View Full Version : Paint first or Varnish first?

Joe (SoCal)
11-17-2003, 12:09 PM
OK so the Skiff is coming along into the final sanding stage. We are about to flip her and light sand and do minor repairs to the painted part of the hull. Then mask and prep for the fresh coat paint Yes were matching the existing red ). So I'm sure this question has been asked before, but what's should I do paint the hull while she is turned or varnish the wood then mask the hull and paint, or dose it not make a difference?

11-17-2003, 12:13 PM
Joe that might depend on how good of a painter you are. I'm thinking that bare wood will soak up paint quicker than varnished wood.

So here is what I'm thinking. I would varnish first, than paint. Any paint that gets on the varnished wood would be easier to clean up than if the wood was bare.


Joe (SoCal)
11-17-2003, 12:36 PM
I hear ya Chad. I was thinking that as well but she is a bitch to flip and figured ya know while she is flipped she would be so easy to paint then flip her back right side up. Since most of the bright wood is inside and only the top most lapstrakes and gunwale. So While she is turtle I can mask off and mask with plastic drop cloth (like a skirt) around the unvarnished wood. I'm a pretty anal painter so I think I could be careful enough. Anyway everyone feel free to input if this approach is foolish :D

Bruce Hooke
11-17-2003, 12:54 PM
I generally try to varnish first and then paint, because, as Chad noted, it is easier to clean paint off varnish then it is to clean paint of raw wood that will be varnished. Also, if you go a little over the line with the varnish (into the painted area) the overlap can be covered with paint if you paint second (in fact it can be advantagous to plan to do this because then there will be no break in the coating at the "seam"), but if you varnish second then any overlap of the varnish onto the paint will be visible, as will, of course, any overlap the other way.

That said, in your situation I would probably just mask carefully and paint the outside first. Minor errors along the paint-varnish line will presumably be on the underside of the gunwale or rubrail, where they will be very hard to see anway. Once you have the boat turned over you can then proceed with all the brightwork and then finish up with any painting on the inside of the boat.

Scott Rosen
11-17-2003, 09:24 PM
If there's an area where paint and varnish meet (like hull to toe rail), then you should varnish first. Once the paint gets onto unfinished wood, it's very difficult to remove completely, and it will show under the varnish.

11-18-2003, 07:51 AM
I like it when the experts agree with me. :D Must mean they are finally coming around to my way of thinking. :D

Joe can you put a temporary coat of varnish on those areas where the paint and varnish meet?


Ed Harrow
11-18-2003, 09:48 AM
One of the downers with masking comes later, when you take the tape off and find some paint on bare wood that is destined to be bright.

A good brush, a modicum of skill, a putty knife, rag and paint thinner, enables one to cut a sharp line, esp when the surfaces are on different planes, quite easily. The only requirement is that the more sensitive surface must have a coating on it already. The occassional goof can be easily cleaned up with the rag pulled tight over the putty knife. I like to let my [VERY] LOL occassional goof set a bit before taking it off. Sometimes the paint thinner is helpful.

Chad's idea (I think it was Chad) of finishing a strip along the mating edge with varnish might work, in this, case as it is out of sight. If brushed/sanded to a feather edge it probably wouldn't show. Hopefully you can get the queen of varnish to chime in.

11-18-2003, 10:19 AM
Ditto Ed's mention of paint bleeding under the masking tape. Unless the surface is extremely smooth, which it probably isn't, you may be better to freehand it.

Paul Scheuer
11-18-2003, 10:59 AM
You're probably going to do more coats of varnish than paint. To minimize the fussing with the edge, varnish first makes sense. I also have better luck cutting in something I can see better.

Joe (SoCal)
11-18-2003, 11:42 PM
Thanks Guys. We start varnishing next week smile.gif THEN paint :D

11-19-2003, 07:42 AM
See guys, he ain't so hard headed after all. He is actually going to listen to the advice given here. ;)