There are different types of boat varnish on the market and it can be confusing as to which one you should use. Our handy guide will break everything down and help you choose the right varnish for you.
Why should I varnish my wood?
The short answer is to protect it from being subjected to the elements. Wood is a natural product and so being exposed to moisture, UV rays and pollution will inevitably break it down and damage it. Varnishing your wood will create a barrier against these things as well as give it a beautiful aesthetic and ease of cleaning.
Which boat varnish should I use?
There are three different types of boat varnish:
Tung Oil Boat Varnish
This is what some refer to as the ‘old-fashioned’ varnish for your boat. The base of tung varnish is made from a natural oil, usually tung but sometimes linseed. This oil base is then mixed with other things such as solvents, resins and a UV protector.
This type of varnish is flexible and will protect the wood from water, staining and heat damage. However, it should be noted that this type of varnish will always become dry and chalky and eventually crack off the surface. This is obviously not ideal as not only will you have wasted time and effort varnishing your boat, but it leaves your wood vulnerable and open to the elements.
There have since been other types of varnish added to the market that give just as good of a finish but with a longer-lasting result.
1-Part Polyurethane Boat Varnish
As previously mentioned, 1-Part Polyurethane varnishes give just as good of a finished result as tung oil and offer the same amount of protection, but are much harder wearing. Due to its strength, these types of varnish are often used for other things such as interior wood flooring.
However, it should be noted that due to its extra rigidity it is not recommended for use on highly flexible wooden areas such as spars as they can easily crack due to lack of movement.
2-Part Polyurethane Boat Varnish
The 2-part Polyurethane varnish system consists of 2 products that have to be mixed together. This type of varnish is extremely tough and so also offers very good protection from moisture and UV damage and so potentially a good solution to protect areas that are prone to damage.
However, again there are a few flaws with this type of varnish. Just as with the 1-part, the 2-part varnish undoing is that it is too strong for some areas of your boat (on your spars for instance) and it will inevitably crack as the wood moves, leaving the wood exposed to the elements and in danger of becoming damaged.
Boat varnish solution from Owatrol
Owatrol offer a 2-step system of Deks Olje D1 and Deks Olje D2.
D1 & D2
Deks Olje D1 is a highly saturating hardwood oil with a clear matte finish that is perfect for use both above and below the waterline. It drives out moisture and air from within the wood and fills the pores with oil. This enriches and stabilizes the wood to provide long-lasting protection.
Once you have applied Deks Olje D1, you can leave the wood as is or if you want a glossy finish, you can apply Deks Olje D2.
Deks Olje D2 is a tough, flexible, high-gloss, durable finish. Unlike traditional boat varnishes, D2’s flexibility means it will not craze or blister. This makes it perfect for use on any part of your boat. What’s better is that no sanding is required between coats and maintenance and repair can also be carried out without stripping!
- Deks Olje D2 should not be used without first applying Deks Olje D1.
- Deks Olje D2 should not be used on areas that will be walked on as it would become slippery when wet.
Getting the best result
As with all of our products, the best way to get the best finish possible is all in the prep work. Be sure you take the time to get your wood properly prepared before application with products such as Prepeck or Net-Trol.
We also recommend using high-quality brushes and/or rollers. Please also be sure to thoroughly read the technical information sheet on the product pages before application.
If you have any boat varnish care tips or advice, please leave them in the comments below. We love hearing from you!