Sign in to follow this  
socalrider

Non-glossy gloss varnish

Recommended Posts

First try at varnishing the new trawler has failed. Used Epifanes Woodfinish Gloss as a maintenance coat (2 coats, one each day) and it dried to a rough flat finish both times. What did I do wrong?  
 

Prior to the cost I roughed up the varnish with a 3M pad and wiped down with a clean rag. Any ideas?

B6579F57-3B75-4A68-A534-C1ACE51ECECA.jpeg

EEC6AF9C-7823-4C18-AD9A-B6CC0B689149.jpeg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Varnishing is part Science, part Voodoo. You need ideal conditions for a flawless finish (proper temp/humidity).

My guess is this coat was put on too early or too late in the day and dew (moisture) killed any gloss potential.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've used Epifanes Woodfinish Gloss on a 1946 Thistle with good success (as far as gloss goes). No thinning. However, all of this work has been done in a garage (cleaned and cleaned and cleaned and cleaned to remove dust) and in the low humidity of southwest Montana. No experience in a marine environment (your boat being in the water).

In addition, the moon, Jupiter and Mars were in the correct alignment :D on each day I varnished!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmm... sounds like I maybe should have slaughtered a chicken first. 
 

This may encourage the heretical use of porch paint in the near future. I don’t have a ton of patience for this stuff. I applied late in the day so it did get damp overnight. But if I apply first thing it bakes in the sun all day which I’ve also heard is bad. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
30 minutes ago, Irrational 14 said:

10-11am. Boat is usually dry by then and the wind is not up yet.

I might give it another try tomorrow am then. Ok to go right on top of the existing coat?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Looks like it might be a powerboat.  That could be your problem. Try another three or five coats. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, PaulK said:

Looks like it might be a powerboat.  That could be your problem. Try another three or five coats. :)

Was wondering if I was going to get through this thread without some snarky comment.  Should have known :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not enough coats.  You haven't spent enough money on expensive varnish yet, you will need to spend some more.  I have always had excellent results with Epifanes - there is a wooden sign at the end of our driveway that has been out there for three years in the rain and snow (and occasional sunny day) and it still looks perfect.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, socalrider said:

I might give it another try tomorrow am then. Ok to go right on top of the existing coat?

I build up several coats (4 or 5) before I start sanding between coats.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It will require a border run to Arizona cause I think they don't sell in CA...but a little penetral and T10 brushing thinner will extend your climate range for coating.  Usually lack of gloss is due to putting on too late and the evening dew killing it.  In the tropics they go super heavy to crazy extents on thinner.  The thinner does what thinner does mostly evaporate and the penetrol helps it flow.  We are not pros but many gallons into this approach with multiple brands and good success.  I honestly think you have to be mostly pro quality to apply any varnish straight out of the can and get a perfect finish.

I usually don't see any kind of build up till at least 4 coats in.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I second the Penetrol - 5% makes a huge difference in flow out without thinning the varnish.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Irrational 14 said:

Light sand w/220 first.

320. 240 scratches are obvious in clear coats and good paint jobs. 
 

Typical schedule:

150 bare wood 

240 1st coat, sealer or thinned varnish (what ever raises the grain)

320 between coats

Maroon scotchbrites(320grit) don’t clog and work well on the curves. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had really good results a few times but with small pieces by coating the wood with raw epoxy then lots of coats of UV varnish.

The epoxy stopped the grain from lifting (imho).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a maintenance coat - varnish was already built up. 
 

I thinned it about 5% with Epifanes brush thinner. It went on great, looked like a million bucks before it dried.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, socalrider said:

This is a maintenance coat - varnish was already built up. 
 

I thinned it about 5% with Epifanes brush thinner. It went on great, looked like a million bucks before it dried.  

Humidity.

Apply in the morning. Thin as much as you can short of having (lots of) runs (10+%).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, socalrider said:looked like a million bucks before it dried.  

It always look great when you leave. The next day it looks like shite.

The three problems are humidity, drying timesAnd viscosity. You have no control over humidity, other than avoiding rainy days, and late in the day. You should have enough control with reducers to manage the dry times. The real trick is adding the correct amount of reducer to  prevent fast drying, but not making it into water which causes runs, puddles and very thin flims. 
 

The humidity is the big enemy. It fucks shit up and you end up sanding off entire coats or more. 
 

Some people like penetrol because it lowers surface tension and reduces brush strokes without making it into water. I’ve had good and bad experiences with penetrol. I start with the recommended reducers made by the company. If it’s hot and windy I’ll add a bit max 5% of penetrol. This helps with some finishes but not others. 
 

Just make sure you toast the varnish gods with a good beer when you are done. Not that shite watery lager, which causes blushing. 
 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have always applied this varnish with no thinners, though never in bright sunlight.  It has enough flattening agents that you will get a flat, smooth surface without the thinners.  However, you absolutely can not go back and try to touch anything up after the original application brush strokes, so make sure you get it applied evenly the first time.  Based on what you are describing, you should be getting better results than you are.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As others have said - likely heavy dew/moisture settling on the surface early evening before full cure and staying wet all night.  Any chance you can hang a tarp above so the heavy dew doesn't get on the rails?  You may still get some moisture from the air but it wont be as heavy.

I used to enjoy varnishing (20 yrs ago) it seemed rather easy to follow a few simple guidelines and end up with a great result.  Now it seems to be a crap shoot. Unfortunately varnishes and thinners are much different than they used to be because of environmental regulations.  It either doesn't flow out when tipping with a brush, or then you thin too much and it runs, or too heavy and it alligators.  My biggest problem is that after I finally get the method dialed in and looking good I forget what worked 3-5 yrs later when I varnish again (covers for everything varnished on deck help a lot).   

I have been temped to try the fast cure stuff "Lust" or 'Gleam" from Total Boat.  Multiple coats in a day without sanding sounds much better than one coat a day, then sanding.  I have used their water based "Halcyon Amber" on some interior stuff and it works well, 5 coats in a day, easy application and virtually no smell.  Not quite as golden amber like traditional varnish but much better color than any water based poly I have tried.  Time will tell on its ruggedness.  Its inside so I wont have a good outdoor UV test.  

This link is interesting for a fast cure wiping varnish using Japan Dryers to quick cure.  https://www.finewoodworking.com/2008/03/26/a-fast-drying-wiping-varnish  I have never tried it so I cant say how long it takes to build up sufficient coating thickness or how it stands up to outdoor environment.  Curious if anyone has tried Japan Dryers with traditional varnish.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've used wipe on polyurethane on interior surfaces. It doesn't build thickness at all - it would take about 50 applications to get a normal varnish thickness.

It does give a great and easy finish surface though so what I've settled on is a couple of sealer coats of it - instead of using thinned varnish - then building thickness with conventional varnish then sanding and applying the wipe-on as the final coat.

As easy as oiling to touch up too - wiping on a new coat every 2 or 3 years keeps it looking great.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well the third try seems to have worked: laid it on at 10:30am and it looks good the day after. Not perfect but acceptable - I think I could have thinned it a touch more. 
 

Thanks for the help!  Cold beer on me for anyone near Kellogg Beach for the next few hours!image.thumb.jpg.5d5af0b89452a0defa41a175d79b65b9.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not bad - varnishing overhead is a bitch.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/24/2020 at 7:55 PM, socalrider said:

Was wondering if I was going to get through this thread without some snarky comment.  Should have known :)

Not here on SA.  You must be thinking of somewhere else.

SnarkSailboat.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Remember, none of that foamy watery lager. You are risking bubbles, runs & blushing. 
 

Hoppie smooth ale is the go for after varnish drinking. Here in South Au we can get away with the lager as long as it’s ice cold. No need to worry about drying when it’s 38c(100f)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh we have no shortage of quality ale here in San Diego. That’s definitely not the issue. I suspect it may have contributed to the weird upside down picture though. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The dew point factor counts for both morning and night, as does direct sunlight, as does temperature, as does the viscosity of the varnish. Its a bit of a juggling exercise if you're working around weather and can't control your environment. Most tape will last a couple of days than you've gotta remove it and re apply. 3M makes a tape that you can leave on for more than a couple of successive coats(i.e. more than 48 hrs w sunlight in between or so they say).

One thing I've found useful is to read the label of an Epiphanes can and follow it to a tee. You can also finish with a separate clear coat.

The majority of the devil in the details is prep and follow what Cpt. Ahab said above with the 120 bare wood 220 early fine coats or balancing and then maybe something slightly finer for successive coats. Always use a rag and paint thinner after the sanding to prepare and clean the surface(this stage can give you a good visual of what exactly you've sanded and what you've missed and what you'll be aiming for on successive coats). Wait for paint thinner to air out(couple of minutes) and apply varnish. 

The first couple of coats, at least with Epiphanes clear gloss, go 50 % thinned to get a soak (in un varnished bare surface) or create a sticky surface on top of already varnished layers, then go down to 75% then 90% etc. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
34 minutes ago, fufkin said:

The first couple of coats, at least with Epiphanes clear gloss, go 50 % thinned to get a soak (in un varnished bare surface) or create a sticky surface on top of already varnished layers, then go down to 75% then 90% etc.

The way that is worded could cause some confusion to inexperienced varnishers.

It would be better put "go 50 % thinned to get a soak in on unvarnished bare surface), then go down to 25% then 10% etc".

In practice I never found any benefit in going to 3 thinned coats - 50%, 20%, full strength works for me.

And only on exterior wood. Indoors a single thinned coat is enough.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, socalrider said:

Well the third try seems to have worked: laid it on at 10:30am and it looks good the day after. Not perfect but acceptable - I think I could have thinned it a touch more. 
 

Thanks for the help!  Cold beer on me for anyone near Kellogg Beach for the next few hours!image.thumb.jpg.5d5af0b89452a0defa41a175d79b65b9.jpg

Excellent approach! Minimizes dew, sunlight, dust effects.........................

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

People make varnishing way more complicated than it should be. 
 

Thin the first coat 50% with a decent thinner to make a sanding sealer. It raises the grain and sands off easier than unthinned. The fact it soaks in is irrelevant. Unthinned varnish soaks in as well. It is simply about grain raising. 
 

After the first coat go full strength if you can. If it’s not brushing we’ll add 5% of whatever the manufacturer recommends. Go up to 10% then 15%. Depending on the varnish try 5% penetrol.  If  it’s not brushing at 15% you have to ask yourself is the environment really poor, or You are a shite varnisher. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

having applied  about 10,000 lin ft with a paint brush , my only addition is don't cheap out on the brush,  I see guys with a 150k trawler, $50 quart of varnish and a $1.69 brush. Your life will truly be enriched with a decent brush, you get even flow, nice coverage and less brush stroke tracks. Taken care of a decent brush will last a really long time, in fact once they are broken in a bit the finish gets better. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, crankcall said:

having applied  about 10,000 lin ft with a paint brush , my only addition is don't cheap out on the brush,  I see guys with a 150k trawler, $50 quart of varnish and a $1.69 brush. Your life will truly be enriched with a decent brush, you get even flow, nice coverage and less brush stroke tracks. Taken care of a decent brush will last a really long time, in fact once they are broken in a bit the finish gets better. 

Thanks - I splurged on the round Epifanes badger brush.  It is nice.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, crankcall said:

$1.69 brush. Your life will truly be enriched with a decent brush, you get even flow, nice coverage and less brush stroke tracks. Taken care of a decent brush will last a really long time, in fact once they are broken in a bit the finish gets better. 

It’s like buying cars. You can buy an expensive one. Baby her, spend tonsOf time & money  on cleaning it.

The other option is to buy the better less expensive disposable ones and chuck them after a day. The amount of money in billable time is hard to overcome. 
 

I was told that Hinkley buys them in bulk and throw them away. Keep in mind only the last coat has to be perfect. 
 

We have all tried to clean our precious brush really well only to find it’s not clean and tired. 
 

At the end of the day varnishing is part chemist and part skill. If you can’t adjust the mix to suit the environment and you can’t brush well. Your brush is almost irrelevant. If anything the good ones hold too much varnish. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wonder how much brush work is even done at hinkley anymore, i'd have thought most components were put together and sprayed then fastened into the yacht.  I'd bet the guy in the white overalls holding a brush in the advertsing retired in the 70's , but I really have no idea. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So how do you clean a bush?  Mine never seen quite the same after I stop using them.

While I'm using them, after cleaning, I wrap them in foil and put them in the refrigerator between coats.  That seems to keep them good, but once it's been long enough to dry out they are always too stiff.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, xyzzy said:

So how do you clean a bush?  Mine never seen quite the same after I stop using them.

Oh the possibilities. :D

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 hours ago, SloopJonB said:

Oh the possibilities. :D

Douche bag response :lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this