What should I use to finish and protect a wood kitchen table?

Answered by Brett ~ February 14, 2012 ~ No Comments

We bought a new wood table for our kitchen, which will get a lot of use. It is just raw wood so I want to protect it with something, but I don't want to paint it. What do you suggest?

Stella ~ Bend, OR

Brett Kulina

Stella, although you could protect your new wood table with a professional quality lacquer, these finishes can be difficult to work with and often need to be applied with a sprayer. Instead you could brush on a polyurethane varnish, which should provide adequate protection from stains, scratches, and heat. Most readily available polyurethane finishes have a slight amber tint to them, which can enhance the visible grain patterns in the wood.

I have used polyurethane products manufactured by Olymic and Minwax and have found both brands to be high quality and reasonably priced. Minwax offers both an oil-based and water-based interior polyurethane, and you can select a gloss or a satin finish. They even make a fast drying polyurethane that comes in an aerosol can, but I don't think this would be the best choice for finishing a large kitchen table. Although polyurethane finishes can sometimes be applied with a wiping cloth or a foam brush, I prefer to use a high quality natural-bristled brush.

Once you select the right polyurethane finish for your project, follow the application instructions to the letter. Most brands are going to suggest a minimum of two coats with a light sanding between each coat. I generally prefer three coats of finish and I let each coat dry an entire day. If the polyurethane is not completely cured when you begin sanding, the surface and the sand paper will gum up and make a mess. Good luck with your project and remember to take your time and work carefully, as the results of careful finishing are always worth the extra effort.

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