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  • Writer's pictureHarlequin Paints

Varnishes VS Sealers: A Paint Expert's Guide

Updated: Feb 12

Varnishes and sealers, often used interchangeably, are essential components of wood finishing, providing a protective layer that enhances the wood's appearance and durability. While they share the common goal of preserving wood, these two coatings differ in their composition and characteristics.

Varnishes, typically composed of resins dissolved in solvents, form a hard, transparent film over the wood, enhancing its natural beauty and shielding it from moisture and scratches. Sealers, on the other hand, penetrate deeper into the wood's pores, creating a barrier against moisture and spills while preserving the wood's grain and texture.


A paint brush applying a unknown brand of Varnish to a raw wood deck. See how the varnish turns the wood yellow.
Varnish being applied to a raw wooden deck, turning the wood slightly yellow.

The Yellowing Conundrum of Oil-Based Sealers

Oil-based sealers, while offering arguably better durability and water resistance, are notorious for their tendency to yellow over time. This yellowing effect is attributed to the oxidation of the oil-based components, a process that is accelerated by exposure to UV light. As the oil oxidizes, it releases compounds that absorb light in the blue spectrum, giving the wood a yellow appearance.

Water-Based Sealers: A Clearer Choice

In contrast, water-based sealers remain clear and non-yellowing due to the absence of oil-based components. These sealers are also more environmentally friendly, as they emit fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs) during application and drying.

Harlequin Paints Water-Based Poly Range: The Ultimate Wood Protector

Harlequin Paints' water-based poly range stands out as the premier choice for wood finishing. Combining exceptional durability with ease of use, these sealers offer a superior protective finish that resists yellowing and maintains the wood's natural beauty.

Whether you're refinishing a vintage piece or protecting a new heirloom, Harlequin Paints' water-based poly range ensures your wooden furniture remains radiant and protected for years to come.


Harlequin Paints, water based, clear and durable polyurethane sealer.
Harlequin Paints Polygloss: 1 litre

Harlequins 100% polyurethane water-based coating is a hard, durable coating that is ideal for worktops and floors, in fact any area that is needing a good durable finish. Heat and water resistant Harlequins Poly Seal Protect range is the one to choose. Apply using a brush, roller or can be applied by spray as well. Dries in minutes and is fully cured in 16 hours.Polygloss is a stain and chemical resistant clear sealer perfect for all applications. Available in a Gloss, Satin and Matt finish. (Click Here to start shopping today!)

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