the wood's pores. Bearing this highly flexible characteristic, it does not crack while the wood is submerged in water or bent under seawater pressure.
Naturally, the finish of this varnish type is a secondary feature, but some are now advertised to exude a high gloss finish. While it is ideal for outdoor wooden surfaces, it makes a poor varnish for your wooden floors indoors.
The most common types of varnish finishes include matte, semi-gloss, satin, and gloss. Matte is low in luster or sheen with no light reflection, whereas gloss is very bright with the highest luster level.
Semi-gloss and satin are in the middle, providing moderate to low luster, while semi-gloss is slightly shinier than satin. Note that low luster types can better hide dirt and scratches, so keep this in mind as you choose.
Commonly, varnishes sold online advertise their drying or hardening time. Nevertheless, you should still consider the humidity as it directly affects the drying time for varnishes. Here are the two ways in which a varnish hardens.
The absence of solvent allows the oils in the solution to dry and solidify quicker. This type of varnish helps the solvent evaporate as soon as it gets applied to the wood. For a quick touchup on your furniture with faded-out finishes, opt for the fast-drying ones, and they will be ready for use within a short period.
This also sports a hard finish, making it the right choice for when you don't have the luxury of time to wait on your wooden fixtures and furniture to dry. It usually takes less than 24 hours to cure. However, this type tends to get brittle easily when exposed to changing weather conditions.
If you're willing to wait, this type of varnish takes days to cure and harden, roughly around 72 hours. That's because its components react to the solvents long after the resins have evaporated. The reason behind this is the inclusion of other additives in the product to bring out favorable properties of the wood and the varnish itself.
Varnishes of this type highlight the color of the wood while being applicable to various types of wood surfaces. It also has UV protection, which will serve well when your varnished furniture is displayed outdoors.
Coating your woodworks and other pieces of furniture is just one out of the many capabilities varnishes are known for. More than that, you can also check if your chosen varnish has any one of these features.
Mold sprouts from wood when it is placed under humid conditions and all the more when it is not coated or protected. Thus, picking varnishes with antimicrobial substances is wise to prevent mold from growing and spreading. Resistance against mold will prevent your furniture from rotting sooner.
We all know what prolonged and direct sun-exposure does to everything it touches, which is why varnishes are now equipped with a UV-protection to help maintain the color of outdoor wooden fixtures.
Not only does direct sunlight fade the color of the wood, but it can also crack and overdry it. With UV-protected wooden chairs and furniture, you can be assured that they wouldn't rot as most varnishes with this feature also have a waterproofing effect.
This is especially vital for varnishes applied to gymnasium floors, as they need a thick and hard finish to withstand strenuous conditions. The harder the varnish, the better the wood's protection from heavy use or surface friction, so you wouldn't have to worry about retouching repeatedly.
Varnish is naturally clear and colorless. This is why most paintings get coated with this clear film to preserve their bright colors. Nowadays, though, varnishes come in tinted finishes to heighten the natural color of the woodwork.
There are even solutions that combine wood stains, which change the color of the wood, as well as sealing varnishes. Mahogany, maple, oak, and walnut are just some shades that most wood varnishes have.
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Fast Drying Polyurethane
A Great Pick for Both Finished and Unfinished Wood Surfaces
Triple Thick Polyurethane
One Coating for Thrice the Thickness
Lacquer Clear Wood Finish Spray
A Spray That Eliminates the Need for Sanding
Super Clear Gloss Varnish
A Budget-Friendly Clear Varnish for Your Home
Clear Gloss Lacquer
A Trusted Name for Household Varnishing Needs
Clear Wood Finish
Coats Your Furniture Minus the Unwanted Odor
Timbercoat Polyurethane Wood Coating
An Abrasion-Resistant Varnish for Wooden Floors
Polyurethane Floor Varnish Top Coat
Increases the Slip Resistance of Wooden Floors
Polycrylic Protective Finish
Easy to Clean Varnish That's Ideal for Woodworking, Furniture, and Fixtures
Ultimate Polyurethane Oil Based Spray
Give Your Wood Projects a Golden Glow
Want to make unfinished woodwork glossy? Minwax is the way to go! Apart from finished surfaces, you can use this America's leading brand of wood varnish to polish unfinished woodwork. It is available in clear, warm semi-gloss, and warm satin, which you can choose from to achieve your desired sheen for your wood projects.
Slathering this on wood fixtures can also provide them with long-lasting protection. This quartz-worth of oil-based varnish can protect your woodworks from scratches and spills. You won't have to worry about waiting too long as well, as it can be recoated after 4 to 6 hours and can be done in just 24 hours due to its quick-drying formula.
Lauded for being triple times thicker than the typical polyurethane varnishes, this one allows you to complete your DIY woodwork projects three times faster than other varnishes. It is advertised to produce a thick coat with just a single coating.
More than that, it can make your furniture scratch and stain-resistant. And another great thing about it is that, once you're done coating your furniture, you can easily rub off its excess formulation with the convenience of soap and water.
If you want something that can help you work on your furniture quickly, consider getting Watco's Lacquer Clear Wood Finish Spray. It dries on the surface in just 30 minutes, but more than that, it does not require sanding between coats, allowing you to save time.
Available in various sheens, you can choose between gloss, semi-gloss, satin, and matte finishes to apply to furniture, doors, or even cabinets to bring out their natural wood colors. To use, simply apply this product by spraying 8 to 12 inches away from the surface.
If you're on a budget, this one by Nippon Paint is a great pick. Despite coming at an affordable price, it can give an added luster to your wooden furniture and fixtures; plus, it is also suitable for use on metal surfaces due to its high alkyd resin content, which gives an appearance of superior gloss.
Moreover, the lead-free formulation has also been tested to be resistant to hot water whitening. Hence, you can use it on kitchen furniture, like countertops. Another great thing you'll like about it is that it is fast-drying. It can dry in as fast as four hours!
This household brand in the paint industry gives you another of its well-received high gloss varnish that is solvent-based and has the ability to dry to an elegant and durable film. It is ideal for protecting naturally finished indoor wood, including countertops and kitchen cabinets.
It dries in a matter of 10 minutes and thoroughly dries in an hour, enabling you to recoat in 20 minutes. To apply, you can either spray or brush it. You'll also appreciate that 1L of this item can coat as much as 5 square meters. Plus, it's guaranteed to leave a durable, thick finish with a coating thickness of around 1.5 mm.
This clear varnish that leaves your woodwork with a glossy, semi-gloss, or satin acrylic finish is guaranteed to be less odorous than most varnishes. Hence, it is ideal for households with kids or those who can't simply stand the smell of paints.
Its water-based formulation is best for furniture, cabinets, and other indoor woodwork applications. Since it also has a self-leveling formulation, you can easily dab, spray, and brush it on surfaces without fear of uneven application. You'll love that this crystal clear varnish resists abrasion and marring once dried as well.
This polyurethane timber coat is ideal for wooden floors of offices and homes. With the combination of hardness and flexibility in this formulation, it's been tested to be highly resistant to abrasion. It also resists household detergents, acids, sauces, and food and beverage spills.
Besides parquetry, this would also be perfect for restoring luster on your wooden moldings. To use it, you can apply it by brush, roller brush, or spray. For recoating, allot at least 1-hour interval. You won't have a hard time working with this varnish, as it only has a mild odor.
Polyurethane varnish is known for its tough coating when cured adequately, so you can count that it'll provide a non-slip film on your floors. One coat of this wood varnish leaves you with one mil or 0.001 inches of protective coating for that slip-resistant floor you have always wanted. This can be applied by either brushing or spraying.
Not only does it coat wooden floorings, but you may also use it on countertops, cabinets, and other woodwork. Conveniently, it has a surface drying time of 30 minutes and thoroughly dries within an hour. Plus, this has a generous coverage of 5 square meters per liter, making it a cost-effective choice.
This wood varnish by Minwax is able to cover 125 square feet per quart. It is an ideal pick for woodwork, furniture, cabinets, and even doors. To slather it, you can use a synthetic bristle brush. And once done, cleaning is also easy to do as you only have to use soap and water.
Drying won't take long, too, as it is an ultra-fast drying varnish! Not to mention, you only need to recoat 2 to 3 times to get that crystal clear finish. However, note that it is recommended that you recoat after 2 hours, then wait for it to dry in 3 hours for light handling or 24 hours for normal use.
This spray varnish will do the job for intricately designed wood crafts and woodwork. The polyurethane component to this item produces a clear protective finish with a warm golden glow guaranteed to provide stain and scratch resistance to interior wood projects.
Another great thing about this varnish is that it is very quick and convenient to use since it comes in a spray formulation. To coat your beloved wooden pieces, maintain a spraying distance of 10-12 inches, and simply spray in smooth sweeping motions.
Below are some of the most asked questions on the web answered by the mybest team.
Yes, varnishing wood helps prevent mold because it can serve as a protective barrier for wood. However, keep in mind that the varnish must be applied to clean, dry, and uncontaminated wood for this to work.
Yes. This is commonly the reason why people use varnish on woods. Since wood is porous, a layer of varnish is required to protect it from water.
All wood finishes nowadays, whether oil-based or film-forming, are food-safe as they no longer contain lead.
Your furniture, wooden or not, will benefit from regular cleaning. Keep them free from dust and perfectly presentable every time with these products. These will surely help you keep them in pristine condition!
Author: A. Ugay
Re-editor: B. Fajardo
Our buying guide was carefully researched and crafted by the mybest team of writers and editors. We used the buying guide as a basis for choosing and ranking the product recommendations, and we looked at reviews and ratings from different E-commerce sites like Lazada, Shopee, and more.
No. 1: Minwax｜Fast Drying Polyurethane
No. 2: Varathane｜Triple Thick Polyurethane
No. 3: Watco｜Lacquer Clear Wood Finish Spray
No. 4: Nippon Paint｜Super Clear Gloss Varnish
No. 5: Boysen｜Clear Gloss Lacquer
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