The Ultimate Mod Podge Vs Varnish Comparison!

With the exponential rise of Mod Podge in both the arts and crafts space as well as the wider crafting and DIY space, its not suprising that we constantly see new questions being asked about how you are able to use Mod Podge to get a great finish on various surfaces as well as requests for comparisons between Mod Podge and other popular sealants and finishers.

One of the more popular comparisons that we see time and time again is for a head to head Mod Podge vs varnish showdown due to there being a decent amount of cross over between the two products. Although the majority of the Mod Podge formulas on the market do offer more versatility, a paint varnish or a wood varnish does usually offer better specialist performance in specific situations.

Due to this, the best option for you and your needs is going to come down to your end goals as well as what you are attempting to achieve with your sealant coating and the surface that you are working on. Throughout the article, we will be going over the various advantages and disadvantages of the featured products to try and help our readers better understand what product they should be going for and when.

Whats The Difference Between Mod Podge And Varnish?

The main difference between Mod Podge and the majority of the varnish based products on the market is that your standard varnish has been specifically designed to offer you the best possible finish for your arts and crafts no matter what. They all tend to offer protecting for your paints in various ways with the majority of the modern varnish sealants also offering UV protection to prevent fading.

On the flip side of this, Mod Podge is essentially a PVA glue formula that has some additional sealant properties added into it to offer additional functionality than the standard PVA glue products on the market. Although there are a number of different Mod Podge formulas on the market that offer slightly different specialities these days, the majority of them tend to have their sealant functionality bolted on as a secondary function rather than the primary goal of the product.

This is why so many people in the arts and crafts space, especially those who are beginners will have at least one Mod Podge product in their collection due to how cheap it is as well as the versatility they can get out of it. That said though, for serious artwork or DIY and home decoration, actual paint varnish or a wood varnish will almost always be the better option in the long run.

The Advantages Of Mod Podge!

The main advantages of Mod Podge is that it is so cheap and versatile that you are able to use it for a huge range of tasks involved in arts and crafts where a traditional varnish based product would struggle. This is why it is so popular with beginners, intermediates, and anyone on a budget as Mod Podge offers excellent value for money.

If you are trying to use your Mod Podge as a sealant for acrylic paints then it can actually work surprisingly well but you do have to try and apply a thin layer if possible. A common mistake for beginners when trying to seal their artwork with Mod Podge is that they simply apply too much and it tends to detract from their artwork.

Even if you do apply too little Mod Podge to your paint, you can always add another thin layer if required and go from there to try and minimise the chances of you adding too much. If you just add a thick layer right away, there is little to nothing that you are able to do to save your painting.

The Advantages Of Varnish!

Both paint varnish and wood varnish have the advantage of offering you much better long term protection against wear and tear, water, and UV light where Mod Podge can struggle. Although the Mod Podge does offer more versatility, for serious artwork or home decoration going with a jack of all trades but a master of none as your sealant can lead to issues in the future.

This is why we always recommend that our readers play the little extra for an actual varnish for any projects that they actually care about an need to last for as long as possible. If you are a serious artist or doing large scale home improvements such as painting your decking then chances are you will be able to get your moneys worth from the varnish with minimal waste anyway.

One thing that we would recommend to our readers is to always read the label of the varnish that they choose to go with. A very common mistake that we see made time and time again is that people just presume that all varnish products are applied in the same way when different products need different application methods and different numbers of layers depending on the specific varnish you are using.

Can You Use Mod Podge As Varnish?

You can use Mod Podge as a varnish in as number of situations and get yourself s great effect that’s tends to perform better than many people initially think it will. Although most Mod Podge formulas do tend to yellow with time, the yellowing effect I often less than some specialist varnish products.

If you already have Mod Podge in your arts and crafts collection and you are looking to keep your costs as low as possible then it can be a great sealing agent for any artwork that will be kept indoors and out of direct sunlight. That said though, if you are looking for a possible varnish alternative for home decoration such as your decking then we would usually recommend against going with Mod Podge.

Surfaces such as decking will be walked on with regular frequency having high amounts of friction applied to it. On top of this, the majority of decking will be exposed to the elements too be it wind, rain, or shine so ideally you will use a suitable wood varnish that will be able to meet your needs.


That brings our ultimate mod podge vs varnish comparison to an end. We hope that you have found it helpful and that we have been able to help you understand when you should be opting to use Mod Podge and when you should be opting to go with an actual varnish product.

Although you sure easily able to get away with using Mod Podge for anything that will be out of the elements and kept indoors, there are situation where as specialist varnish will be the better option. Keep in mind, if your artwork is in an area with large amounts of sunlight then you will require as varnish that offers UV protection too.

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