Best Marine Spar Varnish – Buyer’s Guide

by James Antony | Last Updated: 18th December 2019

Wood varnishing has been around since time immemorial. Woodworkers who are serious about their craft never settle for anything less than the best when it comes to having a smooth and clear finish for their DIYs or commercial projects. Every carpenter must consider varnishing wooden surfaces, which is a thing of utmost importance.

However, the real problem arises when deciding on the type of varnish that one should purchase to apply to woodwork. On the surface, it looks quite a simple task. But, as veteran carpenters will tell you, there are some critical aspects that one should consider when purchasing a varnish for finishing up your woodwork projects and giving it that finished look that it deserves.

Fortunately for our readers, we look into the matter closely and provide a detailed review of the Best Marine Spar Varnishes that you can get on the market today. Afterward, we have also provided a buyer’s guide that will assist you in understanding what to look out for in a given product depending on your needs.

Epifanes Clear Varnish Best Gloss Varnish

Epifanes Clear Varnish UV filters high gloss finish - Buyer’s Guide

Epifanes Clear Varnish High Gloss


Epifanes products are famous all around the world and are well-known for providing high-quality varnish to the woodwork that sustains your piece even in harsh conditions.

Design and Materials

It is formulated with tung oil, alkyd and phenolic resins which provide a finish that is long-lasting and has an amazing flow. The product is highly compatible with other types of urethane or alkyd-based varnishes, as well as over two-component varnishes.


In order to protect your project from UV rays, the product comes equipped with UV filters and has a very high gloss finish that will bring out the best in your work. Its durable formula doesn’t hurt the quality of the wood as it is breathable and flexible enough.


This can be applied to new wood for a deep clear finish as well as on old wood for restoration purposes through the brush, rollers, or air sprays. When applying this product, ensure that it is not exposed to too much sun or wind as this will lead to loss of solvents quickly and decrease its flowing ability.

Epifanes varnish can be used for various applications on the exteriors as well as the interiors. Regardless of the type of wood, be it softwood or hardwood, this varnish can be used without any trouble. If you are new to DIY woodwork projects and are looking for a highly professional varnish, then we would highly recommend this product.

  • Paint distribution is even
  • Easy to clean
  • Ultra high gloss
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to apply
  • Can be hard to unpack
  • Needs time to harden

Interlux IVA316/1 Cetol Natural Teak Varnish Best Marine Spar Varnish

Interlux Cetol Natural Teak Varnish translucent wood finish - Buyer’s Guide

Interlux Cetol Natural Teak Varnish


There are thousands of woodworkers who swear by the premium quality of this varnish. If you are looking for a flexible wood finish, then cetol marine is the product for you. It has been tried and tested by hundreds of carpenters and woodworkers who vouch for this product’s amazing quality standards.

Design and Materials

Its synthetic UV-absorbing pigments are of high quality, and the new wave UV-absorbing technology protects the wood from damaging UV rays. Its new-wave technology also keeps the finish breathable while its special resins provide ultimate protection to your piece.


It has a highly durable protective wood finish that can be used both on the interior and exterior woods. Its translucent finish provides weather protection, particularly for teak and other harder woods. It also provides a spellbinding rich golden appearance on the wood that can make even old furniture look brand new. It penetrates wonderfully and cleans up easily as well.


It is very easy to apply this varnish on woods and maintains them against all weather conditions.

This varnish works especially well on old, rickety furniture and restores them to their original beauty. Adding extra coats will provide a depth to the sheen. As a woodworker, if you are looking for a varnish that can provide picture-perfect finishes, then this is it. Additionally, people who are working on their yachts can also expect nothing less than the best finish on their boats.

  • UV-absorbing technology
  • Has a rich golden color
  • Works best for restoration
  • Has a nice sheen to it
  • Easy to apply and clean
  • May require three to four layers of coating
  • Requires time to dry

Pettit Paint Z-Spar Flagship Varnish 2015 Best Marine Grade Spar Varnish

PETTIT Flagship Varnish Boating Accessories UV Protection - Buyer’s Guide

Pettit Paint Z-Spar Flagship Varnish 2015


This product by Pettit Paint is a class apart from other ordinary varnishes. It is used by professionals as well as people working on DIY projects for its high-quality finish.

Design and Materials

It has six times more UV inhibitors that provide a coating that can stand the test of time as well as the sun. It owes its superior performance to the blend of alkyd and phenolic resins that are fused with linseed oils. It also has a UV filter in addition to a light stabilizer that effectively screens sun rays and prolongs the life of the varnish.


It has a rich amber color improves upon its classic bright appearance that this brand is highly renowned for. When compared to its competitors, it has the highest film depth and build-up per coat. Its gloss is highly durable and resists abrasion, which keeps your woodwork smooth to the touch for years.


For a deep mirror-like finish, it is recommended that you build it up to many coats. It can be applied through the use of brushes, rollers, and sprayers. It is ideal for both interior and exterior varnishing and can be used effectively on old and new furniture, windows, kitchen tops, and many other areas. Thousands of people have used this product to bring out a nice, palpable sheen on their woodwork. The only thing you have to ensure is that you apply this varnish well above the waterline.

  • Highest UV protection
  • Amazingly durable finish
  • Traditional amber color
  • Abrasion-resistant
  • Great gloss retention
  • Ease of application
  • Multiple layers require additional time to harden

Rust-Oleum 207008 Marine Spar Varnish Best Clear Marine Spar Varnish

Rust-Oleum Marine Coatings Spar Varnish - Buyer’s Guide

Rust-Oleum Marine Spar Varnish


Rust-Oleum is a brand name that is known throughout the world for its top-quality products that get the work done easily and provide a varnish that lasts for years.

Design and Materials

Its oil-based formula tends to expand and contract as the weather conditions change. It is much more durable and flexible than other traditional wood varnishes that are available in the market.


It dries quickly in just over 2 hours, which is the fastest that we have encountered thus far and can cover as much as 150 sq ft. It is one of the best varnishes that can be used on exterior wood surfaces beyond the water line. It is also ideal for varnishing on trim, railings, and different wood furniture. The varnish also provides excellent resistance against multiple elements, including UV, salt, chemicals, water, sea-spray, and even mildew.


The varnish has a crystal-clear gloss finish that provides maximum protection when layered with a brush. You can even spray it on wood surfaces, which provide a warm glow that enhances the wood’s natural beauty. Regardless of whether you use it for DIY or commercial projects, this varnish is versatile enough to cover all woodwork finishing requirements. It is recommended that you apply it above the waterline.

  • Dries within 2 hours
  • UV resistant
  • Protects against chemicals, salt, sea-spray and mildew
  • Expands and contracts with changing weather conditions
  • Highly durable coating
  • Has a beautiful gloss finish
  • Is relatively thinner and may require multiple coatings

Minwax 630500444 Water Based Helsman Spar Urethane Best Spar Urethane

Minwax Water Based Helmsman Spar Urethane Clear Gloss - Buyer’s Guide

Minwax Water Based Helsman Spar Urethane


There is hardly a brand that comes close to the reputation that Minwax has earned for itself over the years, and this product is a testament to that.

Design and Materials

Endowed with special oils, the finish expands and contracts with the wood through the changing climes and resultant temperatures changes. It contains UV blockers, which significantly reduce the fading and graying effects due to overexposure to the sun and forms an ultra-protective barrier against rain and moisture.


Since it has a clear finish, the beauty of your furniture will be magnified tenfold and sustain for years to come. It even dries faster than other varnishes and cleans up easily with warm water. It has a specially formulated protective clear finish for exterior as well as interior wood and protects against exposure to sunlight, water, or temperature fluctuations.


It is ideal for use on doors, and can even be used on windows, trim, cabinets in the bathroom, atop bars and kitchen counters, outdoor furniture, and many other objects. Its crystal clear finish is simply perfect for use over light-colored woods and stains.

As America’s leading brand for wood varnishing, it can be used for a variety of purposes, including preparation, maintenance, clearing, and repair. Your woodwork will never feel complete without having multiple layers of Minwax varnish on it.

If you are new to varnishing and are feeling confused, then take our advice and stick with Minwax since this is one of the best products in the market that a woodworker can use.

  • UV protection
  • Expands and contracts with temperature changes
  • Crystal-clear finish
  • Perfect for both interior and exterior use
  • Protects against rain and moisture
  • Requires multiple coating as it is quite thin

TotalBoat Halcyon Marine Varnish Best Clear Gloss Varnish

TotalBoat Halcyon Marine Varnish Water-Based Polyurethane Wood Finish Clear Gloss - Buyer’s Guide

TotalBoat Halcyon Marine Varnish


Last but definitely not the least, on our list is this durable varnish from TotalBoat, which is not only convenient to use but also gets the job done in a short period of time.

Design and Materials

Its flexible nature allows the wood to expand as well as contract naturally with the changing seasons and does not yellow, crack, or lift due to weathering. For protection against the sun, it contains UV filters that minimize the damage due to weathering.


This marine-grade varnish has a hard, glossy finish that beautifies the woodwork while maintaining the quality of the wood. It dries relatively faster as well, which makes it easier for you to finish up varnishing in just a day. Furthermore, the varnish helps ward off abrasions, moisture, and scratches, as well.


There is no need to sand between coats if you apply at least five coats in a single day. The more coats you apply, the better the clarity and gloss are going to get. It can be used on both interiors and exteriors of a surface. It is perfect for woods, doors, trim, furniture, cabinets, and many other objects.

It is quite easy to use and can be applied via brushes, rollers, or sprays. It has no harsh fumes, and you only require soap and water to clean it up. Its pack can be sealed after use, which makes it quite convenient to store. This way, you won’t be wasting any product or making a mess.

You have the option of choosing either amber gloss or clear gloss formulas. It may appear milky white in the pack but comes out as amber or clear gloss, depending on the formula that you have chosen. This product is highly recommended for woodworkers as well as people working on marine projects.

  • Ultra UV-protection
  • Easy to apply
  • Re-sealable pack minimizes waste
  • Protects against moisture and abrasions
  • No harsh fumes
  • Cleans easily with soap and water
  • Expands and contracts naturally
  • May have milky undertones even after curing

Marine Coating

Best Marine Spar Varnish – FAQs

What is the difference between spar varnish and marine varnish?

Marine varnishes protect the wood from elements while allowing the wood to maintain its flexibility. It is designed to be applied above the water-level. It is highly effective at providing maximum protection against UV rays, chemicals, as well as solvent damage. These require multiple coatings as they tend to chip off.

A spar varnish also provides all the protection from the elements mentioned above. But it takes it a step further and provides water-resistance as well. It can also be either oil-based or water-based while providing a glossy look.

How do you apply marine spar varnish?

It is best to apply multiple thin layers of marine spar varnish with a brush. Each layer must be allowed to dry properly before proceeding to subsequent layering. But before you start layering, sand your wood thoroughly to remove imperfections.

Next, it is important to clean your workplace since it can attract a lot of dust, hair, or other impurities that can damage your finish. It is better to varnish in a location that is different from the one in which you sanded your piece. If, however, you have to use the same location, vacuum the floor properly first.

Afterward, gather all your supplies, including your varnish, paintbrush, a measuring cup, and a stirring stick. Do not shake the container. Instead, stir it slowly with a stick to avoid the introduction of bubbles. Add paint thinner and varnish into a cup and stir carefully.

Now, dip the brush into the mixture and apply it lightly on your piece. Apply it in the direction of the wood grain until the entire surface is covered. Sand your piece in between layers of varnish and let each coat dry thoroughly before you proceed to the next.

By the way, here you can find pretty good article answering the question How Many Coats?

What is the difference between polyurethane and spar varnish?

Polyurethane is a plastic resin that can either be water or oil-based. A spar varnish, on the other hand, is made from resins, oils, and other solvents. The former requires only one or two coats, while the latter requires several layers.

Polyurethane is rather stiff compared to spar varnish, and its oil-based version can be much more toxic too. Polyurethane is quite durable but may be susceptible to UV damage, unlike spar varnish that may not be as durable but is definitely very flexible and provides better protection against UV damage.

Can you spray marine varnish?

Yes, you can easily spray marine varnish on all your woodwork to achieve a smooth, unblemished finish. All major varnishes are available in spray cans, but spray equipment can be used as well, such as a compressed gun over a sprayer.

Wood Protection

What is the difference between lacquer and varnish?

The major difference between these two is that lacquer dries faster than varnish, requires fewer coats, and is naturally glossier. Additionally, lacquer also makes for better metal finishing because of its ultra-durable properties. However, a varnish is much less-flammable and generally is brushed upon products while the lacquer is usually sprayed.

Is it necessary to sand between coats of varnish?

It is extremely important to sand between coats of varnish because it gets rid of high spots and allows the next coat to stick better. If sanding isn’t done, the multiple coats may come undone and lift off in sheets. This leads to bubbling in time where varnishing was done. It also provides a clear surface, which makes it easy to spot the places where there are voids in the application of the varnish.

Did you like our Best Marine Spar Varnish Review? Have something to add? Please comment! And don’t forget to check the list of must have tools in your workshop. And in case you need a new brush, than we have prepared for you Best brush for varnish review!

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