I'm building a small wooden boat, to go in the north sea in Scarborough, i was thinking whats better to use VARNISH OR PAINT ? i was thinking of using varnish as the boat is made from plywood and it would make it look really nice, but an oil based paint would get it more waterproofing.....please advice ????? will be adding for photos of my boat later today!!!!!

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Comment by Alan Stancombe on February 11, 2010 at 6:25am
Hi John
I thought I would reply as I am fairly local - living in North Yorks. I have used varnish already but recently had a major problem. I think it was because I was varnishing in a cold garage with a propane gas heater. When the varnish dried some sort of emulsion formed on the epoxy fillets under the varnish and what a mess. I was told to sand the fillet back but if you try you end up damaging the marine ply. So I have changed tack as it were and have just painted using Toplac. Absolutely magic. Previously I have been bedevilled by runs but using a roller reeeally thin it goes on a dream. No runs and quick drying. Everybody said don't paint it but I'm so glad I did!
Comment by Randy Dersham on November 22, 2009 at 8:45am
Forgot to say that if you want waterproof and bright varnish you coat the outside of the boat with epoxy. Let it dry at least a week, light sand with 200grit paper, then varnish with at least four coats.
Comment by Randy Dersham on November 22, 2009 at 8:40am
For salt water use a high quality topside marine paint is number one. It is 100% UV protection and can be waxed for added protection and polished down with compound once a year to keep the look shiny new.

A small boat that is all bright is a beautiful thing and the way we prefer to do the job at mckenziedriftboat.com. I recommend Bristol Finish. It is a two part clear poly that will outlast varnish in the harsh salt and sun. It is more expensive but is much tougher and easier to maintain.

Where you do decide to use varnish you should wash, light sand, and re-varnish at least once a year. That classic golden bright look is wonderful and is easier to apply but is more regular upkeep than the more modern two part polyurethanes.

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