put your varnish on ebay!

Sunday I went out to get some Varnish, of course the local paint store is closed so I go to Lowes. Surprise!, I can't find it. I ask at the counter and the girl takes me to the poly and asks if I want gloss or satin. I tell her I want Varnish not Poly. "Let's ask Jim", she says. Jim is a nice enough guy but starts explaining how I really don't want Varnish because Poly is the same thing and works better, blah, blah, blah. Thanks Jim, I'll go elsewhere.
Later my travels take me by Home Depot. I'm reluctant but I go in anyway... The tart at the paint counter tells me that is "back there", pointing over her head (lazy bitch didn't even turn around, nevermind getting off her stool). I ask another rocket scientist in an orange apron who tells me, "they don't make that anymore, I think its illegal".
Well, if you do have any Varnish in your shop you can probably get good money for it since "they don't make it anymore"...
A quick trip to the paint store on Monday and viola! a can of Varnish and can of 100% Mineral Spirits.
FWIW Lowes did have Spar Varnish but I have never used it so I passed on it since the project will be indoors and see little use.
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"Ah yes, my Dear Watson, it looks another case of the Vanishing Varnish", said Holmes as he puffed on his Briarwood pipe.
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spar is just varnish. it'll work just fine for indoor use, where you won't see any difference between it and furniture grade varnish. it won't hold up as well as floor varnish for floor use, but it's great for things like doors, that see a little flex.
spar has a little more oil in it than furniture grade varnish to keep it flexible after it dries. thinned and wiped it makes a pretty good furniture finish by itself.
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RayV wrote:

Uh, most common polyurethanes are a varnish. It is just a question of which compounds are used for the resin component of the varnish.
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Maybe I don't fully understand the difference or sameness.
As I understand it Varnish is thinned resin and successive coats coalesce to form a single layer. When I have used it in the past it seems to dry to the touch faster than 'Polyurethane' skipping over the tacky stage. The completely cured finish will not be as hard as Polyurethane.
My understanding of Polyurethane is that the layers do not combine the way Varnish does and imperfections in one coat will show through the next. It also is supposed to be a harder finish than Varnish and provide more UV protection.
I could be totally off base and completely wrong but the Polyurethane I have used in the past has an acrylic or plastic look to it. The Varnish I have used looks warmer and more natural. That could be the technique since I have always applied Poly straight out of the can whether water or oil based and normally used a foam brush to apply. The Varnish finishes I have applied have been thinned with Mineral Spirits and wiped on with a rag.
Maybe I need to get a new book: http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page 436
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RayV wrote:

Many phenolic varnishes are actually harder than polyurethane. It's the softness that can sometimes make polyurethane more difficult to rub out.
That's why I choose Gymseal and Waterlox for my floors, and Behlen's Rockhard or Pratt & Lambert 38 for heavily used tables. The resins are more difficult to scratch than polyurethane.
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RayV wrote:

Unfortunately, Gymseal, which I obtain at a GREAT paint store, really is discontinued.
The manufacurer's rep told the store that they can no longer get some of the ingredients at a price that makes the product viable. I was already paying $44/gallon when they COULD buy the ingredients at a price that worked!
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B A R R Y wrote:

Varethane's Diamond water-pased poly for floors is $57/gallon at Home Depot here in Canada....
Chris
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On Wed, 21 Nov 2007 16:27:43 -0600, Chris Friesen

That's water base. Different chemistry and audience. GOOD water based products are rarely cheap. Some WB lacquers are $20/qt.
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"Bonehenge (B A R R Y)" wrote:

Talk about cheap.
Price out marine finishes sometime,
$35/liter will put you in the ball park for varnish.
Lew
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On Wed, 21 Nov 2007 15:18:19 -0800, "Lew Hodgett"

I don't doubt it. Talk about a difficult environment for a finish!
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Bonehenge (B A R R Y) wrote:

Okay...the oil-based floor Varethane is $47/gallon. Still more than the $44 mentioned.
Chris
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On Wed, 21 Nov 2007 17:34:23 -0600, Chris Friesen

Gymseal was $44/gal _before_ they claimed the increased materials costs were a problem.
My guess is that Valspar decided that a.) the market wasn't there for phenolic varnish at a significantly higher price than before the increase (based on the rep's comments), b.) Valspar, who recently bought McCloskey, isn't interested in a "niche" product, and c.) the product was not a low-VOC formula, so it had limited distribution to start with.
Most floors where Gymseal and Waterlox used to be used, like gyms floors, bowling alleys, stores and restaurants, are now done with newer products like Bonakemi Traffic, which is even more durable and dries faster.
There are no cheap, high quality phenolic varnishes. Other examples are Waterlox, Pratt & Lambert 38, and Behlen's Rockhard. There are lots of cheap polyurethane's, so I imagine the raw materials for polyurethane are cheaper than tung oil and phenolic resins.
Lew mentioned the marine products, which are insanely priced, but they perform. Many home center products perform to rather low overall standards, and compete on price.
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