Varnishing Wood: Step-by-Step Guide

Varnishing wood lets you breathe new life into objects and helps you to rescue or recycle old items. It also protects and preserves. Discover how you can varnish wood yourself.
Varnishing Wood: Step-by-Step Guide

Last update: 07 May, 2022

Typically, over time, furniture loses its color and shine and no longer looks nice. But before throwing it away, you should know that if it’s made of wood, you can varnish it. Varnishing wood makes it look new and you’ll be able to renew the functionality of this material without much investment and effort.

Practically, by recycling and giving a new lease of life to old things, you’ll be helping the environment too.

Tips to consider: varnishing wood

Before varnishing any wood you must take into account that each type of wood has different characteristics. Knowing which type you have to transform will help you to correctly choose the type of varnish you require. Using the right varnish will ensure that it adheres perfectly to the wood.

This is very important because it can impact the finish of your hard work.

wood stains
Learn how to varnish wood in a simple way.

What varnish should you choose?

The options for varnishing wood are varied because there are different finishes for this product. Depending on the type of wood and your expectations, the main choices you have include a matte finish, a gloss finish, or a transparent finish.

Here are some tips for you when it comes to choosing varnish for exterior and interior wood: 

  • Interior wood: you can use a very simple varnish. Water-based varnish is the ideal option for interior wood because it’s very easy to apply and achieves a nice finish. This is perfect for coffee tables, dining room, or living room furniture. It doesn’t need as much care because it won’t be exposed to sunlight.
  • Exterior wood: choose a varnish that’s resistant to sunlight. In this case, synthetic varnish works well and gives exterior wood more resistance. Equally, this varnish ensures the color lasts for longer.

Varnishing wood: step-by-step

Once you’ve identified the type of wood that you want to reuse, the next step is to varnish it. Below, we’ll explain everything you’ll need for varnishing wood yourself.  We’ll also discuss the process of achieving a perfect finish.

Materials you’ll need

Before varnishing your wood, make sure that you prepare and have all the materials you’ll need to hand. Remember, the varnishing must be done in a suitable area, one that’s large and well ventilated.

Prepare the varnish, the brush, a brush if necessary, the sandpaper, and a clean cloth.

To varnish the wood you have to sand it and clean it very well.
To varnish wood, first, you have to sand it and clean it well.

Steps to varnishing

Now you have all the materials ready and the space ready to varnish the wood, discover the correct steps to achieve the finish that you want. The steps are easy to follow but don’t skip any of them. You’ll want to ensure that the finish lasts for as long as possible.

  • Sand and clean the wood: before you varnish the wood, make sure that it’s clean and that it’s not porous. Older wood can be porous and this makes it difficult for the varnish to properly adhere to it. For this challenge, you should use fine sandpaper to sand the surface and then clean and remove the debris.
  • Choose the type of varnish carefully: as we mentioned, to varnish wood you must use a particular type according to the wood and the finish you require. The great advantage is that there are several different finishes to choose from.
  • Varnish the wood for the first time: for a perfect finish, the first coat of varnish should be applied using a large brush. Apply a thin layer that doesn’t leave bristles from the brush, so as not to damage the surface. Let the first coat dry thoroughly, then sand over it a little to remove any excess.
  • Wipe with a clean cloth: when the first layer is dry, wipe over it with a soft, clean cloth to remove the remains of the varnish,
  • Apply the next layer: this must be very thin. Try not to overload the brush too much, as lumps may form and affect the finish. This layer should be left to dry for a minimum of 24 hours and then sanded to give it the final touch.

Varnish your wood and make sure you protect the finish

After varnishing your wood it’s important to protect it to prolong its life. Over the years, wood can deteriorate and the extent of its deterioration depends on its use. For example, if it’s a table that’ll undergo continuous use, it’s recommendable to install a glass top to cover the table and protect your work.

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