How to Varnish a Painting

Protect your artwork with varnish, a magical shield against dust, dirt, UV rays, and yellowing. This thin protective layer acts as a guardian between your masterpiece and the atmosphere, ensuring its longevity.

Typically, varnish is a blend of a solvent and a resin, creating a transparent and colourless coating that forms a strong bond with the painted surface. Choosing the right varnish is crucial to achieve the desired finish for your artwork.

If you want to amplify the vibrancy of the colours in your painting, opt for a glossy varnish. On the other hand, if you prefer a more subdued look, a matte varnish will gently soften the colours. The choice is yours, and it can make a world of difference in the final appearance of your artwork.


  • Make sure you have a clean, wide brush. (Either a Loxley Wide Bristle Brushes or Skyist Varnish Brushes)
  • Pour out the varnish into a dish – this way it is easier to control the amount of varnish you put on your brush. 
  • Lay your work on a flat board. 
  • Important your work gently but quickly – Apply long, even strokes covering the surface from top to bottom. 
  • Work from left to right – slightly overlap each stroke. 
  • Important that once you have left an area, do not go back over these areas until completely dry. ‘3 thin coats is better than 1 thick coat.’ 
  • Leave the artwork to completely dry – for 24 hours.


  • Wipe over the surface of your artwork – make sure it is completely dry and be careful what cloth you use. 
  • Place your painting horizontally in a dust free space – keep surface flat at all times.
  • Shake the can for 10 seconds and then start spraying.
  • Important to apply the spray at an even distance away from the surface – about 30cm away.
  • Move from top to bottom, left to right – overlapping each layer slightly. 
  • Work in thin layers – about 2 to 3 layers should be fine but it is a personal preference. Between each layer make sure surface is completely dry. 
  • Leave to dry for 24 hours.


Tips when applying Varnish

  • Important when applying to choose a dust free area to work in & keep windows and doors open. 
  • Wait until your painting is completely dry before moving/touching. 
  • Leave to dry for 24 hours before moving/touching.
  • Make sure your artwork is on a flat surface & keep the work flat at all times, avoid working vertically. 
  • If using a brush, use long, even strokes from top to bottom, moving gently and gradually from side to side. 
  • If spraying, gradually spray from top to bottom, left to right, making sure you do not miss any area out. 
  • Avoid going back over areas that you have done. For any areas that you have missed, allow the artwork to completely dry and then revarnish. 




A traditional high gloss resin based varnish for use on oil and alkyd paintings which dries quickly and tends to darken with age. It is great for glazing as it can be mixed with the oil paint, increasing transparency and speeding up the drying time. Dammar varnish can be removed for restoration with turpentine. Apply as a top coat only when the oil paint is completely dried.



Loxley Superfine Retouching Varnish is a gloss varnish which gives temporary protection to recently completed oil paintings whilst they are still drying. Unlike normal varnishes, it is possible to paint on top of Retouching Varnish which refreshes the colours so that they can be reworked at a later stage. The varnish can be removed using white spirit if needed.


Loxley Artists’ Oil Gloss Varnish gives oil paintings a quality permanent gloss finish and protective layer which prevents dust and moisture getting into the paint. The varnish is transparent and non-yellowing and can be removed for restoration work if required. Apply the varnish only when the oil paint has completely dried.



Prism Clear Glaze 150ml is a specially formulated, perfectly clear, non-yellowing glaze for paper, plaster and concrete which gives a high gloss ‘porcelain’ finish.



Loxley Picture Varnish is designed to give paintings a quality finish as well as protective layer to prevent dirt and moisture getting into the paint. The varnish can be used on a wide variety of paints including acrylic, oil, alkyd and watercolour and can be applied to most surfaces giving a clear non-yellowing flexible coating which can be removed when restoration work is required. Supplied in a 200ml handy aerosol making it easy to apply in thin coats without getting build up from overspray. Apply only once the painting has completely dried in a well-ventilated area spraying in light even layers and allow to dry between coats. 



Loxley acrylic gloss varnish gives maximum protection and gloss sheen to acrylic paintings. It can be mixed with the acrylic paint or applied as a top coat when the paint is dry. It provides a permanent, flexible and durable gloss covering. It can also be used on 3 dimensional artwork and modelling materials.