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Varathane Hints & Tips

Any wood finishing project is easier when you know the right products, tools and techniques for the job. Let's get you started to a great finish.

Do I need and oil-based or water-based finish?

A water-based clear finish maintains the colour of the wood, paint or stain, dries quickly and cleans up easily with soap and water. An oil-based clear finish adds a warm amber hue to your project, and takes a bit longer to dry and clean up.

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When choosing a finish does sheen matter?

Matte, satin, semi-gloss or gloss - there's no difference in durability. Just remember that the glossier the clear finish, the more it will show any underlying imperfections and any future wear and tear.

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Which application method should I use?

A quality fine-bristled brush, a clean lint-free cloth or a foam brush - all work well. Stay away from inexpensive bristle brushes, as they tend to leave obvious brush strokes. Clear finishes in aerosol format are great for difficult areas, such as the spindles of a chair.

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Do I need a clear finish over my stain?

Once you're happy with your staining, it's wise to apply a coat or two of clear finish. Without it, your stain will slowly be worn away with normal wear and tear.

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Does sanding make a difference?

Sanding is the all-important step that gives you a smooth, open-pore surface for staining. Be sure to always sand with the grain and remove any residue with a tack cloth. DO NOT sand your final coat of clear finish.

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Is finishing always a multi-step process?

You can beautify and protect your work in one easy step with water-based 2-in-1 Varathane Stain & Polyurethane. Try it on items that don't get a lot of wear and tear. You'll love the ease of use - and the results.

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