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Varnishing

There are many misconceptions about whether or not it’s necessary to varnish acrylic paintings. 

As a general rule, all acrylic paintings should be varnished. Even though acrylics dry fast to a durable and flexible film, there are a number of important benefits to varnishing a piece of work

BENEFITS

  • Adjusts and unifies the surface sheen
  • Minimizes the attraction and migration of atmospheric pollutants into the paint film
  • Protects against surface abrasion during shipping or exhibition
  • Boosts the brightness and color saturation
  • Protects colors from ultraviolet light. Any varnish will afford some protection but those with UV inhibitors offer extended protection from color fading
  • Allows for easy cleaning without fear of removing or damaging the paint film

WHICH VARNISH?

Choose between permanent or removable varnishes, liquid or spray formats, and your desired level of sheen. You can intermix Liquitex varnishes to create a custom sheen and apply them all to both flexible and rigid supports. Spray-on or airbrush varnishing is recommended for heavily textured work or vertical applications such as murals. All our varnishes can be used on interior and exterior work.

PERMANENT OR REMOVABLE?

PERMANENT

  • Our 100% acrylic polymer archival permanent varnishes are non-removable and are for exclusive use on acrylics
  • Each has excellent leveling properties, is durable, resists chemicals, water and discoloration (yellowing, non-fogging), flexible, permanent and translucent when wet, transparent when dry
  • The water-based acrylic formulas dry to a non-tacky, hard surface that is resistant to dirt retention, copes with humidity, heat and ultraviolet light and depending upon substrate, allow moisture to pass through
  • For interior and exterior use
  • You have four sheen options - High Gloss, Gloss, Satin and Matte

REMOVABLE

  • Our solvent-based archival removable varnishes protect your acrylic or oil painting surface and can be removed periodically to lift away trapped surface dirt without damaging the paint underneath. Follow our guide 'Soluvar Varnish Removal' for this
  • Once the surface is clean, a new coat of Soluvar may be reapplied
  • Each has excellent leveling properties, is durable, non-yellowing, flexible and translucent when wet, transparent when dry. They will not crack as your surface expands and contracts during temperature and humidity changes
  • For interior and exterior use
  • You have two sheen options – Gloss and Matte

LIQUID OR SPRAY?

LIQUID

Designed to be used straight from the bottle, this is the most traditional form of varnish. Apply with a paint brush, airbrush or sponge and build up in layers.

SPRAY

Powered by aerosol, this is a newer way to apply varnish. It lets you create even mists and build up fine layers without the chance of stray brush hairs. It takes a little time to perfect the art of a good spray and we always advise wearing a mask.

DIRECTIONS

Permanent varnish

  • Before varnishing, ensure paint surface is fully dry (72 hours-two weeks depending on thickness) and your space is well ventilated and dust-free.
  • Choose your desired format and sheen. Always do a test before applying to your work
  • Place the work to be varnished flat on a table - do not varnish vertically
  • Stir varnish gently before use (to avoid bubbles) or shake spray can well. Do not thin with water
  • Use a clean wide, flat soft-hair brush/pad/airbrush/spray to apply. Apply in long even strokes/mists to cover the surface top to bottom while moving from one side to the other
  • When using Liquitex Matte or Satin Varnish, apply no more than 1-2 thin coats as thick applications may result in cloudiness when dry. If more than 2 coats are desired, first varnish with Gloss Varnish to the desired thickness and apply Matte or Satin Varnish as the final coat
  • Allow at least three hours dry time between coats
  • Thin coats are better than one thick coat which will take longer to dry, may dry cloudy, drip or sag during application and has a greater chance of showing brush strokes when dry
  • Avoid vigorous over-brushing as it may result in a cloudy finish. While working, inspect the varnish layer at all angles for bubbles. Even them out immediately
  • Once you leave an area, don’t go back over it. If you do, you risk dragging partially dry resin into wet, which will dry cloudy over dark colors. If any areas were missed, allow to dry completely and re-varnish

Removable varnish

  • If working with acrylics, allow paint to completely dry (72 hours-2 weeks depending on thickness) before moving to the varnish stage. If working with oils, leave to dry for 6-12 months, depending upon oil film thickness
  • Choose your desired format and sheen. Always do a test before applying to your work
  • Place the work to be varnished flat on a table - do not varnish vertically
  • First apply 1-2 layers of Gloss Medium as a permanent isolation barrier
  • Avoid vigorous over-brushing as it may result in a cloudy finish
  • Leave 1-3 hours between coats and three days after last coat
  • Stir Soluvar gently before use (to avoid bubbles), or shake can vigorously. Liquid Soluvar can be thinned with up to 25% mineral spirits - use ‘true’ mineral spirits, not odorless. Be aware that thinned varnish is more susceptible to producing bubbles so be gentle with your application
  • Apply 1-2 layers of Soluvar with a wide, flat soft-hair brush/pad/spray, leaving 24 hours between coats
  • Apply in long even strokes/mists to cover the surface top to bottom while moving from one side to the other. While working, inspect the varnish layer at all angles for bubbles. Even them out immediately
  • Once you leave an area, don’t go back over it. If you do, you risk dragging partially dry resin into wet, which will dry cloudy over dark colors. If any areas were missed, allow to dry completely and re-varnish
  • When you want to remove your Soluvar layer, use a lint-free rag dampened with mineral spirits to gently clean the surface of dirt and varnish. Leave to dry thoroughly and reapply 

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