Best Marine Varnishes in 2024

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When it comes to pro­tect­ing and enhanc­ing the beau­ty of wood sur­faces on boats, marine var­nish­es are the go-to solu­tion for boaters and marine enthu­si­asts. Check our top choic­es:

Our pick

Our Score:


  • Superb glossy fin­ish
  • Excel­lent out­door dura­bil­i­ty
  • High-qual­i­ty com­po­nents

Also good

Our Score:


  • Clear high gloss fin­ish
  • Pre­mi­um qual­i­ty
  • Easy to apply

Most reviewed

Our Score:


  • Excel­lent glossy fin­ish
  • Tra­di­tion­al Gold­en Col­or
  • Quick Dry­ing

Top 5 Best Marine Varnishes

Deter­min­ing the best marine var­nish involves con­sid­er­ing var­i­ous fac­tors such as dura­bil­i­ty, UV resis­tance, ease of appli­ca­tion, and over­all per­for­mance. While per­son­al pref­er­ences and spe­cif­ic project require­ments may vary, there are sev­er­al marine var­nish­es that con­sis­tent­ly receive pos­i­tive reviews and are com­mon­ly regard­ed as top choic­es:

  1. Epi­fanes Clear Var­nish
  2. Inter­lux Schooner Var­nish
  3. Total­Boat Gleam Marine Spar Var­nish
  4. Pet­tit Cap­tain’s Var­nish
  5. Epi­fanes Wood Fin­ish Gloss

1. Epifanes Clear Varnish

Our pick

  • Excel­lent glossy fin­ish
  • Excel­lent out­door dura­bil­i­ty
  • High build capac­i­ty
  • Long last­ing prop­er­ties

Epi­fanes is well-known for pro­duc­ing high-qual­i­ty marine var­nish­es. Their clear var­nish offers excel­lent pro­tec­tion against UV rays, water, and weath­er­ing. It is high­ly durable and pro­vides a glossy, smooth fin­ish. Epi­fanes var­nish­es are known for their ease of appli­ca­tion and abil­i­ty to enhance the nat­ur­al beau­ty of wood.


  • Easy to apply
  • Great val­ue for mon­ey
  • Excel­lent UV pro­tec­tion
  • Flex­i­bil­i­ty and water resis­tance in all cli­mat­ic con­di­tions


  • Need to wait for it to dry

2. Interlux Schooner Varnish

  • Silky appli­ca­tion
  • Clear high gloss fin­ish
  • Excel­lent flow
  • Pre­mi­um qual­i­ty

Inter­lux Schooner Var­nish is a pop­u­lar choice among boaters. It offers supe­ri­or gloss reten­tion, UV resis­tance, and long-last­ing pro­tec­tion. This var­nish pro­vides a rich, high-gloss fin­ish and is easy to apply. It is suit­able for both inte­ri­or and exte­ri­or wood sur­faces.


  • Rel­a­tive­ly easy to apply and achieve sat­is­fac­to­ry results
  • Clear high gloss fin­ish
  • Pre­mi­um qual­i­ty tra­di­tion­al tung oil var­nish 
  • Con­tains UV fil­ters to pro­tect wood from UV rays
  • Supe­ri­or self lev­el­ing prop­er­ties


  • More expen­sive

3. TotalBoat Gleam Marine Spar Varnish

  • Easy to Use
  • Quick dry­ing for­mu­la
  • Can be Sprayed or Rolled
  • Tra­di­tion­al Gold­en Col­or

Total­Boat Gleam Marine Spar Var­nish is a high-qual­i­ty, high-gloss var­nish that pro­vides excel­lent pro­tec­tion for wood sur­faces. It is for­mu­lat­ed to resist UV dam­age, water, and weath­er­ing, mak­ing it ide­al for marine envi­ron­ments. The var­nish is self-lev­el­ing and offers a durable, clear fin­ish.


  • Con­tains pre­mi­um qual­i­ty com­po­nents
  • Has water­proof UV block­ers for dura­bil­i­ty
  • Pleas­ant smell that lacks harsh­ness when applied
  • Water­proof


  • Not as durable as oth­ers

4. Pettit Captain’s Varnish

  • Tra­di­tion­al warm, amber col­or
  • Pro­vides excel­lent gloss reten­tion
  • Extra U.V. pro­tec­tion
  • Extreme­ly durable fin­ish

Pet­tit Cap­tain’s Var­nish is a tra­di­tion­al marine var­nish that has stood the test of time. It offers supe­ri­or pro­tec­tion against the ele­ments and has excel­lent flex­i­bil­i­ty, mak­ing it ide­al for wood­en boats. This var­nish pro­vides a rich, amber fin­ish and is known for its dura­bil­i­ty and long-last­ing per­for­mance.


  • In high qual­i­ty, suit­able for both inte­ri­or and exte­ri­or use
  • Out­stand­ing glossy effect
  • Easy to use
  • Clear and smooth fin­ish
  • All-nat­ur­al and eco-friend­ly


  • None

5. Epifanes Wood Finish Gloss

  • Excel­lent dura­bil­i­ty
  • High gloss fin­ish
  • Out­stand­ing U.V. pro­tec­tion
  • Water-resis­tant

Epi­fanes Wood Fin­ish Gloss is a high-build var­nish that offers excep­tion­al UV pro­tec­tion and dura­bil­i­ty. It pro­vides a beau­ti­ful, high-gloss fin­ish and is resis­tant to water, chem­i­cals, and abra­sion. This var­nish is renowned for its long-last­ing per­for­mance and ease of appli­ca­tion.


  • High gloss fin­ish 
  • High flex­i­bil­i­ty and water-resis­tant in all weath­er con­di­tions
  • Con­tains UV block­ers to keep woods from dark­en­ing
  • Fair­ly cost-effec­tive


  • Not begin­ner-friend­ly

TIP: Prop­er­ly pre­pare the wood before apply­ing it. The wood should be clean and free of debris, and any exist­ing coat­ings should be com­plete­ly removed. Sand the wood light­ly with a fine-grit sand­pa­per and then apply the var­nish in thin, even coats, allow­ing each coat to dry ful­ly before apply­ing the next. Use a nat­ur­al-bris­tle brush when apply­ing the var­nish and to avoid over­work­ing the var­nish to min­i­mize brush marks. Fol­low man­u­fac­tur­er instruc­tions for the num­ber of coats and dry­ing times for best results.

Best Marine Grade Polyurethane

The best marine grade polyurethane is one that is specif­i­cal­ly designed and for­mu­lat­ed for use in marine envi­ron­ments. It should be water resis­tant, UV resis­tant, and have a high lev­el of abra­sion and wear resis­tance. To com­ple­ment it You might think of teak seal­ers that will help a lot. It should also have excel­lent adhe­sion qual­i­ties and be able to with­stand extreme tem­per­a­tures, salt water, and humid­i­ty. It should be easy to apply and have a long-last­ing fin­ish.

There are a few top choic­es known for their dura­bil­i­ty, pro­tec­tion, and over­all per­for­mance in marine envi­ron­ments. Here are three high­ly regard­ed marine-grade polyurethane options:

  • Epi­fanes Clear Gloss Var­nish: Epi­fanes is a renowned brand in the marine indus­try, and their Clear Gloss Var­nish is high­ly regard­ed for its excel­lent UV resis­tance, weath­er resis­tance, and long-last­ing pro­tec­tion. It pro­vides a beau­ti­ful high-gloss fin­ish, enhances the nat­ur­al wood beau­ty, and offers excep­tion­al dura­bil­i­ty against the harsh marine ele­ments.
  • Total­Boat Lust Marine Var­nish: Total­Boat Lust Marine Var­nish is anoth­er pop­u­lar choice known for its excep­tion­al per­for­mance. It offers a clear, high-gloss fin­ish that enhances the wood’s appear­ance and pro­vides excel­lent UV pro­tec­tion. This var­nish is for­mu­lat­ed to resist crack­ing, peel­ing, and yel­low­ing, ensur­ing long-last­ing pro­tec­tion for your boat’s wood sur­faces.
  • Inter­lux Schooner Var­nish: Inter­lux Schooner Var­nish is a tra­di­tion­al marine-grade polyurethane var­nish that has stood the test of time. It offers out­stand­ing pro­tec­tion against UV rays, salt­wa­ter, and harsh weath­er con­di­tions. This var­nish pro­vides a high-gloss fin­ish, enhances the nat­ur­al wood grain, and offers excel­lent dura­bil­i­ty for marine appli­ca­tions.

Good marine grade polyurethane should be non-tox­ic and safe for the envi­ron­ment, as well as being durable enough to with­stand harsh weath­er and UV radi­a­tion. The best polyurethanes should also pro­vide a smooth, glossy, and attrac­tive fin­ish, as well as being easy to clean and main­tain. It should be able to stand up to the con­stant expo­sure to water, salt, and sun, as well as being resilient enough to with­stand bumps, knocks, and scrapes. It should be afford­able and easy to find.

brown boat on body of water near green mountains under white sky at daytime

Types of Marine Varnish

Marine varnish is a type of coat­ing that is used to pro­tect wood, met­al, and oth­er sur­faces from the ele­ments. It pro­vides a hard, durable fin­ish that is resis­tant to UV rays, water, and oth­er envi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions. There are sev­er­al types of marine varnish avail­able, includ­ing alkyd, phenolic, and polyurethane.

  • Tra­di­tion­al Spar Var­nish: Tra­di­tion­al spar var­nish is a pop­u­lar choice for marine appli­ca­tions due to its excel­lent dura­bil­i­ty and UV resis­tance. It typ­i­cal­ly con­tains a blend of nat­ur­al resins, such as tung oil or lin­seed oil, com­bined with phe­no­lic or alkyd resins. Spar var­nish­es are known for their high gloss fin­ish and abil­i­ty to with­stand harsh weath­er con­di­tions.
  • Two-Part Polyurethane Var­nish: Two-part polyurethane var­nish­es pro­vide excep­tion­al dura­bil­i­ty and pro­tec­tion against UV rays and salt­wa­ter. These var­nish­es con­sist of a resin and a hard­en­er, which must be mixed before appli­ca­tion. They offer a high-gloss fin­ish, excel­lent abra­sion resis­tance, and are often con­sid­ered the most durable option for marine appli­ca­tions.
  • Water-Based Var­nish: Water-based var­nish­es have gained pop­u­lar­i­ty due to their low VOC (volatile organ­ic com­pound) con­tent and ease of appli­ca­tion. These var­nish­es offer good pro­tec­tion against UV rays and are gen­er­al­ly more envi­ron­men­tal­ly friend­ly. They dry faster than tra­di­tion­al var­nish­es and pro­vide a clear, satin, or mat­te fin­ish.
  • Epoxy Var­nish: Epoxy var­nish­es are known for their excep­tion­al dura­bil­i­ty and mois­ture resis­tance. They are often used as an under­coat or primer before apply­ing a final var­nish lay­er. Epoxy var­nish­es can pen­e­trate the wood, pro­vid­ing excel­lent adhe­sion and pro­tec­tion against mois­ture intru­sion.
  • Spar Ure­thane Var­nish: Spar ure­thane var­nish­es com­bine the dura­bil­i­ty and UV resis­tance of polyurethane with the flex­i­bil­i­ty and mois­ture resis­tance of tra­di­tion­al spar var­nish­es. These var­nish­es offer good pro­tec­tion against weath­er­ing and are suit­able for both inte­ri­or and exte­ri­or marine appli­ca­tions.

Alkyd varnish­es are more com­mon­ly used for inte­ri­or wood and met­al sur­faces, while phenolics and polyurethanes are often used for exte­ri­or sur­faces. Each type of marine varnish has its own char­ac­ter­is­tics and ben­e­fits, so it is impor­tant to select the right one for the job.

The Mast

Alkyd Marine Varnish

Alkyd marine var­nish is the tra­di­tion­al choice for marine appli­ca­tions. It is gen­er­al­ly more afford­able than polyurethane and is eas­i­er to apply. Alkyd marine var­nish is also more flex­i­ble than polyurethane and is bet­ter at resist­ing crack­ing and peel­ing.


  • More afford­able than polyurethane
  • Eas­i­er to apply
  • More flex­i­ble than polyurethane
  • Bet­ter at resist­ing crack­ing and peel­ing


  • Does not have as good UV pro­tec­tion as polyurethane
  • Can yel­low over time
  • Not as resis­tant to mildew and fun­gus

Alkyd Marine Varnish is a type of wood fin­ish that is designed to pro­tect wood sur­faces on boats and oth­er marine ves­sels from the harsh ele­ments of the ocean. It is made from a resin that is high­ly resis­tant to UV rays, salt water, and mois­ture, mak­ing it ide­al for out­door use. Alkyd Marine Varnish is easy to apply and pro­vides a beau­ti­ful, glossy fin­ish that is sure to pro­tect your boat for years to come.

Polyurethane Marine Varnish

Polyurethane marine var­nish is the new­er, more mod­ern ver­sion of marine var­nish. It is more expen­sive than alkyd, but it is also much more durable. Polyurethane marine var­nish has excel­lent UV pro­tec­tion and is more resis­tant to mildew and fun­gus.


  • Excel­lent UV pro­tec­tion
  • More resis­tant to mildew and fun­gus
  • More durable than alkyd
  • Does not yel­low over time


  • More expen­sive than alkyd
  • More dif­fi­cult to apply
  • Not as flex­i­ble as alkyd

Polyurethane marine varnish is a pro­tec­tive coat­ing used on wood sur­faces that are exposed to marine envi­ron­ments. It is typ­i­cal­ly used on boats or oth­er items that are exposed to saltwater, sun, and mois­ture. Polyurethane marine varnish is designed to pro­vide supe­ri­or pro­tec­tion against the ele­ments, with a high lev­el of UV pro­tec­tion and water resis­tance. This type of varnish also offers a beau­ti­ful fin­ish that is easy to apply and main­tain.

Choosing the Best Marine Varnish

When choos­ing the best marine var­nish, it is impor­tant to con­sid­er the appli­ca­tion and envi­ron­ment. If the wood is exposed to direct sun­light and harsh ele­ments, it is best to choose a polyurethane marine var­nish. If the wood is not exposed to direct sun­light and harsh ele­ments, an alkyd marine var­nish may be the bet­ter choice.

Look for a marine var­nish that offers excel­lent dura­bil­i­ty to with­stand the harsh con­di­tions encoun­tered in a marine envi­ron­ment. It should be resis­tant to UV rays, salt­wa­ter, mois­ture, and tem­per­a­ture fluc­tu­a­tions.

UV resis­tance is cru­cial to pre­vent the var­nish from fad­ing, yel­low­ing, or degrad­ing under pro­longed expo­sure to sun­light. Opt for a var­nish with high UV resis­tance to main­tain the appear­ance and integri­ty of your wood sur­faces.

Con­sid­er the desired lev­el of gloss for your wood sur­faces. Marine var­nish­es typ­i­cal­ly offer a range of gloss options, from high gloss to satin or mat­te fin­ish­es. Choose a var­nish that aligns with your aes­thet­ic

Look for a marine var­nish that is easy to apply, even for indi­vid­u­als with lim­it­ed expe­ri­ence. Con­sid­er fac­tors such as brusha­bil­i­ty, self-lev­el­ing prop­er­ties, and whether it requires thin­ning or mul­ti­ple coats for prop­er cov­er­age.

The dry­ing time of the var­nish is an impor­tant con­sid­er­a­tion, espe­cial­ly if you have time con­straints or need to com­plete the project with­in a spe­cif­ic time­frame. Some var­nish­es have quick­er dry­ing times, while oth­ers may require longer cur­ing peri­ods.

Ensure that the marine var­nish you choose is com­pat­i­ble with the type of wood you are work­ing with. Dif­fer­ent var­nish­es may have spe­cif­ic rec­om­men­da­tions for use on par­tic­u­lar wood species, so ver­i­fy com­pat­i­bil­i­ty before appli­ca­tion.

Con­sid­er the ease of main­te­nance and repair for the var­nish. Look for a var­nish that allows for easy touch-ups or refin­ish­ing with­out requir­ing com­plete strip­ping and reap­pli­ca­tion.

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When apply­ing marine var­nish, it is impor­tant to fol­low the man­u­fac­tur­er’s instruc­tions. Marine var­nish must be applied in thin, even coats for best results. A foam brush or roller is the best way to apply the var­nish, as it will help pre­vent any drips or runs. The var­nish should be allowed to dry com­plete­ly between coats, and the num­ber of coats will depend on the type of var­nish being used.

Preparing the Surface

Before apply­ing the marine var­nish, it is impor­tant to prop­er­ly pre­pare the sur­face. The wood should be sand­ed with a fine grit sand­pa­per and all debris should be removed. The wood should also be wiped down with a damp cloth to remove any dust or dirt. Any flaws in the wood should be filled in with a wood filler before apply­ing the marine var­nish.

Applying the Marine Varnish

Once the wood is pre­pared, the marine var­nish can be applied. It is impor­tant to work in a well-ven­ti­lat­ed area and to wear pro­tec­tive cloth­ing, such as gloves and a res­pi­ra­tor mask. A foam brush or roller is the best way to apply the var­nish, as it will help pre­vent any drips or runs. The var­nish should be allowed to dry com­plete­ly between coats, and the num­ber of coats will depend on the type of var­nish being used.

Maintenance and Repair

To keep marine var­nish look­ing its best, it is impor­tant to per­form reg­u­lar main­te­nance and repairs. The wood should be cleaned reg­u­lar­ly with a mild soap and water solu­tion. If the wood becomes scratched or dam­aged, it should be sand­ed and re-var­nished.

Repairing Scratches

Scratch­es in the marine var­nish can be repaired by sand­ing them with a fine grit sand­pa­per and then re-var­nish­ing the area. It is impor­tant to use a fine grit sand­pa­per, as a coarse grit sand­pa­per can dam­age the wood.

Repairing Cracks

Cracks in the marine var­nish can be repaired by apply­ing a flex­i­ble adhe­sive to the crack and then re-var­nish­ing the area. It is impor­tant to use a flex­i­ble adhe­sive, as it will help pre­vent the crack from return­ing.

What is the best varnish for a boat?

The best var­nish for a boat depends on the type of wood and the desired fin­ish. Gen­er­al­ly, for out­door use, a high-qual­i­ty marine spar var­nish is rec­om­mend­ed. It is typ­i­cal­ly a long-last­ing, pro­tec­tive fin­ish that will retain its gloss and flex­i­bil­i­ty in the harsh marine envi­ron­ment. When apply­ing any var­nish, it is impor­tant to ensure the wood is prop­er­ly pre­pared and the var­nish is applied cor­rect­ly in mul­ti­ple thin coats.

When select­ing a marine spar var­nish, con­sid­er the cli­mate you are in, as some are bet­ter suit­ed to warm and humid cli­mates and oth­ers to cold cli­mates. Also con­sid­er any spe­cif­ic needs you have, such as UV pro­tec­tion or a high-gloss fin­ish. It is often ben­e­fi­cial to choose a var­nish that con­tains UV inhibitors and mildew­cides to pro­tect your boat from the ele­ments. Look for a var­nish that is easy to apply, has good adhe­sion and is resis­tant to crack­ing, peel­ing and yel­low­ing.

What Are The Parts Of A Boat Called

What is the hardest marine varnish?

The hard­est marine var­nish is a var­nish that con­tains high amounts of UV absorbers, chem­i­cal sta­bi­liz­ers and alkyd resins. This com­bi­na­tion of ingre­di­ents pro­vides a hard­er and more durable fin­ish that is resis­tant to crack­ing, fad­ing and dis­col­oration over time. It also pro­vides supe­ri­or pro­tec­tion from salt­wa­ter and oth­er envi­ron­men­tal ele­ments.

It is also for­mu­lat­ed to be resis­tant to abra­sion and wear, mak­ing it an ide­al choice for boats and oth­er marine appli­ca­tions. It is also com­mon­ly used on out­door fur­ni­ture, shut­ters, and oth­er exte­ri­or sur­faces that are exposed to the ele­ments. This type of var­nish is also often used on masts and spars, as it pro­vides excel­lent pro­tec­tion against ultra­vi­o­let radi­a­tion and oxi­da­tion.

What is the best marine varnish for wood?

Deter­min­ing the best marine var­nish for wood depends on var­i­ous fac­tors such as gloss lev­el, dura­bil­i­ty, and UV resis­tance. Some top choic­es in the mar­ket include Epi­fanes Clear Var­nish, Inter­lux Schooner Var­nish, and Total­Boat Lust Marine Var­nish.

Epi­fanes Clear Var­nish is renowned for its high gloss fin­ish and excel­lent UV resis­tance. Inter­lux Schooner Var­nish offers dura­bil­i­ty and a beau­ti­ful amber hue that enhances the nat­ur­al beau­ty of wood. Total­Boat Lust Marine Var­nish is known for its easy appli­ca­tion, long-last­ing pro­tec­tion, and excep­tion­al gloss reten­tion. Con­sid­er your spe­cif­ic needs and pref­er­ences to choose the marine var­nish that best suits your project and pro­vides opti­mal pro­tec­tion for your boat’s wood sur­faces.


What is the difference between marine varnish and regular varnish?

Marine var­nish is specif­i­cal­ly for­mu­lat­ed to with­stand the harsh con­di­tions encoun­tered in marine envi­ron­ments, such as expo­sure to UV rays, salt­wa­ter, and mois­ture. It offers enhanced dura­bil­i­ty and pro­tec­tion com­pared to reg­u­lar var­nish­es, mak­ing it suit­able for boat appli­ca­tions.

How many coats of marine varnish should I apply?

The num­ber of coats required can vary depend­ing on the spe­cif­ic marine var­nish and the con­di­tion of the wood sur­face. In gen­er­al, it is rec­om­mend­ed to apply mul­ti­ple thin coats rather than a sin­gle thick coat. This helps achieve prop­er cov­er­age, improves adhe­sion, and allows for bet­ter con­trol over the fin­ish.

Can I apply marine varnish over an existing finish?

It is pos­si­ble to apply marine var­nish over an exist­ing fin­ish, pro­vid­ed that the sur­face is prop­er­ly pre­pared. The exist­ing fin­ish should be clean, dry, and free from any loose or flak­ing mate­r­i­al. Light sand­ing or strip­ping may be nec­es­sary to cre­ate a suit­able sur­face for the marine var­nish to adhere to.

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