When completing a piece of furniture and preparing it for use, the final step of the process usually involves applying varnish. Varnish gives your furniture a darker and more glossy look that makes it more aesthetically pleasing. In addition, varnish forms a protective barrier that safeguards the wood from scratches, moisture, heat and other potential risks. So in order to make the best choice, you need to know about the various types of varnish available and how to apply them. The following is a guide to the best way to apply varnish to furniture.
Choosing the Right Varnish
When considering the best way to apply varnish to furniture, you need to be mindful of the type of varnish you choose. Traditional varnish made from natural resins and oils is a great choice, as you can use these with any stain or filler. For indoor furniture, we would recommend that you avoid using spar varnish, as this is designed for outdoor and marine work.
Synthetic varnishes made from special resins and thinners are also a good choice, but make sure you check which stains and fillers you can use them with. If you choose a synthetic varnish, the best options are polyurethanes for added strength and to avoid yellowing. You can also use phenolic and alkyd varnishes for outdoor furniture, but these will yellow with age.
Finally, water based varnishes are a good choice for a clean and quick drying varnish, however, it is best to use these with either an undercoat first or a sealer coat of shellac.
Applying the Varnish
For the best way to apply varnish to furniture, just follow these steps:
- Apply unused varnish to a new natural bristle brush. Avoid used and leftover varnish as these can contain wasteful lumps of hardened varnish.
- Make sure the furniture has been fully prepared and sanded, and the surface has been cleaned with a tack cloth.
- Apply the varnish to the surface horizontally, turning the furniture so that its major surfaces are horizontal.
- Remove any drawers, doors and other components, and varnish them separately in the same horizontal manner. Prioritise working on smaller surfaces first over large ones.
- Apply the varnish along the grain using long, smooth and even strokes with your brush. Avoid touching or shaking off the excess varnish inside the can. If the brush starts to drag or missed spots appear, apply a small amount of thinner (about 30 ml).
- After applying an even coat of varnish along the grain, apply more varnish to make the surface level and even. Try to keep the coat thin to avoid it cracking with age.
- To finish, remove any brush marks by stroking the surface with a dry brush held at an angle. Make sure the varnished surface remains even and use a lint picker to remove any dust from the wet surface.
- Depending on the varnish used, the average drying time will usually be 24 hours. Water based and polyurethanes may take less time to dry, while humid or wet weather may increase it. Once the surface is fully dried, use your judgment to decide if a further coat is needed.
Ligna Carpentry & Joinery
At Ligna Carpentry & Joinery, we offer professional services that will free you from any hassle or mess and help you achieve the perfect finish for your furniture. To find out more about our services, please visit us online or speak with us via phone today. For the best way to apply varnish to furniture, ask us for a no-obligation free quote today.