Helmsman Spar Urethane Vs. Varathane Spar Urethane (2024)

Spar urethane is a long-lasting, self-leveling sealant for wood. It is a synthetic solution made of resins and solvents.

The most popular kind of spar urethane is oil-based, but a water-based variant is also offered.

Spar urethane has a ton of advantages, but you might get confused about which spar urethane you should buy.

Well, this article has the complete guideline on which spar urethane you should choose between the two most popular brands, Helmsman and Varathane.

A Quick Comparison Table

SpecificationsHelmsman Spar UrethaneVarathane Spar Urethane
ColorCan leave a yellow stainClear
Drying TimeTakes 24 hours before normal useTakes 27 hours before normal use
PriceLess expensive than VarathaneExpensive

Key Differentiations Between Helmsman Spar Urethane And Varathane

Now let’s have a look into the major differentiations between these two spar urethanes so that you can pick the best one for your interior as well as the outdoor wood finish-

  • The companies
Helmsman Spar Urethane

As you’re going to buy spar urethane, you should know about their companies also.

The Helmsman is a brand of the company Minwax’. To most DIYers, the name ‘Minwax’ is more popular than Helmsman.

‘Minwax’ entered the consumer market in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

When they realized they had a product the common person could use successfully, “Minwax” began to expand.

Their products were revamped and enhanced for home use, and they started to focus on quick-drying products.

On the other hand, Varathane was founded in 1958, and since then, they have been unstoppable in the market. For wood stains and finishes, the Varathane brand dominates the markets in both Canada and the US.

  • Durability

A long ago, spar urethane was made especially for boats. The earlier variant was known as spar varnish. This product is naturally durable and effectively blocks UV rays.

However, producers started including urethane plastic as part of the resins, which led to the development of spar urethane, making the product more appropriate for interior usage.

It’s tough to say which brand’s spar urethane is more durable. But customer reviews and other sources say that Helmsman is slightly more durable than Varathane.

Helmsman spar urethane finish will last more than 10 years, and the coat remains pretty strong even after years of usage.

  • Penetration

When you will use spar urethane, noticing its penetration level is very important. Because the durability of spar urethane also depends on how much it can penetrate the wood.

Helmsman spar urethane can penetrate deeply. Because of this, they are able to make the surface scratch-resistant. Additionally, it helps in protecting the wood from peeling.

Varathane compounds cannot penetrate deeply through wood surfaces; that’s why they cannot prevent the wood from peeling for an extended period of time. So, if you are concerned about this, choose Helmsman spar urethane.

  • Color
Varathane Spar Urethane

Spar urethane can give long-lasting protection to any wooden surface.

But the wood won’t always be like the way you imagine it.

Because after using spar urethane, the wood’s color might change and give an amber hue which some people do not like.

Though Varathane and Helmsman both are clear spar urethane, Helmsman can change the color of the wood.

But you don’t have to worry about it if you use Varathane. The white-painted wood surface has been effectively coated in Varathane without becoming yellow.

But doing this does require some expertise and experience. So if you have never used spar urethane before, you should avoid doing it yourself.

  • Dry Time

We are now back to the age-old conflict between speed and spar urethane. With catchy titles like fast-drying spar urethane, super-fast drying, and ultra-fast drying spar urethane, you might think that Helmsman spar urethane is the winner here.

Well, you’re partially correct. But that does not mean that Varathane takes a long dry time.

Actually, it depends on how many coatings there are. Varathane products require multiple coats, which increases the time required.

After applying all the coats, Varathane takes a longer time (almost 27 hours) before you can get back to normal use. So if you are a bit impatient and want to have the final result as quickly as possible, you can choose Helmsman spar urethane.

  • Waterproofness

The Helmsman can’t give you a completely waterproof finish because it penetrates deep into the wood. You can use it on wooden products if they are kept inside the house and safe from the rain.

But Varathane will give the wood to you with a weatherproof coating so you can set it outside with confidence. Varathane creates a strong outer later on the wood and stops water from penetrating the wood’s surface.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is polyurethane or spar urethane better?

It depends on whether you’re going to use it indoors or outdoors. Polyurethane will be better if you want to use it indoors. Spar urethane can also be used indoors, but it is the best material for shielding outside projects from inclement weather like rain, snow, and temperature changes.

What is the difference between urethane and varathane?

Urethane is the connection between isocyanate and polyols in polyurethane. On the other hand, Varathane is a wood stain. It comes in several varieties. This material makes repairing wood quite simple. Additionally, it provides a professional polish and great clarity.

Which is better spar urethane vs spar varnish?

Spar urethane is better than spar varnish because spar varnish has a tendency to chip or chalk off over time, while spar urethane maintains a strong, smooth surface.

How long does varathane spar urethane last?

Varathane spar urethane has a shelf life of roughly three years if stored properly after being opened. Oil-based Varathane can last between 5 and 10 years when properly applied.

Final Thoughts

You might’ve decided already which spar urethane you will buy after reading this comparison on Helmsman Spar Urethane and Varathane.

But all of your decisions won’t be the same as everyone has different preferences.

Both brands are well known, and each has pros and cons of its own. You just need to make sure of what features you want in your spar urethane and then choose accordingly.

Ralph Wade

Hey...Ralph is here! So, did you find this article useful? If so, please leave a comment and let me know. If not, please tell me how I can improve this article. Your feedback is always appreciated. Take love :)

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