Can You Use Wood Varnish on Concrete?

Can You Use Wood Varnish on Concrete?

Can You Use Wood Varnish on Concrete? A common question for DIY enthusiasts is whether wood varnish can be applied to concrete. The answer, unfortunately, is that it cannot as the two surfaces are incompatible and will not bond together well or last long in this situation.

For a moment, close your eyes and recall the most beautiful wooden stairs you’ve seen. Glossy, classy, grand, luxurious, isn’t that what you feel as you think about them? 

Have you ever quite thought about why wood attracts the way it does? Apart from the fact that wood itself has an appealing charm of its own, the polish or varnish applied to it is what truly gives that heart-stealing impression. 

Now, think about concrete. Can you summon a similarly catchy image? I’m guessing not. 

While concrete is all known for its hardness and grey color, we often don’t know that even concrete can be polished – to the point of sleekness! 

But can we use wood varnish on concrete? If yes, then which ones? Do they give the same effect as on wood? I will be exploring all these questions and more in my blog below. So, accompany me. 

Brief overview

What is varnish? 

Furniture, floors, walls, or whatever they may be, all require a coating that can protect them from wear and tear and maintain their look. 

A varnish does this job. A varnish is a protective layer or film that provides finishing to your material at hand. It is often transparent, thin, and hard. 

Traditionally, varnishes are made of some specific drying oil, thinner solvent, and a resin. 

Mostly, varnishes serve to keep the surface uniform. You might also recall varnished surfaces to be glossy and shiny. While that’s a texture some varnishes give, there are many other looks specific to other varnishes. 

Varnishes are a smart choice to make. Because, after all, be it wood or concrete or any other material, there is often some level of extensive craftsmanship that goes into creating aesthetic pieces. 

Thus, wouldn’t it only be wise to preserve the work for as long as possible? 

Common Types of Wood Varnishes

There are a host of varnishes that are used on wood. Many of them are moisture-resistant, while some are abrasion-resistant and anti-corrosion. 

Some are thick, while others are thin, and know that not all of them are transparent. 

Some common ones are:

  • Alkyd
  • Oil varnish
  • Epoxy
  • Acrylic 
  • Polyurethane
  • Water-based
  • Petroleum 

And more. 

Can You Use Wood Varnish for Concrete? 

Concrete is a common material, not just for buildings and construction, but also for many other products such as park furniture, water fountain, etc. 

There is a common perception that since concrete is quite reliable and durable, it is independent of protective layers. Although that’s relatively true, the reality is that concrete can suffer abrasion and wear and tear like other materials. 

Thus, if you want to preserve it in its desired shape and finishing of craft, a protective varnish goes a long way. It increases its overall life span and keeps the concrete looking good. This applies mainly if your concrete is stained, etched, or stamped. 

Common Types of Concrete Varnishes

Depending on what you’re looking for, there are multiple varnishing options available for concrete:

  • Polyurethane

Polyurethane varnishes work well with concrete. Their main characteristic is their ability to resist water. For this reason, they are ideal for places with greater exposure to dampness and moisture. 

These varnishes also offer excellent resistance to corrosion and chemicals. Thus, you can use them in laboratories and workshops.  

These sealers are almost double-fold when it comes to thickness, in comparison with others such as acrylic. Hence, their protective abilities are directly proportional to their thickness. 

You can use polyurethane finishes on interior concrete as well as on exterior ones. What you get is a transparent and trustworthy finish that is also non-yellowing. 

On a side note, clear polyurethane spray can also be applied. It gives a wet and shiny look to the concrete if that’s what you’re looking for. 

  • Acrylic

Acrylic is a varnish typical for wood. Luckily enough, you can also use it for concrete. 

What makes people choose acrylic is that it can serve as a paint and varnish simultaneously. Cool, right? 

This varnish is easy to apply and has a strong resistance to environmental effects. With its color, it can even hide concrete stains, if any. 

Moreover, it resists UV rays well, making it an option for both indoor and outdoor surfaces. 

It is robust as it penetrates the concrete, thereby giving a substantial polished effect. As you might have heard, acrylic is more known for its decorative properties than its protective abilities. 

This varnish is made through a combination of dyes, acrylic, and organic solvents. 

Acrylic can give you a matte finish, or a glossy one, whichever you like. You will also find sheen and satin finishes with this varnish. At times, the acrylic varnish also comes in combination with silicon due to their similar characteristics. 

  • Polymeric

The polymeric varnish is a coating whose primary component is styrene. 

It is ideal for concrete places where a constant and heavy load is predicted. These can be concrete garages, sidewalks, and driveways. This is because polymeric is excellent in terms of strength. 

Moreover, it is highly resistant to water and moisture and serves to provide reliable protection no matter the weather condition. It prevents corrosion sufficiently enough.

The polymeric varnish is also generally cost-friendly.

For all these reasons, it is the right choice for outdoor usage, although it can work reasonably well indoors too. 

  • Epoxy 

If you’re looking for a varnish for concrete with the least amount of harmful chemicals, then epoxy is the one to aim for. Epoxy has almost no amount of hazardous components. For this reason, it is a safe option for homes and chemical labs.  

Moreover, it provides adequate protection and is also budget-friendly. 

However, the remarkable thing about epoxy is its ability to reflect light. With it, you get a well-lit concrete surface, a treat to the eyes. 

On the downside, though, epoxy doesn’t do a good job resisting water and can also call for greater care. 

The Final Verdict

As you would’ve seen by now, the truth is that certain wood varnishes work on concrete, too, such as polyurethane and acrylic. However, some others are predominantly used for wood, such as alkyd varnish, alcohol, and petroleum varnishes. 

Whichever varnish you decide to use, make sure you know the properties of your material and those of the varnish. See if they complement and give you the desired result. Consulting with an expert for this will also help. 

Either way, I am confident that a good and suitable varnish is something you won’t regret, ever.

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