Wood Test Block for Varnish & LacquersI decided I’d add some reviews of art materials to my blog, as I often share tips and ideas on Facebook and social media. I’ve been testing different varnishes. My favorite overall is Liquitex High Gloss Varnish. It is a waterbased acrylic, and if you paint in multiple thin coasts, there is almost no drippage. One layer merges seamlessly with the next. On small pieces, clear nail polish works well. Spray lacquer is messy, stinky, toxic and leaves a lot of drippage.
I have this little wood block I have painted and left outside for 2-3 months, and as you can see, the nail polish holds up well. It is harder to see on the Mod Podge, but it’s completely washed off. Not a trace of it left. To be fair I only had indoor Mod Podge to test. Also hard to see with Dimensional Magic, but it’s cracked and has gone a bit cloudy (I love Dimensional Magic for small jewelry pieces though, but does not take water exposure well at all). The lettering under the spray lacquer has faded but that may be a chemical reaction. The paint has not. But the Liquitex blows them all away. Between 3-4 coats is optimal. You can’t see the gloss too well because the angel of the shot doesn’t catch any reflections, but it is as good or better than the nail polish.

The goldish-green patch is colored nail polish.The space between the Dimensional Magic and Liquitex has no coating. There is a tiny bit of fading, but not noticeable so far. I’m going to try something similar on a plasterite piece, with different kinds of paint as well. I will add to this review as my testing advances.

I won’t be testing other spray varnish at this point because I like the Liquitex so much, and because I find spray paints and lacquers too messy to work with. But I’ve heard about marine varnishes, and may give them a try if I can find a local supplier. For now, Liquitex is the hands down clear (pun intended) winner.

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