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  • Is a blend of oils and resins that coat the surface of wood to give it a transparent, protective coating, allowing the beauty of the wood to show through.
  • It can leave a gloss, semi-gloss or satin finish, depending on its formulation.
  • Varnishes fall into three groups, divided by their base: alkyd, latex or phenolic.
  • Phenolic varnishes of modified phenolic oils deliver the best durability, especially in exterior uses. They absorb ultraviolet light and neutralize oxidation. However, they also tend to yellow faster than other varnishes.
  • Alkyd varnishes offer flexibility and hardness in both interior and exterior uses, but in exterior use they oxidize more quickly. However, they do not yellow as much as phenolics.
  • Latex varnishes offer the advantages of oil-based coatings and the cleanup convenience of a water based coating. The acrylic coatings take from 30 to 90 minutes to dry and do not yellow the wood. Some acrylic-based varnishes are even durable enough for use on floors; check manufacturers’ recommendations.
  • Varnishes are also typically mixed with a tung oil or linseed oil.

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