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schwabbele

How does a varnish protect?

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Hi ,

is a matt / gloss / satin varnish really able to protect our models? 

From the vallejo matt varnish product info

Quote

Waterbased acrylic matt varnish with a new, quick drying formula, and an acrylic resin of extraordinary hardness and permanence. Protects painted models from dust and scratches, dirt and humidity.

I mean its waterbased and acrylic , just like the colors .

How can it "protect" , can somebody maybe explain the science part behind that to me ?

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Partly, its ablative, there's a layer on top of the other paint that will wear off first, and when damaged, it's a lot easier to touch up.

But some vernishes also dry harder than paints, making them more durable than what they are protecting.

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Even with paints there's variation in how easy they are to scratch and scrape off. For example your standard model paint can be scraped off, however contrast paints can be far more easily rubbed off with less effort. Whilst they are still water based acrylics they have different properties. Varnishes basically layer a coating of a far more resilient layer over the top of your paint. Being a more durable see-through layer it allows you to see the paint underneath, whilst at the same time protecting it from bumps and scrapes that would otherwise cause the paint to get removed. 

This article might give you some help http://iwillnevergrowup.com/2014/03/28/hobby-tips-gloss-varnish-vs-matt-varnish-the-logical-myth-explained/

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> is a matt / gloss / satin varnish really able to protect our models? 

Yes. Try scratching the paint off a test model. Now varnish it, it'll be a lot harder to remove.

Now try on a metal model. It'll come off even easier.

I've also found the new contrast primer can scratch off too. I usually can't scratch off the standard GW primers.

If you do lots of gaming then all that oil in your dirty sweaty fingers is going to eat into the paint over time. Even if the varnish was no better than paint, then you've got an additional layer it has to get through.

 

>From the vallejo matt varnish product info

Quick warning that over time I've found vallejo matt is a little too shiny for me. I've switched to W&N varnish which seems much better, plus it comes it a giant tub that'll last me forever.

 

> I mean its waterbased and acrylic , just like the colors .

> How can it "protect" , can somebody maybe explain the science part behind that to me ?

As I understand it, the varnish is completely different than paint. It dries a lot harder. I'll also leave the science part for someone else.

 

We'll probably also run into the argument that gloss protects better than matt. Many people are quite vocal about that. But there's a smaller, quieter group that insists that's rubbish. Personally I just stick with matt.

 

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Gloss varnish could only be "stronger" due to the surface being less rough/smoother.. else there's no reason for it to feel more durable.

Personally I believe it's down to the whole "gloss first and then matte"-varnish approach that many people employ. Two coats are always better than one as one coat is often applied too thinly! :)

Depending on the surface I use different varnishes. Also bear in mind that paint itself becomes a bit more durable after the first few weeks so that'll help too.

I mainly struggle with pure Airbrush priming... I've tried a crapload and played around with them but in the end I now prime my minis with tamiya fine surface primer quickly and then go for an AB primer for all the little details that won't get touched anyways. That combo is very durable and looks just like undercoats purely done with an AB.

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Posted (edited)

Biochemist here and I've put varnishes under some stress tests. Gloss varnish being stronger is a myth that has been around for a long time. The only benefit of gloss varnish is that its easy to see if you covered every spot on a model before applying the matt varnish, which again, makes it easy to spot if you covered everything with gloss varnish first. I do find that matte varnish sometimes covers poorly on gloss since it slightly dissolves the gloss layer, so nowadays I just go straight to matte varnish and use a giant brush to cover large areas quickly and evenly, especially areas that are likely to be touched a lot.

On top of that, I haven't found much of a difference between 1 or multiple layers of varnish. 

My go-to brand right now for durability is Army painter's anti shine brush on varnish, however Vallejo does well as well. You can get the same varnish from art stores at larger volumes, but it'll cost more than a small bottle, so I just stick with hobby varnishes for now.

Army painter's varnish does sometimes leave a slightly rough/bubbly texture when it dries in crevices, which isn't optimal, so make sure you don't get build up or varnish foam anywhere.

Edited by Kugane
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Posted (edited)

@Kugane

I always suspected the idea that matte varnishes were 'weaker' came from other unrelated products like cars and wood, where (historically) non-glossy finishes could be a pain in the ****** to maintain evenly. I don't think that's even true anymore though, and even then that had more to do with the punishing environmental conditions of stuff that spends most of its life outside subject to the elements.

Edit: TIL apparently TGA censors the word a-r-s-e lol

Edited by NauticalSoup
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3 minutes ago, NauticalSoup said:

@Kugane

I always suspected the idea that matte varnishes were 'weaker' came from other unrelated products like cars and wood, where (historically) non-glossy finishes could be a pain in the ****** to maintain evenly. I don't think that's even true anymore though, and even then that had more to do with the punishing environmental conditions of stuff that spends most of its life outside subject to the elements.

Edit: TIL apparently TGA censors the word a-r-s-e lol

Also, maybe there used to be a time when varnishes were of inferior quality and gloss was better, but thats not the case anymore nowadays =]. Now if they could only revolutionize the spray varnishes to function in all conditions... Frosting is the most annoying miniature painting thing ever XD.

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Yes varnishes do protect your models, the formula contains acrylic polymer suspended in water which evaporates when you brush/spray onto your model, leaving a continuous film of clear acrylic which is somewhat resistant to oil/grease, water, scuffing, marring, scratches etc.

Almost all acrylic emulsions are glossy by nature, and so glossy varnishes can usually contain a higher % of acrylic but I don't think this is the most important factor. Not all acrylic emulsions are created equal, and there are a vast range available from many big and small chemical companies which will offer different properties of interest to us hobbyists. 

The Vallejo matte varnish at least claims to be 100% acrylic resin, and I think this may indeed be possible as there are a few acrylic emulsion products out there that are innately matte in  finish due to the controlled polymer particle size. Most matte varnishes and paints contain a matting agent such as fumed silica which controls the level of gloss, but in my experience it has no effect on the durability of the final film.

It is also not only the acrylic resin which provides protection on your models. Every decent paint and varnish will contain a small amount of silicone additive which gives "slip," this is what makes it harder to scratch the paint or varnish off.

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Gotta say, awesome posts in here, nice to learn new things!

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I ask a further question: is spray varnish as good as brush one?

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On 7/18/2020 at 11:20 AM, Pagan said:

he Vallejo matte varnish at least claims to be 100% acrylic resin, and I think this may indeed be possible as there are a few acrylic emulsion products out there that are innately matte in  finish due to the controlled polymer particle size. Most matte varnishes and paints contain a matting agent such as fumed silica which controls the level of gloss, but in my experience it has no effect on the durability of the final f

Interesting I got advised Vallejo gloss followed by Matt. As the Matt would be less protective. 
But you do sound more knowledgeable than the store manager on this subject. 😅

... anyone want to buy a half used good varnish ;) 

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