Acrylic Varnish vs. Mod Podge – Which one is best?

As an artist, the best feeling in the world is to paint a blank canvas with heart and soul and make a masterpiece. But the finishing is the most essential part of the artwork as it provides an external and professional ending. Sealing the painting is a main part of making the ending more professional and eye catchy. But a good sealer can only provide the desired look. Which sealer is best for acrylic paintings?

Don’t worry, we are here to solve this problem with this guide. This blog aims to provide a complete guide on acrylic varnish vs. Mod Podge. We will also cover some important questions at the end of the blog.

Quick Answer!

Mod Podge is a viable option because it cheaper with better results. But what about acrylic varnish? Well there is a slight difference between the results of Mod Podge and acrylic varnish. Varnish is a better option if you want professional results but that does not mean that Mod Podge will not provide the desired results. As I told earlier, if your budget is low then go for Mod Podge but if you have a good budget then why not acrylic varnish. 

So let’s start!

Read: Beginner's guide to the acrylic painting.

            Acrylic varnish vs. Mod Podge 

 Acrylic varnish is the final varnish used when acrylic paintings are completely dry. It is made of acrylic polymer and also provides great protection to the painting from any dust, UV rays, and scratching. Without any harm, acrylic varnish also helps to preserve the integrity of the painting. Three types of acrylic varnishes are gloss, satin, and matte.

Varnish works as a protective layer that makes the painting more durable and attractive. It can be used by applying a thin and balanced layer that covers the whole surface without any part being left. Acrylic varnish is just made for acrylic paintings and cannot be used for any other purpose. Every type of acrylic varnish has its advantages such as matte varnish providing a dull finish, glossy varnish providing a shiny finish, and satin varnish provides a shiny finish to the painting.

Another important thing is that the painting surface must be dry completely before applying the varnishing layer. If not dried, cracks and flakiness may result after drying.

Mod Podge is a versatile adhesive sealer that is good for mixed media techniques and also perfect for layering and texture projects. It protects from UV rays as well as environmental factors. The major difference between acrylic varnish and Mod Podge is that varnish cannot be used as a glue but Mod Podge can be used as a glue. Varnish cannot be used for any art projects or craft designs but Mod Podge has a vast use in the field of art.


1. Add some water in the Mod Podge to control the consistency.
2. One layer of Mod Podge is enoug to achieve good results but you can do one more coating as well.

Table showing the difference between Acrylic Varnish and Mod Podge

In pricing, Mod Podge is a winner but in Quality Acrylic Varnish wins with only a little quality difference.
Property  Acrylic varnishMod podge  
Protection and durabilityAcrylic varnish is designed to protect the artwork from dust or any environmental factors. It is a durable and long-lasting protective layer. It is good for indoor or outdoor applications.Mod Podge provides gloss and matte finishing but does not give a high level of gloss. 
UV resistanceAcrylic varnish provides great protection against UV light because it contains UV inhibitors that help the vibrancy of color as well as protect from changing color and opacity.Mod Podge also protects from UV rays but does not offer a level of protection. 
VersatilityMod Podge provides gloss and matte finishing but not give a high level of gloss. Acrylic varnish is specially manufactured for sealing purposes it provides a protective and enhanced appearance but it is not good in mixed media techniques.
Finishing options Acrylic varnish gives different levels and different finishings such as gloss, matte, and gloss.Mod Podge is known for its versatility is good for mixed media techniques also perfect for layering and texture projects.
Manufacturing  It is made of acrylic polymer.  It is made with polyvinyl acetate 
Drying time3-6 hours 15-20 minutes 
Price21$-237 ml8$-473 ml

Can you use acrylic varnish instead of Mod Podge?

Yes, you can use acrylic varnish if you don’t want to use Mod Podge. Varnish works like a guard of the painting and protects from any environmental factors such as UV rays, and moisture. It also helps to increase color vibrancy and gives you the desired finish or shine on the painting.

If we talk mod Podge it provides you versatility for the different methods and you can use it as a sealer or varnish. Mod Podge is good for decoupage. Additionally, acrylic varnish protects from dust and other environmental factors It is also available in various varieties that have specific results. So, you can use varnish instead of Mod Podge.

Which is better to seal an acrylic painting? Mod Podge or acrylic varnish

Acrylic varnish is a perfect choice to seal an acrylic painting because it provides a professional finish after sealing the painting. On the other hand, Mod Podge is a cheaper way to seal the acrylic painting so it may not provide you with the even and professional result as the acrylic varnish provides.

Moreover, varnish is specifically designed for sealing the paintings and that’s why their final results are a lot better than Mod Podge. Some common advantages of acrylic varnish over Mod Podge are:

  • Better UV protection
  • Enhance the life of the painting
  • Prevent fading
  • Professional results

Acrylic varnish alternatives

If you don’t want to use acrylic varnish then there are a few options and you can opt for one from in it. 

  • Water-based polyurethane: It provides you with a clear and protective finish. It has the same properties that are same as acrylic varnish but it gets yellow over time.
  • Clear epoxy resin: It is thick and gives a perfect safe layer. It provides you with a high gloss on your painting that enchases the color vibrancy as well as offers more depth in your artwork. You cannot get any other results with it.
  • Polymer medium: This type of varnish is very easy to use and make. It can be done by mixing water and a polymer medium.


How many coats can be made with Mod Podge to achieve good results?

Normally, one coat is enough for best results but if you don’t achieve the same level of finsh, apply another. So, two coats are enoug to achieve best results with Mod Podge.

Which is the best brand of Mod Podge in the market?

The best brand of Mod Podge in the market is Plaid which is also available at Amazon. Almost all the Mod Podges come from this brand. This company provides good quality as well as a wide range of mod Podges. The brand provides you with different types of finishing such as matte, sheen, satin, and different ranges according to the placement of the painting.

Which is the best brand of acrylic varnish?

Here are the four top brands that are manufacturing acrylic varnishes:
1. Golden 
2. Liquitex
3. Winsor & Newton
4. Gamblin  

If you want to know more about these brands, Read: What are the best sealers for acrylic paintings

Final Words

Acrylic varnish and Mod Podge both are the main sealers of acrylic painting. These two magical solvents boost the performance and longevity of acrylic painting. Acrylic is mainly built for sealing purposes with professional output. They are usually more expensive than Mod Podge.

On the other hand, Mod Podge is used as a glue or sealer for various artworks. It is a versatile adhesive sealer that is good for mixed media techniques and also perfect for layering and texture projects. It protects from UV rays as well as environmental factors. 

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