Can You Apply Polyurethane Over Varnish? Advise By A Pro

Need to revamp a piece of furniture or an old wooden surface and want to know if it’s possible to apply polyurethane over varnish? The answer is yes, Although not the most suitable solution for every project, you can use this technique and achieve fantastic results that will last for years. So go ahead and give your furniture the makeover of its dreams with polyurethane over varnish.

If you’re considering applying a layer of polyurethane over varnish, then this article is just the resource for you! Keep reading to know everything there is to understand about this process – from what tools and materials are necessary, different types of polyurethane available, as well as some tips on how to achieve smoothness in your project. With all the information provided here at hand, you’ll be sure whether or not using polyurethane over varnish will suit your needs perfectly.

First of all, it’s important to understand the difference between varnish and polyurethane. To help you get a clear understanding, we will start from the very basics and build up our argument from what you probably already know to what you are not sure of.

What Is Varnish?

Varnish is a strong and transparent coating that enhances the beauty of both stained and bare wood surfaces. Developed from resins, oils, solvents – or any combination thereof – it serves as an excellent protector against daily wear-and-tear damage. Plus, its durable construction creates a water-resistant layer for extended use! Though varnish may begin to dull or deteriorate over time, no need to worry; simply reapply your preferred finish with ease for renewed protection and fresh aesthetic.

What Is Polyurethane?

Polyurethane is a synthetic coating that is often used as an alternative to varnish. Polyurethane is made from a combination of urethane resin and a solvent or water-based carrier. There are two types of polyurethane: oil-based and water-based.

Polyurethane is known for its durability, water-resistance, and ability to create a glossy or matte finish, depending on the type of polyurethane used. It can be used on a variety of surfaces, including wood, metal, and concrete.

Polyurethane,Clear,Semi-Gloss,1 gal
Varathane 200141H-2PK Water-Based Ultimate Polyurethane
Varathane Semi-Gloss Clear Water-Based Spar Urethane
1 gal Minwax 13333 Clear Polycrylic Water-Based
Minwax 222224444 Polycrylic Protective Finish Water Based
Minwax 65555444 Polycrylic Protective Finish
Polyurethane,Clear,Semi-Gloss,1 gal.
Varathane 200141H-2PK Water-Based Ultimate Polyurethane, Quart, Semi-Gloss Finish, 2 Pack
Qt Outdoor Fin S-gls
1 gal Minwax 13333 Clear Polycrylic Water-Based Protective Finish Satin
Minwax 222224444 Polycrylic Protective Finish Water Based, 1/2 Pint, Matte 2 Pack
Minwax 65555444 Polycrylic Protective Finish Water Based, Quart, Gloss - 3 Pack, 65555444-3
$62.69
$36.03
$26.99
$68.57
$27.52
$89.99
Polyurethane,Clear,Semi-Gloss,1 gal
Polyurethane,Clear,Semi-Gloss,1 gal.
$62.69
Varathane 200141H-2PK Water-Based Ultimate Polyurethane
Varathane 200141H-2PK Water-Based Ultimate Polyurethane, Quart, Semi-Gloss Finish, 2 Pack
$36.03
Varathane Semi-Gloss Clear Water-Based Spar Urethane
Qt Outdoor Fin S-gls
$26.99
1 gal Minwax 13333 Clear Polycrylic Water-Based
1 gal Minwax 13333 Clear Polycrylic Water-Based Protective Finish Satin
$68.57
Minwax 222224444 Polycrylic Protective Finish Water Based
Minwax 222224444 Polycrylic Protective Finish Water Based, 1/2 Pint, Matte 2 Pack
$27.52
Minwax 65555444 Polycrylic Protective Finish
Minwax 65555444 Polycrylic Protective Finish Water Based, Quart, Gloss - 3 Pack, 65555444-3
$89.99

Tools and Materials to Apply Poly Over Varnish

If you’re planning to apply polyurethane over varnish, you’ll need a few essential tools and materials. Here are some items to have on hand before you start your project:

  • Sandpaper or a sanding block
  • Tack cloth
  • Paintbrush or foam brush
  • Polyurethane (oil-based or water-based)
  • Optional: Mineral spirits (for cleaning oil-based polyurethane from brushes)

Mixing Both Finishes

Before you can begin coating the varnish with polyurethane, there are a few steps of preparation involved. Start by sanding it lightly in order to create an ideal foundation for the new layer to adhere onto. Then, use a tack cloth to rid off any remaining dust or debris from the surface.

Once this is done and dusted (literally!), remember that timing is key when mixing finishes like these; make sure that your varnish has fully dried before introducing polyurethane into the equation – if not, then adhesion won’t be successful!

Secondly, it is essential to choose the ideal kind of polyurethane for your task. You have two types to pick from: oil-based and water-based products which all come with their own sets of benefits and drawbacks.

Types of Polyurethanes By Application

Paint Polyurethane

Painting polyurethane is the greatest option for replacing varnish. It will give a uniform texture and smooth finish. Furthermore, a greater amount of polyurethane applied to the surface will result in a thicker layer that will stay longer on the surface and make it more durable.

Spray Polyurethane

Anyone without any prior experience in the field of carpentry can accomplish this task. The layer of spray is thinner than that of paint, allowing more time for drying and ensuring that a sufficient amount of polyurethane is available to coat every part of the wood.

What To Look Out for When Choosing Polyurethane for Your Project

When choosing polyurethane for your project, you need to consider the following:

  • Type of wood: Some woods require a certain type of polyurethane. For example, oily woods like teak or cedar require a different type of polyurethane than hardwoods like oak or maple.
  • Indoor or outdoor use: If you are finishing woodwork for outdoor use, you need a polyurethane that is resistant to water and extreme weather.
  • Drying time: If you are working on a large project, you need a polyurethane that dries quickly.
  • Application method: If you are spraying polyurethane, you need a thinner polyurethane, whereas if you are brushing, you need a thicker polyurethane.
  • Type of finish you want. If you’re looking for a high-gloss finish, oil-based polyurethane is a good option. Water-based polyurethanes have a more natural appearance and are less likely to yellow over time.

 

How To Apply Polyurethane Over Varnish Like A Pro

To apply polyurethane over varnish like a pro, follow these steps:

Step 1: Clean the Surface – Ensure that the surface is free of dust and debris.

Step 2: Sand the Surface – Sand the surface using 220-grit sandpaper to remove the gloss on the varnish. This will help the polyurethane to adhere better.

Step 3: Apply Polyurethane – Apply the first coat of polyurethane using a brush, roller or sprayer. Make sure to apply a thin and even coat.

Step 4: Allow it to Dry – Allow the first coat to dry completely before applying the second coat. The drying time will depend on the type of polyurethane you are using.

Why You Would Consider Putting Polyurethane On Top Of Varnish

Adding a layer of polyurethane on top of your varnish is an excellent idea for many reasons, but the main one being protection. This robust finish can help to guard wood from scrapes, spots, and regular wear and tear while also extending its lifespan. Furthermore, it’s easy to apply with different shades available so that you can match your existing furnishings.

Which Is Better—Oil-Based or Water-Based Polyurethane?

Considering the specifications of your project will help you determine which type of polyurethane is best suited for it. If the purpose involves an outdoor task or one that necessitates a more sturdy finish, oil-based polyurethane should be chosen. Alternatively, if it’s meant to be used indoors and requires a quicker drying time water-based polyurethane would function better in this instance.

Disadvantages Of Using Polyurethane Over Varnish

The primary downside of using polyurethane instead of varnish is that it might crack, peel off, or flake after some time. Polyurethane offers a tougher finish compared to varnish and can make the latter’s flexibility vulnerable. To guarantee more lasting protection, pick one covering or strip any existing coating prior to applying a new layer.

How Various Types Of Varnish React To Polyurethane

Spar Varnish

Spar varnish is specially crafted to be water-resistant, yet layering it with polyurethane isn’t the best choice. The oil ratio of polyurethane falls below that of spar varnish and won’t give you the results you are after. Instead, carefully sand down your existing spar varnish then apply another coat or type of varnishing topcoat for a more reliable finish.

Oil-based varnish

Finishing off your oil-based varnish with a sanding is an absolute must if you want to achieve a flawless result. Sanding protects against bubbles, cracks and other imperfections that could potentially occur upon the application of new coats. Additionally, selecting the right kind of oil will not only prolong drying time for both polyurethane and varnish but also increase their longevity.

Best Polyurethanes On Amazon

Now that we are aware of the details regarding “can you polyurethane over varnish,” let us investigate some of the top-notch products available on Amazon.

1. Varathane Exterior Water Based Semi-Gloss Quart

Key Features

  • Water-based
  • Fast-drying
  • Low odor
  • Non-yellowing
  • UV Protection

Description

For those seeking a fast-drying, low odor option with UV protection and non-yellowing effects – this water based polyurethane is the perfect solution! Not only that, it allows you to achieve an immaculate semi gloss finish tailor made for your furniture. The convenience of its easy clean up makes it even more appealing. Forget about worrying about discoloration over time – this product has got you covered.

Pros

  • Water-based
  • Doesn’t have the strong odor
  • Dries quickly
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Some users have complained that it’s not as durable as oil-based polyurethanes

Buy On Amazon

2. Minwax Clear Polycrylic Water-Based Protective Finish Satin

Key Features

  • Water-based
  • Non-yellowing
  • Fast-drying
  • Low odor
  • Can be used indoors and outdoors

Description

This polycrylic protective finish from Minwax is perfect for those who are looking for a durable, water-based option. It is non-yellowing and dries quickly, so you don’t have to worry about it changing the color of your furniture over time. Plus, it has a low odor, so you can use it indoors without worrying about the smell.

Besides, this polyacrylic is perfect for both indoor and outdoor use. It provides a beautiful satin finish that will make your furniture pop. Plus, it’s affordable and easy to apply.

Pros

  • Water-based
  • Dries quickly
  • Non-yellowing
  • Low odor
  • Can be used indoors and outdoors

Cons

  • Not so durable

Buy On Amazon

3. Rust-Oleum Ultimate Polyurethane Water-Based Semi-Gloss

Key Features

  • Water-based
  • Non-yellowing
  • Fast-drying
  • Low odor
  • UV Protection

Description

This water-based polyurethane from Rust-Oleum is the perfect option for those who are looking for a durable, fast-drying, and low-odor finish. It is also non-yellowing, so you don’t have to worry about it changing the color of your furniture over time. Plus, it provides UV protection to keep your furniture looking new.

Pros

  • Water-based
  • Non-yellowing
  • Fast-drying
  • Low odor
  • UV Protection

Cons

  • Can’t be used on outdoor furniture
  • It may not be as durable as oil-based polyurethane
  • Not available in a high-gloss finish

Buy On Amazon

Reasons Why Using Polyurethane Might Be a Better Option Than Varnish

While varnish has long been a popular choice for protecting and enhancing wood surfaces, polyurethane has several advantages that make it a better option in some cases. For one, polyurethane is more durable and resistant to scratches, making it a better choice for high-traffic areas. It also dries faster and has a clearer finish, which can be ideal for maintaining the natural color of the wood. Additionally, polyurethane can be applied over a wider range of surfaces, including painted and stained surfaces, which can be a more convenient option for some projects.

What To Consider Before Using Polyurethane Over Varnish

Before using polyurethane over varnish, there are some things you need to consider:

  1. Compatibility: As discussed earlier, polyurethane and varnish have different chemical compositions, so it’s essential to determine if the two finishes are compatible. You can do this by applying a small amount of polyurethane over the varnish in a discrete area and observing if any adverse reaction occurs. If there are no issues, you can proceed with the project.
  2. Surface Preparation: Before applying polyurethane over varnish, you need to prepare the surface. Ensure that the varnish is clean, dry, and free from any debris, oils, or waxes that may affect the adhesion of the polyurethane.
  3. Application Method: You can apply polyurethane over varnish using different methods, including brushing, spraying, or wiping. The method you choose will depend on the type of polyurethane you’re using and the project’s scope.
  4. Drying Time: Polyurethane can take anywhere from 24 to 48 hours to dry completely, depending on the humidity and temperature of the environment. Ensure that you have ample time to allow the polyurethane to dry before using or handling the finished product.
  5. Safety: Polyurethane emits volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can be harmful when inhaled. When working with polyurethane, ensure that you have adequate ventilation and protective gear, including gloves and respirators.

Tips for Working With Polyurethane Over Varnish

Here are some tips to help you achieve a smooth and flawless finish when working with polyurethane over varnish:

  1. Use the right applicator: Whether you’re brushing, spraying, or wiping polyurethane over varnish, ensure that you use the right applicator. A natural bristle brush or foam brush is ideal for applying polyurethane over varnish. Ensure that the brush is clean and free from any debris that may affect the finish.
  2. Sand between coats: Sanding between coats of polyurethane helps to ensure a smooth and even finish. Use a fine-grit sandpaper to sand the surface gently before applying the next coat of polyurethane.
  3. Allow ample drying time: Polyurethane can take up to 48 hours to dry completely, so ensure that you have ample time to allow the polyurethane to dry between coats.
  4. Apply thin coats: Applying thin coats of polyurethane helps to prevent runs, drips, and other imperfections. It also allows for better adhesion between coats.
  5. Don’t rush: Rushing the process can result in a subpar finish. Take your time, follow the instructions carefully, and allow ample time for the polyurethane to dry between coats.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRkW_eJku4M

How Do I Get a Smooth Finish With Polyurethane?

To achieve a luxurious, even finish when applying polyurethane to your furniture, you should use a foam brush with synthetic bristles. If that’s not an option for you, don’t worry! You can also apply the product using cloth rags as well – just make sure to sand down the surface of your furniture beforehand either way. With these methods and materials in hand, you’ll experience stunning results.

Is Varnish Or Polyurethane the Right Finish For You?

Now that you know the basics of polyurethane over varnish, you can give your old furniture a new look. If you’re looking for a durable and long-lasting finish, polyurethane is the way to go. It’s also easy to apply and comes in both water-based and oil-based formulas. Just make sure to do your research to find the right product for your project.

Applying a varnish to your furniture is the surefire way to protect it, and with the added bonus of maintaining its color longer than other finishes. While not as strong as polyurethane, varnishes offer an effortless approach that won’t yellow over time in comparison. Unfortunately they do not come in high-gloss – something you should consider when making your decision.

With so many finishes to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which one is best for your project. Polyurethane stands out if you’re searching for a lasting finish that will endure through the years. If instead you want something easy and fast with which to shield your furniture, look no further than varnish.

FAQs

Can I put Polyurethane over marine varnish?

Absolutely, you can apply polyurethane over marine varnish! Polyurethane is a hardy protection that preserves wood from harm while being transparent. Varnishes come in two different varieties: oil-based and water-based. Oil-based ones are more resilient but produce an intense shine whereas the latter will give off a lighter sheen finish. If you’re deciding between both coatings for your project, be sure to consider the kind of final gloss look, durability requirements and ease of application when making your decision.

Can You Apply Polyurethane Over Lacquer?

Wondering if you can apply polyurethane over lacquer? The short answer is yes! Polyurethane is a clear, hard coating that is applied to wood to protect it from damage. Lacquer is a type of varnish that dries quickly and provides a high-gloss finish.

Is varnish better than polyurethane?

The right finish for your project is up to you and your preferences. Varnish will look beautiful with its amber-hue, but it takes longer to dry and may not be as long lasting compared to polyurethane. Polyurethane dries quickly and provides an even, non-yellowing surface that can withstand wear in heavily trafficked areas or outdoors; however, varnish might prove more resilient in such cases. Weigh your needs carefully when deciding between these two finishes: the level of protection required combined with the desired aesthetic should guide your selection process.

Can You Put Polyurethane Over Polish?

Even though you can apply polyurethane on top of polish, it is not required. Applying a protective coating such as polish safeguards wood from any harm or wear and tear. You will find varnish in either an oil-based or water-based solution with the former providing greater durability and a glossy finish whereas the latter is easier to remove if exposed to moisture but doesn’t last for long periods of time.

So can you put polyurethane over varnish?

The answer is yes. Polyurethane is a clear, hard coating that is applied to wood to protect it from damage. Varnish is available in both oil-based and water-based formulas. Oil-based varnishes are more durable and provide auction

Can You Apply Polyurethane over Old Polyurethane?

Absolutely, you can layer polyurethane over existing layers of the product. Polyurethane is a clear and durable coating that shields wood from destruction while also providing aesthetic value. Moreover, there are two types of varnish – water-based and oil-based – with the latter being more resilient in nature and granting an impressive glossy finish.

Can You Seal Over Varnish?

Sealing over varnish is not necessary. Varnish is a clear, protective coating that is applied to wood to protect it from damage. Varnish is available in both oil-based and water-based formulas. Oil-based varnishes are more durable and provide a high-gloss finish.

Can you polyurethane over spray paint?

Yes, you can polyurethane over spray paint. However, it’s important to wait until the spray paint is completely dry and cured before applying the polyurethane. This can take anywhere from a few hours to several days, depending on the type of spray paint and the environmental conditions. It’s also a good idea to sand the surface lightly before applying the polyurethane to help it adhere better.

Conclusion

Ultimately, the answer to “can you apply polyurethane over varnish” is affirmative. However, bear in mind that this does not signify that polyurethane can be a substitute for varnish; rather it serves as an extra layer of protection and durability on the surface. Therefore, when deciding between using either of these two products, consider carefully what kind of surface you are working with and how it will be used.