Varnishing 101

Ireland’s Finest Painting Company is dedicated to bringing out the beauty in your home, from detail-oriented projects to larger, all-encompassing home improvement. Treating the wood in your home with care is an important aspect of home maintenance, and when it comes to varnishing, we can absolutely be of assistance.

If you’d like to take this project on yourself, then you should know that there are several methods and tips that can ensure great results. We hope this guide will help you not only complete, but enjoy your DIY project (at the very least, the final result).



Good work starts with good preparation, so don’t take this first step lightly. While varnishing adds a certain glow to wood surfaces, it doesn’t fix roughness. Because of this, sanding before you start your project is a must.



We would recommend using two coats of varnish for priming. You’ll want to cut it with an odorless spirit, and then strain any impurities out with a cone strainer before getting to work.



Sanding leaves the varnished wood just rough enough for the next coat to stick, so you’ll want to repeat this step before each coat is applied. Using a lighter touch will give you the rougher surface you want, but a heavy-handed approach can leave your wood surface white and covered in unsightly residue. There will be some dust inevitably, but it can be removed with a quick cloth wipe down.

If the wood in question is outside, you can give it a spray with the garden hose as long as you allow enough time for it to dry before applying the varnish.



The best varnishing happens in dry weather that isn’t too hot. For this reason, mornings are a great time to start your project – just make sure any morning dew is wiped from the surface before you begin.

With latex gloves on (that can be purchased at most hardware and drug stores), strain the varnish, and then dip it out onto the desired surface instead of pouring it directly on. A small ladle offers the best results, and will keep the varnish from gumming up before you can use it. Make sure your varnish container is closed when not in use.

When it comes to the actual method, it’s helpful to remember that you’re not painting. The varnish really just needs to spread out on the surface completely, but it should be thin. Be sparing with how much you use, and try to just dip the tip of the brush into the varnish.

Sometimes (especially in warmer weather) little bubbles will appear while you’re varnishing. This is usually nothing to worry about, and they should dissipate on their own before you’re ready to sand later. You can check your reflection to see if you’ve missed any spots – if there are dull splotches, you’ll need to do another coat.

When you’re done for the day, either throw away the pot you’ve been holding your varnish in or let it dry out and dispose of it later – throw away any excess instead of putting it back into the larger can, there’s no need to gunk up what hasn’t been used yet!

For more tips on varnishing and home painting projects in general, contact us at Ireland’s Finest Painting.

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