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Varnish Painting Services

Varnishing Wooden Surfaces

Varnishing wooden surfaces not only adds luster and shine to the wood, it also seals out moisture and preserves the wood much longer. Especially in the salty ocean air, varnishing wood is an important step towards preservation and even restoration of wooden surfaces, accents, and more for a home or commercial space. 

Some basic steps for varnishing include finding a well-ventilated and well-lit area, finding an area clear of dust and dirt (as an particles could adhere into the lacquer), the surrounding temperature (ideally between 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit), proper skin and eye protection against varnish chemicals, and finding the right varnish for the project.

Varnishing Process In-Depth

Let’s break those steps down a little further so you can understand how Kailua Painting Co. works to achieve the best results. 


Finding a well-ventilated and well-lit area is important for two key reasons. The first is ventilation, because we are working with chemicals which create fumes. These fumes, similar to paint fumes, can be toxic if inhaled too often. This may mean we need to open a window or use a fan in the room.

Good Lighting

Having a well-lit area is necessary to ensure we don’t miss any spots on the wood. Just as with any other task, being able to see everything clearly and with enough light is integral to a beautiful finished product. 

We don’t want to spoil the varnish with unfortunate dust particles, dirt, or pet hairs, dust motes, and more. We’ll often vacuum and sweep up an area before varnishing in it to prevent ruining the final product. If it’s a windy day and we’re working outside, we’ll have to re-schedule, as this would only delay the process further! 

Weather Considerations

Weather is always a factor with exterior and interior painting, and this also goes for varnishing. The materials are sensitive to heat and cold, so the ideal temperature for varnishing is between 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit. If it’s too cold, it won’t dry fast enough, leaving the surfaces vulnerable to more particulate and dust. Too hot, and it’ll dry rapidly, leaving tiny air bubbles.

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Interior Residential
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Proper Protection

The materials for varnishing include thinners and varnishes in an array of options including acrylic, oil-based, spray-on, clear, or tinted. Many of them must be mixed with a paint thinner, often turpentine. These chemicals can be toxic in the body, harm skin, stain clothes, and damage eyes. We use face masks, goggles, and protective clothing when necessary to protect ourselves and the space as well. 

Varnish Options

There are many types of varnishes available to choose from. We will help you decide on the best one based on the circumstances. For example, a spray-on varnish is very easy to use, but has strong fumes and would not be ideal in smaller spaces or rooms. Oil-based varnishes require turpentine and damage brushes, but are highly durable for high traffic wooden surfaces.

Another option to consider is whether you want to change the tint of the wood, in which case you can find tinted varnishes that will change the color and add a unique stain to the wood. Finally, acrylic and water-based varnishes are very low odor, great for smaller spaces with less ventilation, and don’t damage brushes nearly as much as oil-based varnishes.

We’ll consider all these factors (including price) with you to decide on the best choice.

Raw or Previously Varnished Wood

If you’re looking to re-varnish wood, we’ll paint over it or remove it depending on your preference. If removing the old varnish, we’ll use a sanding technique, paint thinning technique, or chemical paint stripper to get down to the raw unpainted wood.

Sanding for a Smooth Finish

Once we’ve removed the old varnish or if we’re working with raw wood, we’ll have to sand the wood to get the best adherence possible of the varnish with a fine-grit sandpaper (between 180-220 grit) in the direction of the wood grain. 

Grain Fillers for Surfaces

We’ll have to clean the area to get rid of the sanding dust, vacuum and sweep. Certain woods like oak require grain filling to achieve a smooth finish. A contrasting filler color will accentuate the grain for a more stylized look, while a similar color filler will disguise the grain if you’re looking for a more subdued look. Next we’ll varnish the wood, applying first treatment coat that needs to dry for 24 hours before adding another coat, or applying a complete coat, depending on the type of varnish you’ve chosen. We’ll then sand with an even finer-grit sandpaper (280-300 grit), applying another coat. We’ll repeat this process several more times with finer and finer grit sandpaper to achieve a stunning and glossy varnished finish!

Kailua Painting Co.

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