View Full Version : Streaky Varnishing - Not sure why?

03-31-2007, 01:03 PM

I apologize for making 2 posts on same subject :( , but it seems that maybe this thread title will make it more clear. Kind of a "newbie" and hope to be more efficient in posting in the future.

I got a varnishing brush, and thank you all, Jaime, Paintbrush 1974 and C-Line, for your great, thoughtful replies!
I'm doing some varnish tests before varnishing the finished piece, and am seeing brushstrokes in the varnish. The "brushstrokes" are not visible when looking at the test pieces head-on, but when I look at them while holding in different positions, they definitely are. maybe this is normal (?) then?

The books and references I've been looking at don't talk too much about streaky varnishing, mostly clouding (and that hasn't happened, so no worries about that!)

I am doing tests on all 3: matte, gloss and satin varnishes. Maybe I should dilute the varnish with water, as you mention, C-Line; maybe straight out of the bottle is too thick, although I'm trying to apply it thinly; I'll try diluting with water on a few tests today and see how it looks.

If anyone has ANY comments or advice, sure would love to hear them!

Thanks, Cathy

03-31-2007, 01:21 PM
Try several things. Dilute the varnish with water, it will make a difference. Try 4:1 varnish to water and increase if need be.

Try applying the varnish with a roller, not one of those big house rollers but one of the small ones. Then blend with a good quality brush and if it is a water based varnish a spritz of water may be of some use.

Try applying with a paint pad, again not the big one but a small one, then brush out again.

Try using a brush direct.

See where it leads, one never knows.

M Douglas
03-31-2007, 01:29 PM
I have a soft hake brush that I use only for varnishing. Although I use water base varnish I don't like to get the brush wet prior to dipping it in the varnish, I seem to get bubbles if I do that.


03-31-2007, 06:29 PM
A few tips:
1. Definitely dilute. I use mineral spirits thinning varnish but use about a 3:1 ratio (1 being varnish).
2. With some finishes you may need to do several coats brushing in opposite directions. So first coat horizontal, second coat vertical. I notice this more with non-matte finishes.
3. Make sure you varnish and dry FLAT. I haven't had brushstrokes if using thinned varnish but have had streaks from letting it dry while hung on a wall. The varnish should self-level so if it's vertical that means falling.

Sounds like thinning should solve your problem though. :)

03-31-2007, 10:09 PM
Howard, Melodie and Tina:
Thanks so much for your suggestions and advice! I have been very busy doing more tests and have taken a page from each of your books :) Have used a softer brush, thinned the varnish down in various combinations to see which "flow" is comfortable for me when spreading & how it looks when dry, and yes (!) it is lying flat on table. The operation is complete and the patient is - well guess I'll find out in a little while - but I applied the varnish thinly, yet generously and evenly.

I appreciate your taking the time to comment, it has been a tremendous help - and, I thank you once again!