The difference between solvent-based and water-based varnishes

Solvent-based varnishes are based on synthetic resins dissolved in petroleum solvents similar to white spirit. They may be used to varnish both oil colour and acrylic paintings, but brushes must be cleaned with white spirit after use. Additionally, if varnish removal is needed at a later date, this must also be done with white spirit. Winsor & Newton solvent-based varnishes include:

  • Professional Matt Varnish
  • Professional Gloss Varnish
  • Professional Satin Varnish

Painters not wishing to use solvents can use water-based varnishes, which consist of acrylic resins dissolved in water. These can be used on paintings done in acrylic, or with our Artisan Water Mixable Oil Colour.

Water-based varnishes can be cleaned up while wet using soap and water and removed from brushes or paintings when dry with Galeria Varnish Remover or Artisan Water Mixable Varnish Remover. Winsor & Newton water-based varnishes include:

  • Galeria Gloss Varnish
  • Galeria Matt Varnish
  • Galeria Satin Varnish
  • Artisan Water Mixable Gloss Varnish
  • Artisan Water Mixable Matt Varnish
  • Artisan Water Mixable Satin Varnish