D2 in use on marine boat hull

Choosing the right varnish for your boat

There are different types of boat varnish on the market and it can be confusing as to which one you should use. Our handy guide will break everything down and help you choose the right varnish for you.

Why should I varnish my wood?

The short answer is to protect it from being subjected to the elements. Wood is a natural product and so being exposed to moisture, UV rays and pollution will inevitably break it down and damage it. Varnishing your wood will create a barrier against these things as well as give it a beautiful aesthetic and ease of cleaning.

Which boat varnish should I use?

There are three different types of boat varnish:

Tung Oil Boat Varnish

This is what some refer to as the ‘old-fashioned’ varnish for your boat. The base of tung varnish is made from a natural oil, usually tung but sometimes linseed. This oil base is then mixed with other things such as solvents, resins and a UV protector.

This type of varnish is flexible and will protect the wood from water, staining and heat damage. However, it should be noted that this type of varnish will always become dry and chalky and eventually crack off the surface. This is obviously not ideal as not only will you have wasted time and effort varnishing your boat, but it leaves your wood vulnerable and open to the elements.

There have since been other types of varnish added to the market that give just as good of a finish but with a longer-lasting result.

1-Part Polyurethane Boat Varnish

As previously mentioned, 1-Part Polyurethane varnishes give just as good of a finished result as tung oil and offer the same amount to protection, but are much harder wearing. Due to its strength, these types of varnish are often used for other things such as interior wood flooring.

However, it should be noted that due to its extra rigidity it is not recommended for use on highly flexible wooden areas such as spars as they can easily crack due to lack of movement.

2-Part Polyurethane Boat Varnish

The 2-part Polyurethane varnish system consists of 2 products that have to be mixed together. This type of varnish is extremely tough and so also offers very good protection from moisture and UV damage and so potentially a good solution to protect areas that are prone to damage.

However, again there are a few flaws with this type of varnish. Just as with the 1-part, the 2-part varnish undoing is that it is too strong for some areas of your boat (on your spars for instance) and it will inevitably crack as the wood moves, leaving the wood exposed to the elements and in danger of becoming damaged.

Boat varnish solutions from Owatrol

Owatrol offer 2 solutions for varnishing your boat. The first is by using our 2-step system of Deks Olje D1 and Deks Olje D2 and the second is using Linitop Yacht Vernis.

D1 & D2

D2 high gloss finish for boat hull


Deks Olje D1 is a highly saturating hardwood oil with a clear matt finish that is perfect for use both above and below the waterline. It drives out moisture and air from within the wood and fills the pores with oil. This enriches and stabilises the wood to provide long-lasting protection.

Once you have applied Deks Olje D1, you can leave the wood as is or if you want a glossy finish, you can apply Deks Olje D2.

Deks Olje D2 is a tough, flexible, high-gloss, durable finish. Unlike traditional boat varnishes, D2’s flexibility means it will not craze or blister. This makes it perfect for use on any part of your boat. What’s better is that no sanding is required between coats and maintenance and repair can also be carried out without stripping!

Deks Olje D1 and D2 applied to wood sample
The difference between Deks Olje D1, Deks Olje D2 and bare wood.

Please note:

  • Deks Olje D2 should not be used without first applying Deks Olje D1.
  • Deks Olje D2 should not be used on areas that will be walked on as it would become slippery when wet.

Linitop Yacht Vernis

Linitop Yacht Vernis used to finish a sail boat

Yacht Vernis is a clear boat varnish, available in a satin or gloss finish. It offers excellent waterproofing abilities and UV protection. Yacht Vernis is perfect for use in damp rooms such as wet-rooms as well as protecting your hull or even decorating handrails.

Linitop Yacht Vernis is specially formulated for use in bad weather as well as any damage caused by saltwater and is also highly flexible. This allows it to move with the wood and so does not peel or flake.

Please note:

  • Linitop Yacht Vernis is not suitable for use on Red Cedar and wood types containing an anti-oxidant such as Iroko.
  • Avoid use on wood types rich in resins.

Getting the best result

As with all of our products, the best way to get the best finish possible is all in the prep work. Be sure you take the time to get your wood properly prepared before application with products such as Deck Cleaner or Deep Cleaner.

We also recommend using high-quality brushes and/or rollers. Please also be sure to thoroughly read the technical information sheet on the product pages before application.

For more information on the overall care of your boat, take a look at our previous blog post, ‘Top 10 Marine Care Products‘.

If you have any boat varnish care tips or advice, please leave them in the comments below. We love hearing from you!

To keep up to date with our latest posts, why not follow us on social media? You can find us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest @owatroluk or at the hashtag #owatroluk

Choosing the right varnish for your boat - Pinterest

Owatrol Team
About Owatrol Team

Our team are ready and willing to support you with your requirements whether it is protecting your newly laid deck or renovating a luxury yacht, whatever the application Owatrol has the solution you are looking for.

2 thoughts on “Choosing the right varnish for your boat

  1. I have a wooden body horsebox, with weathered wood, green algae on it, have sanded all the old flaky varnish off, what would you recommend to use on it now , your net-trol first and then what coloured varnish, it is mahogany wood but originally had a pine coloured varnish on it, I live nr. bicester so could buy your products from Brewers. thanks

    1. Hi there Jennifer,

      If you have sanded all the previous varnish off, removed all the algae and have cleaned and brightened the wood with Net-Trol, you can then use anyone of our wood finishing products.
      Some of our most popular ones are:
      Textrol: https://www.owatroldirect.co.uk/product/textrol/
      Deks Olje D1: https://www.owatroldirect.co.uk/product/deks-olje-d1/
      Aquadecks: https://www.owatroldirect.co.uk/product/aquadecks/

      If you want a glossy varnish finish you could then use Deks Olje D2 on top of Deks Olje D1 which you can find here: https://www.owatroldirect.co.uk/product/deks-olje-d2/

      Please feel free to give us a call if you require any further information: 01582 592707

      All the best,
      The Owatrol Team

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