It happens from time to time. You finish your painting, varnish it, and leave it to dry. When you take a look in the morning – the horror – the finish looks cloudy. Does this mean you have to remove it all and start over? If you’d like to know how to fix cloudy varnish on an acrylic painting, then today is your lucky day.
Fixing cloudy varnish can be done with an application of olive oil. It helps to get the trapped moisture out which is fogging up your painting and it works a treat for fixing the varnish and saving you from having to completely remove it and reapply.
Today I’ll tell you how to do this, as well as the reason why clear varnish is looking white, and what you can do to fix lacquer when that gets cloudy on you. Let’s talk about finishing your paintings the right way!
How do you fix foggy varnish?
One of the first methods that you can try just takes some cotton swabs, olive oil, soap, and water. What you will need to do it to dip a swab in olive oil and rub a little onto the foggy surface of your varnished acrylic. This doesn’t always work, but on occasion the olive oil can soak in a bit to deal with the trapped moisture inside of the varnish.
Let it sit for a few minutes and then gently clean the spot with a little soap and water and see if you notice a difference. Incidentally, sometimes this moisture will work its way out on its own. It can take anywhere from a few days to a week, but the ‘frosted’ effect starts slowly fading as the trapped moisture works itself out.
That said, give the olive oil a try first to see if this helps. A lot of the time it works quite well and will have you having to strip and reapply your varnish completely.
Why does clear varnish look white?
Some varnish simply comes that way. It’s white, straight out of the can, but when you apply it then it will dry over time and then it will turn clear as it hardens. If, however, your clear varnish has a milky look to it, then this is generally due to trapped moisture.
Varnishing during the summer if you live somewhere humid, this can happen a lot, though you can minimize things by investing in a dehumidifier. This will help to get some of the excess moisture out of the way, so that when you spray your varnish on the painting then you will be less likely to trap humidity and moisture in the varnish.
Usually, this moisture will evaporate during the hardening process if you have that humidifier, unless the humidity in the air is extremely prohibitive to sealing. If it’s humid out and you are worried, try running some fans and your humidifier in your work area first and use a respirator while you work to help to mitigate the fumes.
Just limit your work to a few minutes at a time for good measure if you need to close up the space and those fans are going to be a must – you should only varnish when the air is well-circulated in your area.
How do I fix cloudy lacquer?
If you are looking to clear up some cloudy lacquer on a woodworking project, it’s actually not all that difficult. The easiest thing to do is to lightly spray a little lacquer thinner on the surface, so that the trapped moisture may escape. The lacquer should harden back up after this and when it’s done, you can apply an extra coat if you want to be thorough.
Make sure that the environment is not humid, or you’ll just get a milky finish again. A dehumidifier can help or you can simply hold off on that extra coat for a day when there is less humidity to worry about. If you go the dehumidifier route, then be sure to leave it running while the lacquer coat is drying for best results. The moisture should be nullified by the dehumidifier before the lacquer fully hardens to it’s clear and protective finished state.
Some final words
Now you know how to fix varnish on an acrylic painting and it really just boils down to getting that trapped moisture out. This can be accomplished sometimes with a little olive oil and you always have the option of sanding or removing the varnish with turpentine and recoating the painting. Invest in a dehumidifier and you’re almost certain to avoid this issue altogether.
Remember, clear varnish often looks white coming right out of the tin, but when it dries then it should be nice and clear. Finally, you can fix cloudy lacquer with a little lacquer thinner when it’s less humid and an additional lacquer coat for good measure. It really doesn’t take very long and it can make a world of difference.
While we’re on the subject of varnishing, take a look at this 3rd party link for some tips and tricks on applying your varnish perfectly the first time. It’s got some useful tips that I think you will enjoy. Until next time, varnish carefully and pay attention to the humidity, and with a little luck and practice then you’ll start getting it perfect in one take every time!