Last updated: August 5, 2021

Welcome to our big acrylic varnish test 2021. Here we present all the products we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best acrylic varnish for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy acrylic paint for your next DIY project.


  • Acrylic paints come in many different types. A distinction is made between water-based and solvent-based varnishes.
  • Acrylic varnish can be used both indoors and outdoors. Acrylic varnish can also be used for many substrates, such as aluminium, wood or plaster.
  • When working with acrylic varnish, the substrate should always be clean and free of grease so that the varnish can dry properly and spread evenly.

The Best Acrylic Varnish in the United Kingdom: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before choosing acrylic varnish

What is acrylic varnish?

Acrylic varnish is a real all-rounder. You want to give that old chair a new shine or spruce up the garden fence? Then acrylic varnish is just the thing for you. Whether indoors or outdoors, this varnish is always a good choice.

If you want to bring new colours into your life, acrylic varnish is the right choice. The all-rounder among colour lacquers. (Image source: / rhondak)

You can find acrylic resins in many different variations. As a primer to even out unevenness or to cover the previous colour. But also as an intermediate or final coat, so that your paint finish meets your requirements after painting.

You should rather use water-thinnable acrylic lacquers, as they contain less solvents, which are responsible for the pungent smell and are therefore more suitable for interior areas.

For which surfaces can you use acrylic varnish?

Acrylic varnish is not only an all-rounder in the field of application, but also offers the possibility to embellish all kinds of substrates. These are the seven most important materials:

  1. Wood
  2. Metal
  3. Glass
  4. Plastic
  5. Paper/canvas (artist's supplies)
  6. Stone
  7. Ceramics

If you want to paint over an existing surface, the so-called cross-cut test helps. Here, the acrylic lacquer is scratched several times with a sharp knife.

Wood is one of the most popular materials. It is easy to work with, whether young or old. You can buy it everywhere or simply decorate branches from the forest with bright colours. (Image source: / Alex Jones)

If the varnish does not peel off, you can lightly sand the surface and repaint it. Otherwise, the old acrylic varnish will have to come off.

How do you apply acrylic varnish?

Before applying acrylic varnish, you should always clean the surface so that it is free of dirt and grease.

Wood or metal should also be roughened or sanded before applying acrylic varnish. This gives the acrylic lacquer a better hold and makes it more durable.

180-grit sandpaper is recommended for pre-sanding and 280-grit sandpaper for sanding. Important: Remove dust thoroughly after sanding! Otherwise the load-bearing capacity will be reduced.

The substrate should also be level. This makes the surface smoother and the result looks even better. Filler varnish can help with particularly uneven surfaces.

And this is how to apply the perfect acrylic varnish:

  1. Cover all areas that are not to be painted (painter's foil, paint flow).
  2. Put the required acrylic varnish in a tub or container, as it dries out quickly.
  3. Dip the tip of the brush only about one third, then wipe it off. After wetting, wipe off the paint rollers in the ribbed tub.
  4. Paint stroke by stroke. To achieve an even picture, run the acrylic varnish first across the surface and then lengthwise towards the end.
  5. Finally, run the brush in long strokes and smooth out any paint build-up.

What does acrylic varnish cost?

The cost of acrylic varnish is difficult to define, as there are many factors involved. Is it an acrylic varnish with colour pigments, transparent varnish, filler acrylic varnish or acrylic varnish for indoors/outdoors.

How does acrylic varnish differ from other types of varnish?

The biggest difference between acrylic varnish and other types of varnish is that acrylic varnish contains water. Therefore, acrylic varnish is less odorous, easier to clean up with water and clearly has a better environmental balance.

You have so many possibilities to use acrylic paint, but you should think about where you want to use it and on what kind of surface. (Image source: / Jessica Ruscello)

Other paints, however, contain more solvents. These are called synthetic resin paints or alkyd resin paints. They score points for easy application, high hiding power and high impact resistance.

  • Environmentally friendly
  • Low odour
  • Fast drying
  • Stable against yellowing
  • UV-resistant
  • Easy to apply
  • Clean tools with water
  • Short open time
  • No high-gloss effect
  • Not as hard-wearing

Decision: What types of acrylic varnish are there and which is the right one for you?

Acrylic varnish can be distinguished in different ways. In total, the varnish can be distinguished in three ways; we will go into more detail on one here.

  • Coloured acrylic varnish
  • Transparent Acrylic Varnish

You will find the other types in the buying criteria section.

What is coloured acrylic varnish and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Coloured acrylic varnish is enriched with colour particles and thus gets its colour. Different RAL shades are possible, as well as different matt types.

This gives your creativity free rein. Since acrylic varnish is also suitable for canvases, it can also be used by artists

What is transparent acrylic varnish and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Transparent varnish does not contain any colour particles and can also be called clear varnish. Possible uses here would be to protect painted objects from the weather.

An example would be a painted stone. The transparent acrylic lacquer coating gives it a glossy surface and also protects it from UV radiation and weathering. This prevents the yellowing of your art.

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate acrylic varnishes

In the following, we would like to show you which factors you can use to compare and evaluate acrylic varnishes. This will make it easier for you to decide whether a certain acrylic varnish is suitable for you or not.

In summary, these are:

  • Field of application
  • Acrylic varnish Type
  • Ingredients

Application area

A distinction is made between indoor and outdoor use. Newer acrylic paints with a higher water content are more suitable for indoors, as the smell of the solvent is less intense.

For outdoors, acrylic varnish with a higher solvent content can also be used; this is easier to apply and dries less quickly.

Acrylic varnish type

It is possible to prime, spray or paint.

Spray bottles are clearly limited in size (litres calculated on the surface), but produce a more beautiful colour appearance due to the even spraying. In addition, acrylic spray bottles are light and therefore easier to transport.

Acrylic paint for painting, on the other hand, scores with large quantities, which means a lot of surface has to be covered. So this would be the right choice if you want to repaint the living room or the bathroom.


The newer acrylic paints available on the market are characterised by a high water content and a reduced proportion of toxic solvents.

Particularly environmentally friendly acrylic paints are labelled with the Blue Angel.

Facts worth knowing about acrylic varnish

How do you remove acrylic varnish?

There are many ways to remove acrylic varnish. However, many people first think of solvents as irritants with a pungent smell, such as brush cleaners.

Water is a good way to remove acrylic varnish, and a very good way at that.

In the case of thick layers of paint, you should even try to reduce the paint surface with a spatula or a sharp knife before the cleaning process. Then you can continue working with paint stripper.

The simplest method is the cross-cut test mentioned above, which allows you to determine whether the existing acrylic varnish is still stable. Then it can simply be painted over.

What acrylic paints are available?

There is a huge range of acrylic paints. From white acrylic paint to red acrylic paint. The RAL fan helps to find the right colour for the living room and children's room.

Brands often offer so-called colour collections that cover acrylic paint from silk matt to high gloss.

Colour design concepts are intended to give consumers the courage to bring colour into their lives. You may also be interested in old craft painting techniques such as dabbing, stencilling, wiping and wrapping.

Shades of green can be balancing, while red and orange tones are meant to stimulate communication. My tips for a successful new paint job would therefore be:

  1. For large rooms, you can use darker shades, which give the room a certain cosiness
  2. Small rooms, on the other hand, should be decorated in lighter shades to make the room look larger
  3. Don't forget the influence of light. Light colours often appear paler and darker shades no longer so oppressive
  4. Grey has meanwhile replaced classic white in the living area, it has established itself as a neutral colour

Image source: / Santos C.