Vique_PaNovember 9, 2009

Someone posted on here that they used a varnish on their painted pieces because it gave them a softer look. Would you please tell me what kind of varnish I can use with water base paint. I had put some paint on a piece of scrap wood to see if I could use varnish on it. Even though the paint was dry for several days, the varnish softened the paint and made a mess. Thanks, Vique.

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If you are talking about acrylic paints....I use Rustoleum Diamond Finish Varathanes (brush-on finish) or Krylon spray finishes on my painted pieces. Both are water-based products and both companies make indoor and outdoor finishes that are very durable. They are all I've used since I can remember.

If your varnish softened the paint then one of 2 things happened.....1) the paint was not cured, or 2) you used a laquer based varnish.

You can use a water-based or oil-based finish over acrylics but a laquer will make the paint curdle and soften.
It takes at LEAST 7 days (sometimes longer) for acrylic to cure depending on how heavy handed you applied the paint. I find a week is usually enough and I have never had any problems with the finishes I use.

Some points to remember about finishes.....

- Virtually any type of varnish will work over latex/acrylic paint EXCEPT lacquer.

- Oil-based varnishes will yellow. Avoid their use on white or very light colors unless you are trying to achieve an antiqued or aged effect. They also take longer to dry, so keep this in mind if you are doing multiple coats. You may only be able to paint one coat a day.

- Water-based finishes dry faster and are non-yellowing. They are not quite as durable as oil-based varnishes, but they are still very resistant to scuffing and abrasion.

*Water-based acrylic varnish will go on milky-white, but will dry to a crystal-clear finish.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2009 at 12:43PM
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Thank you so much for answering my question, I appreciate your information. I will print out a copy and keep it for reference at my painting table. Sincerely, Vique.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2009 at 6:56PM
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You're welcome! :-) I will be looking forward to seeing some of your projects.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2009 at 7:48PM
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That was a very informative response about varnishes. I have always used Delta in/ext brush on varnish and been very happy with it with one exception. I used it on a lazy susan that I had painted with a black background and used a bristol brush as I always do. The brush marks were terrible and really kinda ruined the whole project in my mind. Maybe the dark background is what made the difference.

When do you decide to use a spray versus brush-on varnish. Do you prefer to use brush-on over spray? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and thank you.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2009 at 9:33PM
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Hi netco,

in reference to the brush marks...when applying brush-on varnish I usually use a sponge brush but if you choose to use a bristle brush it should have soft bristles. Another cause of brush marks in your finish is not applying enough varnish.
One advantage of the Varathanes I use is that they are 'self leveling' meaning the varnish when applied to the surface will spread and create a smooth surface while wet.

Brush-On vs. Spray application....

I use a brush-on finish on items that are going to take a beating like floor cloths, outdoor/garden projects, small furniture projects like shelves or for large, flat wood projects like tavern or game boards.

I use spray finishes for small indoor decorative pieces like ornaments, painted boxes, decorative shelf or wall pieces. These types of projects generally aren't handled on a regular basis and a few coats of a durable spray finish is usually enough. In the end the finish I choose to use depends on the look I'm trying to achieve.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 1:39PM
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Wow, you do know your stuff. I used a sponge brush once and was so worried about all the little bubbles it left behind, I never went that route again. I guess I don't know enough to give it a second try.

Is there more than just 1 type of varathane or several to pick from other than then maybe the usual matte, glossy, etc?

I'm finding that I haven't been doing enough painting lately and my Delta varnish has seperated in the container and that may have contributed to the streaks also, now that I think back.

Thank you for letting me pick your brain.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 8:49PM
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My favorite finish for most projects is a 'satin' finish.

If you apply a brush-on finish to a flat project with a sponge brush and see bubbles, tap it underneath until most of the bubbles are gone (same thing you do with cake batter when baking)or pop obvious bubbles with a straight pin. I find if I wet the sponge brush and squeeze out the excess water before using it, I experience few if any problems.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 11:25PM
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Hey, kraftymom..

I tried to find Varathane this past weekend. Looked in Wal-Mart and Michael's and couldn't find it. Some people acted like they didn't even know what I was talking about. Is there a special name I should be asking for? Maybe I should have gone to a regular paint store?

Thanks again for your help.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2009 at 10:00PM
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I've come to the conclusion over the years that the people they hire at Michael's no nothing about crafting, I know better than to ask them anything. I usually know more than they do. lol
I have actually bought my Krylon sprays at both Michael's and Joann's for years using their coupons. They both keep the finishes in a cabinet or on a shelf in the decorative paint aisle.
Michael's has now started carrying the new Valspar line of products. I bought a spray can with a coupon but haven't tried it yet.

I get the brush-on Rustoleum Varathanes at my local Fred Meyer or home improvement store. I would think Walmart should have them. In a variety store like Walmart or Fred Meyer you will find the Varathanes in their house paint area. You will also find the Krylon sprays there (all kinds of them) from clear acrylic to specialty applications.

To get a better idea of what you are looking for go to the sites below. Then you can use their store locators/where to buy options to find it in your area.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2009 at 11:28AM
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Thanks, I printed this all off also!! I used a lacquer as Donna Dewberry said it worked best in their Fla. sun. I didn't think it held up well at all, I like Krylon a lot better. Will try the varnish!! Jan

    Bookmark   December 16, 2009 at 11:26PM
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Hi Jan, Do you paint too? Would love to have you share some of your pics with us here. We have all levels of painters, and we always love seeing everyone's creations.

I've not had good luck with any finishes outside for very long--guess between the water sprinklers and the intense Calif. heat it's hard for them to hold up. The ones that I just sprayed, I try to remember to give them another coat every few months, but I often forget. I will say that the rocks I painted with the Patio paints have held up really well and they get the water from the sprinklers and the sun too. Might have to try using it on my next yard stake or sign for my gate.


    Bookmark   December 16, 2009 at 11:40PM
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