How to Varnish Wooden Furniture

  • 4-8 hours
  • Beginner
  • 100-500
What You'll Need
Pieces of small cloth
Warm water
Old clothes
Goggles and gloves
Wood varnish
A bucket or paint pan
A large paintbrush

Varnishing wooden furniture is a clever way to give your home a different look, as well as protect household features. Varnish will seal the natural look of wooden furniture and create a layer that stops spills and stains from damaging the woodwork. Varnishing is a common technique that is used on many types of wooden furniture. Applying varnish is time consuming but easy, allowing you to spend more time enjoying your furniture.

Step One - Prepare Furniture

Your first step is to prepare the furniture you will be working on. Use a small piece of normal grain sandpaper to violently rub out any rough or sharp edges. Wipe the furniture down with a slightly damp cloth to remove any excess debris. Make sure the furniture feels smooth under the palm of your hand. This stage is important, as it will help the varnish to adhere. It will also provide a more even finish, as there should be no friction for the varnish to drag against.

Step Two - Prepare Yourself

It is a good idea to protect yourself before you start varnishing any furniture. Use old clothes and protective eye wear. This is an important step because varnish is a stubborn stain to remove. It can also cause irritation to the skin if it splashes on a part of the face or hands.

Step Three - Apply the Varnish

Give your varnish a quick shake before you open it. This will allow the varnish to mix inside the tin. Use a screwdriver to gently lift the lid open and pour the varnish into a small bucket or large paint pan. Dip into the varnish with a large paintbrush. Give the brush a tap to remove any excess. Apply the varnish to the furniture in long and even strokes. Do this until the entire piece of wooden furniture has been covered. Always remember to apply your strokes in the same direction as any wood grain on the furniture.

Step Four - Second Coat

Allow the furniture to dry and apply a second coat. Be generous with the amount of varnish you have on the brush, but make sure it is not dripping off. Any drip marks will dry and leave a noticeable patch on the furniture. Adding a second coat is important because it will increase the gloss effect and add another protective layer on top of the furniture. You can apply further layers, which will deepen the color, but this will become more noticeable to the eye.

Step Five - Bare Patches

Once the second coat has dried, there may still be thin and patchy areas. Use a small cloth to dip into the varnish and gently apply a very small layer over the bare area. Take extra care to ensure that your last minute handy work blends in nicely. Bare areas will create lighter patches that are more vulnerable to damage and catch the attention of the eye.