View Full Version : Bristol Finish vs Varnish

Carl Schaefer
01-14-2005, 09:22 AM
I'm curious whether any one on the forum has used Bristol Finish? According to their web site, http://www.bristolfinish.com, it is a very durable finish and doesn't require sanding between coats. It is a two-part poly but it's compatible with varnish and other finishes. Gotta tell ya, with all the varnishing I have to do, this product is enticing.

I'm curious about it's color relative to typical spar varnish ...

Dan McCosh
01-14-2005, 04:27 PM
I tried it one year. The color is about the same as Intrulux Schooner. It may be a durable finish, but we had problems with it lifting at any cracks in the joinery, including bungs. I think the problem is that it is vapor-proof, and any moisture that gets under it tends to lift it. We ended up giving it up as a result. Others using it in areas not prone to mechanical wear seem satisfied.

01-14-2005, 05:50 PM
Fifty million Frenchmen can't be wrong, and they're not using that modern marvel.
Call me ignorant, but i'm very risk-averse when it comes to such a time-sink as varnish. I'll sometimes use an epoxy base, but i'm committed to conventional varnishes until at least half of the fifty million have adopted something else.


Carl Schaefer
01-14-2005, 09:18 PM
Sounds like it would not be an ideal coating for the interior of my Penguin dinghy, eh?

And I was sooooo looking forward to not having to sand between coats!

01-14-2005, 10:15 PM
There's an Epifanes varnish that is no-sand. Works fine.

Carl Schaefer
01-15-2005, 10:49 AM
Jim, thanks for the recommendation on Epifanes. Just went to their web site -- looks like it is just what the doctor ordered. Have you been satisfied with the performance of Epifanes products?


David Toner
01-16-2005, 10:18 AM
I have used Bristol Finish on the interior and transoms of a couple of Nutshell prams that I built a couple of years ago. I do not endorse the product. One of those prams and another boat having 8 coats of Epiphanes on the rubrails have been left to the elements of the northwest for just over a year now. The Epiphanes is holding up fine although it could use a fresh coat or two. There has been no sign of the elements getting through to the wood at all. The Bristol Finish has not done so well. Several spots have showed up on the woods surface requiring a complete sand down to refinish properly. In it's defense, Bristol Finish does appear to hold up to day to day abuse better than regular varnish and is more abrasion resistant. Where the product has stayed stuck to the wood, the Bristol Finish does not seem to be degraded and doesn't appear to need a fresh coat. I also found the mixing and use of the product not as flexible as the company touts. I don't mean to bash a company where I have seen others have more success with it but I will not be using it in the future.

01-17-2005, 11:14 AM
I have used it and with mixed reaults. It does best over a epoxy base- I use WEST 207 hardner. Yeah you can get 4, 5 , 6 coats down in a day, but... they are much thinner than a regulatr varnish- takes many more. Brushing or rolling and tipping, it really doesn't level well, but thinned right, it sets fast enough not to sag. If you go "get the meat on the table route", you can wet sand this stuff like auto lacquer and polish to a glass finish- no bugs or dust either even in the field. Done thick, its a bit hazy compared to CaptainsVarnsih, I'm told it is the UV metals. It will hold up great in the sun, and it scratch resistant to thinks like snaps and such. But it doesn't seems as tough about abrasion from dock lines, sheets and such compared to good ols varnish. Touch ups are tough because the activator gels in the bottle- no real shelf life, so you have to send for more, its hazardous shipping so no this or that ya da ya da .As far a fixing minor dings, I'm using regular varnish.

Would I do it all over again? With a spray gun in a shop, yes. Otherwise, next time, I'm going to roll and tip regular marine varnish, and live with a little dust. My boat stays under a cover anyway, and chafe from that on the coamings is part on my problem with Bristol.