Varnish, Attaining “Depth”
By Don Casey
Revised by BoatUS editors in April 2012
Using a less expensive varnish for the build-up coats is optional for gloss varnish. This ploy typically has no measurable effect on the durability or appearance of the finish but saves you money if the job is large enough to require more than one can of varnish anyway.
However, if you are applying a rubbed-effect (satin finish) varnish, you will get noticeably better results by using a high-gloss varnish for the build-up coats. This is because the rubbed-effect varnish contains pigments, and the more coats of rubbed-effect varnish, the “muddier” the finish will look. Build up the coating with clear varnish, which highlights rather than obscures, then apply one or two coats of rubbed-effect varnish to remove the gloss without removing the depth.