Applying Varnish With a Roller (Can You Do it & How-To)

Varnish has a thick flow, and applying it is harder than most finishes. So, can you apply varnish with a roller?

You can apply varnish with a roller, but you must use a non-foam roller. Also, you must brush out the finish with bristled or foam paint brush to get a better finish. 

But that’s not all. There is more to know about applying varnish with a roller, and this post digs right into the topic. So let’s dive in.

How To Apply Varnish With A Roller?

You can use a roller for varnish, but you must prep the varnish before applying it.

1. Prep The Workspace

First, prep the workspace. Remove (or cover) nearby furniture or objects before applying varnish. This prevents paint spills (or splashes) over the furniture surfaces. Also, you must cover the floor with a plastic drop cloth to prevent varnish drips on the floor.

2. Clean & Sand

The surface must be cleaned and sanded before applying varnish. To clean a wooden surface, use TSP or soapy water.

After cleaning the surface, sand it with fine-grit sandpaper. Sanding will remove imperfections and bumps from the surface to allow varnish to stick to a smooth and even surface. 

You don’t need to sand the paint if you apply varnish over a newly painted surface (as a topcoat). Instead, clean the surface (after the paint has cured) and then apply varnish.

3. Apply The Varnish With The Roller

Once the surface is clean and sanded, apply varnish with a roller. You must use a non-foam roller to apply varnish. Non-foam roller prevents bubbles and marks in the finish. The finish will be uneven and thick if you use a foam roller. So, stick with non-foam rollers.

You need 2-3 coats of varnish over a surface. You must wait until one coat of varnish fully dries before applying the next one. Water-based varnish takes 6 hours to dry for a re-coat, while oil-based varnish takes 24 hours. 

Also, after each coat of varnish dries, you must sand it before applying the next one. That’s because the varnish has a glossy finish, and if you don’t sand, the new coat won’t stick. Sanding will remove the glossy layer of varnish. However, you shouldn’t sand the final layer of varnish.

While waiting for the varnish to dry, put the paint roller into a plastic bag, and put the plastic bag (and the roller) into a freezer. This is to keep the roller still wet. If you don’t, the roller will dry, and you won’t be able to reuse it. If the paint roller gets dry, you must clean it (which takes 30 minutes), and then re-use it.

After applying varnish with a roller, you can use a bristled or foam paint brush to even out the finish. d.

Final Words

Applying varnish with a roller is possible, but you must use the right roller type. The best varnish roller is a non-foam paint roller.

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