You can choose from a variety of finishes for your painting. The finish protects the paint while also adding to its aesthetic appeal. Many individuals feel that one finish is superior to another, although this isn’t always the case. Is varnish or polyurethane the right finish for you? Depending on what you want from your painted artwork, there is a good option for you.

Because they know their product best, the paint manufacturer’s recommendations are usually the best place to start. Golden Artist Colors, for example, recommends enhancing the beauty of a Golden Acrylic® painting with varnish or polyurethane. Customers who prefer an application method other than brushing or rolling can use Golden’s Super-Clear® Varnish aerosol spray.

Aside from understanding what brand you used to produce your painting, you need also know whether it will be for decoration in a house, a gallery, or both. If you’re not sure, take a glance around your house at the many sorts of artwork on display. Is everything varnished? Is there a variety of finishes on show? A clear gloss or semi-gloss finish is usually applied to works presented in a gallery so that they stand out from other pieces and show off their real colors. Because the manner of framing determines which kind should be utilized, a frame shop may recommend one type over another. In either case, understanding what finish you want can assist you limit down your options as well as those who will be working with you select the appropriate product.

What’s Involved and How It’s Done

Varnish or polyurethane can be applied to a painting in a variety of ways, and you’ll need to know how to accomplish it. Brushing is the most popular approach. This is what you’d anticipate in a frame shop where a huge number of paintings are being worked on at the same time. This method can also be employed when the artist needs a specific finish but doesn’t have a lot of time. Varnish is normally applied in three to five coats, and paintbrush bristles may be evident when polyurethane is applied in some circumstances. In situations like this, the appearance may not be what you desire. Also, check to see if your brush has any leftover paint or varnish from past projects.

It’s sometimes the only way to get the job done without utilizing an HVLP sprayer, but it’s more expensive and takes longer. Artists that do their own framing will benefit from this approach of finishing because they already know how much finish is required. It also gives them more control over where the coating is applied.

Unless you’re putting something heavy like epoxy resin, a roller can usually be used. However, if you’re using epoxy glue, you’ll probably want to use a sprayer to avoid brush marks. There isn’t as much control with this procedure as there is with spraying, but rollers can cover surfaces faster than brushing.

When Should You Use What?

Is varnish or polyurethane the right finish for you? Consider what your painting will be used for when deciding how it should be finished. If you plan to sell the piece, polyurethane is the best option because it’s easy to clean and doesn’t have a strong odor. It also provides superior anti-yellowing protection than varnish. Varnish, on the other hand, shines brighter and can enhance the appearance of some types of paint.

Use an aerosol spray for details or a brush with gel medium (the most common) or super glue if you prefer a different way (for metal leaf). Other solutions exist, such as epoxy resin, which hardens like plastic when set, although this modern approach is less popular because of its high cost and potential incompatibility with the art.

Varnish, in addition to giving protection, can also brighten a piece by reflecting light, which is why it’s only used on tiny paintings. The glossy finish complements these artworks since it highlights the artist’s brush strokes. It does not, however, look good in homes with a lot of windows and doors since glare will wash out the hue. Polyurethane is more versatile since it can achieve a gloss or matte finish depending on how many coats are put and sanded at each phase. You’ll need something more opaque, like shellac or acrylic paint, if there’s any yellowing or staining that needs to be covered up.

The Best Finish for You

Is varnish or polyurethane the right finish for you? When choosing a finish for your painting, think about what you want the piece to accomplish. If it’s only going to be displayed on a wall in your home, any of these finishes will suffice as long as there are no yellowing issues. If it’s going into a frame shop or gallery where it’ll be displayed under lights, varnish is the only option because it enables light to pass through without being hindered by glass. Polyurethane is usually preferred over varnish for artwork that is handled frequently (such as oil paintings), because it resists yellowing and stains better. The most important thing is to determine how you’ll use the art before deciding how to finish it.