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Varnish over painted hull

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I have nearly finished painting the hull of my Mantua Gorch Fock model ship.


The hull is White and emerald green.

I have used acrylic paint. The White is very matt (Humbrol) and the green is quite glossy (Billing boats...the only paint I could get of the correct colour).

I would like a satin look to the whole hull,

My question is, what type of varnish/protective coat should I use?

Is it ok to put an oil based satin varnish over acrylic paint? Or should I use a water based varnish?

Will a satin varnish slightly shine up the Matt White and reduce the glossy look of the green making it look even?

Should I wire wool the green first maybe, to take some of the shine off it?


Any advice appreciated.


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Oil based stains are potentially incompatible with acrylic paint. Not always, but it's quite possible. 


I would use an acrylic based varnish or hobby type acrylic satin coat. Vallejo makes a good satin. 


The satin varnish should even everything out Ok on it's own. No need for the wire wool or sanding. Use a few thin coats rather than one heavy one. 

Joe Volz



Current build:

Model Shipways "Benjamin W. Latham"



Completed  builds on MSW:

Caldercraft HMS "Cruizer   Caldercraft HMBV "Granado"   Model Shipways "Prince De Neufchatel"





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you can use a poly clear satin varnish but you need to apply the first coat VERY lightly as some paints ( oil and water based) can break down under a varnish.  Especially any metallic paints will just flow and run under a varnish.


2 or 3 thin coats (4-5 hour dry time between each should even out the sheen though your white can yellow or get a slight darker ting to it under a poly varnish and as poly varnish ages the white can end up looking yellowed more.


Sprays can pool up along seems joints and corners easily, have to have a light hand in its application.  Warm up your poly spray can prior to use ( let it sit in a pan of warm water 15-20 minutes then shake/mix VERY well.)  and keep cleaning the nozzle.


If you want to keep it easy, an acrylic brush on finish is easy to use, clean up and control if you work it on thin and will not typically break down paints as long as you gave the paints plenty of drying time.  Down side, not as resilient as a protective coat as varnish or shellac and it can leave white streaks if you have residual oils on the surfaces when you put it on where the coating is repelled by those oils.

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Hi Tony

I seal acrylic paints with ronseal mattcoat poly sprayed on.The one thing to watch is that most polys contain a UV filter which will turn white slightly yellow.An alternative would be an acrylic clear spray from the likes of humbrol.


Kind Regards



Currently working on Royal Caroline

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