Applying Varnish

By Karl

Applying Varnish adds a Layer of Protection to Wood that Resists Scratches

Applying varnish is a great way to not only improve the look of wood but also to guarantee an added layer of protection. Wood furniture that is used frequently is easy to scratch or ding. When varnish has been applied to the surface of the wood, the piece is much less likely to become damaged when something bumps into it.

Adding varnish to a piece of furniture is simple. It requires the same technique that is used to apply paint. But before beginning this type of project, it is important to prepare your work area.

Work Area

If you are going to apply varnish indoors, make sure your workspace is large enough for the piece of furniture. Make sure there is ample air circulation in the room. Lay drop cloths on the floor for protection. Also make sure that windows in the work room have shades – because direct sunlight shining on drying varnish is not optimal.

Preparing the Furniture

Prior to applying varnish, the piece of furniture must be evaluated for condition. If there is old varnish or paint on the wood it may need to be stripped. If the current coating seems to be peeling or chipped, these are good signs that the old layers should be removed before new varnish is applied. After preparing the surface of the wood, make sure it is clean and dry.


The tools you will need to complete this project are fairly basic. You will need a can of varnish, a clean container, a paint brush (the natural bristle type is recommended), and a container opening tool.

The Application Process

To start the process, pour some of the varnish into a clean container and put the lid gently back on the original can. You can add more varnish to the container if you need it. This alleviates the possibility of contaminating the entire can of varnish if you end up not needing all of it.

Next, dip your paintbrush into the varnish that you poured into the spare container. Paint the varnish onto the furniture using long paint strokes that go from one end of the piece to the other. Make sure to re-load your paintbrush with even amounts of varnish every time you dip the brush into the container. Painting with the wood grain is always recommended.

In most cases you will want to add at least two layers of varnish. When a layer dries, use sandpaper to gently sand the surface before applying the next layer. But do not sand the final coat!

A Tough Finish

One of the greatest aspects of applying varnish is that it provides a durable finish on wood furniture that resists scratches. It dries quickly and it rarely bubbles or chips. Varnish is a relatively inexpensive finish that can be added to any type wood furniture. It comes in a few varieties – including semi-gloss, satin and matte, and it is water-resistant. It also provides a layer of defense from heat and chemicals.

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