Flawless Varnish with One Simple Hack

Frustrated with Varnish Application?

One of the most intimidating aspects of painting furniture for most people lies in the final step. You've taken the time to properly prep, repair, clean, and perhaps even prime. You've spent countless hours getting the most flawless coats of paint imaginable. And it's all for nothing if your varnish is cloudy, streaky, or textured.

Painted and Decoupaged Desk


Don't let the fear of an imperfect coat of varnish hold you back. I've tried and tested every possible technique for applying topcoats, and time and time again, I keep coming back to the simplest of all. This hack costs less than fifty cents and will give you a million-dollar finish. 

What You Need For the Easiest Varnish Application

For any varnish application over a smooth, even surface (tabletops, dressers, cabinets, etc) my go-to tool is a simple sponge. I love the orange sponges you can find in the automotive detailing department or a good grout sponge. These are usually only a few dollars and I cut them into 8 small 2" x 2" sections, bringing the cost down even further. I then grab a pair of cheap pantyhose from the dollar rack at Walmart and cut a section off that is about 2-3" longer than my sponge. Place the sponge inside the pantyhose and tie off both ends. 

Wise Owl Varnish Application with Sponge

Time to Apply

Now for your varnish...grab a plastic plate and pour a bit of varnish onto it. You'll want something at least as wide as your sponge. Dip the flattest side of your sponge into the varnish, and then begin applying in long, even strokes to your painted surface. You don't need a ton of varnish on your sponge for each pass, just enough to lightly cover your paint. I try to work quickly, moving from one end to the other in an even pass, and then moving on to the next section, being sure to overlap just a bit with each pass. The varnish dries incredibly fast, so you want to be cautious to not overwork the area. You don't need to apply pressure to the sponge as it moves, just let it glide across the surface as you go.  Once you apply the varnish, let it be. Resist going back and forth over the same area, because as soon as the varnish begins to set, it will get tacky. And dragging the sponge over the tacky surface will drag your varnish, creating a streaky/cloudy appearance. If you miss a spot, leave it, wait till it is dry, and then hit it on your next coat.

Painted Coffee Table with Wise Owl Paints


That's it!! Simple, inexpensive, and effective. Have you tried this method? Or do you have a method that works great for you? Let's hear it!

Need to stock up on varnish? You can snag some here. Need chalk-style paint? Check out pints here and quarts here

Painted corner cabinet with Wise Owl paints

Need a video tutorial? I've got one here that shows all the steps! 

Flawless Varnish with an Inexpensive Hack

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

What are you looking for?

Your cart