10 Best Varnish For Oil Paintings (2023 Update)

When you shop through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. This educational content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

As an art enthusiast, you may know that varnishing an oil painting is a crucial step in the finishing process. A varnish can protect the painting from dust, UV rays, and other environmental factors that can damage the artwork's surface. However, choosing the right varnish for your oil painting can be a daunting task, especially if you are not familiar with the different types of varnishes available in the market.

Here are the top 5 key points to consider when looking for varnish for oil paintings:

1. Type of Varnish: There are two main types of varnishes available in the market- removable and non-removable. Removable varnishes can be easily removed with solvents, while non-removable varnishes are permanent and cannot be removed without damaging the painting.

2. Gloss Level: Varnishes come in different levels of glossiness- matte, satin, and high gloss. Consider the level of glossiness that would complement your painting's aesthetic and style.

3. Drying Time: Some varnishes take longer to dry than others. Consider the drying time of the varnish you choose, especially if you plan to apply multiple coats.

4. Application Method: Some varnishes require specific application methods, such as spray application or brush application. Consider the application method that works best for you.

5. Brand: Choose a reputable brand that specializes in art supplies. This will ensure that you get a high-quality varnish that is specifically formulated for oil paintings.

In summary, when looking for varnish for oil paintings, consider the type of varnish, gloss level, drying time, application method, and brand. With these key points in mind, you can choose a varnish that will protect and enhance the beauty of your oil painting for years to come.

10 Best Varnish For Oil Paintings

1. Grumbacher Damar Final Varnish For Oil Paintings, 2-1/2 Oz. Jar, #5692

Grumbacher Damar Final Varnish for Oil Paintings is a top-quality varnish designed specifically to protect completed oil paintings from dirt and scuffing. This high-gloss, transparent final varnish is a must-have for anyone looking to enhance and protect their oil paintings.

This varnish is quick-drying and permanent, making it an ideal choice for artists who want to ensure their paintings remain in pristine condition for years to come. However, it's important to note that this product is not suitable for use on acrylic or watercolor paintings.

Before applying Grumbacher Damar Final Varnish for Oil Paintings, it's recommended that you wait at least 6 months after painting has thoroughly dried. This ensures that the oil paint has fully cured and will not react negatively with the varnish.

The 2-1/2 oz. jar of Grumbacher Damar Final Varnish for Oil Paintings is perfect for artists who want to protect their paintings without having to purchase a large quantity of varnish. It's also easy to use, with clear instructions provided on the jar.

One of the key benefits of using Grumbacher Damar Final Varnish for Oil Paintings is that it provides a high-gloss finish that enhances the colors and details of the painting. The transparent nature of the varnish means that it won't yellow over time, ensuring that the painting remains as vibrant as the day it was completed.

Grumbacher Damar Final Varnish for Oil Paintings is made in the USA, ensuring that you're getting a high-quality product that's made with care and attention to detail. It's also a great choice for artists who want to support American-made products.

Overall, Grumbacher Damar Final Varnish for Oil Paintings is an excellent choice for artists who want to protect their oil paintings and enhance their colors and details. With its high-gloss finish, quick-drying and permanent nature, and transparent formula, it's the perfect finishing touch for any oil painting.

2. Winsor & Newton Artists' Satin Varnish, 75ml (2.5oz) Bottle

Winsor & Newton Artists' Satin Varnish is a high-quality protective coating for oil, alkyd, and acrylic paintings. This clear varnish has a satin finish that enhances the color and texture of the artwork without yellowing over time. It is an essential product for artists who want to ensure the longevity of their paintings and preserve their original look.

This varnish is UV-resistant, which means it protects the painting from harmful ultraviolet rays that can cause fading and discoloration. It is also quick-drying and does not bloom or crack, ensuring a smooth and even finish. The varnish is easily removable with white spirit or distilled turpentine, allowing for easy restoration of the painting if necessary.

It is important to note that Winsor & Newton Artists' Satin Varnish should not be used as a medium or applied until the painting is completely dry, which typically takes 6 to 12 months. Using the varnish too early can result in uneven drying and cause the painting to become cloudy or crack.

To use the varnish, simply shake the bottle well and apply a thin, even layer with a soft brush. It is recommended to apply two or three coats for optimum protection. The varnish dries to a clear, satin finish that enhances the colors and texture of the painting without altering the overall appearance.

Overall, Winsor & Newton Artists' Satin Varnish is a reliable and high-quality product that provides excellent protection for oil, alkyd, and acrylic paintings. Its satin finish and UV-resistance make it an excellent choice for artists who want to preserve the original look and feel of their artwork for years to come.

3. Gamblin Gamvar Picture Varnish – 8.5oz Bottle

Gamblin Gamvar Picture Varnish is a synthetic resin varnish that provides a glossy surface to paintings. This varnish is similar to Damar natural varnish in its properties, but it has some advantages over natural varnishes.

One of the key benefits of Gamvar Picture Varnish is that it can be used sooner than other varnishes. Traditional varnishes require several months of drying time before they can be applied, but Gamvar can be applied as soon as the paint is dry to the touch. This means that artists can finish their paintings faster and get them ready for display or sale sooner.

Another advantage of Gamvar is that it is a synthetic resin varnish, which means that it is more resistant to yellowing and cracking than natural varnishes. This makes it an ideal choice for artists who want their paintings to maintain their original colors and brightness over time.

Gamvar Picture Varnish comes in an 8oz bottle, which is enough to cover several paintings. To use the varnish, artists simply need to brush it onto the surface of their paintings in thin, even coats. The varnish dries quickly, and it can be re-coated as needed to achieve the desired level of glossiness.

Overall, Gamblin Gamvar Picture Varnish is a high-quality varnish that provides a glossy finish to paintings. Its synthetic resin formula makes it more resistant to yellowing and cracking than natural varnishes, and its fast drying time allows artists to finish their paintings sooner. If you're looking for a varnish that will protect your paintings and enhance their appearance, Gamvar is definitely worth considering.

4. Grumbacher Matte Final Varnish For Oil Paintings, 2-1/2 Oz. Jar, #5702

Grumbacher Matte Final Varnish for Oil Paintings is a protective final varnish that is specially designed to protect oil paintings from atmospheric impurities. It comes in a 2-1/2 oz. jar and has the product number #5702. This final varnish provides a uniformly matte surface, which is particularly suitable for pale "blond" works and very smooth paintings. The varnish dries transparent with a matte finish, which helps to preserve the original color and texture of the painting.

When applied to oil paintings, this final varnish creates a protective layer that shields the painting from dust, dirt, and other environmental impurities. It also helps to prevent the colors from fading due to exposure to light. The varnish is easy to apply and dries quickly, leaving a smooth and even surface. It can be applied with a brush, spray gun, or airbrush.

One of the key benefits of Grumbacher Matte Final Varnish is that it does not yellow over time, which is a common problem with many other varnishes. This means that the painting will retain its original appearance for years to come. The matte finish of the varnish is particularly useful for paintings with a smooth surface, as it helps to reduce glare and reflections.

It is important to note that Grumbacher Matte Final Varnish may gray or streak dark-toned or impasto paintings. Therefore, it is recommended to test the varnish on a small area of the painting before applying it to the entire surface. If the painting is dark-toned or impasto, it may be better to use a gloss or satin finish varnish instead.

Grumbacher Matte Final Varnish for Oil Paintings is made in the USA and is widely used by artists and conservators around the world. It is a high-quality product that provides excellent protection for oil paintings, while also enhancing their appearance. Whether you are a professional artist or a hobbyist, this varnish is a must-have for anyone who wants to preserve their oil paintings for years to come.

5. Grumbacher Retouch Varnish Medium For Oil Paintings, 2-1/2 Oz. Jar, #5632

Grumbacher Retouch Varnish Medium for Oil Paintings is a high-quality product for artists who want to protect their artwork while in progress, before final varnishing. This varnish medium helps to revive sunken-in and dry areas of an oil painting, and even-out the gloss for a more polished and professional finish.

Made in the USA, this transparent and clear varnish medium is glossy and provides an excellent protective layer for your artwork. It is a versatile product that artists can use to protect their paintings during the painting process, as well as to bring back the luster of a finished painting that has lost its shine over time.

The Grumbacher Retouch Varnish Medium is easy to use and can be applied with a brush or spray. It dries quickly and does not yellow over time, ensuring that your artwork stays looking fresh and vibrant for years to come.

One of the key benefits of this varnish medium is that it can be used to even-out the gloss in an oil painting. Gloss variations can occur in oil paintings due to differences in the thickness of the paint layers and the absorption of light by the paint. The Grumbacher Retouch Varnish Medium helps to smooth out these variations, creating a more uniform and polished finish.

Additionally, this varnish medium is ideal for reviving sunken-in and dry areas of an oil painting. Over time, oil paintings can become dull and lose their luster. The Grumbacher Retouch Varnish Medium can help to reinvigorate these areas, bringing back the vibrancy and richness of the original artwork.

In summary, the Grumbacher Retouch Varnish Medium for Oil Paintings is a must-have for any artist who wants to protect their artwork and achieve a polished, professional finish. Its versatility and ease of use make it an essential tool for both beginners and experienced artists alike. Try it out today and see the difference it can make in your artwork.

6. Winsor & Newton Artisan Matt Varnish, 250ml (8.4oz) Bottle

The Winsor & Newton Artisan Matt Varnish is a high-quality product that provides a protective layer for paintings created with artisan colors. This varnish comes in a 250ml (8.4oz) bottle and is specifically designed to provide UV-resistant properties to the painting, ensuring that it remains safe from the harmful effects of sunlight.

One of the most significant benefits of using this varnish is that it is entirely non-yellowing. This means that the varnished painting will retain its original color and vibrancy, even after years of being on display. Additionally, the varnish is removable with the use of the Artisan Varnish Remover, allowing artists to refresh and renew their artwork with ease.

It is essential to note that this varnish is to be used only as a final coat. The painting must be completely dry, which usually takes between 6 to 12 months, before applying the varnish. This ensures that the varnish will not interfere with the drying process and will not cause any damage to the underlying layers of the painting.

Before use, it is recommended to shake the bottle thoroughly to ensure that the varnish is evenly mixed. The varnish can be applied using a brush or spray, depending on the artist's preference. It is essential to apply the varnish in a well-ventilated area and to follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully.

Overall, the Winsor & Newton Artisan Matt Varnish is an excellent choice for artists who want to protect their paintings while preserving their original color and vibrancy. Its UV-resistant properties and non-yellowing nature make it a top-quality varnish that can be relied upon to provide long-lasting protection for any artwork.

7. Grumbacher Picture Varnish For Oil & Acrylic Paintings 2-1/2 Oz. Jar, #550-2

Grumbacher Picture Varnish for Oil & Acrylic Paintings is an ideal solution for artists who want to protect their artwork while also enhancing its appearance. This varnish is suitable for use with both oil and acrylic paints, making it a versatile option for artists of all skill levels.

One of the key benefits of using Grumbacher Picture Varnish is that it produces a uniform satin finish on your work. This helps to create a more polished and professional appearance, and can also help to protect your artwork from damage over time.

In addition to its aesthetic benefits, Grumbacher Picture Varnish is also extremely flexible, transparent, and non-yellowing. This means that it won't alter the appearance of your artwork over time, and will remain clear and transparent even after years of use.

Another advantage of using Grumbacher Picture Varnish is that it dries rapidly, allowing you to continue working on your artwork without having to wait for extended periods of time. This is particularly useful for artists who work quickly or who want to finish their artwork in a timely manner.

Finally, it's worth noting that Grumbacher Picture Varnish is made in the USA, ensuring that it meets the highest quality standards. This is an important consideration for artists who want to use products that are reliable and consistent.

Overall, if you're looking for a high-quality varnish that can help to protect and enhance your artwork, Grumbacher Picture Varnish for Oil & Acrylic Paintings is an excellent choice. Its versatility, durability, and aesthetic benefits make it a must-have for any artist who takes their craft seriously.

8. Liquitex Professional High Gloss Varnish, 237ml (8-Oz)

The Liquitex Professional High Gloss Varnish is a high-quality medium that is perfect for artists who want to protect their artwork and give it a glossy finish. This varnish is designed to be archival, permanent, and non-removable, ensuring that your artwork lasts for years to come.

One of the key features of this varnish is its lightweight and non-toxic composition. It dries to a non-tacky, hard, and flexible surface that is water-resistant when dry. This makes it ideal for use on a variety of surfaces, including paper, canvas, wood, and more.

The varnish comes in an 8-oz / 237ml bottle, which is enough to cover a large area of artwork. It is also intermixable with Liquitex Professional Acrylic Paint Colors and Mediums, giving artists the freedom to create unique effects and finishes in their artwork.

When applied to artwork, the Liquitex Professional High Gloss Varnish creates a beautiful, glossy finish that is non-yellowing over time. This ensures that your artwork maintains its original vibrancy and beauty for years to come.

In addition, this varnish conforms to ASTM D4236, which means it is safe for educational use. Artists can use it in schools, studios, or at home without worrying about any harmful chemicals or ingredients.

Overall, the Liquitex Professional High Gloss Varnish is an excellent choice for artists who want to protect their artwork and give it a professional, glossy finish. Its lightweight, non-toxic composition, intermixability, and archival properties make it a must-have for any artist's toolkit.

9. Winsor & Newton 3050931 Professional Acrylic Medium Satin Uv Varnish, 450ml, 15 Fl Oz

The Winsor & Newton 3050931 Professional Acrylic Medium Satin UV Varnish is a high-quality protective layer that shields art from harmful pollutants, UV damage, and fading. This varnish is an essential tool for any artist looking to preserve their work for the long term.

The varnish is designed to dry to an even finish, providing a smooth and consistent layer of protection. It can also be mixed with other sheen finishes to achieve a customized final finish that is tailored to the artist's specific needs. This makes it a versatile product that can be used in a variety of different applications.

One of the key benefits of this varnish is that it can be easily removed with varnish remover. This allows artists to make changes to their work without damaging the underlying surface. It also makes it easy to clean and maintain the artwork over time.

The product comes in a 450ml (15 fl oz) bottle and has package dimensions of 5.31 inches (H) x 6.02 inches (L) x 6.02 inches (W). This makes it a convenient size for artists who need to protect multiple pieces of artwork or who have larger projects that require a lot of varnish.

Overall, the Winsor & Newton 3050931 Professional Acrylic Medium Satin UV Varnish is a high-quality product that provides excellent protection and versatility for artists. Its ability to dry to an even finish, mix with other sheen finishes, and be easily removed with varnish remover make it an essential tool for any artist looking to protect their work and maintain its integrity over time.

Best Varnish For Oil Paintings FAQs

Can varnish be removed from an oil painting, and what methods should you use to do so safely?

Yes, varnish can be removed from an oil painting. The removal process must be done carefully to prevent damage to the underlying paint layers. One method of varnish removal is using a solvent such as mineral spirits, which can dissolve the varnish layer. Another method is using a mild detergent and water solution, as long as the paint layers are not water-sensitive. It is important to test the chosen method on a small area of the painting first to ensure that the paint layers are not being affected.

The removal process should be carried out by a professional conservator who has the knowledge and skills to handle the painting safely. The conservator will first assess the condition of the painting and determine the appropriate method for removal. They will also take into consideration the age and condition of the painting, as well as any previous restoration work that has been done. Overall, removing varnish from an oil painting requires careful consideration and should only be done by a trained professional.

How do you apply varnish to an oil painting, and what tools do you need?

To apply varnish to an oil painting, you will need the following tools: a clean, dust-free workspace, a soft-bristled brush (preferably made of natural hair), a varnish solution (such as a synthetic resin varnish or a natural resin varnish), and a palette knife.

First, ensure that the painting is completely dry and free of any dust or debris. Then, mix the varnish solution according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Using the soft-bristled brush, apply a thin layer of varnish to the painting in long, even strokes, working from top to bottom. Be sure to avoid over-brushing or creating bubbles in the varnish.

If you notice any areas that are not fully covered, use the palette knife to spread the varnish evenly. Allow the varnish to dry completely before applying a second or third coat, depending on the desired level of protection.

Overall, applying varnish to an oil painting requires a steady hand, attention to detail, and the proper tools and materials.

How often should you apply varnish to an oil painting, and what factors can affect its longevity?

As a general rule, varnish should be applied to an oil painting once it has fully dried and cured, which can take anywhere from six months to a year. The frequency of subsequent varnish applications will depend on factors such as the environment in which the painting is displayed, the quality of the varnish used, and the amount of dust and pollutants to which the painting is exposed. A painting may need to be varnished every few years, but some conservators recommend waiting longer to prevent the buildup of multiple layers of varnish over time.

Factors that can affect the longevity of an oil painting include exposure to light, temperature and humidity fluctuations, and improper handling or storage. Failure to apply varnish can also lead to surface damage, as the paint may become brittle and vulnerable to cracking or flaking. It is therefore essential to take proper precautions and seek professional advice when caring for and conserving oil paintings.

What are the different types of varnish available for oil paintings, and how do you choose the right one?

There are generally three types of varnish available for oil paintings: damar varnish, mastic varnish, and synthetic varnish. Damar varnish is made from a natural resin and produces a clear, glossy finish. Mastic varnish is also made from a natural resin but dries to a matte finish. Synthetic varnish is made from acrylic polymers and provides a durable, clear finish that can be either glossy or matte.

Choosing the right varnish depends on several factors, including the desired finish, the age and condition of the painting, and personal preference. For example, a glossy finish may enhance the colors and details of a painting, but a matte finish may be more appropriate for an older or more delicate piece. It is also important to choose a varnish that is compatible with the paint and any previous layers of varnish on the painting. Consulting with a professional conservator or experienced artist can help ensure the right varnish is chosen for the specific painting.

What is varnish for oil paintings and what is its purpose?

Varnish for oil paintings is a protective coating applied to the surface of the painting to enhance its appearance and preserve its quality. The purpose of varnishing is to even out the sheen of the painting, intensify the colors, and protect the surface from dirt, dust, and other environmental factors that can cause damage over time. Varnish also acts as a barrier against UV light, preventing fading and yellowing of the paint. It can be applied to a painting once it has completely dried and cured, which usually takes several months. Varnishes come in various finishes, from matte to glossy, and can be removed and reapplied if necessary. Overall, varnishing is an essential step in the conservation and maintenance of oil paintings, ensuring their longevity and keeping them looking vibrant for years to come.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

Sharing is caring!