Top 7 Best Marine Varnish for Wood (Reviews & Buying Guide 2021)

Varnishing wood is the commonest way of revitalizing old wood. Many people varnish their cabinets and countertops to offer additional protection and add a glossy finish to them. A nicely varnished wood or piece of furniture is attractive and a beautiful sight to behold.

But, choosing the best marine varnish for wood is one hell of a tough task. Many people get confused as to which product is the varnish or not. I’ll be reviewing the best marine varnish for wood and what you need to know before selecting the right product and how to apply the varnish perfectly. First, what’s a marine varnish?

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TotalBoat Lust
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Rust-Oleum 207008
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Epifanes Clear Varnish
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TotalBoat-496608 Lust Marine Varnish, High Gloss and Matte Finish for Wood, Boats, Outdoor Furniture (Matte, Gallon)
Rust-Oleum 207008 Marine Spar Varnish, Quart
Epifanes Clear Varnish (250 ml)
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1 Pound
8 Ounces
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1 Gallon
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150 ml
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TotalBoat-496608 Lust Marine Varnish, High Gloss and Matte Finish for Wood, Boats, Outdoor Furniture (Matte, Gallon)
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8.33 Pounds
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1 Gallon
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Editor's Pick
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Rust-Oleum 207008
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Rust-Oleum 207008 Marine Spar Varnish, Quart
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1 Pound
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UV- Resistant
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Epifanes Clear Varnish
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Epifanes Clear Varnish (250 ml)
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8 Ounces
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150 ml
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Last update on 2021-09-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What Is Marine Varnish?

The marine varnish is a formula that acts as a protective film against wear and chipping. It’s specifically designed for wood exposed to water. Before now, varnishes comprised resin and pine sap. Now, varnishes feature simpler chemical ingredients like Tung oil, phenolic, and alkyd resin, making painting much easier.

One significant thing that differentiates the varnish from paints is the color. Unlike paints, the varnish isn’t colored. Plus, you can’t use paints for marine wood because the water will wash it away.

Marine varnishes provide sturdier finishes and can withstand water and bad weather conditions excellently. It has good coverage and offers more protection to the wood, prolonging its lifespan.

Reviews of the Best Marine Varnish for Wood

1. TotalBoat Lust Matte Finish Marine Varnish – Best Overall Marine Varnish

TotalBoat Lust Matte Finish Marine Varnish is an incredible marine varnish that will keep your piece of furniture and boats glowing and beautiful. This high-grade varnish is super durable and ideal for coating interior and exterior wood projects.

The premium finish is resistant to scratches, and won’t peel or wear away. The finish remains the same, whether the wood contracts or not. The temperature changes won’t affect the appearance or the lifespan of the varnish.

This marine varnish delivers a rich, and amber finish on your wooden pieces, and enhances their appearance. The finish is UV resistant, which is why you can use it on exterior projects. Thanks to its waterproof feature, water splashes have no effect on the finish.

One of the best features of this marine varnish is its drying time. The finish dries super-fast and permits rapid coating. You can apply this finish multiple times without sanding in between until the final finish.

TotalBoat-496608 Lust Marine Varnish, High Gloss and Matte Finish for Wood, Boats, Outdoor Furniture (Matte, Gallon)
  • MARINE GRADE VARNISH imparts a rich, clear amber tone that enhances wood grain; creates a durable, waterproof finish that won't fade; ideal for interior and exterior wood, brightwork on boats & outdoor furniture
  • CLASSIC SPAR VARNISH WITH A MODERN FORMULA: High-build, fast-drying formula allows rapid recoating, multiple coats per day and no sanding between coats. Sand lightly before the final coat - be done in a little over 1 day
  • DURABLE FLEXIBLE COATING: Premium, oil-based formula won't crack or peel when wood expands and contracts with changes in temperature; perfect for all types of marine and household woods
  • CHOOSE HIGH GLOSS OR MATTE FINISH: For a high gloss varnish finish apply 6-8 coats of Lust Gloss; for a smooth satin finish, build with coats of Lust gloss varnish; use Lust Matte for the finish coats
  • AVAILABLE IN HIGH GLOSS OR MATTE in Pint, Quart and Gallon sizes. Thinner: TotalBoat Special Brushing Thinner 100 (brushing/rolling); xylene (spraying). Coverage: 360-400 sq. ft./gallon

Last update on 2021-09-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

In addition to its fast-drying formula, the varnish is easy to use and relatively thick. Using a brush or roller, this varnish cures into a lustrous and yellow finish that you would adore.

Pros

  • It’s durable
  • UV protected
  • Thick
  • Super easy to apply
  • Great for indoor and outdoor use
  • Weather-resistant
  • Includes a fast-drying formula
  • Cures into a beautiful finish

Cons

  • The amber coloring doesn’t sit well with many people.

Verdict

Aside from its amber coloring, TotalBoat Lust Matte Finish Marine Varnish is arguably the best marine varnish available. It’s thick, straightforward to use, and suits various indoor and outdoor projects.

2. Rust-Oleum 207008 Marine Varnish – Best Durable Marine Varnish

Rust-Oleum Marine Varnish will add natural beauty to the wood and deliver a crystal-clear finish. Although it’s an oil-based formula, the amber color will darken over time, leaving you with a more superior finish.

This spar varnish works well even in the harshest weather conditions, thanks to its UV and weather-resistant features. The formula is formulated to provide the wood with optimal protection against chemicals, sunlight, and water splashes. Due to how flexible the varnish is, it can expand and contract as the weather changes, maintaining its clear and superior finish.

The varnish is also durable. It’s tough and resistant to scratches, mildew, and stains. This makes it a perfect option for coating boats and outdoor wood pieces of furniture that are constantly exposed to water.

The oil-based formula is easy to use if you follow the manufacturer’s instructions. You don’t need to thin the formula before applying it because its liquid nature. For best results, apply with a China bristle brush and a fresh foam paintbrush.

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Rust-Oleum 207008 Marine Spar Varnish, Quart
  • Ideal for use on exterior wood surfaces above the water line, including trim, railings and wood furniture
  • Oil-based formula expands and contracts with changing weather conditions
  • Dries to the touch in 2 hours and covers up to 150 sq. ft.
  • Durable coating provides excellent resistance to UV, salt and mildew
  • Crystal-clear varnish leaves a beautiful gloss finish with maximum protection

Last update on 2021-09-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Rust-Oleum dries rapidly and has a wide coverage when applied. After coating, the varnish dries under two hours into a beautiful and glossy finish.

Pros

  • Produces a clear and great finish
  • Easy to use
  • Requires no thinning
  • Dried quickly
  • Excellent for exterior use
  • Resistant to temperature and sunlight
  • Durable
  • Good value for money

Cons

  • Not suitable for indoor use.

Verdict

This varnish is an incredible formula that will protect your wood adequately from water and other weather elements. Its durability is topnotch and the price is also affordable.

3. Epifanes Clear Varnish – Best UV-Resistant Marine Varnish

When it comes to making a durable and clear marine varnish, the Epifanes is one brand you can rely on. And this Clear Varnish is no different from other lines of products the brand produced.

What makes this product stand out from others is the extra UV filters that it comes with. The filters offer additional protection to the wood compared to other varnishes. With this, you can coat your boats and wood furniture in the sun for long hours without problems.

Unlike some marine varnishes, this product doesn’t change the appearance of your projects. Rather, it enhances the surface’s appearance by creating a beautiful brown/amber finish. This color effect is super glossy and quite clear.

Epifanes Clear Varnish (250 ml)
  • World famous, highest quality tradional tung oil marine spar varnish.
  • Formulated with tung oil, phenolic and alkyd resins resulting in a finish that has superior flow, gloss, durability, and exceptional longevity.
  • UV filters for superior protection with an ultra high gloss finish
  • Used in many applications, both exterior and interior, household or marine, brushed, sprayed, or rolled and tipped.
  • Use on new wood or restoring old wood to a deep clear finish, softwood or hardwood, marine or household applications.

Last update on 2021-09-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Apart from creating a superior amber and glossy finish, this product is also durable and has a wide range of applications. You can use the varnish on household furniture and for outdoor projects. The varnish accepts various methods of application, such as brushing, rolling, and spraying.

Pros

  • Leaves a clear, amber, and glossy finish
  • Thick
  • Weather-resistant
  • Contains extra UV filters for added protection
  • Suits different methods of application
  • Great for interior and exterior use.

Cons

Verdict

Epifanes Clear Varnish is the right product for you if looking for a product for both interior and outdoor use. It’s easy to use, as you can use any method of application.

4. TotalBoat Lust High Gloss Marine Varnish

This is another high-quality marine varnish from TotalBoat that will create a deep, rich, amber finish when applied to your wood project.

This marine-grade product enhances the overall look of the grain. It adds a natural beauty that you would love. The varnish is highly durable and comes with sun absorbers to prevent the sun rays from damaging the coats.

Thanks to the varnish’s durability, the coats would neither fade, peel or crack due to temperature changes. The varnish contracts and expands, maintaining the finish and appearance of the wood.

This varnish also creates a waterproof finish. It contains certain ingredients that make it highly resistant to water. This makes it ideal for coating furniture, boats, and all marine applications.

TotalBoat Lust High Gloss Marine Varnish also has a fast-drying formula. Once applied, the first coat dries within an hour. The varnish also allows for multiple coating, and the best thing about it is that you don’t need to sand until the final coat. You can coat your boat and other pieces of furniture in a day, which is great.

TotalBoat-482869 Lust Marine Varnish, High Gloss and Matte Finish for Wood, Boats, Outdoor Furniture (High Gloss, Quart)
  • MARINE GRADE VARNISH imparts a rich, clear amber tone that enhances wood grain; creates a durable, waterproof finish that won't fade; ideal for interior and exterior wood, brightwork on boats & outdoor furniture
  • CLASSIC SPAR VARNISH WITH A MODERN FORMULA: High-build, fast-drying formula allows rapid recoating, multiple coats per day and no sanding between coats. Sand lightly before the final coat - be done in a little over 1 day
  • DURABLE FLEXIBLE COATING: Premium, oil-based formula won't crack or peel when wood expands and contracts with changes in temperature; perfect for all types of marine and household woods
  • CHOOSE HIGH GLOSS OR MATTE FINISH: For a high gloss varnish finish apply 6-8 coats of Lust Gloss; for a smooth satin finish, build with coats of Lust gloss varnish; use Lust Matte for the finish coats
  • AVAILABLE IN HIGH GLOSS OR MATTE in Pint, Quart and Gallon sizes. Thinner: TotalBoat Special Brushing Thinner 100 (brushing/rolling); xylene (spraying). Coverage: 360-400 sq. ft./gallon

Last update on 2021-09-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

In addition to its fast-drying formula, this product cures into a hard, smooth, superior, and glossy finish. The finish is super-clear, even though it’s an amber finish.

Pros

  • Creates a superior and beautiful finish
  • Easy to apply
  • Extremely durable
  • Offers optimal protection against water and weather elements
  • Resistant to fade and scratches
  • Requires a few sanding in between coats

Cons

  • It’s too thick.

Verdict

This varnish produces a great finish. It holds up well and requires less sanding in between coats, unlike some conventional varnishes. Although you may need to thin the product as it’s too thick.

5. Epifanes Wood Finish Matte

One thing I love about this varnish is its satin sheen finish. It leaves your boat and other wood furniture with an adorable effect when used.

Thanks to its components such as phenolic-modified alkyd resin and tung oil, this varnish dries into an amber, clear, and elegant finish. Best of all, you don’t need to recoat the wood surface after using this product for a long time. The finish is long-lasting, which is impressive.

Epifanes Wood Finish Matte is super durable, as it offers maximum protection against fade, wears, and scratches. It also comes with UV absorbers that protect the wood from the effects of the sun. This means you can coat your piece of furniture or boat in the sun without side effects.

This finish is easy to apply, and you don’t need to sand in between coats due to its low porosity level. Because of this, the varnish brings out the best finish in the wood while concealing its awkward appearance.

Epifanes Wood Finish Matte (1000 ml)
  • High build, hard matte finish without sanding between coats. (if recoated within 72 hours)
  • Soft matte beauty with outstanding U.V. protection for teak and other fine hardwoods.
  • One component varnish based on phenolic-modified alkyd resin and tung oil.
  • Microscopic porosity properties allows no sanding between coats for up to 72 hours.
  • Matte Finish giving a rubbed effect look.

Last update on 2021-09-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This product is thick, so you’ll need to thin it with mineral spirit before application. For the best finish, apply with a brush.

Pros

  • Great for outdoor use
  • Sanding between coats is unnecessary.
  • Creates a satin and smooth finish
  • Highly durable
  • Contains UV absorbers

Cons

  • You will need to be fast with the application, as it dries quickly.

Verdict

For those who prefer a matte, satin finish, I recommend the Epifanes Clear Varnish. It’s UV protected, resistant to fade, and dries quickly into an adorable finish.

Read Also: Best Water Based Polyurethane for Furniture (Reviews & Buying Guide 2021)

6. McCloskey 6539 Man O’ War Marine Spar Varnish Gloss – Best for Interior and Exterior Use

If you want a durable product that you can use for both interior and exterior wood projects, then the McCloskey Marine Spar Varnish is for you.

This marine spar varnish is extremely durable. When dried, scratches and others have minimal effect on it. Best of all, this marine varnish is UV and moisture-resistant. This marine varnish is suitable for boats, furniture, and other areas that are frequently exposed to water, as it will offer increased protection against ocean salt and peeling.

Bothered about temperature changes? With this marine spar varnish, you don’t need to. It expands and contracts according to temperature changes. This means the beautiful finish on the wood remains the same and unaffected.

MCCLOSKEY 6539 Sc Mow Spar Gloss
  • Resistant to water and UV
  • For wooden boats, furniture and fences
  • For bare, stained previously varnished surfaces
  • For high moisture areas such as bathrooms and kitchens
  • Clean up with mineral spirits

Last update on 2021-09-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This product holds up well and quite convenient to use. You don’t need to apply many coats to get your desired finish. The product dries into a hard, long-lasting finish. However, it doesn’t dry as fast as one would expect.

Pros

  • Holds up well
  • Works well in any weather condition
  • Resistant to sunlight
  • Affordable
  • Long-lasting finish
  • Delivers a superior finish
  • Durable
  • Straightforward to use

Cons

  • Gives off an odd smell during use.

Verdict

This is one of the best marine varnishes on the market that doesn’t cost much. Though it’s designed for marine applications, it’s great for coating indoor wood pieces of furniture. It’s not difficult to apply, as you don’t need to thin it.

7. System Three 1855S16 Clear Marine Spar Urethane Varnish Coating – Best Budget Marine Varnish

If you are looking for the best low-budget marine varnish, I recommend the System Three 1855S16 Clear Marine Spar Urethane Varnish. This varnish is fantastic, and one of the best there is. It cures properly into a satin and gloss finish.

This marine varnish is made for exterior use and offers optimal protection to the wood. The finish is durable, making the wood surface tough and resistant to scratches and weather elements.

Additionally, the marine varnish contains ultraviolet absorbers that prevent the sun rays from getting into the wood. This keeps the wood furniture or surface glowing even when exposed to sunlight. It’s also resistant to water, being that it’s a marine varnish.

For easy application, the System Three Clear Marine Varnish excels greatly. With a roller, brush, or HVLP sprayer, you can easily apply the varnish on doors, railings, etc. You don’t have to thin the varnish before using it unless for special coatings, which is fantastic.

In terms of drying, the finish doesn’t perform badly. It dries relatively fast, and the final finish appears smooth and super glossy. When thinned, a self-leveling finish is created, eliminating the chances of bubbles forming during application.

System Three 1855S16 Clear Marine Spar Urethane Varnish Coating, 1 Quart Can
  • Available in Gloss or Satin finish. Formulated to cure properly over System Three epoxy products
  • A high solids, VOC compliant finish
  • Designed for marine and exterior wood surfaces
  • Offers excellent protection from salt air and water
  • Contains ultraviolet light absorbers which will keep wood looking beautiful even with constant exposure to sunlight

Last update on 2021-09-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

I love the fact that the varnish is affordable. For buyers who are unwilling to spend much on a varnish, this product would be a perfect choice.

Pros

  • Creates a fabulous finish
  • Thick
  • Water-resistant
  • UV protected
  • Cures into a durable finish
  • Resistant to scratches

Cons

  • It doesn’t dry fast.
  • Not great for interior use

Verdict

System Three Marine Varnish is a low-budget, high-quality finish that will revitalize your old outdoor wood piece of furniture and make them look beautiful again. Its UV absorbers will prolong the wood’s lifespan by preventing the sun from penetrating the wood.

Best Marine Varnish for Wood Buyer’s Guide

When in the market for the best marine varnish for wood, there are essential factors that you must consider to ensure that you make no mistake. Below are some of these factors;

Types of a Marine Varnish

You will encounter several types of marine varnishes when in the market for one. Marine varnishes exist in the following types as Tung Oil mixture, Water-based and Oil-based Polyurethane, Exterior Varnish, Spar Varnish, Two-Part Varnish, and Acrylic Varnish.

As I earlier explained in this article, classic varnish comprised of resin and pine sap. Modern marine varnishes now comprise tung oil, phenolic resins, and alkyds.

Varnishes with tung oil offer gloss finishes and harden after application. This makes them great for coating boats and other things that come in contact with water.

Water-Based and Oil-Based Polyurethane is another type of varnish. They contain chemical components that harden quickly when applied to a surface. Unlike oil-based poly, water-based results in crystal clear finishes and doesn’t give off yellow color. However, it is not durable as oil-based poly.

Exterior Varnish is for exterior use. It comes with UV protection that makes the varnish suitable for outside utilization. This varnish makes it impossible for mold to grow in the wood because of its deep penetration.

Spar varnish is mostly used for coating boats since they come in contact with water constantly.

The two-part varnish is a finish that comes with a base and a hardener. These two components are mixed in the right combination to give the best coating result. Two-part finishes offer maximum abrasion resistance and dry super quickly.

Acrylic varnish dries quickly and non-toxic. Like Exterior Varnish, acrylic varnish comes with UV light protection, so you can use it both on the inside and outside.

The acrylic varnish is also clear after application. However, it has low penetrating power but it’s not corrosive or gives off a bad odor. This makes it safe for use.

Ease of Cleaning

You can’t be too careful with using varnishes, as they sometimes spill accidentally. That’s why you need a formula that’s easy to clean. You will find it more comfortable to clean such a formula when it spills during use.

Durability

The varnish should be utterly resistant to abrasion and scratches and last for an extended time. This will minimize expenses and save you money a great deal.

Ease of Use

Some varnishes are difficult to use, especially for those who are just starting. As a beginner, you should use a product that’s easy to apply. You should use a product that you can handle comfortably should mistakes occur during painting.

Drying and Curing Time

Every varnish has its drying and curing time. However, you should avoid those that take time to dry, as they can complicate your schedule. Plus, varnishes that take time to dry are susceptible to dust and debris accumulation, affecting the coating result.

Safety and Maintenance Tips When Using a Marine Varnish

Maintaining a marine varnish will make it last longer and maximize its effect. Therefore, you need to take care of it and ensure that it’s kept in a safe place.

Careless handling of a marine varnish can jeopardize your safety. Marine varnishes are flammable. Exposure to fire and direct heat will cause an explosion.

Before you can begin to apply a marine varnish, make sure the area is properly ventilated. Painting outdoors, especially in the morning is most preferred. Also, you must wear safety gear like gloves, goggles, and a respirator for optimal security.

Although some marine varnishes come with UV protection, direct sunlight can affect the drying process. So you should either paint in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid fast drying.

How to Apply a Varnish

  1. Clean the surface and prepare the surface for the first coat.
  2. Rough the surface up with 80-grit sandpaper so that the coat can stick.
  3. Thin the first coat with white spirit for oily varnishes and water for water-based varnishes.
  4. Apply the first coat with a roller. You can also use a paintbrush.
  5. Make sure the coat is dried properly.
  6. If you can see some bubbles on the surface, sand it with 180-grit sandpaper or any other fine-grit sandpaper to smoothen.
  7. Apply the second coat. This time, don’t dilute it.
  8. Wait for it to dry.
  9. If you wish to apply the third coat, repeat the process from step 7

What is the difference between spar varnish and marine varnish?

Spar varnish, also known as spar urethane, and marine varnishes are nearly similar. Both protect the wood from water and moisture damage. The major difference between spar varnish and marine varnish is that spar varnish can be oil-based or water-based, while the marine varnish is mainly water-based.

Is marine varnish better than polyurethane?

It depends on the surface you intend to apply the finish. For doors and exterior surfaces, the marine varnish is best to use because of the chemical properties and moisture-resistant abilities. Polyurethane is best used for items inside the home or interior use.

What makes varnishes better for exterior use than polyurethane is due to its low toxicity. They are more flexible and offer better protection against extreme weather conditions.

How long does marine varnish last?

Marine varnish typically lasts for more than ten years, although pigments, temperature, and chemical agents may affect durability. For instance, exposure to direct sunlight can minimize its longevity.

What is the best exterior clear coat for wood?

The best exterior clear coat for wood is marine spar varnish. This finish contains primary ingredients such as linseed and alkyd resin to offer optimal protection to the wood.

Is marine varnish waterproof?

The marine varnish is waterproof. However, its waterproof features are lost when it is used in certain woods. Before you can begin coating, you have to ensure if the varnish’s components are compatible with the surface you intend to paint.

Conclusion – Best Marine Varnish for Wood

Purchasing the best marine for wood is non-negotiable. If you want your furniture or boat to last as long as possible, you need to use the ideal marine varnish.

The best marine varnish will protect your wood furniture and enhance its appearance by creating a glossy finish. With this type of finish, your furniture will last longer without fading or losing its lovely appearance.

This article has provided the best marine varnish for wood. With the comprehensive buyer’s guide, I’m pretty sure you won’t have issues choosing the most suitable finish.

Remember to use the right method application when using any of the varnishes, as it guarantees the finish’s outcome.

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