How to Varnish Wood… So It Looks Really Good!


Add several coats of varnish to wood and it will enhance the natural colour of the timber, delivering a lovely, rich sheen. Varnish protects wood, providing a durable surface that helps to prevent damage and keeps it in good condition. So far, so simple. But there’s a bewildering array of wood floor varnish and other products on the market. Here’s our guide to varnishing wood and wood varnishing finishes, with a few handy product recommendations thrown in.

Floor varnish enhances the natural colour and grain of wooden floors

Wood varnish guide

How to varnish wood?

Whatever product you want to use, as a general rule, you will have to completely remove any existing varnish, waxes, oils, wood stains, dust, dirt, grease, uneven areas and sticky stuff before applying a wood varnish.

Your workspace needs to be dust and dirt free, otherwise it can collect on the surface of the wood and the freshly applied varnish, spoiling the sheen and smooth finish.

It’s best to use a brush with natural rather than synthetic bristles for oil-based finishes, and synthetic brushes (often called ‘nylon’ brushes) for acrylic or water-based varnishes. But you can also use rollers or rags for both kinds of finish.

Every wood varnish product is very slightly different. All the products we sell come with detailed instructions and you should always follow them to the letter. With varnishes, short cuts invariably mean you won’t get the quality finish that you were hoping for. Here are some useful generic tips:

7 tips for varnishing wood

  1. Vacuum the area to remove dust and dirt, before starting work. A slightly damp mop also works well for removing sanding dust from the surface of the floor
  2. Choose a day when the weather isn’t too humid. Varnish will dry slower in humid or cold conditions, and there’s more chance of dust and dirt settling on your project before it’s fully dry, which means you’ll have an imperfect finish. If working indoors, use the heating to get the room temperature somewhere between 20 and 25°C. If the room is too hot, the varnish will dry too fast and messy bubbles might form
  3. Remove any existing varnish or finish with a suitable paint and varnish remover / stripper. Sand the wood to remove any surface imperfections, then use a damp cloth to remove any debris and let the wood dry
  4. The first coat can be thinned if required but this isn’t necessary with many of the modern water-based varnishes. Leave it to dry for 24 hours, then sand it with fine sandpaper and wipe down with a damp cloth or vacuum to remove the dust
  5. Apply your first coat of pure varnish, working with the grain, then let it dry completely
  6. Create a key by gently sanding the surface with very fine sandpaper
  7. Apply as many more coats as you need, generally 2 to 3 coats is the norm, but additional coats can be applied for greater depth of finish, gently sanding in between each coat. Don’t sand your last-but-one or final coat, and go with the grain for the final coat for a super-smooth finish

Choosing the right wood varnish

Varnish, polyurethane, lacquer and Shellac…they’re all different and they’re not supposed to be interchangeable. So what’s the score? Let’s look at a few different types of wood varnish.

Shellac varnish

First there’s Shellac varnish, something we’re asked about frequently. But what exactly is Shellac? It’s actually a natural resin secreted by an insect called a lac beetle, which lives in Indian and Thai forests. The substance comes exclusively from the female insect and is scraped off the tree branches, processed into dry flakes then mixed with ethanol to create a liquid. The end product has lots of interesting functions; it is used as a food glaze and colouring as well as a wood varnish.

It’s a remarkable material. As well as a durable natural primer it seals, blocks tannin and smells, stains wood and acts as a high-gloss varnish. It has excellent insulation properties, keeps moisture out and was even used to make old-school 78 rpm gramophone records.

Shellac used to be the most popular wood finish on the planet until polyurethane came along, a much more durable, heat and chemical-resistant material with a longer shelf life. These days, since it is compatible with most other finishes, Shellac is often used as a barrier or primer to prevent wood stains from blotching. It’s a major ingredient in Manns Trade Shellac Sanding Sealer, which we sell on-site, ideal for blocking knots in wood, filling open grains and covering fine scratches.

Polyurethane varnish

Polyurethane is a plastic in liquid form. It comes as either a water based varnish or an oil based varnish, anything from satin varnish to high gloss and absolute matt. The Manns Extra Tough Interior Varnish that we stock is a great example of a high performance varnish which has anti-bacterial properties making it suitable for use on kitchen surfaces and utilities as well as bathroom floors and furniture. It’s also safe to use on wooden children’s toys.

Water-based varnishes

Water-based varnishes have come a long way over the last decade or so and are now just as good or better than the traditional spirit-based varnishes used in the past. Excellent examples of modern day water-based varnishes include Polyvine Heavy Duty Interior Wood Varnish, for interior doors and furniture and Manns Extra Tough Floor Varnish for floors and staircases. If you’re looking for a strong, general purpose, water-based varnish that can be used for almost any project, Manns Extra Tough Interior Varnish is certainly worth consideration.

  • Low odour
  • Low toxicity
  • Goes on clear without adding colour
  • Dries much faster than oil-based varnishes
  • Doesn’t stand heat and chemicals very well
  • Ideal for indoor wooden items that are protected from the extremes of temperature you get outdoors
  • Can be applied over latex or acrylic paint without adding colour

Oil-based varnishes

  • Slightly more durable than water-based varnish
  • Handles heat better
  • Adds a slight colour to enhance the wood
  • Must be used in a well-ventilated space
  • Takes much longer to dry and cure than water-based
  • Can be applied over latex or acrylic paint, adding slight colour

Spray varnish

An ideal spray varnish set up. Near open space and light.

Spray varnish is wonderful if you have large areas to cover, and is ridiculously easy to apply. Take  Morrells Nitrocellulose Lacquer Sprays, which come in a broad variety of sheen levels and offers a convenient way of applying a solvent-based spray lacquer without the need for a dedicated spray system. Interestingly, it comes highly recommended by luthiers, who say it’s perfect for varnishing guitars.

Floor varnish

Although floor varnish is generally thought of as a clear product, there are in fact a wide range of pigmented versions such as Ronseal Diamond Hard Coloured Floor Varnish, which comes in six attractive natural wood shades, to produce a remarkably hard-wearing, satin sheen finish.

Well varnished floors achieve a desirable look and finish.


Believe it or not, lacquers are the same as varnishes. The trade often use the term ‘lacquer’, while the general public tend to use the term ‘varnish’.

Acrylic varnish

Acrylic varnishes are usually water-based. They offer very high transparency levels and don’t go yellow. They are easier to clean up and don’t give off fumes, but don’t tend to penetrate the wood as well as oil-based products. They feature good UV-resistance and dust resistance, and are often used by artists to seal and protect paintings, sometimes with special ultraviolet light resistors to protect the paint against light.

Marine varnish

You’ve guessed it… marine varnish is simply a super-durable product formulated especially to withstand being submerged in salt or fresh water. It’s brilliant for boats, and US marine fitters Defender have created a handy guide to varnishing boats.

Need help choosing the right wood varnish for the job?

No problem. Just give us a call for free expert advice you can trust. Alternatively, see our wood varnish FAQ page which covers many of the most commonly asked questions about wood varinishes.

We love to see before, during and after photos of any wood finishing project. If you would like to share your decking project pictures with us, you can either send us some photos or share on our Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram pages.

Other great blogs that discuss about wood varnishes

  • How to Varnish a Wooden Floor
  • Wood Flooring Varnish Repair
  • A guest post by Kate Goldstone


    1. You should think about what furniture will be used when renovating your bathroom. Based on the frequency you’ll use the bathroom it is best to choose the bathroom storage solutions that will provide enough storage space to store your bathroom towels and toiletries. Inbuilt cabinets are a good way to make the most of space. However, freestanding cabinets let you make more room.

    2. Thanks for sharing these tips. I found these tips very helpful. I believe that every mother like me who is reading this article now is truly happy about this very informative article.

    3. Hello, I’m looking at making some scaffold board shelving and purchased new (pine) scaffold boards. I have sanded them down but still some areas are “fuzzy”. Can I apply varnish to the fuzzy areas? What varnish would you recommend I don’t want them to be dark but darker than they are at present.

      • Hello Scarlett,

        Thank you for getting in touch with your question. It would be better if you are able to sand out the ‘fuzzy’ areas to a smooth finish, however wood can be of course be unpredictable. You are still able to apply a varnish to these areas and I would also recommend the use of Primer first to aid adhesion and test areas to ensure you are getting the desired coverage and appearance.

        If you do need any further advice please do get in touch via our contact us page and I will be happy to help.

        Kind regards Samantha.

      • Hello Linda,

        If you could get in touch with further details of the project, what it is, flooring, furniture or something else? And myself or one of our adviser can help further. You can get in touch using our contact page contact us

        Kind Regards Samantha.

    4. During loft conversions, I had to change some doors to ‘fire doors’ Unfortunately, due to a miscommunication, the painter used a walnut water varnish on ‘unfinished wood’ instead of a mild oak one which I wanted, Is it possible to remove the varnish and re-varnish it to a paler stain, e.g. oak?

      • Good Afternoon Tushar,

        Yes it is possible to remove this varnish, I would recommend for a quick effective strip you take a look at the Paint Panther Paint and Varnish Remover this is a gel that results in the varnish bubbling up to be scraped off. it can be a little messy, as with any stripping project, however this product is very very effective and easy to use.

        Once you are back to bare wood a test area with the preferred colour first to ensure you do like the finish that will be achieved. And for further advice please do not hesitate to get intouch with our friendly team via the contact us page. Kind Regards Samantha.

    5. I have several unfinished wood lace bobbins that I would like to varnish before using. These are small (5 inches length, 1/2 inch width) pieces of wood that will have thread repeatedly wrapped around them for the craft of lacemaking. I need a varnish that will not transfer on to the thread or onto the lace pillow (cotton cover) against which they will rest and rub against. It also needs to be very smooth so that the thread fibres do not catch on it. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

      • Good Afternoon Sheila,

        If there is any roughness to the wood before application it will be better to sand the wood first, this will help to avoid any snagging when in use. Once clean and smooth you can look at applying the Manns Extra Tough Interior Varnish this will give a smooth and durable finish to the bobbins.

        Ideally a spray application of a number of thin coats will be best, however I appreciate that this is not perhaps a viable option and brush application will be fine, with a sand between coats with a 240 grit paper. Wipe off the sanding dust and apply further coats until you have the desired finish. I would expect 3- 4 coats for you project, however two will be a sufficient minimum.

        The drying time for this product is fairly quick for application of further coats. I would allow a period of a few days at least before putting into use, allowing the varnish to cure well, and then a test run first to ensure the varnish does not impact on the thread, I believe this will be very unlikely but tight tension of thread may over time wear the varnish away.

        I hope that helps and if you have any further questions please do not hesitate to let me know.

        All the Best Samantha.

    6. Is it possible to layer different varnishes? Unfortunately Ronseal did not do the colour we wanted so we have had to use a different brand, however I don’t think it will be as hard wearing (label says for use in light traffic areas). I’m wondering if I can put a layer of the clear Ronseal varnish over the top to hopefully make the finish more durable.

      • Hello Mark,

        Thank you for getting in touch with your enquiry. Generally speaking one varnish will go over another with out issue. It is important to ensure the base coat is dry and it will benefit from a light sand to key the surface. You should then try a test area, and allow this test are to cure for a number of days. Carry our a scratch test to check for adhesion and protection and this will show if there is any adverse reactions or the products are not compatible.

        Our best advice would always be to sand back to bare wood and apply a durable floor finish to get the best results, but I understand this is not always and option and so as long as the results of the test area are positive you could move forward with application. There will be no guarantees in terms of longevity or durability, when you apply two different brands and this is worth bearing in mind when choosing how to proceed with your project.

        I hope that helps and if you have any questions at all please do let me know.

        Kind regards Samantha.

    7. We are having a new engineered wood floor laid and then new wooden skirting and door architraves which we intend to varnish with a Matt finish for the skirting and architrave, can you advise on the best product please

    8. Hi I have a sideboard which has already been varnished in the past, it is looking tatty, do I need to sand the whole thing back to bear wood or would a light sand and ‘re varninsh don the job.
      Also I’m not sure if a coloured stain was used before?

      Would like to add photo, not sure if that is possible?

      • Hello Dawn,

        My advice for the best finish will always be to sand back to bare wood. That said I understand that this is not always an option and depending on the condition a light sand to give key to the surface is an option for re varnishing but will not give the best finish.

        Test areas are going to be the key, firstly to ensure there are no adverse reactions between old and new varnish, and to make sure that you like the finish that will be achieved. I will be happy to have a look at some photos if you wish to send some in to with reference to this Blog Response. I can then perhaps make some suggestions of products to consider for your project.

        I look forward to hearing from you.

        Kind regards Samantha.

    9. I just finished varnishing my floors with Ronseal diamond hard white ash satin varnish. I have some left and would like to ‘paint’ a pine plate rack which appears to have been varnished in the past. Is there any way I can avoid sanding it (all those dowels)? And can I water down the varnish and use it in my paint sprayer (those dowels again)?

      • Good Afternoon Samantha,

        Thank you for your enquiry. The Varnish is likely to be suitable for use on your plate rack. that said I would advice that a light sand is carried out to provide key to the surface to aid adhesion. And that a test area is carried out. The test area should be left for around 3 days and then checked for adhesion and this will ensure that there are no problems.

        Thinning is not advised as this will impact on the durability of the product and brush application is the manufacturers instructions.

        If there is anything further that I can help with please do not hesitate to get in touch.

        Kind regards Samantha.

    10. Hi, the varnished floor in our kitchen is very much looking the worse for wear with grease marks etc. I was wondering if it would be possible to add a little white emulsion paint to water based varnish to give a kind of smoky, denser effect. I’m sure I read this in a magazine somewhere but I’m a bit wary of taking the plunge.

      • Hello Ann,

        Thank you for getting in touch, its not necessarily a coarse I would recommend, grease will cause issue with adhesion and finish of most products that you try to apply over the top. You can try wiping the surface of the floor with some Methylated spirits to see if this removes the grease. This will improve the chances of application over the top of the current finish.

        Some paint will adhere to a varnished finish but with so many variables it is not necessarily something that I would recommend. You could have a look a coloured varnish such as Ronseal Diamond Hard to see if this might meet your needs.

        For further advise please feel free to call in ad speak to one of our advisers on 01303 213838 or email to

        Kind Regards Samantha.

    11. Hi there,

      We have recently purchased a lovely wooden dining table and 6 chairs. I am wanting to varnish the table to protect it from stains etc as it needs doing. However, i dont really want to sand all of the chairs as well. Im worried that if i sand the table top down back to bare wood i will never be able to match the original colour to the chairs again. Is it possible to apply a clear varnish on the table top to prevent further damage without sanding it down and removing what is on there already? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Many Thanks.

      • Hello Paul,

        That very much depends what is currently on the table and chairs. If it is an oiled finish then you are not able to varnish over the top. If it is already varnished then this gives you a better chance. There is a small test that you can do to get a clue and that is to leave a small drop of oil on the wood, preferable somewhere inconspicuous, and leave it for 30 minutes to an hour. If the oil remains unmoved then you have a varnished surface, if the oil moves or soaks in then you are likely to have an oiled or bare wood table.

        This will then help with moving forward with the right products. If it is varnished then you can lightly key the surface and try the Manns Extra Tough Interior Varnish I would recommend a test area first to ensure there are no compatibility issues and that you are getting the finish that you hope for and this product is available in sample sizes.

        Do let me know if you have any further questions.

        Kind Regards Samantha.

    12. Hi.
      I have a mango table that has a ring on it where the heat from whatever was put on it has taken off the varnish. When I have sanded and varnished the area its now a darker ring than the rest of the table. Seems like the varnish went straight into the wood. Can you help please? Many thanks.

      • Hello Sara,

        Are you able to send me some photos and I will happily take a look. Often heat on the surface will draw up moisture in the wood and create a white ring which is difficult to remove. Get in touch via email and hopefully I will be able to make some helpful suggestions.

        Kind regards Samantha.

    13. Hi Sam,
      Pine bed and 2 pine bedside cabinets made 10 plus years ago and finished with Rustins polyurethane varnish developed a sweet odour over the last few years. I have not had this problem with any of many hardwood projects using Rustins and it took a while to identify the source. I recoated with Rustins 2/3 months ago and it has not improved things.
      I now find many websites reffering to “Polyurethane Smell”, but without any easy
      definite solution.
      Any suggestions for a clear hardwearing finish to seal the smell in without having to strip down ?

      • Hello Brian,

        I have not come across this before and not sure what could be the cause. Polyurethane will ahve a smell when first applied but this will disperse in a matter of days. Due to the age you may need to consider stripping back to bare wood and re applying a product. I am sorry that I can not be of more help, but if you have any other questions please do let me know.

        Kind Regards Samantha.

    14. Hi – I have stripped and sanded an oak dining table top to bare wood, stained it a couple of times using Colron mahogany to match the dark lacquered table legs, then applied Colron liquid wax for darker wood, which contains beeswax. That buffed to a medium shine but I wasn’t satisfied so applied a coat of Danish oil. In so doing, a lot of stain came off on the cloth. The result was even but left me worried about people using the table and getting stain on their clothes! Running out of Danish oil, I then used some Ronseal Teak oil. Again a lot of stain keeps coming off on the cloth. The result so far is a lovely matt sheen but one where clothes would be vulnerable to staining.

      How do I seal the wood to prevent this happening? I wanted to varnish it but your advice suggests this is not an option. I don’t really want to take this back to bare wood and start again, so is it a case of persevering with more coats of Teak oil until the stain is stable or is there something else I can do?

      • Hello Steve,

        It sounds like maybe the stain is being lifted when application occurs, maybe over working the oil is pulling at the stain. My best advice would be to take the wood back to bare and start again just using one durable type of oil such as Fiddes Hard Wax Oil which will colour an protect in two thin coats.

        Varnish can not be applied over the top as it will not adhere and I believe applying further coats of oil will continue to cause issues. If you would like further advice please do feel free to email me at

        Kind regards Samantha.

    15. Hi,

      Wondering if you can help as I can’t find a solution on the Internet. I stripped a softwood door in my house from a dark varnish and washed and sanded the whole thing so it looked like the natural wood again. A few days later I varnished over with a Ronseal birch varnish (water-based). The actually varnish looked green in the tin but the first coat dried and looked okay. Second coat applied and the whole thing has dried a horrible green.

      Any advice on why this happened? I’m going to have to start the whole process again but don’t want a green door again.



      • Hello Nicola,

        Can you send me some photos of the issue you are having and I will happily take a look for you to see if I can make a suggestions. You can email me at FAO Sam.

        Kind regards Samantha.

    16. Hi, I just finished varnishing my hardwood floors with satin varnish and as I was finishing up I noticed a couple of wee patches I wanted to top up on the already dried areas. When I have done this however, the varnish has went out really matte making them stand oven more. Any idea what is causing this and if I can fix it. I am worried another coat will make it worse.

      • Hello Nicole,

        Are you able to send me an email, with some pictures of the effected area and the whole floor. Can you include details such as what type of wood the floor is, what preparation you carried out, how you applied and any other information that you feel may be relevant. Also what varnish you have used. You can email me at FAO Sam.

        Kind regards Samantha.

    17. Hi, I’m thinking of using rounded edged softwood as a large frame for shelving. I’d like to get a light / medium oak look if possible but also have a finish on top that will not stain as it will be used for placing clothing on. Any suggestions would be much appreciated, Thanks Anil

      • Hello Anil,

        To get the colour you want I would recommend you have a look at the Manns Classic Pine Stain this is a versatile stain that can be intermixed, lightened by adding water or a number of coats applied to intensify the colour.

        Once you have achieved the colour that you want then a good quality varnish such as Extra Tough Interior Varnish this will seal the colour and be durable finish for the wood.

        Both products are available in sample sizes and a test area is always recommended. I hope that helps and if you have any further questions please do let me know.

        Kind Regards Samantha.

    18. Hi all,
      I have some old pine chairs that have been by a sunny window for a long time. The varnish is now lifting and they look terrible (the ones that are less exposed to sunlight are OK though).

      The old varnish lifts fairly easily but the chairs have a lot of ‘difficult’ areas (round moulding etc).

      Is there a way around scraping and sanding to clean the old away?

      Once I have a decent surface what would be the finish you’d recommend (for a soft sheen finish)? I quite like the idea of wax but possibly not for a surface up against clothes.


      • Hello Bob,

        Thank you for your enquiry, you could have a look at the Paint Panther which is a quick working gel like product that you can apply to the varnished areas and then scrap off with a Filler Knife A test area is always recommended wit strippers to first ensure there are no adverse reaction and also to show that the product will work for your project.

        As with many projects you may still need to carry out a little sanding to finish of removal or to prepare the wood for its follow up treatment. And if you need any further advice on this please do not hesitate to get in touch, our email is

        Kind Regards Samantha

    19. Hi, first can you tell me the color stain used on the floors in the picture. Second can you give me the steps on refinishing the floors. Do I start with the shellac, then put the color , then the clear varnish? To remove the old color and clear coat do I just use a stripper then sand? Please give me the steps from beginning to end. from what I’m understanding after old color and gloss have been removed and prepped use shellac then varnish color then gloss?

      Thank you,

      • Hello Christine,

        We have some very helpful videos on our You Tube Channel >>> or that give hints and tips on which products to use.

        The picture in this blog is likely to be clear varnish applied directly to a sanded wood. There is no stain, the colours are highlighted by the varnish and the range in colours are due to different types and states of wood. Shellac is a durable natural primer it seals, blocks tannin and smells, and stains wood. It is not always necessary and a wood primer is sometimes a better option.

        I hope that helps and if you have any further questions please do let me know.

        Kind regards Samantha.

    20. Hi,
      I’ve got an antique walnut dining table which was starting to look quite badly worn. I have sanded it down using very fine grade sanding paper (finishing with 320 Grit) and I tried varnishing it with Ronseal gloss interior varnish (walnut shade). Unfortunately the surface is not very shiny and the wood is a lot darker than it was originally. I’m going to take it back to bare wood again, what would you recommend I should use to bring back a bright gloss finish? I don’t really want to make it much darker that it looks when I wipe a damp cloth over it.

      • Hello Peter,

        It may be that you do not need to apply a coloured varnish. Applying a clear varnish will darken the natural colour of the wood in the way a damp cloth will darken the bare wood. For a high gloss finish you could have a look at Manns Extra Tough Interior Varnish it will enhance the grain of the wood and give good quality protection. It is durable and non yellowing and is also available in sample sizes to allow you to carry out a test area first.

        Have a look at this product and check out our helpful You Tube Videos >>> for hints and tips on application. And if you have any questions please feel free to get back to me.

        Kind Regards Samantha.

    21. I would like to change my white table top (ikea) which may be mdf ,to maple or honey colour to match my worktops. Can you advise me the best way to go about this.

      • Hello Mary,

        Would you be able to send some photos via email of the table and the work tops you are looking to match ? You can email then to and I will see if I can make some suggestions for you.

        Kind Regards Samantha.

    22. My holiday home has skirting and door surrounds previously stained/varnished with an orange/yellow effect, displaying a colour very similar to that of Antique Pine in your wood stain samples. However I want to change the colour/stain to be brown without any red, orange or yellow i.e. achieve as close to the colour sample Walnut or slightly lighter if possible? Can you recommend what stain samples I should get to attempt to achieve a brown wood & counteract the orange/yellow effect. I think I would apply wax rather than varnish to the finished effect however before I do apply any stain would I have to remove the previous varnish with a product? p.s. It has been over 10 years or more since any product was applied to the wood. Many thanks!

      • Hello Christie,

        Thank you for your enquiry. A stain will need to be able to absorb into the surface of the wood and any pre existing treatment may prevent this. So you would need to strip off any old varnish. The wood that you are applying to can have a direct impact on the colour that will be achieved with the stain. Pines, for example tend to have a naturally red, orange or yellow colour and application of stains, varnishes or oils can highlight the already natural tones of the wood.

        The good thing about these water-based wood stains is that they are very versatile. They can be lightened by adding water or intermixed to create alternate colours. Plus they are available in sample sizes so you can carry out some test areas. Any top coat of an interior wood oil or interior varnish will darken and enhance the colour of the stain so a test area with both the stain and protective top coat is highly recommended to assess the final finish and colour.

        One other alternative to try once you have stripped back to bare wood is a Colour tinted wood oil which will stain and protect in one application. These are available in sample sizes so you can try several colours to decide which is best for your project.

        I hope that helps and if you have any questions please feel free to email me on

        Kind Regards Samantha.

    23. Hi.
      Just had a company in who sanded my oak block floors back to the wood. They have put a coat of Ronseal medium oak varnish on the floor and it looks terrible! The finish is patchy with distinct light and dark blotches and some lines along the edges which look like the floor was damp next to the walls – which it wasn’t. What could have gone wrong? I don’t want them to put any more coats on until we know what the problem is – they can’t understand it themselves!
      Thanks for any suggestions and advice. Dave

      • Hello David,

        Can you send me some photos of the whole floor and the effected areas and I will happily take a look for you to see if there are any suggestions I can make. You can send images to with a description of the wood, preparation and application method.

        Kind Regards Samantha.

    24. Hi,

      Recently re-finished our pine floors in the satin ronseal diamond hard antique pine varnish, I have used other ronseal products with this colouring previously and thought i knew what to expect so went ahead and did a whole coat. I had misgivings at first, and when the final coat had dried I was sure I felt like i had been tangoed!! It’s very orange, more so than i expected.
      As I don’t think lightening up the floor is viable, if we were to add a few more coats of the medium oak would this darken the floor any? or would walnut be a better choice? I’m not particulary bothered how dark the floor gets i just don’t want it to be orange.

      • Hello Liam,

        How frustrating, the Antique Pine is quite an orange tone and if applied to a wood that has underlying tones of orange this can be highlighted considerably. I am not sure that the Medium Oak will work to tone down the orange, you may have to consider a darker colour or sanding back. And it is very important to try a test area out with which ever colour you go for and allow it to dry so that you get the true colour that will be achieved. Let me know how you got on, feedback on these issues are always helpful for us.

        Kind Regards Samantha.

    25. Hi,
      Have just purchased a new headboard that has a foil finish in light oak.
      We ideally need a slightly darker end result but understand that treating a foil finish is difficult and only painting is possible after a rub down and a primer paint applied.
      We don’t really want to paint the headboard as this won’t match the rest of our oak furniture.
      Question is could we rub the board down and apply a clear primer and then a coloured varnish to keep the underlying grain effect or are there any other options available?
      Looking forward to your response.
      Best regards

      • Hello Nigel,

        Your best bet is to contact the company that you purchased the headboard from. Foil finishes are not my field of expertise and I would not really be able to comment or advice on it. I am sorry that I can not be of more help but if there is anything else that I can help with please do let me know.

        All The Best Samantha.

    26. Hi guys, i have made the mistake of varnishing our wooden dining chairs in cold temperatures. The finish looks just fine, but it scratches easily. Any advice to recover my hard effort of applying 3 layers of varnish? Id rather not have to sand it down.

      • Hello Hitesh,

        Can you send me some photos to along with details of the preparation carried out and the application process? Also details of the varnish used and the type of wood, if you know what it is?

        I will happily take a look and see what I can advice for you.

        All the Best Samantha.

    27. Hello Sam,
      I have just got an old (1830…) Gilbert wood clock which was “renovated” a few times. I am now in the process of sanding the many layers of varnish down to bare wood. I would like to give it the original mohogony color. Should I need to stain the wood first and then apply clear varnish or can I go straight to a varnish stain? My problem is sanding between layers because of the intricate design of the clock.
      What do you suggest?


      • Hello Carlos,

        I would recommend the Light Fast Wood Stain as a solvent it is unlikely to raised the grain and will reduce the need to denib between coats. There are a couple of Mahogany’s in this range and it give a great depth of colour to the wood.

        You can then look at sealing with a clear varnish such as the Extra Tough Varnish from Manns. This is a clear varnish available in Matt to Super Gloss and can be applied with a brush or roller or even spray applied. Unfortunately we do not ship over seas but are always happy to package up goods should you wish to arrange for a courier to collect from us. For more details you can call us on 0800 7818 123 or email to

        All the Best Samantha.

    28. Hi Sam,
      I have purchased some raw pine shelving from IKEA which I would like to stain and oil. I love the style of the furniture but not the finish! We’ve just had really excellent results on our freshly sanded old pine floorboards with the Fiddes Hard Wax Oil product, and would like something similar for the shelving, ie something we can brush on that provides a satin finish that is reasonably durable and dries relatively quickly. For the shelves, I’d like some colour to add a little character to otherwise completely bland wood. We’ve tried using the leftover Fiddes product on the IKEA shelving – which is prepped but furry in the way that pine wood can be – to see if it darkens the wood in the same way it did our floors (it hasn’t) and to see if gives the satiny finish we want. We thought that if we could achieve the finish using the oil but not the colour, we could order one of the tinted Fiddes Wax Oils, but it doesn’t seem to be working particularly well to give the right finish. Do you know why this would be? Or is there a better product you can recommend for raw pine? I don’t mind using a varnish but was more inclined to use the oil so that we could potentially refresh the shelving in the future without sanding back completely.
      Any advice?

      • Hello Mandy,

        There are a number of different Pines and they can react differently to the same treatment. It may be that you need to sand the shelves to a higher grit 180 or 200 grit to smooth the surface more. But bear in mind that by doing this it will tighten the grain and make it harder for the oil to be absorbed. I would recommend trying this first on a small test area to see how you get on.

        Alternatively you could look at using a Shellac Sanding Sealer to give a smooth finish that can be stained with Light Fast Wood Stain and then finished with a tough, durable, interior varnish

        We also have some helpful videos on our You Tube Channel that have great hints and tips on application methods and product advice >>> but feel free to let me know if you have any further questions.

        Kind Regards Sam.

    29. Hi, I have a walnut board I am making into a window sill. I would like a very durable, water proof/resistant matt finish. What type of product would you recommend for hardwood, can’t decide between an oil or varnish?

      • Hello James,

        There are pros and cons to using oils or varnishes. A varnish such as Manns Extra Tough Interior Varnish is a more durable seal on the surface of the wood, as long as the seal is not broken it will last long and be water resistant.

        An Oil is still very durable, it soaks into the surface of the wood and leaves it looking and feeling natural. It is easier to maintain and repair than the varnish and just requires a top up coat when you feel the wood needs it. Always try a test area and if you have a read up of the products and let me know if you have any further question I am always happy to help.

        Kind regards Sam.

    30. Hi
      I have just finished sanding down my bedroom flooring which was stained a dark brown colour, it’s very old over 100 years I’m guessing and it has a lot of wear and tear where it’s very uneven the sanding has brought out the different tones and it looks very patchy, I really don’t mind the worn look and a bit patchy is fine I’m thinking of using ronseal diamond walnut floor varnish on top as its most likely to blend in the uneven colours as there dark patches in the large creases left! Do you think this would mostly even it out?

      • Hello Kelly,

        It would be fair to say that the darker the colour that you apply to more is will mask any variations or patchiness. The Ronseal Diamond Hard Coloured Floor Varnish is an easy to apply, hard wearing product that would be ideal for your project. I would recommend a test area first to ensure that you do like the finish that will be achieved. The wood you are applying to will have an impact on the final colour to be achieved. I hope that helps and please do let me know if you have any further questions.

        Kind Regards Sam.

    31. Hello, we’ve just had a cabin bed built out of plywood for our little boy. We are going to paint it white and wanted to put a clear varnish over the top of it to make it more durable. I have. I have no idea what is the best type of paint or varnish to use, any advice would be greatly appreciated

    32. Hi.
      I’m in the process of having some new light oak work tops fitted and want to protect them as much as poss’ once installed.
      My wife doesn’t fancy the Danish oil the supplier suggests, but wants a satin hard wearing finish, fairly maintenance free. What would you suggest?
      Kind Regards,

      • Hello Bill,

        You could have a look at some of our Top Oils. Osmo Top Oil is a good option and is available in a range of sheen levels. It is easy to apply, repair and maintain over time. We have some great videos on You Tube about products and application methods that are well worth watching. If you have a read up on the recommendation and let me know if you have any further questions.

        Kind regards Sam.


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