To varnish or not to varnish?

When we have spent time creating a project that we are proud of, it can be difficult to decide what to do next can't it?! After all, you want to protect your painting at the same time, you don't want to ruin it by making the wrong choice and you don't want to put something over the painting that will change the way it looks...or worse, what if it reacts to your painting?

So, if you have created something and you are wondering how to finish it, here's a few questions to ask yourself.

1) Is it something that will sit in a high traffic area or something that will be handled a lot?

If this is the case then yes, a coat or two of varnish will go a long way to protecting your item. Like any protective coating it won't prevent all damage but it will prevent the majority. Whether it is a ring binder or bookmark, protect it!

2) Will it come into contact with liquids/heat?

Then this definitely needs varnish. You don't need any special heat proof product, a couple of coats of varnish will protect it enough.

3) Will it be kept for a long time?

When you create something like a greetings card, you don't need to varnish it but if you wish to add a mount board or something similar to a folder or photo book, you will want to protect it for the years to come.

4) What surface are you painting on to?

If you are painting on to an absorbent surface, varnish is a great idea. However, if you are painting onto glass or other shiny surfaces, you may be worried about being able to see the varnish. In that case, varnish is not your best option. 

So...varnish or not, what's your options?

1) Multi Purpose Sealer

This is a fantastic option for glass or outdoor projects because by adding this to your paint, you can protect it from the weather without varnishing.  Although you can add a layer of this sealer to a slick surface, if you are worried you will still be able to see this layer, simply follow the instructions and add it to your paint to help it stick to the surface and protect it from the elements.  

For a terracotta pot, you can paint a layer over the whole pot before base coating and decorating OR you can mix it with your base coat colour to seal.  

2) Varnish

For our projects, we use a water based varnish to protect projects that we are gifting, that will be kept for years and that will be handled a lot, in a high traffic area or near liquids.  Why do we opt for a water based varnish? Well, it is quick drying and it does not yellow like some varnishes which means our project will not change colour in years to come.  

If you need a varnish, your next question is what finish do you want.  

Do you want a high shine, reflective finish? 

Choose a gloss varnish.  This varnish brings out and deepens the colours of your paint and is highly reflective.  

Or, do you want a Matte finish? 

Using a matte varnish is a great option if you want to protect your projects without it looking like you have varnished it. This is also a great option to maintain the look of those rustic surfaces like tile or slate.  

Not sure which one you would like? Why not opt for the Satin finish? 

This is a lovely compromise as Satin varnish has a shine like the gloss but is not as reflective as the Gloss varnish. 

Whatever finish you decide on, remember, be patient and allow your project time to dry...before you apply the varnish AND after you have applied the varnish (if you decide to varnish) The last thing you want is marks or pulling in the thicker areas or paint.  Please learn from our impatience and disasters and leave plenty of time to paint your project! 

Happy Painting! 



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