Alkyd Oils

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Alkyd Oils

How long should you wait before varnishing alkyd oils- is it the same as traditional oils?


Ask Jacksons: How long should you wait before varnishing alkyd oils - is it the same as traditional oils?


Traditional oil paints are made with a linseed or safflower oil binder, while alkyd oils are bound with alkyd resin, a synthetic resin that dries much faster than traditional oil binders. As a result, alkyd oils are usually dry to the touch overnight (depending on the thickness of the paint) and the artist has less time to wait between layers, which is particularly useful for glazing and other layering techniques. Alkyd oil paints are intermixable with traditional linseed or safflower oil-based paints and mediums, so they are a useful way to control the drying time of a painting.

Paintings made with traditional oil paints should be allowed to cure for 6-12 months before a final varnish is applied. Alkyd oils cure much faster, and some manufacturers say that they are ready to varnish after 3 months. If the paint is impasto, or if traditional oils and mediums have been used alongside the alkyd oil paint, then the painting may need more time to cure before varnishing.  

We recommend checking if your painting is ready to be varnished by dipping a lint-free rag in an artist oil solvent and rubbing it gently on the painting surface. If colour shows on the rag then additional drying time is needed. If not, your painting is ready to be varnished.   

View Jackson's full range of oil varnishes on their website.


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