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How long does varnish last?


Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
That depends on many factors.

Wooding (removing a protective coating when it has failed), my boats cabin back this week, I knew I’d completed this task, once before.

I don’t keep boat-work records but thanks to metadata in digital files, I found an image (and it’s date), of that first time (since I've owned the boat), the cabin back was wooded. Here's that old photo:
Varnish removal 4-11-04 (1 of 1).jpg

It was surrounded by other images, taken that same week, of our children performing in a music concert back in middle school.
Varnish Thomas 4-24-04 (1 of 1).jpg

This is a late photo of our young adult kids mostly on their own.
Mj and TT Barnswallow  (1 of 1).jpg

Here’s the same wooding going on today, over 20,000 downloaded images later. You can see, the coating is in good condition and would last maybe a few more years. But it is connected to other areas that need to be removed. Plus, there will be less work this time, because the varnish is still keeping water out.

Varnish lifts off easily with a heat gun(the same one, aged), and stiff putty knife
Varnish removal 4-4-17 (1 of 1).jpg

So how long does varnish last?

It depends. And this varnish is better protected than other areas. With an easy single maintenance coat every spring, this varnish has lasted a long, long time.

My small shop has it's own metadata.

Hanging on countless nails are items that I hold on to but have forgotten how they got there. This photo history search made me realize I still have the remnant of plaid fabric my wife fashioned into the bow tie that our son was wearing, 14 years ago.

That's a long time.
Rag bowtie 2  (1 of 1).jpg