Friday, November 21, 2014

How to Varnish Wood

Varnish is wood’s best friend. Made of resin, drying oil, and solvent or thinner, varnish protects wood from aging and damage. Given a good coating of varnish, wood is easier to clean, and it is much more resistant to water, dirt, and grease. It’s also a great look for furniture. 

Varnish comes in different types: high-gloss, semi-gloss or satin, and matte. There are also natural, synthetic, and water-based categories. Choose what’s best for the type of furniture.

Now grab a handful of natural-bristle paintbrushes, a piece of sandpaper, a clean rag, a stripping solution, thinner, and your desired brand of varnish. Follow the simple instructions below to update your wooden furniture – from your coffee table to your door – with a cleaner, and more polished, new look.

1. Setup. Set up your work space in a dry, warm, and well-ventilated area. Temperature should be between 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit or roughly 22 to 29 degrees Celsius, ideally.  Heat and humidity will keep the varnish from drying.

2. Prep the wood. Remove paint or old, ruined finish by using a stripping solution on the wood. Apply this solution according to the directions on its packaging. Afterwards, sand the wood according to the direction of the grain. Then wipe down the wood with a damp rag and let dry.

3. Apply varnish. For the base coat, prepare a mixture of the varnish with the thinner recommended by its manufacturer. Firstly, pour a suitable amount of varnish into a container. Add the necessary thinner (turpentine or mineral spirits often do the trick). Stir the mix until it is smooth and free of air bubbles. Apply a thin coat of this mix evenly over the wood, going with the grain. Let dry overnight.

4. Sand. Sand the base coat of varnish with a fine-grade sandpaper. Wipe away the resulting dust with a piece of dry cloth.

5. Repeat process. Apply additional coats of varnish as you see fit, letting dry and sanding off each new finish except for the final coat. Use a clean new brush each time. Apply the final coat with the grain of the wood.


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