What's the Best Way to Apply Varnish?

ECOS 01/31/2015

We recently had a customer ask us: "Can you show me how to best apply ECOS pigmented varnishes? And show me what disaster happens if I dilute it with distilled water to the point where I can spray it with a turbine? I just used your interior mahogany pigmented varnish and I could certainly use a video of how it's done right." Essentially, he's wondering what's the best way to apply varnish (which is a very common question), so today we're sharing a helpful tutorial videos and tips from our in-house expert.

Here's how to apply varnish to a newly stained piece of wood using a brush:

Here's how to prep the surface before your final coat of varnish:

Here's how to apply a varnish or clear coat to a wood floor:

Here's how to apply a water-borne varnish using a sprayer:

And, here's how to apply the ECOS pigmented varnish our customer referred to in the original question. (ECOS Woodstain Varnish is a tinted version of our clear zero-VOC varnish* that can be applied to add to or alter the color of existing finished wood pieces.)

*Conforms to CDPH 01350 (VOC emissions test taken at 11, 12, & 14 days for classroom and office use). Learn more about VOCs and our commitment to healthier paints here.

1. Clean the surface. For best results, make sure the surfaces to be coated are clean, dry and free of any loose dirt, grime or other surface contaminants. (Note: Pledge, Murphy’s Oil Soap, and similar products leave an oily residue or waxy build up that will need to be cleaned off).

2. Scuff the surface. Scuff sanding of the existing finish is highly recommended to dull the sheen and provide an anchor profile for the new varnish to bond well. Remove the residual sanding dust before applying the finish.

3. Apply the varnish. Apply at least two coats of the Woodstain Varnish in your desired color, allowing 4 hours drying time between coats. Additional coats may be applied to achieve the depth of coloration you desire, but are optional. If you're using a sprayer, ideally we recommend using an airless option, if possible – but our products can be used through conventional and HVLP equipment. Make sure you have the correct needle and cap sets for water-based paints. Also, if there is a viscosity meter and recommendations from the sprayer manufacturer on using the viscosity meter, please follow these directions to help achieve the proper atomization and best results in finishing. The paint can be reduced with clean tap water. Then it should only be a matter of dialing in your air and fluid mix to reach the ideal adjustment for proper atomization . Over-reduction will lead to compromising the integrity of the product, as well as difficulties in applying at a proper millage without incurring runs. Practice on a piece of cardboard to ensure your settings are all correct.

4. Let dry and enjoy! For general cleaning and maintenance, use a mild dish soap and warm water solution. Do not use any cleaners containing ammonia or alcohol.

Why choose ECOS?

Unlike traditional polyurethanes (poly, shellac, or clear coat) even those labeled as “environmentally friendly”, ECOS WoodShield Varnish is non-toxic** and has no odor***. Developed twenty five years ago with a unique formulation, our products were designed for people with multiple chemical sensitivities, asthma, allergies and issues with everyday chemicals. For over two decades, we have provided world class, high quality varnishes and relief from noxious chemicals to discerning individuals around the world. Today our customers include people who are focused on the environment and sustainability; healthcare providers; mothers concerned about their baby’s health, and companies seeking to protect the health of their employees, guests and visitors.

ECOS WoodShield Varnish has all the important clear coat (polyurethane, shellac, or poly) qualities. Our water based varnish is extremely hard wearing, has great clarity, and comes in a variety of sheens. Like polyurethanes, coverage is between 400 and 500 square feet per gallon, and drying times are quicker than traditional clear coats. ECOS WoodShield Varnish can be applied using a lamb’s wool applicator, high quality synthetic brush, pad or spray - just like a poly. And, you can use our varnish where you would use a clear coat – on floors, furniture, woodwork, cabinets and doors.

**Conforms to ASTMD-4236, specifically concerning oral toxicity, skin irritation and respiratory effects.

***No traditional paint (polyurethane) odor, which can cause headaches, nausea, and respiratory issues.

Check out our full line of premium, eco-friendly stains and varnishes. 

CATEGORIES poly|polyurethane