How to Apply Boat Spar Varnish

Wood on a boat needs to be maintained to keep its luxurious appearance. The effects of the weather, sun and water can dull the sheen and darken the complexion. Boat spar varnish is specially formulated to be used in marine environments and helps to protect the wood and create a pleasing look. Several steps should be taken to make sure the application process is done well:

1. Remove railings, cleats and other items easily removed from the wood. Removing these objects will allow one to work freely and create a better looking surface. Dark spots will often develop around the base of fixtures and make the appearance of the varnish uneven.

2. Clean the wood. All previous varnish or paint should be completely removed. Wood that has been left unprotected might need to be repeatedly scrubbed to remove the embedded dirt and oil. Some sanding might be required to get down to the natural finish. Always make sure to follow the grain of the wood and use fine coarse sandpaper when sanding to prevent noticeable scratching on the surface.

3. Protect the boat from the elements. Dust and leaves can stick to the varnish when one is applying a fresh coat. The work area should be secured and away from hazards that could destroy the finish while the application process takes place.

4. Apply a primer coat of varnish. The first coat should be weakened with a varnish thinner that is recommended by the manufacturer of the varnish being used. This helps the varnish get absorbed into the wood and creates a good bond. The bond can prevent the “sheeting” of the layers of varnish that can separate and peel off in large segments over time.

5. Apply a full coat of varnish. Make sure the varnish is evenly applied over the full surface of the wood and allowed to sit to dry. The best approach is to “feather” the application. One should brush towards the wet varnish already applied and gently raise the brush to prevent bumps when the edge of the previously applied varnish is met.

Boat Spar Varnish

Boat Spar Varnish

6. Double-coating the finish. One can “double-coat” the finish by applying another coat after the first coat has dried enough so the application of the second coat does not disturb the first coat. Sanding is usually required after the second coat to smooth the surface and remove any bumps. There are some “no sanding” varnishes available, but one must be careful that the first coat doesn’t dry before applying the second coat. Some sanding might be required to create grooves in the first coat that the second coat can adhere to and create a bond.

7. Make sure the coats are applied to seal any openings between the wood and other surfaces. If water can creep into the wood, then there is a good chance that it will cause the varnish to lift up and peel away from the surface.

Let the varnish dry completely before using the boat.

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