Best Marine Varnish reviews

10 Best Marine Varnish | expert reviews with buying guide

Buying the best varnish for coating your boat can be pretty confusing, right? Especially where there are a lot of varnishes out there in the market. However, if you actually know your stuff and understand what you are looking for, buying the varnish may be more comfortable. First, you’ll have to determine for what purpose you want the varnish and then choose one that will serve that purpose the best.

In this article, I’ll provide you with a list of 10 best varnishes for using on your boat's topside. It doesn’t matter whether you are an amateur or professional; all of these 10 varnishes can serve your painting purpose.

So, there is no need to get confused, seeing hundreds of varnishes in the market as you are guaranteed to get the best one once you follow my guide.

If you lack the patience or time to read through the full guide, then I want you to get back. The best varnish I can suggest for you to buy right now would be the Rust-Oleum 207008 Marine Spar Varnish.

Moreover, I recommend that you read through the full review before deciding which one you will buy. Varnishes come at a different color, quality, and price. So, unless you go through the full review, you won't be able to understand which one will truly satisfy your requirement.

In this marine varnish review, I’m going to show all the features these varnishes offer to its owners. Lastly, I’ll review my opinion if (whether) you should really invest your money on this varnish or not.

What is a marine varnish?

The marine varnish is a type of spar varnish. The manufacturers typically formulate it for maritime exposure. It generally contains phenolic and alkyd resin, as well as Tung oil as its components.

It is a renowned product for being a very outstanding wood finishing varnish. The producers simply develop it for coating the sailing ship’s pole of wood.

This varnish is highly sturdy and resistant to harsh weather conditions. You can naturally apply it to unpainted wooden spots, particularly on vessels. In fact, it is a well-known exterior water-resistant varnish around the world.

Why do you need a boat varnish?

The boat owners use varnish to their boats for various reasons. The boat owners' primary reason is to invest in the best spar varnish to provide the utmost protection to their most cherished vessel. Nowadays, as boats are rather expensive, we recommend you to purchase the right products, tools, and equipment to ensure their safety and longevity.

A marine varnish contributes greatly to safeguarding the wood materials in your vessel. It helps restrain mold and mildew accumulation and avoids water leakage onto the wood. Moreover, it makes the wood look more glossy and impressive. Furthermore, it makes your vessel more attractive and expensive.

Best marine varnish product chart

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10 Best Marine Varnish Reviews [2020] with buying guide

Here are 10 best varnishes you can choose from to paint your boat. So, let’s get started.

Rust-Oleum 207008 Marine Spar Varnish, Quart

We have decided to keep Rust-Oleum 207008 Marine Spar Varnish on the first choice on our list. It has a high quality to provide excellent protection against sunlight, water, sea spray, and chemicals on exterior wood surfaces above the waterline.

It is a particular type of flexible coating that expands and contracts with changing weather conditions in a stunning bright finish.

It ensures two times longer durability than conventional wood finishes. It also adds a warm golden glow to enhance wood's natural beauty.

Typically, it dries up within two hours and covers up to 150 sq. Ft. So, you can choose it as a perfect top coat for your marine projects. It is highly effective, so we recommend using it for exterior wood above the waterline.

Key Features

  • Exceptional durability, clarity, and finish retention
  • Ideal for interior and exterior brightwork.
  • One-part spar varnish to allow rapid recoating.
  • It has superior U.V. and weather resistance.
  • Ensure a deep and rich finish

TotalBoat Lust Marine Varnish (Matte, Gallon)

TotalBoat Lust Marine Varnish is in second place on our list. It is the FIRST one-part marine spar varnish that helps you rapid recoating without sanding in between coats. It has a superior U.V. and weather resistance that make it an excellent choice for brightwork, trim & more.

Traditional marine varnishes may create tedious sanding between coats. Besides, some marine wood finishes imitate the look of varnish, but they can't be a substitute for the real thing.

Only TotalBoat Lust can assure you the beauty & durability of classic European spar varnish.

Marine varnish can ensure a deep and luxurious finish. It can build multiple coats and maximum ultraviolet protection instantly. Moreover, the manufacturers highly recommend it for internal and external applications.

It ensures clarity, durability, ultraviolet resistance, and excellent finish capacity. As it comes with exceptional finish retention, it may difficult to find other similar options today.

Key Features

  • Exceptional durability, clarity, and finish retention
  • Ideal for interior and exterior brightwork.
  • One-part spar varnish to allow rapid recoating.
  • It has superior U.V. and weather resistance.
  • Ensure a deep and rich finish

System Three 1850S24 Clear Marine Spar Urethane Varnish Coating, Gloss, one gal Can

We have included System Three 1850S24 Clear Marine Spar Urethane Varnish Coating in the third place. It is a high-build urethane coating designed for marine epoxy and exterior wood surfaces such as railings, doors, or any surface where you need a bright and durable finish.

Moreover, it is also resistant to scratching and damage, as well as many cleaners and solvents. You can also use it on furniture, making it a great deal for being multipurpose.

System Three Marine Spar Varnish contains U.V. absorbers, which will keep wood looking beautiful even if you expose it to intense sunlight.

If you look for a flawless gloss that can defy harsh weather, it would be perfect. It can offer an excellent finish and shiny look. Since its durability is satisfactory, it can last for a few years, even when exposed to direct sunlight.

Key Features

  • A high-build urethane coating
  • Designed for marine epoxy and exterior wood surfaces
  • Resistant to scratching and damage
  • Keep wood looking beautiful
  • Offer a fantastic finish and shiny look

ERS 92304 Spar Marine Varnish, Satin

We have decided to keep OLD MASTERS 92304 Spar Marine Varnish on our list of choices. It is a kind of oil-based varnish that makes the objects glossy and protects them from external damage.

The manufacturers have formulated it as an exterior coating with tung oil and U.V. absorbers. You can easily use it on all exterior wood surfaces and on interior applications where you need added protection.

You can also use it on interior window sills and door frames for ultraviolet protection. Moreover, it contains U.V. absorbers that ensure extra sun protection.

It offers a soft finish that hinders different injuries due to sun, water, and salt spray. If you want to get a flawless gloss that endures rough weather, it would be perfect. It can certainly ensure you a bright, beautiful, and shiny finish.

Key Features

  • A type of oil-based varnish
  • Makes the objects glossy and protects them from external damage
  • An exterior coating with tung oil and U.V. absorbers
  • Usable on all exterior wood surfaces and interior applications
  • U.V. absorbers ensure extra sun protection

TotalBoat Lust Marine Varnish, High Gloss and Matte Finish for Wood, Boats, Outdoor Furniture


McCloskey/Valspar 80-0007509-07 Spar Marine Varnish

We have included McCloskey/Valspar 80-0007509-07 Man O'War Spar Marine Varnish on our product list. It is an excellent tung oil-based, marine-grade varnish suitable for both outdoor and indoor use. It provides excellent protection from rough weather conditions, including U.V. rays and salty water.

Moreover, it can contracting and expanding with the wood and is quite flexible in applying. The protective power and the durability of it are satisfactory.

Many professional sailors greatly consider this product as one of the best boat varnishes since it exists after a few years without revealing any signs of flaking, chalking, cracking, or peeling in direct sun exposure.

It is ideal for boats, outdoor furniture, exterior doors, sills, and many more. It is also superior to polyurethane because it is flexible enough to expand with the wood.

Furthermore, it can resist cracking and peeling and adheres well to oily woods like teak and mahogany.

Key Features

  • Tung oil-based, marine-grade varnish
  • Suitable for both outdoor and indoor use
  • Provide excellent protection from U.V. rays and salty water
  • Capable of contricting and expanding with the wood
  • It can resist cracking and peeling.

TotalBoat Halcyon Marine Varnish | Water-Based Polyurethane Wood Finish

TotalBoat Halcyon Marine Varnish is also a product that we have decided to keep on our list. It is a really trusted brand for marine grade varnish products. It also ensures you to create a light gloss finish in clear light amber and ultra-clear formulas.

Its application assures superior U.V. protection, abrasion, scratch, stain, and moisture resistance for long-finished life. It is a type of water-based one-part polyurethane that doesn't need mixing—just pour it out of the bag and apply.

You can easily apply it by brush, roller, or spray. Halcyon's forgiving formula flows smoothly, lies down evenly, and dries incredibly fast.

You can re-coat in as little as 1 hour, and apply up to 5 coats in 1 day, without sanding between coats. It can ensure the natural wood color and doesn't turn cloudy or hazy. The more layers you apply, the richer and warmer you can expect.

Key Features

  • Ensures you to create a light gloss finish
  • Assures superior U.V. protection, abrasion, and scratch
  • Moisture resistance for long finish life
  • A type of water-based one-part polyurethane
  • Easily applicable by brush, roller, or spray

Minwax 43210000 Helmsman Spar Urethane Clear, pint, Gloss

We have also decided to keep Minwax 43210000 Helmsman Spar Urethane Clear on our list.

Usually, the manufacturers formulate it as a bright protective finish for exterior or interior wood exposed to direct sunlight, water, or temperature. It Contains U.V. blockers that can reduce the sun's graying and fading effects. You can use it on various objects like doors, windows, trim, and bathroom cabinets, bar tops, kitchen countertops, and outdoor furniture.

It has a particular type of U.V. resistance that ensures its indoor and outdoor use. It provides exceptional protection from sunlight, rain, and moisture and temperature changes.

Moreover, it contains special oils that allow the finish to expand and contract with the wood as seasons and temperatures change.

The more coats you use the brighter and the more excellent result you will get. You have to wait almost 4 hours before recoating, and to achieve a satisfactory result, and you need to wait 24 hours.

Key Features

  • It contains U.V. blocker to decrerase the sun's graying and fading effects.
  • It forms a defensive barrier against rain and moisture.
  • Special oils allow the finish to expand and contract with the wood.
  • Ideal for use on doors, windows, trim, bathroom cabinets
  • Provide exceptional protection from sunlight, rain, and moisture

Epifanes Clear Varnish (1000 ml) Size: 1000 ml, Model: CV.1000, Tools & Outdoor Store

We have included Epifanes Clear Varnish on our list also. It is one of the world's famous and highest quality marine spar varnish. It is prevalent in the world as it comes with topnotch quality conventional Tung oil marine spar varnish.

Most of the boaters select this brand because it can provide ultra-high gloss finish. It is renowned for its being the best outdoor ultraviolet resistant varnish. It is, in fact, a top-rated to many popular boat building forums.

Epifanes spar varnish will be one of the options for you if you want maximum protection and a stunning appearance for outdoor wood.

It proves a unique job when it comes to highlighting the natural aesthetics of the wood. It is effortless to apply, and it can provide you with excellent outcomes. You can use it easily and tend to smoothen a lot better than a full-strength type of varnish.

Key Features

  • World-famous and highest quality marine spar varnish
  • Comes with topnotch quality conventional Tung oil
  • It provides an ultra-high gloss finish
  • One of the best outdoor ultraviolet resistant varnishes
  • Restore old wood to a deep, bright finish

Epifanes Rapid Clear (750 ml)

Epifanes Rapid Clear is one of the products that we have kept on our list. It's a type of one-component bright wood finish formulated with alkyd/urethane resin. It's shinier than most another varnish available in the market.

It has high built quality with successive coats, and the manufacturers recommend applying four layers for better performance.

You can use it for renewing weathered areas before applying a varnish system or as a full system for those requiring a quick and easy semi-gloss finish. Moreover, it contains U.V. protection that ensures satisfactory longevity. You can use it for long-term stability and enhancement of all interior and exterior marine and household woods above the waterline.

The bondage quality of it is extremely well to teak and other oily woods. It also prevents discoloration and emphasizes the natural grain of the wood. Its maintenance is effortless. Simply clean the surface and re-apply when you need it.

Key Features

  • Semi-gloss finish product with long term protection
  • Rapid Clear provides excellent protection in all conditions
  • Applicable in interior and exterior use above the waterline
  • Ensure extremely well bondage to teak and other oily woods
  • You need to apply only four to five coats under most conditions

Waterlox TB6032 QT Satin Marine Finish, Clear

Waterlox TB6032 QT Satin Marine Finish is the last one that we have included on our choice list. The manufacturers have designed it as a traditional exterior Tung oil spar varnish in a satin sheen.

You can easily use it on exterior surfaces in direct sunlight/U.V. You can also use it as a finish coat for a satin sheen, exterior finish over base coat(s) of Waterlox Marine Sealer (TB 3809). Moreover, you can apply it for boat decks, brightwork, spars, and other heavy-duty exterior applications, such as exterior doors and garage doors.

It is capable enough to create elastic and protective finish against harsh weather conditions, extreme U.V., and moisture exposure.

It also comes with a water-resistant feature that can ensure a longer life to object you are varnishing. So, if you like to get a satin glaze appearance for your wood, it would be the right choice, and it would put a smile on your face.

Key Features

  • Forms a protective and elastic finish against sun/U.V. rays
  • Undergo harsh weather and moisture exposure
  • Use it as a finish coat for a satin sheen.
  • Create flexible and protective finish against harsh weather conditions
  • It also comes with a water-resistant feature.


What to Consider When Buying a Marine Varnish

You must consider some of the important factors when shopping for marine varnish include:

  1. Check first, if it is affordable enough to meet your budget, but you should not overlook the quality of the product.
  2. Select such a one with maximum UV protection, and can help inhibit mildew or mold growth on the wood.
  3. Get to know if it is easily applicable and user-friendly even for beginners.
  4. Make sure if it is easy to clean, store, and maintain.
  5. Make sure of its durability and long-lasting performance. It must not be instantly peeling, cracking, chalking, and quickly gets damaged in severe weather conditions and other elements.

What are the most trusted marine varnish brands?

From what you have learned from this post, there are various marine varnish brands to choose from. However, You want to invest in the best brands offered by professional sailors and wise consumers, you can consider the most trusted brands which are as follows:

  • Rust-Oleum
  • TotalBoat
  • Waterlox
  • Epifanes

FAQs

What is the difference between polyurethane and spar varnish?

Polyurethane is a plastic resin that can be water or oil-based. Resins, oils and other solvents make spar varnish on the other hand.

The former requires only one or two coats, but the latter has several layers. Polyurethane spar is rather harsh than varnish, and its oil-based version can be even more toxic.

Polyurethane is quite durable. However, it can withstand spray varnish compared to spray varnish, but it is very flexible and provides more protection against UV damage.

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The Closing

There are a lot of people looking for Best Marine Varnish. That is why I would like to provide you with all the necessary information to select a good varnish. Whatever your purpose is, you should choose the right type of varnish that can provide you with full satisfaction in painting activities.

They come up with different quality, prices, and action. But remember that all types of varnish do not equally suit for your expected purposes.

However, I have reviewed some of the best varnishes available on the market, and we hope you will find the information useful. If you ever decide to purchase one of these varnishes, it will help you to choose the one that would be best suitable for you.

If you find this information helpful, please spread the good news with your family and friends in making a perfect choice.

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7 Comments

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  6. I’m not a boat owner. I used this TotalBoat Lust Marine Varnish on a painting on wood that I wanted to hang on the side of my garage. Put on 3 coats of TotalBoat Marine epoxy and then 3 coats of Lust varnish. Looks great and I think I could throw the piece in the pool, ride around on it, pull it out and hang it and it would be undamaged. Was very easy to use and I am very pleased with it. Would cetainly recommend to others who are not professional painters/varnishers because it is easy, straight foward to use and looks great.

  7. Thank you so much this information was certainly helpful. I think we also need to discuss the possibility of a varnish yellowing or darkening the wood that it is applied to. Sometimes, the darkening could be due to the UV additive or tint used; thus, making it unavoidable.

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