The Best Varnish for Pyrography

The Best Varnish for Pyrography: Reviews and Complete Buying Guide

Do you love designing wood surfaces with pyrography? The art of wood burning requires the right tools and varnish to bring out a perfect pattern. In order to create some incredible pieces of art, you need a perfect finish. This is where varnish comes in!

Are you looking for a perfect varnish to quench your passion for pyrography? You will not be disappointed as we have gathered a list of six best varnish for pyrography to check out in 2020!

Best Varnish for Pyrography

Varnish can be of different types and each type has its own pros and cons. You can compare their strengths and weaknesses to make the final decision.

Take a look at our top pics:

1. The Minwax 230004444 Fast Drying Polyurethane Gloss

This is the most affordable varnish on our list. It offers a clear, protective finish and is a perfect combination of durability and aesthetic appeal.

The Minwax 230004444 Fast Drying Polyurethane Glass ranks #18 in “Household Polyurethanes, Shellac & Varnish” on Amazon.


  • Price: $6.98 (subject to vary based on current offers)
  • Size Name: Half pint
  • Item Dimensions: 2.88 × 2.88 × 3.10 inches
  • Item Weight: 8 ounces
  • Color: Protect poly glass
  • Style: Regular


  • Suitable for both unfinished and finished wood
  • Offers great finish for doors, molding, cabinets, and furniture
  • Ideal for parquet, softwood, and hardwood
  • Long lasting and dries fast


  • May be harmful to your skin if used without gloves

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2. The Minwax 217854444 Polyshades – Stain & Polyurethane

If you don’t want to compromise on long-lasting polyurethane finish, then this is an excellent varnish to pick. Besides, it protects your wooden crafts from wear and tear.

The Minwax 217854444 Polyshades – stain & polyurethane ranks #334 in “household stains” on Amazon.


  • Price: $17.44 (subject to vary based on current offers)
  • Size Name: Half pint
  • Style: 275 VOC
  • Color: Mission Oak
  • Item Dimensions: 3.00 × 3.00 × 3.00 inches
  • Item Weight: 8 ounces
  • Finish: Gloss
  • Material: Oil based


  • Offers a rich wood color
  • Enhances wood grain
  • Protects wood from scratches


  • Size is a bit smaller at this price

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3. The Environmental Technology 16-Ounce Kit Lite Pour-On

This option produces magnificent gloss while providing exceptional durability. Apart from wood, it can be used on styrofoam, bread dough (probably not to eat!), sea shells, rocks, plaster, dried flowers, painted surfaces, models, metal, paper, photos, bisque, decals, and fabric.

The Environmental Technology 16-Ounce Kit Lite Pour-On ranks #97 in “Interior & Exterior House Paint” on Amazon.


  • Price: $19.82 (subject to vary based on current offers)
  • Color: Clear
  • Item Weight: 1 pound
  • Product Dimensions: 2 × 4 × 6.5 inches
  • Size: 16 ounces
  • Finish: High gloss


  • It is extremely versatile
  • Offers deep, attractive finish in just a single coat
  • It doesn’t require polishing


  • It’s a bit on the expensive side

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4. The Grumbacher Hyplar Gloss Varnish Spray For Acrylic Paintings

This resin-based varnish imparts a non-yellowing, transparent gloss surface. Your paintings need an excellent, protective coating and this varnish will allow you to do just that!

Not only is it easy to apply but also dries up pretty quickly.

The Grumbacher Hyplar Gloss Varnish Spray for Acrylic Paintings ranks #57 in “Household Polyurethanes, Shellac & Varnish” on Amazon.


  • Price: $15.26 (subject to vary based on current offers)
  • Product Dimensions: 2.4 × 2.4 × 7.8 inches
  • Item Weight: 16 ounces


  • Ideal for acrylic paintings
  • Provides brilliant, even gloss
  • Finish is permanent and quick drying
  • Contains no fluorocarbons


  • May leave a strong smell for a long time

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5. The Liquitex High Gloss Varnish

This high gloss varnish not only provides superb finish but is also non-toxic and lightweight. Moreover, it dries up quickly on a flexible, hard, and non-tacky surface.

The Liquitex High Gloss Varnish ranks #22 in “Art Paints” on Amazon.


  • Price: $14.08 (subject to vary based on current offers)
  • Size: 8 oz
  • Style: High gloss varnish
  • Item Weight: 9.5 ounces
  • Product Dimensions: 2.25 × 2.25 × 5.69 inches


  • Provides permanent, gloss finish
  • Package includes 8-oz/237ml bottle
  • Protects projects from ultraviolet light and environment


  • May have issues with dripping/very thin

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6. The Grumbacher Picture Gloss Varnish for Picture and Oil & Acrylic Painting

This varnish has various favorable attributes such as quick-drying, flexible, and non-yellowing. Further, your oil and acrylic paintings can get glossy, uniform, and protective finish with this varnish.

The Grumbacher Picture Gloss Varnish for Picture and Oil & Acrylic Painting ranks #214 in “Art Paints” on Amazon.


  • Price: $11.75 (subject to vary based on current offers)
  • Product Dimensions: 2.4 × 2.4 × 7.8 inches
  • Item Weight: 15 ounces


  • Manufacturer offers free returns for this product
  • Ideal for acrylic and oil paintings
  • Can be easily removed with grumtine, turpentine


  • Cannot be used for medium preparation in oil painting

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A Few Things to Ponder Upon Before You Make the Purchase

Why is it even necessary to apply varnish during pyrography? We will tell you why.

As an artist or pyrography enthusiast, you invest hundreds of hours in creating a perfect piece. However, all your hard work goes down the drain when it is damaged by smoke, dirt, and dust. This is the reason you should never undermine the importance of varnishing.

Do You Need a Non-Removable Varnish?

A good varnish is one that is colorless and transparent. The varnish should be able to attach well with the wooden surface. Preferably, artists use non-removable varnish to coat their woodworks since they want to preserve it for a long time.

However, when it comes to acrylic paintings, you can opt for removable varnish coating which is usually made up of solvent and resin. Removable varnish usually dries up within 24 hours.

Which is Better – Brush or Spray?

Well, it depends on the texture and surface of the wood. For instance, if it’s an impasto surface, using a brush will cause the varnish to accumulate or form bubbles. In that case, it’s better to use a spray varnish instead.

Besides, if your work is highly textural or has multimedia pieces, a spray varnish will come in quite handy for you.

On the other hand, if the texture is smooth enough, using a brush will result in a better finish during pyrography.

What Are the Benefits and Types of Polyurethane Varnish?

One of the prominent reasons why we have focused on polyurethane varnish in this buying guide is because of its excellent durability. There are two major kinds of polyurethane varnish, namely, oil-based varnish and water-based varnish.

Both types are extremely easy to apply and don’t take much time to dry completely. Apart from that, they provide a superbly durable finish to your woodwork and acrylic paintings. Particularly, oil-based polyurethane varnish can protect your work from scratches as well as daily wear and tear.

Moreover, oil-based polyurethane varnish is heat and chemical resistant. It can even deepen the color. On the other hand, water-based polyurethane varnish won’t add color to your work as it cannot penetrate the surface that deeply.

Remember to check out the specifications of the varnish you are purchasing. Some of them will offer the desired finish in just one coat while others may require multiple coats. Overdoing or shortchanging the coating can cause irreversible damage to your work, especially if the varnish is non-removable.

Are There Any Safety Considerations You Need to Take Care of?

You need to apply the varnish in a well-ventilated area. Avoid going near tobacco smoke, heat, flames, and sparks while coating your woodwork. Keep the varnish away from any incandescent material.

Besides that, you should never allow it to enter the sewers. In case of any spills, you should try to confine it. You are advised not to inhale spray mists or vapors.

Apart from keeping the varnish in a ventilated area and away from direct sunlight. You should store it at moderate temperatures, preferably below 50 degrees Celsius. When it comes to hand protection, you are advised to use protective gloves as repeated skin contact or prolonged exposure can cause skin irritation.

Avoid contact with eyes and use safety goggles every time you apply the varnish. Do not smoke, drink, or eat while using a varnish as it may cause spillage or even fire. Even if the varnish comes in contact with your eyes or skin, wash thoroughly and promptly with water.

However, if the problem still persists, you must visit a doctor. It may cause dizziness and drowsiness due to accident inhalation or contact.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use gloss polyurethane to coat acrylic paint?

Yes, both water-based and oil-based polyurethane can be used for coating acrylic paint. However, you have to make a distinction when to use either of them. For instance, if you are using light colors, applying an oil-based polyurethane coat can leave amber or yellow hue which you certainly do not want.

You should instead use water-based polyurethane for light colors in acrylic paint.

Is spray varnish better than liquid varnish?

Applying a liquid varnish can lead to new brushstrokes. In that case, spray varnish may prove to be more effective without affecting your final design or painting. A spray varnish will protect your art from smoke, dirt, and dust while maintaining the originality of the piece.

Should varnish be UV protected?

Yes, it’s always better to UV protect your woodwork as well as your acrylic paintings in order to enhance their durability. We recommend at least two coats and let it dry after the second application. It usually takes about 4-6 hours for the UV varnish to dry up completely. If you are still skeptical, it’s better to leave it for 24 hours.

However, you must ensure a hair-free and dust-free surface by cleaning it with a dry cloth.

Top Brands

Minwax has made a name for itself in woodworking projects both in private homes and public buildings ever since its inception in 1904. When it comes to wood finishing needs, there’s nothing you cannot find in Minwax. Brushes, specialty finishes, maintenance & repair, and hardwood floors are just a few examples.

Environmental Technology specializes in accessories, mold making, casting, and coating products. With its impressive clientele, Environmental Technology Inc. has products like “EasyMold Silicone Paste” with no shrinkage, fast curing, fast build up, and non-sag features.

Grumbacher began its journey in 1905 which has since then become a trusted brand across the US. What started as a hand brush-making company, has now expanded to accessories, mediums, sets, and paints.

Liquitex voyage began in Cincinnati in 1933. In their initial phases, they produced oil paints for artists. It is now a popular brand that manufactures tool sets, medium sets, color sets, accessories, brushes, knives, varnishes, additives, and of course tons of colors!


We thank you for reading our buying guide on best varnish for pyrography!

If we have to recommend one, our top pick is The Environmental Technology 16-Ounce Kit Lite Pour-On owing to its versatility and eco-friendly attributes.

However, if this varnish does not suit your budget, then you should probably go for the Minwax 230004444 Fast Drying Polyurethane Glass since it is the most pocket-friendly option on our list.

You should compare the pros and cons of each product and see what matters the most to you before reaching a decision.