How to Spray Varnish on Wooden Doors

Written by corey m. mackenzie
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You can apply varnish to wood by brushing it on or by spraying. Spray varnish is either poured from cans into spray equipment, or you can buy it ready to use in a spray can. The latter is easiest and cheapest (as you won't have to buy special equipment) for most people. The key to applying varnish this way is to prepare the surface well and to spray as evenly as you can--otherwise, some areas of the door will have a thicker varnish coat than other areas.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Dust sheet
  • Rubber gloves
  • Old clothes or protective coveralls
  • Painter's mask
  • Can of spray varnish
  • Sawhorse or table

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  1. 1

    Remove all hardware from the door. Place the door outside or in a well-ventilated room, on a sawhorse or table. A dust sheet should be beneath the table or sawhorse to protect flooring or grass from varnish drips or overspray.

  2. 2

    Clean the door and sand it smooth. Wipe off all dust with a cloth--any dust left on the door will be trapped beneath the varnish and you won't get the best finish. Allow the door to dry completely before continuing.

  3. 3

    Put on rubber gloves and a painter's mask. Wear old clothes or protective coveralls.

  4. 4

    Shake the can of spray varnish well to mix contents. Hold the can approximately one foot away from the door and spray, moving your arm lengthwise over the door in a back and forth motion. Release the button and do the next section. Continue until the whole door has been coated.

  5. 5

    Apply additional coats according to the label directions. Some varnishes require light sanding between coats. If you do sand, remember to wipe the sanding dust off before applying the next coat. Two or three coats are usually required. The varnished side will need to dry completely before you turn it over to spray the other side.

Tips and warnings

  • If humidity is high, it may take a lot longer for the varnish to dry. It is usually better to wait for a less humid day.
  • Until the varnish is fully dry, debris blown by the wind can stick to the door. Pick the calmest day possible to do this job.
  • Varnish is very flammable. The fumes can ignite easily if you use varnish around flames.
  • Do not use varnish in areas with poor ventilation. If you must do this indoors, open all doors and windows and use a painter's mask.

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