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The Best Marine Varnishes of 2023

Fact checked by William Hart

Without doubt, nothing excessively compliments a watercraft more than the glitter of well-varnished wood; however, to go in for that glitter, it is inevitable for anyone to encounter a tough time through the entire procedure of preparing the wood and at the same time in applying the varnish. This is why it really matters to invest in the best marine varnish to better protect your vessel.

Needless to say, marine varnish products these days come in not-so-affordable costs, reason why it is critical to select the one that surely lasts so you don’t end up spending more in the end. But, the real question here is, “which marine varnish is right for your vessel’s needs?”

best marine varnish

In this post, you will learn that there is a great deal of marine varnishes sold on the market. And, perhaps you may be thinking that you can just simply shop from the nearest marine supply store or hardware in your area or buy online and you’re done! Well, the case is not like what you imagine because the truth is there is more to picking the right varnish than it may seem- pick the incorrect type of marine varnish and you will end up needing to deal with an overpriced mess.

The good news is that the product reviews shared above as well as the shopping tips will be your best buddy when it comes to selecting the one that you definitely need for your vessel.

Top 3 Products

Best Overall


TotalBoat Marine Spar Varnish


Honorable Mention

TotalBoat Gleam Marine Spar Varnish

Rust-Oleum Spar Varnish


Premium Choice


Epifanes Clear Varnish


Table of Contents

Best Marine Varnish Reviews of 2023

1. Rust-Oleum 1 Quart Marine Spar Varnish


With lots of options to consider when it comes to the best marine spar varnish today, picking the one that’s most suitable for your needs can really be challenging. But, not if you pick this spar varnish manufactured by Rust-Oleum.

This spar varnish is highly practical to utilize for exterior wood surfaces on top of the waterline, in railings, trim as well as wood furniture. It comes with an oil-based formulation that allows it to expand and contract with altering weather conditions.

Many sailors pick this brand because it is more durable as compared to traditional wood finishes and it has the capability to expand and contract with altering weather conditions. This transparent varnish can provide lovely gloss finish with utmost protection. This type of spar varnish is ideal in the Navy in terms of safeguarding the woodwork that is extremely exposed with salty air.

Nevertheless, this spar varnish does not dry up instantly as advertised. Besides, it may call for extra time and huge amount of patience to obtain excellent outcomes. Take note that these are just a few of the weak points that need to be checked before buying this product.
  • Can guarantee long-lasting coating
  • Comes with longer shelf life and capable of covering up by up to 150 square feet
  • Certified sturdier than traditional wood finishes
  • Capable of leaving aesthetically-appealing gloss finish with greatest amount of protection
  • Resistant to UV, mildew and salt
  • May necessitate more time to get exceptional results
  • Not as fast drying as advertised
Overall, this marine varnish can compete with more expensive brands since it can render good service. It appears to have longer shelf-life and it is not complex to apply and use even if you’re just a beginner. And, unlike other varnish options out there, this does not come with foul odor when being applied. It is mildew, salt and UV resistant and this is made possible by its durable coating.

However, this may require more time to dry particularly in humid climate. And, it may call for extra amount of time and patience for it to produce satisfying results. For the price, this is a reasonable product that won’t put a big hole in your pocket. It can even compete with other expensive options out there.

2. TotalBoat Gleam Marine Spar Varnish

TotalBoat Gleam Marine Spar Varnish

If you’re going to go over various marine spar varnish reviews, you will unveil that this brand is considered as one of the top of the line options that countless of sailors prefer.

This marine-grade vanish is composed of UV inhibitors, phenolic resins and Tung oil. This formulation enables it to render an impressive, clear amber finish. It is a practical choice in that it does a good job of fighting off moisture and UV damage. This makes it a top option amber transparent clear coat wood finish for both internal and external surfaces.

When you use this, it does not produce any bubbles at all and it has the capability to go on very smoothly. There is no need to thin the varnish as it can dry instantly enough to enable a number of coats in a single day. It is totally transparent and does a superb job of displaying the wood figure and grain. There is no added color and it glistens when the sun shines on the newly painted area.

It is available in different sizes such as in gallons, quarts and pints. This is absolutely capable of transmitting gloss, satin or matte finishes. So, even if you’re not a professional painter, this is easy to work with and apply in your watercraft.

Nonetheless, this spar varnish’s satin variety is not satisfying enough because it tends to produce inconsistent cloudy finish. And, wear a mask when applying it because it comes with very strong disturbing odor.
  • Highly recommended amber transparent coat wood finish for both exterior and interior surfaces
  • Available in gallon, quart and pint sizes
  • A piece of cake to use even for novices
  • Ideal pick for bar tops, doors, boats as well as indoor and outdoor furniture
  • Can guarantee an aesthetically ravishing amber finish
  • Satin version produces inconstant cloudy finish
  • Comes with very strong fumes
All in all, this ultraviolet satin and gloss marine-grade varnish formula is a perfect option for anyone who opts for easy application, outstanding beauty, excellent self-leveling properties and superb durability. For a fact, this is user-friendly even for first-timers as it is quite easy to work with. All you need to use is a top quality brush and from there you can enjoy a blemish-free application. Indeed, the finish gloss is stunning and you’ll certainly receive numerous compliments on the look and finish of the wood.

3. Epifanes Clear Varnish


Are you looking for a marine varnish that comes with maximum UV protection feature? Then, you’ve got the perfect choice. This product is very popular in the world since it comes with topnotch quality conventional Tung oil marine spar varnish. Many boaters pick this brand because it can provide ultra-high gloss finish that you can’t find in other options. It is renowned for being the best outdoor ultraviolet resistant varnish made and it was actually top-rated in many well-known boat building forums.

It is interesting to note that Epifanes spar varnish is the answer if you opt for maximum protection and stunning appearance for outdoor wood. This does a sterling job when it comes to highlighting the natural aesthetics of the wood. It is not quite tough to apply and it could provide you with rewarding outcomes. It applies smoothly and tends to self-level a lot better as compared to a full-strength type of varnish.

However, there are a couple of irregularities that you need to know if you plan to buy this spar varnish. First, it may necessitate roughly three coats before you can observe noticeable difference. And, should there be some issues with regards to the product you received, their customer service support seems to be not dependable in terms of prompt response or action.
  • Very useful for restoring old wood and varnishing new wood
  • Very durable, comes with high flow, beautiful gloss and longer shelf-life
  • Contains alkyd and phenolic resins, as well as Tung oil
  • Can provide deep transparent finish
  • Best for hardwood or softwood, household and marine uses
  • Unreliable customer service support
  • May require more coats to obtain good results
Ultimately, this very transparent marine spar varnish is quite well-known for its lustrous finish and it provides maximum shield in all climates. This is UV resistant and contains alkyd and phenolic resins and Tung oil for its formulation. Undeniably, it is the best finish for softwood or hardwood, household and marine applications. You can restore an old wood with it too and it can be practically utilized in a number of interior and exterior applications.

For the money, this is surely a worthwhile investment because it is not that overpriced and it also comes with a longer shelf-life and is quite easy to use. But, do keep in mind that it is necessary to apply more coats first before you observe some visible outcomes and you better not expect more from the manufacturer’s customer service support.

4. TotalBoat Lust Marine Varnish


Are you having second thoughts of buying marine varnish for wood? Well, it is very natural to hold back purchasing one when you are not well aware of the best features for you to consider. But, if you’ll conduct a careful research, you’ll discover that you won’t have any regrets if you buy this lust marine varnish by TotalBoat.

This marine varnish can guarantee deep and rich finish; it is capable of building multiple coats in an instant and also features maximum ultraviolet protection. Moreover, it is highly recommended for internal and external applications. It can ensure clarity, durability, utmost ultraviolet resistance and excellent finish retention.

Many sailors like this product because it is an out-of-the-ordinary spar varnish that enables rapid recoating. Unlike other similar products sold on the market at present, it comes with instant-drying and high-build formula that allows users to apply several coats each day without the need to do sanding between coats.

Aside from all these, this makes a great choice for interior and exterior brightwork. Also, it comes with exceptional finish retention which, as you can see, can be hard to find with other similar options today.

On the other hand, a few of the glitches that you must look after if you get this marine varnish are its tendency to become bubbly. And, as for the price tag, this seems not the ideal pick for those with a little money to spend for marine varnish.
  • Available in matte and high gloss finishes
  • Work can be accomplished in a maximum of 1 ½ days
  • Enables rapid recoating
  • Does not require sanding between coats
  • Features instant-dry and high build formula
  • A little pricey
  • Tends to bubble
In a nutshell, TotalBoat lust marine varnish is a good catch. It comes with well-made packaging and prompt delivery. It goes on easy and dries fast between coats. Even if you are not an expert, this is so easy to apply and you would absolutely recommend it to anyone who isn’t an expert varnisher or painter since it is certainly very plain sailing to utilize and it looks impressive once the job was accomplished. And, the best of all, it can significantly cut the application time of varnish, it is very transparent, can offer utmost UV protection and is durable enough to stand the test of time.

5. Epifanes Wood Finish Matte


This wood finish matte varnish needs recoating. To do so, it is important to sand the surface lightly and execute the recoating. It levels properly if brushed and it is easier to be thinned as well as wiped on. This is reliable in terms of offering wonderful sleek satin finish. It is amazing to know that it is famous for being a marine product; however, it is also very exquisite when used on furniture.

Also, there is no need to sand after the initial coat of the matte. This could last long before it will need varnish again. The best of all, it is marine grade, with a cost to match. No wonder this is one of the favorites of professionals.

Regardless, take note that this wood finish matte varnish has the potentiality to drag like glue which means it appears to be spindly than slick. And, the initial result appears quite uneven, but, luckily it looks a lot better once dried. So, be sure to be aware of these negative aspects before you buy one.
  • Formulated with ultraviolet absorber
  • Comes with uniquely hand-rubbed appearance
  • Resistant to scratch and exterior weather
  • Does not need sanding if recoated within 3 days
  • Guarantees extreme durability and high flow
  • Has the potentiality to drag like glue
  • Initial outcome may appear quite uneven
By and large, many sailors pick this best marine wood finish because it is much smoother and a lot easier to apply if compared to polyurethane. Without question, this is a nice purchase to consider as it is well worth the money. It has the capability to cover well even though it is slightly thick in the can. It works superbly when it comes to providing the natural look of the wood. In the same way, it could darken the wood a little, but in a winsome fashion. If you’re searching for the best finish matte varnish, this one is worth contemplating on.

6. MCCLOSKEY Mow Spar Varn Gloss


Many professional sailors highly consider this product as one of the best boat varnishes available today since it can remain firm after a few years without revealing any signs of flaking, chalking, cracking or peeling in direct sun exposure. Additionally, it is capable of contracting and expanding with the wood and is quite flexible to use and apply.

It is worth mentioning that what sets this product apart from other options is that it comes with superb gloss and adhesion, and is more versatile as compared to other forms of varnish. This is dependable in sealing and shielding woods and comes with fade-proof feature as well. As you can see, these are the vital features that a high quality marine varnish must possess.

All the same, the minus points that are to be expected if you purchase this marine varnish include the huge amount of time for you to wait for the varnish to completely dry up. And, the varnishing task can be tedious to deal with. So, you better save a lot of patience while executing the job to obtain satisfying results.
  • Specifically formulated to combat weathering
  • Capable of defying water and salty air
  • Highly recommended for various types of boats
  • Practical to utilize on fences, outdoor furniture and trim
  • Can guarantee maximum ultraviolet shield
  • Necessitates more time for it to completely dry
  • Expect laborious process to accomplish the task
Everything mulled over, this marine varnish is a great product to invest in but it requires a lot of work and more time for it to dry completely. It is particularly formulated to fight off water, salty air and weathering. If you are a boat owner, this is an investment that you’ll never regret buying. You can also apply this to fences, trim and different outdoor furniture. This also comes with matchless ultraviolet protection that makes it last for a long period of time. Without any shadow of doubt, this is the right stuff for the job.

7. TotalBoat Halcyon Gloss Marine Varnish


According to marine varnish review, TotalBoat is one of the most trusted brands for marine grade varnish products. And, one of its varieties is the Halcyon Gloss Marine Varnish that is highly acclaimed for being long-lasting, hard, comes with lustrous finish brightwork that is not complicated to tidy up and is low maintenance.

Similarly, you can apply by up to a total of five coats per day; it does not require sanding between coats. What is amazing about it is that the more coats you apply, the greater the glaze, depth and clarity achieved. This works best for exterior and interior application above the waterline. It’s easy to utilize and comes with low VOC. And, since it is formulated to be water-based, you won’t need to suffer from headache-causing headaches.

Although this is a great choice, bear in mind that this marine varnish is slightly challenging to apply especially for beginners, so make sure to follow the instructions carefully. Aside from this, it has the tendency to produce milky undertones. Take note of these weak points before making the final decision.
  • Resistant to UV, scratch and abrasion
  • Capable of drying in no time
  • Does not need sanding between coats
  • Can ensure superb adhesion and versatility that enables wood to contract and expand
  • Does not come with harsh fumes
  • Tends to have milky undertones
  • Slightly trickier to apply
On the whole, unlike other marine varnish options, this is easy to tidy up with the aid of mild soap and water, and most importantly, it dries immediately. It is conveniently packed in resealable Pour Pak packaging that allows it to be easily poured and stored. That simply means, you won’t need to take care of mess and there would be no waste of varnish. When it comes to performance, this is unrivaled!

8. System Three Clear Marine Spar Urethane Varnish Coating


To boot, this marine varnish is a fabulous option that you should not ignore. This is the right solution if you opt for an impeccable gloss that can defy harsh weather. It can work well on furniture too making it a great deal for being multipurpose. Undoubtedly, this is a nice application and is extremely sturdy. It’s capable of offering a wonderful finish and goes on easy and sleek.

If compared with other similar marine varnish options, this can work wonderfully after it was restained and restriped. You’ll be stunned of the shine it could offer to where you apply it. Since it is formulated to be durable, it can last for a few years even when exposed to direct sunlight.

Two bad marks that you need to watch out for if you invest in this marine varnish are its slightly costly price tag and the tendency for it to become quite hard in an instant especially when not properly sealed. Thus, see to it that it is well-sealed and properly closed after use.
  • Ideal for exterior wood surfaces and marine use
  • Formulated with VOC compliant finish and high solids
  • Can be obtained in satin or gloss finish
  • Concocted to appropriately cure over System Three epoxy products
  • Can resist water and salt air
  • Not pocket-friendly option for anyone on a budget
  • May get easily hard when improperly sealed
Finally, this product can be labeled as one of the most outstanding exterior varnishes sold on the market to date. It is easy to apply and tidy up. Assuredly, with the right equipment, spraying it can be done in a snap. You can choose between satin or gloss variants. This is stringently concocted with UV light absorbers that execute a sterling job of keeping the wood appear elegant even with consistent sunlight exposure. However, this is not a reasonably priced product, so make certain that you save up more before getting one.

9. Epifanes Wood Finish Gloss


It is not surprising why many boat owners love this product. In reality, there are lots of good features to like about this brand, it is top quality and is backed up by friendly and reliable customer service support. This does not indicate signs of weathering and can combat tough weather conditions too.

Basically, while drying period might take longer than advertised, within 3 days, this won’t need sanding between coats anymore. It requires waiting for good results, but you’ll see for yourself that the wait is worth it. The shine is impressive and it is a child’s play to apply, beginners can attest to this!

Please be reminded that this wood finish gloss by Epifanes comes with only short shelf-life, in other words, it is not the best option if you opt for something that can stay firm for a longer period of time. Besides, this appears to be not as good as transparent varnish. These are just a few of the negative aspects that you need to learn more about if you choose this product.
  • Can provide superior shine beauty with excellent ultraviolet shield
  • Famous for providing hard gloss finish and superior build without sanding between coats
  • Formulated with microscopic porosity properties
  • Guarantees ultra-superior shine
  • Based on Tung oil and phenolic-modified alkyd resins
  • Not as excellent as transparent varnish
  • Short shelf-life
With conviction, this marine varnish is the best bang for the money. If recoated within 3 days, it won’t call for sanding between coats yet it can successfully offer hard gloss finish and superior build. This is the perfect pick if you prefer superior shine that is equipped with ultraviolet shield feature. You won’t end up regretting your purchase decision because this can ensure rewarding result. It is particularly concocted having Tung oil and phenolic-modified alkyd resins as base.

10. TotalBoat Marine Wood Finish


Beyond any doubt, if you wish for a marine wood finish that is not a pain in the neck to apply, can guarantee extreme durability and is especially reinforced by ultraviolet inhibitors, then you may stop your search because the right product for you has finally arrived.

Many consumers prefer this marine wood finish’s flexible and breathable finish features that are supported by utmost all-weather shield. As you can see, this does not merely focus on unleashing the natural beauty of wood but it also safeguards it from any harsh elements that may bring about damage.

Be reminded though that you need to allow at least two days before you consider recoating. This is to ensure that you obtain the kind of result you have long been dreaming of. Don’t worry; the waiting period may be a bit longer; however, the final outcome is truly worth waiting for.

Just like all products out there, this marine varnish is not blemish-free at all. In fact, it calls for a minimum of 2 days for it to allow recoating and executing the job can be time-consuming and tiresome to handle. Anyhow, you will be happy of the final result. You only need to be patient and follow the instructions accordingly.
  • Reinforced with protective treatment for teak and other types of woods above the waterline
  • Versatile and easy to utilize and apply than varnish
  • Concocted with distinctive resin and linseed oil formula with ultraviolet barriers
  • Can guarantee breathable finish that offers maximum all-weather shield
  • Sanding between coats isn’t necessary
  • Requires at least 2 days before recoating
  • A little laborious and time consuming to complete the job
After all, if you’re going to execute marine varnish comparison, you will discover that this product is quite prominent and a good investment that will leave you feeling overly satisfied in the end. You can buy it in quartz and you can choose from natural teak, satin and gloss variants. It may be slightly overpriced, but considering its stunning features, this is surely economical. This is user-friendly because it does not call for sanding between coats and is less complicated to apply as compared to varnish.

11. Waterlox Satin Marine Finish


This satin marine finish product is concocted using roughly 90% of the resin percentage of the formula that originated from natural and renewable resources. As proof of its long-standing service and sturdiness, this is capable enough to create elastic and protective finish against tough weather conditions, extreme UV and moisture exposure. Apart from this, it also comes with water-resistant feature that significantly aids in prolonging the shelf-life of the object you are varnishing.

So, if you like something that is good enough to provide a satin glaze appearance for your wood, then this makes a good choice and it would definitely put a smile on your face. Make sure to follow the application instructions accordingly so that you can achieve the best possible outcome. Don’t worry about the costly price tag; focus more on the many benefits that you can take pleasure in once you invested in this product.

While this spar varnish is an out-of-the-ordinary product that won’t fail you, it also matters for you to uncover its not-so-good aspects that consist of its costly selling price and the fact that it necessitates utmost care when applying it. But, of course, if you’re still fine despite these cons, you may proceed shopping.
  • Concocted as a conventional exterior Tung oil marine varnish in a satin glaze
  • Infiltrates and resists water when utilized as a finishing system together with marine sealer
  • Creates an elastic and protective finish against ultraviolet rays, exposure to moisture and tough weather conditions
  • Goes on smooth without issue
  • Large portion of its formulation originates from natural and renewable resources
  • Not the right pick for anyone with low budget
  • Requires extra caution when applying
At last, this satin marine finish manufactured by Waterlox is a gilt-edge choice. As a matter of fact, you can highly regard it as one of the top quality and top-performing exterior varnish. This is capable of providing the best and most reliable shield for any wood in your vessel, home or workplace. When it comes to great performance, value for the money and durability- this is something that you should not skip anymore. It may be a little costly, but it is absolutely a worthwhile investment.

12. Interlux Schooner Varnish


It is worth sharing that this schooner varnish is designed with excellent silky application, water resistance and durability. Its super strong UV inhibitor feature allows it to safeguard the wood from being damaged by extreme sun exposure. Once the wood is properly varnished, you will witness for yourself the fabulous glossy finish that comes with classic golden color.

Further, this varnish flows on without any trouble and is quite easy to work with the aid of some careful successive coats. You can execute the job successfully by merely using a natural bristle brush. As you can clearly see, the application process is not even demanding at all. Even if you are not a pro, the job will still turn out fine so long as you properly adhere to the application procedure.

Withal, this high gloss varnish may be perceived as quite expensive particularly for some people who only set aside some amount for a marine varnish. Also, if you did not use the recommended thinner manufactured by Interlux, this varnish is more likely to form some bubbles that could significantly affect the final outcome.
  • Formulated with UV barriers to inhibit damaging sun’s rays
  • Ideal for exterior and interior woods
  • Reveals and enhances the natural color of the wood even more
  • Can guarantee lucid finish with conventional golden color
  • Provides transparent, glossy and superior glaze finish
  • Not budget-friendly price tag
  • Has the tendency to form some bubbles
All features thought deeply, this varnish does a great job of leveling nicely and is capable enough to build up instantly. Its UV protection feature is definitely admirable. It can be directly applied to oily timber. If you’re going to review exterior wood finishes comparison, you will instantly realize that this is a first rate choice for interior and exterior woods. Once the job is accomplished, you’ll be happy with the new look on your wood. As for the durability, exceptional protection, ease of application and price, this is truly unparalleled.

What to Look For When Buying a Marine Varnish

best marine spar varnish

Some of the considerations that must be highly contemplated on when shopping for marine varnish include:

  1. Price. Is it affordable enough to meet your budget? But, make sure that quality is not overlooked here.
  2. Go for the one that features maximum UV protection, can help inhibit mildew or mold growth on the wood.
  3. Ease of application and use. Is it user-friendly even for beginners?
  4. Is it easy to clean, store, and maintain?
  5. Durability and long-lasting performance. It must not be instantly peeling, cracking, chalking and easily gets damaged from harsh weather conditions and other elements.

Other Important Factors to Consider

best boat varnish

What is a marine varnish?

Marine varnish is also known as spar varnish. This is specifically formulated for marine exposure and generally contains phenolic and alkyd resin, as well as Tung oil for its components. It is known for being a very outstanding wood finishing varnish that was primitively developed for coating the sailing ship’s pole of wood.

This varnish is typically sturdy, resistant to harsh weather conditions and practically applied to unpainted wooden spots, particularly on vessels. In essence, it is a well-known exterior water-resistant varnish around the globe.

How does it work?

Marine varnish does a valuable role in safeguarding a vessel and many other furniture and wood-related projects. Any wooden pieces that are utilized under a covered deck or used outdoors or exposed to marine environment must have marine varnish applied. A spar varnish is specifically intended to protect the wood from being chalked or cracked off easily due to various weather conditions, extreme ultraviolet exposure and other harsh elements.

Generally, three coats of varnish are necessary to be applied. Take in mind that the first coating should be thinned 50% with mineral spirits – this is to allow better diffusion, then followed by a total of 2 full strength, and make sure to execute the sanding between coats.

What are the different types of varnishes?

Exterior Varnish. This is intended for outdoor use. It features maximum UV protection. It is formulated to be microporous that enables the wood to breathe and resist mold or mildew accumulation.

Acrylic Varnish. This is non-toxic and dries up fast. It features ultraviolet protection that makes it a good option for internal and external use. This can be used with other materials aside from wood. It is highly clear, but does not infiltrate into the wood. It is water-based, user-friendly but does not spread evenly as compared to other varnishes.

Yacht or Spar Varnish. This is purposely designed for boat use and its objective is to ward off water from penetrating into the wood. It is good for use on outside timber; however, this is not recommended for surfaces that people commonly walk on.

Alkyd Varnish. This refers to modified vegetable or natural oil.

Polyurethane Varnish. This is usually utilized for areas and floors that are prone to wearing away. It can fight off heat and offers tough and clear finish. This is durable and can resist spills of various chemicals.

Why do you need a boat varnish?

The primary reason why boat owners try their best to invest in the best spar varnish is to provide utmost protection to their most cherished vessel. As you know, boats are expensive these days, so it is just right that you purchase the right products, tool and equipment to ensure their safety and longevity.

A marine varnish does a wonderful job of safeguarding the wood materials in your vessel. It helps inhibit mold and mildew accumulation, and avoids water penetration onto the wood as well. Aside from these, it can make the wood look more glossy and impressive, giving your vessel a more appealing and expensive look.

Frequently Asked Questions


What are the most trusted marine varnish brands?

As what you have learned from this post, there are different marine varnish brands for you to select from. But, if you would really like to invest in the best brands that are highly recommended by professional sailors and wise consumers, the most trustworthy brands that you can consider are the following:

  • TotalBoat
  • Epifanes
  • Rust-Oleum
  • Waterlox

Spar Varnish vs. Spar Urethane: What’s the difference?

Spar varnish is manufactured with a base of natural oil that includes soya, linseed or Tung. Such oil is mixed with solvents, driers, ultraviolet protector and resins in order to form a glossy surface. This varnish is meant to shield the wood from stain, water, solvent discoloration and heat. Its formulation enables it to move with the wood all through each season. This is generally scratch-proof, can be re-applied repeatedly since it will sooner or later chalk or crack off in the long run.

On the other hand, spar urethane is a type of synthetic product that is manufactured either as an oil-based or water-based product. Oil-based spar urethane necessitates a number of hours between coats and a thin application is needed to avoid drips. Water-based spar urethane comes with less foul odor, easy to tidy and instantly dries up.

Please be guided that the primary distinction between spar varnish and spar urethane is that the former will ultimately chalk or crack off in the long run, while the latter will sustain a tough and glossy surface.

When it comes to application, spar varnish is applied to a surface with the aid of a soft white bristle brush and it requires at least one day for it to dry between coats –this will of course rely on the type of climate. Also, a number of thin coats are needed to accomplish a solid surface.

Meanwhile, spar urethane is applied to a surface using a household paintbrush. Hinging on the climate, it necessitates roughly half an hour for it to dry between coats. In line with this, approximately 2 by up to 3 coats are needed to accomplish a solid surface.

Can I use marine varnish on a steel door/aluminum boat?

No. marine varnish is purposely designed to be used for vessels wherein its main objective is to guarantee that water won’t be able to penetrate into the wood.

How long does marine varnish last?

Generally speaking, two-part marine varnishes that tops in terms of sturdiness can last for about two by up to three years. Exterior varnish will commonly last two up to three years prior for it to begin cracking off or appearing chalky.

On the other hand, please take into account that wood coatings are barely presumed to last longer than 24 months in the marine environment.

How to apply spar varnish properly?

Spar varnish commonly necessitates a number of coats, and it is imperative to wait for a few hours in between each coat to enable it to fully dry before you apply the next coat. To apply the varnish, you will need foam brushes or natural bristle brushes. Meanwhile, to provide you with a tidy finish on the final coats, you may consider using badge hair brushes.

Take into consideration that it could also be essential to varnish your watercraft or canoe in a spot that is free of wind, dust and extreme sunlight exposure. This is to ensure that it remains tidy and dry evenly.

How to use or apply?

  1. Prepare the wood. Sand the wood and clean it properly before applying transparent sealer. To do so, use low grit paper, start from 80 and then by up to 220. This may require some time to work on; however, when applying transparent finishes, preparation is the most critical stage.
  2. Apply the marine varnish. To execute this, utilize a neat bristle brush to gently coat the furniture or wood. Make sure to use several thin coats. Allow the varnish to dry fully prior to executing a light dry sanding with the aid of more 220 grit-paper.
  3. Then, wipe the dust using a drenched rag. Apply a second coat, this must be very thin. This is the period when the wood will start to obtain some sheen that you are aiming for.
  4. Go over the surface again with the aid of polishing pad or steel wool after the second coat has completely dried. Afterward, use a wet rag and wipe down the surface to get rid of the dust.
  5. For the third coat, apply adequate amount of varnish to make the surface appear drenches. Be sure to impede puddles and drips and execute this by not laying it on too thick all together. The third coat will require more time to dry up, so it is highly advised to leave it overnight.
  6. Finally, gently polish the wood using polishing pad or steel wool. Do not scrub the surface; just lightly brush it properly. The wet rag will lift off any of the fluff, and from there, you could apply the final coat of marine varnish.

What is the warranty?

When it comes to checking the warranty of the marine varnish of your choice, please be guided that the type of warranty you can avail of will rely on the brand or manufacturer. Fortunately, all the products reviewed in this article were all backed up by different warranties.

To learn more about the warranty of the marine varnish product you prefer, you may check the product description or contact the manufacturer through their customer service support and directly ask them with regards to the warranty your chosen product is backed up by. Generally, there are limited time period or lifetime warranty offers, replacements for defective products received or money back guarantee offers.

Where to buy?

Marine varnish products are quite easy to find these days. As a matter of fact, you can immediately shop for them in nearby hardware stores in your area, in some local marine supply stores and through online shopping sites of course.

Fundamentally, if you plan to shop for one through online shopping sites, make sure that you only choose online shopping sites that are legit and highly renowned for selling authentic and top quality products like Amazon.

Luckily, both shopping in local stores and through online stores can offer you a wide range of options that will suit your needs and style. Often times, if you are lucky enough; you can even take advantage of some coupons, freebies, promos and discounted prizes.

However, when shopping online, see to it that you’re negotiating with real deals where refund or replacements of defective items are possible.

How to care and maintain?

To provide proper care and maintenance for your marine varnish, it is crucial to go over all safety information on the product’s label and in the safety date sheet prior to utilizing it. This must be stored in a cool dry place away from children.

Also, spar varnish products are highly combustible; hence, it is paramount to keep it away from hot surfaces, sparks, open flames and direct heat. Also, you should not smoke nearby. Do not breathe gas, spray, mist, dust, fumes and vapors as these could damage your lungs and may cause other illnesses.

Note that this must only be utilized in a well-ventilated area, outdoors. It is a must to wear protective clothing, gloves, face and eye shield and a proper respirator.


In summary, you have learned from this post that there are lots of many other varnish formulations on the market nowadays; nevertheless, no other clear one-part coating is more heavy-duty in the marine environment than the best marine varnish.

In reality, a considerable number of boat owners do not care about the formulation of the marine varnish so long as it goes on instantly and can ensure long-standing service. But, it is still quite imperative to check out the formulation of the varnish you are eyeing to purchase because some marine varnish products are not that adept when it comes to drying faster, sticking well and in providing the best possible shield for your vessel.

Hence, for you to ensure getting the right marine varnish for your boat; the product reviews tackled above and the other marine varnish buying-related information discussed in this article will definitely help you as you make a well-informed purchasing decision. Keep in mind that it pays off when you conduct a thorough research first before buying one.

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