Types of Seal Varnish to Finish a Canvas With Acrylic Painting

By Shannon Leigh O'Neil ; Updated September 15, 2017
There are many types of varnishes for sealing an acrylic painting on canvas.

When you are finished working with an acrylic painting on canvas, sealing it with a varnish is a simple way to protect the surface from damage. The types of varnish used for acrylic paintings often are not the same coatings applied to oil paintings. Among the types of varnishes suitable for acrylic surfaces are acrylic polymer varnishes, synthetic resin varnishes and water-based varnishes, as well as conservation and restoration varnishes.

Acrylic Polymer Varnishes

Acrylic polymer varnishes are made with a synthetic compound similar to the emulsion found in acrylic paint. Lascaux UV Varnish is compatible with water-based media, including acrylics. It is transparent, water-thinnable and protects finished artwork from ultraviolet light damage. This varnish is available in gloss or matte finishes. Pebeo Acrylic Varnish enhances the color intensity and age resistance of acrylic paintings. It is removable, dries clear and comes in gloss or matte finishes; there is also a solvent-based UV absorbent formula. Sennelier Acrylique Lacquer protects paintings from ultraviolet light damage and scratches. This coating cannot be removed. It is transparent, non-yellowing and comes in gloss or matte finishes.

Synthetic Resin Varnishes

Synthetic resin varnishes are made with a chemical compound similar to epoxy, which resembles natural resin. Gamblin Gamvar Varnish is a glossy coating that can be applied to both acrylic and oil paintings. It will not yellow with age, protects against ultraviolet light damage and is removable. Golden Mineral Spirit Acrylic (MSA) Varnish with Ultraviolet Light Stabilizers (UVS) is a petroleum-based acrylic resin solution that can be used on acrylic, oil, and alkyd paintings. It is removable and comes in gloss, matte or satin finishes. Liquitex Soluvar Varnish is solvent-based, clear-drying and non-yellowing. It comes in gloss or matte finishes and can be applied to acrylic paintings, creating a protective and dust-resistant surface.

Water-Based Varnishes

Water-based varnishes are typically clear, quick-drying and highly durable coatings. Chromacryl Finish Varnish is well-suited for murals and other large paintings. It is transparent and creates a resilient, protective surface that enhances the durability of painted surfaces. Jo Sonja's Water Based Polyurethane Varnish is a clear, non-yellowing coating that can be used on acrylic paintings. It seals and protects artwork with remarkable toughness and flexibility, making it resistant to heat and abrasion. Rightstep Waterbased Varnish is a transparent varnish that is durable and scratch-resistant. It is available in gloss or matte finishes. This varnish may be applied to almost all fine art projects including acrylic paintings as a protective finish and sealer.

Conservation and Restoration Varnishes

Conservation and restoration varnishes are archival coatings formulated for conservation purposes and maximum protection. Winsor & Newton Conserv-Art Removable Varnish is appropriate for oil, alkyd or acrylic paintings. It is quick-drying and non-yellowing. Gloss or matte finishes are available. Krylon Gallery Series Artist Sprays and Clear Coatings are specialized formulations that protect, preserve and enhance the beauty of finished artworks. They come in a variety of finishes. All Krylon Gallery Series varnishes include ultraviolet light stabilizers and offer protection against fading, yellowing, abrasions, cracking and moisture damage.

About the Author

Shannon Leigh O'Neil, a New York City-based arts and culture writer, has been writing professionally since 2008. Her articles have appeared in "GO Magazine," "The New York Blade" and "HX Magazine," as well as online media. O'Neil holds a Master of Arts in modern art history from the City College of New York, where she also studied French and minored in classical languages.