I'm repairing and refinishing an old door. The customer prefers wood finish, not paint. I am considering Epiphanes, but what's better, clear varnish or wood finish gloss? (Ease of application, durability, re-coatable). Customer understands it will have to be fixed up every year or two. This does have weather and sun exposure. I don't need high gloss.
From contributor R:
If you don't require high gloss (which is what Epiphanes varnish is known for), I'd suggest you look at Cetol. It is much easier to apply and maintain than any varnish, and in my opinion looks great. It is my finish of choice for all exterior teak on boats (my own included).
If you're stuck on varnish, Epiphanes is at the top of the list for quality and looks.
Just a final note on ease of application. If you haven't already, have a read through the Epiphanes Q&A. Recommended application is anywhere from 7 or 8 to 11 coats. On the other hand, Cetol - sand, slap on three coats (four if you want to), no sanding between coats, and you're done. Maintenance is a breeze too - "wash" it down using TSP and a purple sanding pad, rinse well, slap on another coat. And I am using the term "slap" deliberately. Cetol applies much more like an oil than a varnish. Way easy to get on without brush strokes or bubbles or any of the other difficulties of varnish.
If you have a simple pine door, knock yourself out with the Cetol. If you're doing something more exotic like teak or cherry or such, put on the 7 coats of Epifanes and your customer will gush. Trust me, I've not had any complaints.
As for which one to use: The wood finish is my preference, because it sets up with resinous wood (teak, etc.), and it does not require sanding between coats (less than a couple days between).
I typically use the wood finish matte as my last 1-2 coats because the gloss is really gloss - it looks the same when cured as it does when wet... too shiny for my liking.