Spar varnish

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Spar Varnish on glass (visible light on left; UV light on right)


A waterproof varnish designed for coating masts (spars) on ships. Spar varnishes originally contained a hard resin, such as Copal or kauri, in a linseed or tung oil matrix. The resins in the formulation have been replaced by durable synthetics, such as phenolic or urethane resins. Spar varnishes also contain driers such as linoleates, or naphthenate. Spar varnishes are very resistant to wear and weathering, but tend to darken with age.

Spar varnish on canvas (visible light on left; UV light on right)

Resources and Citations

  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 842
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • ASTM, "Standard Terminology Relating to Paint, Varnish, Lacquer and Related Products", Annual Book of ASTM Standards, Section 6, Paints, Related Coatings and Aromatics, ASTM, D16, 7-Jan, Jul-96
  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996