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Old 02-03-2014, 01:52 PM   #1
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Interior Varnish question

Hello all,
As we embark on sprucing up our 1987 KhaShing trawler, we are puzzled by the different kinds of interior varnish. Can the group shed light on the difference between rubbed, matte, satin, semi-gloss interior varnish? We've been told to use a varnish rather than a polyurethane. Any comments by those who have chosen one over the other?
thanks,
Alison
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Old 02-03-2014, 02:01 PM   #2
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I too am interested, varnish is a bit of a mystery to me.

Thanks in advance for any and all varnish related information both interior and exterior.
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Old 02-03-2014, 02:20 PM   #3
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Any reasons given for Varnish over Poly?
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Old 02-03-2014, 02:33 PM   #4
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It was the cabinetmaker who did some nice woodwork repairs who said " don't use poly". I believe it is because it is too "plasticky" and not bendable/flexible.
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Old 02-03-2014, 02:43 PM   #5
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Alison,

The flexability of the finish should not be a factor. If you have that much movement in the joinery I think you have more serious problems.

The terms rubbed, matte etc. refer to the shine of the product from very flat to very shiney as in high gloss.

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Old 02-03-2014, 03:20 PM   #6
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For interior horizontal surfaces you'll be walking on (steps, interior wooden decks) I would strongly recommend polyurethane. It is much harder and therefore more scuff resistant than varnish. For vertical surfaces, particularly those which may be exposed to direct sunlight, I'd suggest you use varnish fortified with UV filters in whatever finish suits you. In direct sunlight, almost any properly applied varnish will be much more durable than polyurethanes.
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Old 02-03-2014, 04:14 PM   #7
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On our last three boats, we have used satin varnish on the interior. The last two were built in Taiwan so there is lots on interior wood. Satin varnish is easy to buy almost anywhere and it does not show the imperfections as readily as gloss does. Satin does not have much if any UV protection though. I won't get into who makes the best varnish.
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Old 02-03-2014, 08:13 PM   #8
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Le Tonkinoise!

I have a friend who heats the varnish on a stove and applies it with his hands. Good results too. Heat it up outside unless you have to go for a pee or something. Also, pee before you stick your hands in the varnish. Just saying.
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Old 02-04-2014, 06:07 AM   #9
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The reason for using as much matt finish is that underway the light bouncing off high reflective surfaces can cause sea sickness.

A well lit cabin that serves as a VOMITORIUM is not every ones joy underway.

Even the interior painted areas should use flat paint to help cut down reflections.
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Old 02-04-2014, 07:26 AM   #10
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I am in the camp of rubbed effect spar finish only. If you want any depth to it, build up coats with the high gloss oil base or linseed oil materials. Then make the last coat or two flat or the rubbed effect.
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Old 02-04-2014, 04:39 PM   #11
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Interior Varnish

I would suggest that you take a look at [url=http://www.Woodenboat.com]for information on this subject. They beat the varnish question to death.
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Old 02-04-2014, 05:01 PM   #12
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I prefer a gloss finish and when I look at most yachting magazines it seems to be favored by most yacht builders. I always use a spar varnish like Captains and I've had fantastic results with it. The Grand Banks saloon is surrounded by glass and when I bought the boat all the interior was beaten up with sun damage. My Admiral did most of the work and turned the interior into a show piece. That was in 1994 and we haven't had the need to address it since.

On the floor you need poly. I think most everyone agrees there.

Good luck with whatever you do.
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Old 02-04-2014, 05:50 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Capthead View Post
I prefer a gloss finish and when I look at most yachting magazines it seems to be favored by most yacht builders. I always use a spar varnish like Captains and I've had fantastic results with it. The Grand Banks saloon is surrounded by glass and when I bought the boat all the interior was beaten up with sun damage. My Admiral did most of the work and turned the interior into a show piece. That was in 1994 and we haven't had the need to address it since.

On the floor you need poly. I think most everyone agrees there.

Good luck with whatever you do.
I will add a comment to this one pertaining to high gloss. Even after personally varnishing for many decades, I pass along this food for thought.

For many owners doing their own jobs refinishing interiors for the first or second time, beware that using high gloss on large vertical flat areas such as bulkheads and even corner mouldings, you may end up with lap marks on the flat surfaces or runs on rounded corners, and will show up with the high gloss versus a lot of the satin finishes. Its just the nature of the beast. unless you are really careful. Make sure you also use a really high end brush too. Of course some folks suggest foam brushes. But not all foam brushes are the same either.

So work quickly and in warmer climates, a small cap of penitrol if you can buy it or the preferred thinner and follow their directions for the certain brand of varnish.
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Old 02-04-2014, 05:53 PM   #14
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What you are saying is true but with some experience you can get a flat, no grain showing finish without runs or sags. My wife can do it, so can you.
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Old 02-04-2014, 06:14 PM   #15
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You get the best ingredients w the high gloss so perhaps all but the last coats should be high gloss sanded well between coats.

In my experience oil based coatings are the easiest to apply and maintain including touching up. If I'm wrong about this please bring me up to speed.

I mix some of my own oil finishes.
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Old 02-04-2014, 06:16 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Capthead View Post
What you are saying is true but with some experience you can get a flat, no grain showing finish without runs or sags. My wife can do it, so can you.
I can personally varnish in a wide variety of situations. But still even to this day going around window frames where you end up applying varnish in an ever changing direction from horizontal to vertical is another area can be a challenge, especially with the high gloss.

When using a quality brush, where bristles are finer and more in numbers, you still need to be mindful of keeping varnish from the heel area of the bristles, which will build up when varnishing above the middle of the vertical parts.
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Old 02-04-2014, 10:16 PM   #17
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Not much of a fan of polyurethane, but to each his own. Epifanes Rubbed Effect is about the hardest varnish I have used. When it dries around the lid, you need to use a chisel to dislodge it. It flows very easily, and because it is rubbed effect, it hides blemishes. Once applied, it dries so hard it resists scuffing, which is why I used it on the cabin sole, as well as all interior cabinetry. The sole looks about the same today as it did when we applied it 6 years ago, although I will probably add a maintenance coat in the next year or so. Use at least 5 coats and you'll have a 10 to 15 year finish that is pretty easy to touch up. Just make sure you shake the can before applying, as the matting agents settle out. Use foam brushes, IMO.
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