How to Choose Your Material: Wood Varnish

Table of Contents

Wood varnish is a kind of coating you can apply to wood surfaces to protect, even alter their colours. To choose a quality varnish, there are various aspects of the material you have to consider.

Read on to find out what you should know before making a purchase.


Packaging and specifications

How to Choose Your Material: Wood Varnish

For water-based varnish, the product’s packaging should be labelled ‘water-based’ or ‘water-soluble’. For the user’s manual you should see instructions for diluting the varnish.

Fake water-based varnish is often laced with solvents and cannot be diluted with water.


Environmental standards

How to Choose Your Material: Wood Varnish

From the labels, you should be able to ascertain whether the water-based varnish you have purchase has passed quality control tests.

When purchasing the varnish, you should request from manufacturers the certificates given by CMA Quality International.

Manufacturers of fake water-based varnish will not be able provide such certificates.



The first criteria to judge a sample is by its colour.

According to the production process of water-based wood lacquer, most lacquers are produced by polymer modified emulsion technology or water-based polyurethane dispersion technology.

A water-based wood lacquer based on a combination of acrylic acid and polyurethane, which is milky white or semi-translucent in colour.

100% polyurethane water-based wood lacquer is generally semi-translucent and light yellow in colour.

The second is the smell of the lacquer. Water-based wood lacquer is known to be odourless.

Upon opening of the water-based wood lacquer, you should only detect a light smell with a hint of oily aroma.

Counterfeit waterborne wood lacquers have a strong odour of irritating solvent. Expired waterborne wood lacquers often have a pronounced rancid smell.



Each wood lacquer is equipped with a corresponding sample, so that you as the consumer can touch and look at the sample upon purchase.

For most common transparent varnishes and white topcoat, their textures are smooth, delicate and even. There is no yellowing or discoloration

Clear lacquer has a high transparency, while white topcoat is flawlessly white, and offers strong coverage.

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