Varnishing Your New Boat

Its time to protect the boat for years to come.  Thats what varnishing is for.   Yes it looks beautiful but you need protection from the sun to keep the epoxy from deteriorating and the UV rays fading out the color of the wood.

Kinds of Varnish

The only kind of varnish capable of withstanding the sun, wind and water for more than a few hours is Marine Spar Varnish.  Varnish of this quality will not be found in your local hardware store.  Please do not make the mistake of thinking the spar varnish found at the big box store is ok, its not.  Use what works and you will not learn to regret it within the first summer.  Captains Z-Spar and Epifanes are two brands that will protect your work.  Check with your local marine dealer or look online to find these products. One quart will get your boat covered.

Plan ahead, This is going to take some time to get the boat completely varnished.  10 Days minimum if you work on the boat each day.


Clean the shop area first.  Use a broom, vacuum  compressed air and whatever else you can to clean the dust from your work area.  Include the walls, ceiling and light fixtures.  If you are working in a garage, CLEAN the door.  When you open the door you don’t want dust falling to the boat below.  Now that you have cleaned up most of the dust and stirred up the rest you need to wait for the dust to settle. Give yourself a couple days off and ready the materials you will need to apply varnish.

You can apply a little water to the floor and mop the area you will be walking in.  Continuing to sweep will only stir dust.  Mopping will reduce dust if you need to clean the floor again.


You should lay out all materials on a work station so you do not need to access anything that is on a shelf, in a cabinet or toolbox.  Remember that leftover dust is on everything.  Place a sheet of newpaper over your workbench and lay out brushes, rollers, plastic cups and the rest of your tools within easy reach of the boat.

You will need the following tools to complete a roll and tip application of marine spar varnish.

  • One Quart of Marine Spar Varnish. (Epifanes, Captains)
  • One Quart of mineral spirits.
  • One 8″  West Systems foam epoxy roller cut in half making 2 4″ rollers.
  • 10  3″ foam brushes. Larger will work better.
  • 10-20 plastic picnicking drinking cups.  8oz
  • 10 stir sticks or cut up pieces of strip.
  • 20 pairs of surgical gloves.
  • Roll of paper towels.
  •  220 grit sand paper.

Preparation of the surface of the boat.

Prepare the surface of the boat by washing the epoxy surface with mineral spirits.


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