Old 08-30-00, 09:06 PM
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It has been mentioned in this forum area that varnish is/may be more clear than polyurethane, and can be used on a bar finish. What would that special finish for rugged treatment, such as alcohol, be called? And what makes "marine spar" more durable than regular varnish? How can they be made differently if they are all a varnish? One last question - I was under the impression that poly was a more durable finish than varnish, and am hoping you can shed a little more light re: the two. Thanks!
Old 08-31-00, 08:48 AM
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Both standard varnish and polyurethane are available in a formulation called "water clear". Most 'clear' finishes have an amber cast - you can see this when you open the can and look in. Water clear finishes look like water - no color - hence the name, "Water Clear".

The special finish made for bartops is called Rockhard varnish. It is available from, among others, Van Dykes Restoration. You can visit their web site and ask for a free catalog. This finish is more durable than any standard varnish or polyurethane I know of. It is not water clear

Marine spar varnish has a higher percentage of linseed oil. It is more weather resistant because it films over but does not dry out as quickly as standard varnish, or polyurethane.

Varnishes, polys, lacquers, et al have different formulations of ingredients according to the manufacturers. They are different in the way cars are different. Cars all have wheels, tires, engines, transmissions, etc., but the parts are put together differently. This is as good an explanation as I can come up with without resorting to molecular chemistry.

And on your last question. From my experience, poly is more scratch resistant than varnish, but more prone to chip than varnish. Poly is also more difficult to repair than varnish.

Being somewhat of a 'traditionalist" (if there is such a word) I lean toward varnish for older pieces if my customer wants a more durable surface. I will not use poly on an antique as it will destroy the value.

For your further information, Minwax makes a water clear gloss finish called Polycrylic which is touted as being super durable. I haven't used this product, But I have used other Minwax products and found them to live up to their claims.

If I can confuse you further, come on back!

George T.

[This message has been edited by George (edited August 31, 2000).]

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