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varnish recomendations

PostPosted:Sun May 31, 2009 11:20 pm
by TexasZeke
hopefully in a couple of weeks or so I'll need the answer to this question so lets get it out of the way. What do yall use? What do you like? What do you not like? What do you avoid like the plague?

On another forum they seemed to dislike minwax products, which I was originally planning to use since I work for sherwin-williams. Above all though I want a product that is going to hold up well


Re: varnish recomendations

PostPosted:Mon Jun 01, 2009 12:00 am
by DarrellS
I use Benjamin-Moore spar varnish shot with an automotive type spray gun. This is the second boat done with it and seems to be holding up well.

Re: varnish recomendations

PostPosted:Mon Jun 01, 2009 7:40 am
by Night Wing
I think Gerald, who built my sea kayak, uses Varathane Diamond Spar Urethane. ... d=66&SBL=1

Re: varnish recomendations

PostPosted:Mon Jun 01, 2009 9:35 am
by gerald
This is a very good that even with all my experience I haven't fully resolved. What we look for in a varnish is UV protection, durability, scratch resistance, ease of application, appearance, and economics. Basically that means you will use a urethane spar varnish.

The high solids, oil based, urethane spar varnish is the most economical, most durable, and easiest to apply varnish that most of us can use. The only problem with the oil based urethane is that it darkens the wood--as the sales people say, " gives the wood that rich amber glow...". This is fine and good but in many cases it makes the wood appear muddy after a time. I don't like that. If I could find a high quality, oil based, urethane that stays crystal clear I would use it. I haven't checked all of them--and I'm closely watching Darrell's finish to see how it holds up. So--if anybody finds a good oil based spar varnish that doesn't darken--LET ME KNOW.

I've been using Varathane, water based, exterior urethane because it stays crystal clear--never darkens. It's more difficult to apply than oil based stuff. You WILL get brush strokes. But that's ok. You can keep applying thin coats, sanding between coats, until you get a nice coating. Then sand smooth and buff. For what I call a utility finish, I can do fine with a minimum of sanding and buffing.

2 part urethanes are another thing entirely. They can be acrylic or polyester based. Polyester based is the best. The 2 part urethanes are generally out of the range for most of us unless we have very special needs.

And the UV protection in urethane degrades after a time. For best results you should recoat your boat at least every two or three years.

Re: varnish recomendations

PostPosted:Mon Jun 01, 2009 2:20 pm
by barditch
:shock: Why do so many people shy away from Minwax Prducts?? If there's a viable reason, I sorta need to know since that would take my local selections out of the mix, and put me back on the road to another shopping venue!
Thanks for any input!

Re: varnish recomendations

PostPosted:Mon Jun 01, 2009 4:47 pm
by gerald
Minwax has an oil based and water based spar urethane varnish. I see no reason why you can't try them out. The amount of solids in the mixture and the type of vehicle (oil, water, and other things) generally determines the quality of a product. Epifanes is suppose to be one of the best. Z spar is suppose to be better and costs almost twice as much. We just have to try them. Many of the branded varnishes are simply one companies mixtures of the same ingredients.

Re: varnish recomendations

PostPosted:Fri Jun 05, 2009 5:33 am
by artistwood
i use perfection 2 part varnish or automotive clearcoat on the hull, and either of the 2 or captains varnish on the bare wood parts. recent boat was all captains varnish because i was trying to stay more traditional.....bear

Re: varnish recomendations

PostPosted:Fri Jun 05, 2009 6:56 am
by TXJon
Fine Woodworking published a test on exterior finishes in their June '09 issue. They finished various species of wood with several different products, and set them out for a year in CT, NM, LA, OR.

The Epifanes products were the only ones that held up.