How To Varnish Wood

Sometimes furniture or flooring needs some TLC. If your wood is looking worn or needs some extra protection, a coat of varnish can give it a new lustre and prolong its lifespan.  

Whether you’re looking to varnish your hallway floor or dining room table, you’re in the right place. Here at Build & Plumb, our handy guide will tell you all you need to know about how to varnish wood. You’ll learn how to apply wood varnish like a pro and all the tips and tricks you need to get a perfish finish. 

What is wood varnish?

This is a question that we get asked many times, as varnishing wood can often be confused with staining wood. Wood varnish is applied as a finish to wood, usually after it’s been stained. Varnish is usually glossy, but matte and semi-gloss versions exist. Varnishing wood isn’t just for aesthetic purposes; it’s a fantastic way to protect your floor from scratches, scrapes, unwanted stains and can even create a waterproof or resistant surface. 

Varnishing wood with water-based wood varnish will dry quickly and is usually classified as an all-purpose varnish because it has low toxicity and very little odour. In contrast, the oil-based wood varnishes are hardier; they last longer and offer more protection even with temperature fluctuations which makes them perfect for outdoor surfaces. The only downside is that it will take much longer to dry between coats, sometimes as long as 24 hours.

How to apply varnish to wood

  1. First, pick the right brush. When you apply varnish to wood, it’s really important to remember to choose the right type for the varnish you’re using. If you use a water-based varnish, it is best applied with a synthetic brush; however, if you’re using oil-based wood varnish, we recommend using a natural bristle brush.
  1. Once you’ve chosen the correct type of wood varnish and brush for the surface, it is extremely important to shake the tin to prevent air bubbles from forming inside. 
  2. After opening the lid, stir the wood varnish thoroughly, then apply a small amount to your brush by only dipping the tip. Be careful not to add too much, as you can always add more coats later. 
  3. Gently apply the wood varnish to the surface you’d like to protect by following the grain with even brush strokes. 
  4. When you’ve applied an even coat, take a dry brush again and brush it over the varnish to create an even layer, this is called ‘tipping off’. 

There you have it; you’re officially an expert on how to apply varnish to wood! If you’re interested in learning more about treating wood, check out our blog post all about how to stain wood. After you’ve read more of our blog, check out our full collection of painting & decorating supplies, tools, and more building supplies online now.

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