Tables may not be as exciting as paint or decorations, but they’re an important part of a home’s decor. Choosing a gloss or satin finish for a kitchen table can change the look of the entire space. A kitchen table or dining room table helps set the mood for an entire dinner.
Many DIY homeowners like to create their own table finish and naturally want to protect it from everyday wear and tear. If you’re planning to apply a finish to a table intended for meals, first do some research into the various kinds of finishes available.
In this article, we will be reviewing the best polyurethane finishes for table top and what you should know before buying one.
Why Choose Polyurethane?
Several sealing and finishing projects can add gloss and shine to a wood project, so why bother with polyurethane? This polymeric sealant binds with the wood to create a coating that protects the surface, as well as one that looks good.
A properly applied polyurethane finish protects the wood surface from the damage that can destroy wood: chipping, cracking, and either drying out or absorbing moisture until the surface morphs and bends.
The most popular wood sealers are made from polyurethanes or polycrylics. While polycrylics often are a viable option, if the table will be exposed to heavy use, high temperatures or significant moisture, polyurethanes are your best option.
Type of Polyurethane
There are two main types of polyurethane:
Most woodworkers prefer water-based polyurethanes; they are bright and glossy, which help enhance the natural beauty of the wood.
This product helps to hydrate the wood hence stopping it from drying. Hydration helps to improve further the look as well as the quality of the wood.
Oil-based polyurethane is expensive compared to its water-based counterparts. They are a lot more durable of the two types and are best for exterior wooden projects.
Oil-based polyurethanes can expand and contract depending on the prevailing weather conditions hence offering protection to wood through all the weather conditions.
What to Consider Before Buying
Keep the next information in mind before purchasing your preferred polyurethane.
The Wood Finish Type
Do you want oil-based, water-based, or another type of polyurethane? We covered this matter before, so there’s no need to go over it once again. However, make sure to pick the right one for your tabletop.
Also, consider whether you need satin, gloss, or semi-gloss to avoid any issue.
If you have no experience doing wood finishing, you may want to pick a finish that wipes on. It’s easier, and there are almost zero risks to make mistakes.
For people with some level of experience, the spray-on or brush-on finishes are perfect. If you go for the first one, the spray-on, make sure to read the instructions before use, since not all of them are compatible with spray guns.
The durability of polyurethane is critical when it comes to choosing the best polyurethane for table top. Much as all polyurethane products last longer, some are more durable than their counterparts.
Settling for polyurethane that lasts longer will save you a great deal, from time to all the necessary maintenance practices. You must consider features like resistance to scratches and abrasion in the process.
How Easy Is It to Use The Product
Polyurethane plays an important role when it comes to decorating and even protecting your wooden projects. However, when picking your product, ensure that it is easy to apply. It will minimize the risks of messing in the process.
A good number of the polyurethane products that we have reviewed only calls for painting. Others would give the best results with spray guns and other tools. It’s, therefore, crucial that you have the product that would not complicate the application process.
Our Top Picks:
Either of the next five products could be your ideal polyurethane for tabletops. Take a look at what these products can do!
1. Minwax 233334444 Polycrylic Water-Based Protective Finish
If you want a water-based paint that will deliver a crystal-clear finish, then the Minwax Polycrylic finish is for you. This protective finish is ultra-durable and adds a beautiful satin finish to your tabletop. Whether your tabletop is made of maple or Baltic birch, this protective finish will make your tabletop gloss beautifully.
It’s resistant to scratches and abrasion, leaving your table smooth regardless of how frequently the table is being used. Also, the Minwax protective finish features a fast-drying formula that allows it to dry within two hours of the coating.
Speaking of coating, this durable paint cures into a hard finish. Once applied on the surface, the paint hardens quickly in few coats, leaving your table ultra-protected against wear.
The finish works well with soap and water. Should you want to wash the table, you can use soap and water for clean up, and it won’t affect the protective coating.
Other than the fact that it turns yellow over time on white surfaces, this protective satin finish is highly durable and dries super-fast. It’s easy to work with and creates a bubble-free appearance.
- Easy to apply
- Works well with soap and water
- Dries into a hard and waterproof finish
- Quick drying-formula
- The finish yellows over time when used on white surfaces
- The paint comes in a small tin
2. General Finishes Water Based High-Performance Urethane Topcoat
First one up is the General Finishes Water-Based Urethane Topcoat. Don’t let the name confuse you – we’re still talking about polyurethane coatings here!
The product dries to an evened-out, low-sheen finish, and as soon as it cures, which could take up to a month, it becomes rock-hard – a must-have feature if you want a tabletop that’s able to withstand daily wear and tear.
Also, keep in mind that you can apply this one with everything from bristle and foam brushes to rollers and spray tips!
And while most water-based polyurethane finishes do work wonders on light-colored wood, this one seems to be an exception to the rule, as it leaves a yellowish tint. It may work in some cases but stay away from this one if you’re working on white-painted surfaces.
- Leaves a clear finish
- Easy to apply and dries very quickly
- Works with several application methods
- Not suitable for light-colored wood
3. Rust-Oleum 200241H Water-Based Polyurethane Satin Finish
Right off the bat, I could tell that this Rust-Oleum Water-Based Polyurethane Finish is different than most other finishes I’ve used in the past.
It has a pretty fast drying time, too, which is a huge plus when you’re applying several coats (as you should with this particular product) – you won’t have to sit around all day and wait for individual layers to dry.
It was amazing to see the layers “melt” into each other, without leaving any visible lines in their wake – and even the tiny bubbles seemed to go away on their own!
Also, if you’re working on light-colored wood, you should know that it won’t leave a yellowish hint as it dries – the finish stays completely clear.
- There’s minimal odor
- It dries very fast
- Doesn’t add a yellow hue
- Requires lots of layers
4. Grizzly Industrial H2372 1-Quart Good Stuff Wood Finish
This urethane gel from Grizzly Industrial is easy to use, and it works on raw or unfinished surfaces alike. By featuring synthetic oils, the formula is fast-drying, offering beautiful results with enough protection to last a long time.
After applying it, the finish is resistant to moisture, stains, and many solvents too. That’s why this product is great for surfaces such as countertops and cabinetry, to name a few.
Also, the urethane gel is safe for food contact as well, which means that you can use it on wood cocking utensils and bowls.
With one quart of volume, this product will be enough for the maintenance tasks mentioned above and for many more too.
- Highly resistant to water, alcohol, moisture, and more
- Dries quickly after applying it
- Safe for food contact
- Works on raw or unfinished surfaces
- Delivers a beautiful finish and protective coating
- Gives off a strong odor
5. Waterlox TB 6044 Original Quart Satin Finish
Most of the resin used for this formula comes from natural, renewable resources. This procedure is standard for Waterlox, and one of the reasons why many people prefer the brand’s Tung oil finishes.
The original satin finish comes in a single quart can. When applied correctly, the formula penetrates the surfaces, creating a beautiful and protective coat. Common issues like spills, moisture, or shoe marks shouldn’t worry you anymore after using this product.
Before using the formula, make sure to have proper ventilation. The satin finish has a strong smell that may be very unpleasant for some people. Other than this small inconvenience, you should expect nothing but great results from this product of Waterlox.
- Penetrates surfaces for a better and protective finish
- Prevents marks left by spills, moisture, and more
- 90% of the resin used for the formula comes from natural resources
- Leaves a satin sheen look afterward
- It is not suitable for exterior uses
Fastest Dry, Recoat, And Cure Time
The drying time means the amount of time you’ll need to wait before touching the applied surface without damaging it. The recoat window is related to the drying time. It simply means the amount of time you’ll need to wait before applying a new layer. And a full cure time is the period you need to let pass before using the coated surface.
We recommend choosing a polyurethane finish that provides the quickest dry, recoat, and cure time. However, you must not do so at the price of sacrificing quality. That is if you can maintain the proper thickness, a leveled texture without streak marks, etc. while maintaining the abovementioned qualities.
As a result, you’ll achieve a faster workflow as it’ll allow applying layers quickly by shortening the recoating window as well as reducing drying and cure time. It’ll help you to achieve a finish with a consistently leveled texture.
Also, areas that deal with heavy traffic and can’t be closed off for too long (e.g. dining tabletop, kitchen countertop) will benefit from a quick-dry, recoat, and cure time.
Is polyurethane FDA approved?
FDA Approval? The Food and Drug Administration considers certain types of polyurethane safe for use on food surfaces. If the polyurethane forms a hard film, it is safe to use. The FDA advises everyone to wait for the surface in question to be dried and cleaned before being used for food preparation.
Is Danish oil good for dining table?
Only to tone the white oak and enhance the natural wood grain and distressing, Danish Oil in Dark Walnut was the answer. Danish oil is a lighter application of stain. It tones the wood and darkens the distressed areas. I didn’t want a solid color finish.
What is the most durable clear coat for wood?
The most common types are lacquer, shellac, polyurethane, varnish and wax. Generally applied with a brush. Varnishes are very durable but are slow to dry, making them susceptible to dust and dirt. Shellac is a fast-drying natural resin that may need to be thinned before applying.
Is polyurethane water resistant?
Yes, polyurethane provides a protective layer on hardwood (as well as furniture) making it harder for water to penetrate into the wood. But, it is not waterproof; rather, it’s water resistant.