5 Best Varnish for Oil Paintings – Reviews and Buying Guide 2023

How do you bring out the best rendition of your painting? The entire process of encircling an exemplary execution depends on many determinants. Among all factors, an essential element is varnishing, which allows the tangled net of an artist’s impression to be woven.

Without varnishing, a knot remains untied, and a fraction of the net collapses. As a result, your paintings’ protective exterior is susceptible to degradation. More than anything, the keystone of ideal varnishing depends on acquiring the best varnish for oil paintings.

The most rewarding aspect of proper varnishing is the defensive mechanism that you get to resist dirt and debris. Primarily, it also protects your canvas from sustaining any damage. Moreover, good finishing with varnish enhances and improves the appearance of your artwork uniformly.

The 5 Best Varnish for Oil Painting Reviews

Number one knowledge from any art lesson is an apt and suitable varnishing process. However, an integral part of making the task easier is optimizing the options available and choosing the best product. Without further delay, let’s get acquainted with some of the most exclusive opportunities.

1. Liquitex High Gloss Varnish

Who does not like the satisfying feeling of completing an artwork with a high-quality shine? Not only is that appealing to look at, but it also gives your painting authenticity and reliability.

With this product in hand, you will obtain highly lustrous polish consisting of glossiness more than the conventional varnish.

Regarding your acrylic paintings, varnishing is imperative and regular application is mandatory. In fact, this particular option provides a long-lasting sheen under any condition. Accordingly, the varnish won’t come off, as it is permanent.

On the other hand, the glossy-finish is more prominent due to a very thin solution. Furthermore, combined with the protection provided for your painting from environmental circumstances, the varnish refrains from involving harmful and hypoallergenic elements in its composition.

Moreover, this option abides by the standard practices of ASTM D4236, which gives you the liberty to use the varnish for academic artworks safely.

Most importantly, the final polish is far from either gluey, greasy, or tacky. This highly tolerant, impenetrable, and odorless varnish maintains top-of-the-line functionality.

Over time, discoloration is undeniable with varnish, but this product ensures that it does not undergo yellowing when your paint dries out.

The moisture-resistant properties further add to the durability aspect. Besides, the inclusion of 946ml medium for acrylic art mixes well to promote better adaption of pigments.

Highlighted Features

  • Ensures a permanent application of the solution
  • Comprises of a thin solution with high-sheen
  • The rigid surface prevents yellowing
  • Exhibits moisture resistant properties
  • Consists of a bottle of acrylic medium

2. Winsor & Newton Artisan Water Mixable Mediums Gloss Varnish

Is there a limit to the precautions you must take to ensure your product does not interact with toxic solvent? Sometimes even the ultimate protection fails in regards to crafting art. As it happens, this specific option allows the mix-up with water instead of incorporating harmful solutions for blending.

In consideration of painting, the visual or aesthetic appeal holds the topmost priority for any artist. However, almost all varnishes are prone to discoloration or yellowing, which occurs due to evaporation.

It turns out, this products’ constituent makes sure that your painting does not experience yellowing of any form.

Subsequently, all artwork is vulnerable to damage by sunlight. In that case, this varnishing oil includes a solution that protects your piece of creativity from ultra-violet rays. Moreover, the varnish consists of a removable formula that stands firm against abrasion.

Before anything else, you should keep in mind – the application of this formula will only work without your painting completing the drying process. This aspect signifies that you can apply this varnish as the final product to complete your project.

Additionally, there are no limitations to the high-quality shine and finishing. As a matter of fact, defects such as blushing, blooming, and cracking are non-existent with this varnishing oil. Besides, to add more value to the product, the drying process is significantly short.

Highlighted Features

  • Provides resistance to ultra-violet rays
  • Drying process is very speedy
  • The solvent does not encourage the formation of yellowing
  • Prevents any cracking or blooming
  • Adds to the aesthetic value of an artwork

3. Grumbacher Picture Gloss Varnish

Do you think you are good at painting? Then, you must find ways to preserve the masterpiece. Because once an artwork undergoes wear and tear with time, then there is no way to bring it back to its original state.

Environmental damage from dirt and moisture is a major problem for both oil and acrylic art. However, this best spray varnish for oil painting protects your piece from significant harm through a single layer of covering.

On top of that, the formula settles evenly upon the surface of your painting, resulting in a lustrous shine.

Moreover, holding out against defects such as yellowing is crucial for all oil varnishes. As a result, you will eliminate the issue of refurbishing your painting over and over again. Although, concerning this option, you can effortlessly wipe out the varnish with mild or lightweight solvent for re-appliance.

Predominantly, the translucent formula allows for unrivaled distribution with a glazed appeal. Most of all, an important component in varnish drying is ensuring a tough exterior, and at the same time, a flexible surface. In fact, the drying activity in accordance with your painting is prompt and rapid.

Over and above that, another noteworthy aspect of applying this odorless product is that you must ensure you are spraying the varnish after five days of making an acrylic painting. Simultaneously, for oil painting, the waiting period is at least six months.

Highlighted Features

  • Provides shielding from environmental damage
  • A single layer of coating is enough
  • Can get rid of varnish using a mild solvent
  • Affords protection to yellowing
  • The drying process is swift and fast

4. Gamblin Gamvar Pict Varnish

As much as varnish provides uniformity to your painting, it also allows you to improve different patches of texture on your painting according to your taste.

Regarding this protective coating, it applies layers of solvent similar to dammar finishing. Inevitably, the varnish in question establishes a crystal-clear, smooth, and even polishing of your artwork.

Above all, the formula of the varnish incorporates synthetic resin, which offers great strength under stress. Therefore, this product guarantees strong and secure applications at all costs. The scratch-resistant elements in the varnish’s solvent withstand damage.

Fundamentally, the long curing process of oil paintings gives rise to a major problem for the painters. As a consequence, the artists have to wait half a year to apply oil varnishing to the pieces. This results in a significant delay in putting the artwork in galleries.

However, this 16oz option puts forward a solvent that lessens the delaying and speeds up the curing process. The lightweight and non-greasy formation of the varnish allows you to consistently apply the solvent, which ensures a thin and transparent layering that protects against dust, dirt, and particulate matter.

Consequently, the glossy sheen associated with this varnish is undoubtedly supreme in comparison to other options. In every respect, you can control the surface sheen during application.

Most importantly, for thorough and unblemished protection, the varnish allows for the removal of its constituents with a very mild solvent.

Highlighted Features

  • Provides ultimate glossy sheen to oil paintings
  • Synthetic resin formula guarantees strength
  • Can be removed using a mild solvent
  • No delay during the curing process
  • Quick and easy application

5. Winsor & Newton Dammar Varnish

Are you preparing for an exhibition? In truth, to add an aesthetically pleasing value to your artwork, you need to apply proper varnishing. Oil paintings take a long time to cure. However, dammar-based varnishing blends with the oil paint and pigments, which escalates the drying process and increases the clarity.

Concerning the dammar-style varnish, it cures into a straw-colored finishing. As a result, your painting will have a premium-quality shine on all types of visual art. Preservation and encapsulation of your artwork is the prime objective of this specific option.

However, just like any other varnishing products, this option gravitates towards growing darker slowly but surely. This action is the result of the yellowing or accumulation of foreign particles that shrouds the painting. Hence, you need to re-apply the varnishing by removing the previous layer with distilled turpentine.

On another note, to meet all your oil painting demands, the 250ml bottle consists of a formula that ensures a rapid drying procedure. More significantly, for unmitigated and uniform seep in the solvent, you need to apply it after 6 to 12 months of initial illustration.

The application process is essential to secure high-quality artistry. There are no other means more remarkable than a proper distribution of the solvent to do just that. Instead of deciding on a thick layer of formula, apply one to three coatings of a thin sheet, depending on your preference, for an ideal outcome.

Highlighted Features

  • Dammar-based varnishing specially made for oil paintings
  • Easily removable using distilled turpentine
  • Attains superior-quality pale yellow gloss
  • Rapidly dries out to final outcome
  • Promotes efficient and effective usage

What to Consider Before Buying Best Oil Painting Varnish?

oil painting varnish

Oil varnishing improves and evens out the texture of your paintings significantly. There is no doubt about that. However, to achieve a surface texture of either gloss or matte, it is supplementary to know the basic features that make a varnish ideal for usage.

Without further ado, let’s download the information, which will work in your favor while purchasing oil-varnishing solvents.

Factors of Drying Process

Most varnishing solvents tend to have one fixed standard that nourishes and replenishes the painting thoroughly. This measure states that the application of solvent to oil paintings should maintain at least a 6-month recess starting from completing your project.

In regard to an acrylic painting, the timeframe drops to less than a week.

However, this measure can give rise to problems for professional painters, as it demands a considerable period for curing. Those of you who are on a deadline and need to create artworks in a limited time should opt for products that guarantee to varnish without delay.

The statement mentioned above suggests that the solvent’s application thins out the paint, promoting transparency and clarity and resulting in an accelerated process of drying.

Protection against Degradation and Damage

When you are varnishing your artwork in the studio, you are focusing on improving the sheen and color and aiming towards providing strength through a protective layer formation. As a result, a significant rise in the endurance factor occurs.

Damages, such as yellowing, cracking, blooming, and blushing, are most common with oil varnishing. And all of these are undesirable and unappealing considering a painting. You will likely sustain such damages over the years if you do not regularly remove and re-apply the varnishing solvent.

However, some products stand firm against defects. The reason behind this phenomenon is a robust and sturdy formula that desiccates the painting and installs a flexible yet rigid layer of protection.

With excellent elasticity, you can restrict the painting from accumulating dust and debris. However, it would be best if you emphasized choosing a working space that inhibits airborne dust and dirt entrance.

Another criterion that adds to the protection aspect is that varnish can resist discoloration more efficiently when the solvent is transparent and clear. Varnishes can oxidize readily and are prone to chemical degradation in their liquefied form.

In that case, make sure to get products that incorporate a pre-mixed formula of solvents already containing stabilizers such as UV protection. This feature cuts down the hassle of applying additional absorbers or stabilizers afterward.


If you purchase an unreliable varnish concerning moisture, then there is no point in ruining your work of art. Water-resistance is by far the most crucial factor influencing the longevity of an art piece.

Keep an eye out for options that allow you to seal your painting with layers from not only mechanical damage but also from water damage. Considering a canvas, a cheap varnish solvent—vulnerable to moisture damage—can readily react with the pigments to cause discoloration.


There are two primary indications of an odorless varnishing solvent. The first point implies that you can work effectively without worrying about toxic fumes entering your nasal or respiratory system.

And the second point proves that the scentless solvent does not contain harmful volatile organic compounds in its composition. As a consequence, you will achieve a fresh and toxicant-free environment.

Types Of Varnish For Oil Paintings

types of varnish for oil paintings

First and foremost, the question you find yourself asking is what type of varnishing you want. Simply put, there are several kinds of varnishing that you can apply to your painting. This criterion depends upon many factors considering the option.

And most importantly, the factors influencing the execution of ideal varnishing is indispensable. That means, aside from offering incredible strength and protection to your painting to sustain the damage throughout centuries, it also focuses on the solvent’s aesthetic appearance and removal aspect.

For instance, the utilization of few widely used varnishes over the past centuries is prominent within the artistry world. These types include dammar, natural resin, and synthetic varnish.

1. Dammar Varnishing

As for dammar varnishing, it is certainly the most famous and overtly used solvent applied globally. Even with the invention of new, modern, and synthetic products, the dammar varnishing still maintains exceptional execution at any cost.

Considering the aging process of dammar varnishing, this type of product’s oxidizing properties prevent it from getting removed unless the application of harsh chemicals befalls such as toluene and acetone.

2. Mastic or Natural Resin Varnishing

On the other hand, mastic or natural resin varnishing eliminates any possibility of removal as the solvent dissolves readily to attain a finished outcome. This option is more suitable if used to seal and preserve the piece of creativity ultimately.

3. Synthetic Varnishing

There are options to remove varnishing that can destroy your artwork. The conventional type of varnishing, in contrast to synthetic solvents, is prone to yellowing. However, synthetic types are more susceptible to blanching of paint and varnish layers.

In fact, the primary focus of synthetic varnishes is to resist yellowing. Nevertheless, this kind of varnishing is also vital to remove over the years since regular changing of varnishing allows for more protection to your painting.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How long should you give your oil painting to dry before varnishing?

Oil painting is greasy. Even though the temptation to jump the timeframe is hard to control, but you should let your artwork polymerize or cure for proper varnishing. Typically, the lapse of time ranges from 6-months to 12-months.

However, you must manually ensure that your painting has dried out by putting your fingers in the canvas and perceive whether the artwork is damp or dry.

2. What happens if you put varnish solvent without drying the painting?

The worst possible outcome is that when the painting dries within the layer, the varnishing above will contract and display cracks in its appearance. Besides, the artworks will not be as strong and flexible as a fully dried canvas.

3. Will the varnish uniformly settle the sheen of your artwork?

Absolutely. There is no doubt that a suitable oil varnishing solvent will even out surfaces on your canvas. In fact, a ubiquitous point of the not-varnished painting is that it consists of patches of matte and gloss all over the body.

4. Should you use a thick coat of layer or a thin?

A lot of people may assume that a thick coat of layering will do that task perfectly well. Moreover, this choice will save your time substantially. However, the suitable way to carry out the solvent application is to apply the product in a thin layer.

And if needed, apply some more thin layers of solvent for flawlessness.

5. Can I apply spray varnish for oil paintings?

Yes, of course. Best spray varnish for oil painting is optimal for both oil and acrylic painting. Apart from providing permanent layering to protect from mechanical, water, and dust damage, it also promotes easy removal using mild solvents.

6. What is satin varnish for oil painting used for?

Satin varnish is a type of varnish that is generally used to protect oil paintings from the elements. It is a very thin film that can be applied to a painting using a brush or a spray can.

Satin varnish is also often used as an intermediate step between other types of varnishes and paint.

Final Words

So, the bottom line here is varnishing is quintessential for oil paintings. You cannot refrain from following this step even if you are a beginner. Above all, let’s hope this article helped you find the best varnish for oil paintings, and purchasing it without a second through is the ultimate goal.

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