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Why do Satin and Matt varnish dry glossy

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I dont know whether  its because the basic make up of varnishes has changed but I have been trying out various varnish finishes for my latest build and I was a bit surprised to find that several Matt and Satin finish varnishes dried somewhat glossy  on me,.


I presumed at first that i had just applied it too thickly   - no , thin coats also had a gloss, I tried diluting - no luck.

The atmospheric conditions were "normal".

Changed  my brush , tried on different woods nope.

Used several  makes including  standard Humbrol satin and good old Ronseal (now water based)


I have never had this problem before  - any ideas ?

Edited by SpyGlass

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The only time I've come across this problem was when the varnish hadn't been stirred enough before use. Sometimes, if the varnish has been in storage for some time (and even recently purchased tins can have been on the shop shelf for quite a while) the additive the manufacturer uses to achieve the different levels of finish settles in the bottom of the tin rather than staying in suspension in the varnish. ...... just a thought...





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I started using polyurethane but was quickly reminded why I don't like poly for anything but gloss and switched back to nitrocellulose lacquer made for musical instruments. When you're finishing one ship in one or two years, the risks are exceedingly minor. Sprays beautifully, sands beautifully, and has the expected sheen. 

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Yep, "satin" varnish contains simply gloss varnish and... well, essentially "dirt," which has to be kept in even suspension when being applied. It's intended to be an imitation of a real hand-rubbed varnish finish and it's a pretty poor one, to be sure. I used it once in over fifty years of yacht and furniture varnishing and I won't ever touch that junk again. If one desires a hand-rubbed finish, the honest way to get it is to hand-rub it with rottenstone and pumice to the degree of flatness one desires. A true hand-rubbed varnish finish is a delight to the eyes and the fingers. There are few finishes as smooth. Your mileage may vary, but I'd suggest simply finishing with gloss varnish and flattening the gloss by rubbing. It may be a bit more work, but, as usual, the really good jobs do take a bit longer.

Edited by Bob Cleek

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I used to use enamel Humbrol varnish and had good results with all three, gloss , satin and mat. I lately used Valejo polyurethane vanish which also gave good results, not as tough as enamels (Strong masking tape can lift it) but so much easier to use. The mat versions are quite mat. Maybe needs more stirring. Especially for enamels, the dust takes a long time to disperse and wants to settle immediately.

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