Start with Gloss Varnish
By Don Casey
Revised by BoatUS editors in April 2012
When applying gloss varnish, using a different varnish for the build-up coats (typically one that is less expensive) is optional. This ploy should have no negative effect on the durability or appearance of the finish but can save you money if the job is large enough to require more than one can of varnish.
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.