Best Finish for Wood Kitchen Table

Best Finish for Wood Kitchen Table – Choosing a Kitchen Table Finish

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You would expect to pay the most attention to detail when it comes to the table that you use daily. On your eating table, you can expect food spills, water stains, and the constant need to keep your table clean by wiping it. An important criterion when buying polyurethane for your table finish is that it is a long-lasting formula. You need your polyurethane to last long.  A reason why you would decide to purchase a tabletop finish in the first place is to increase the life span of your table. We think the best finish for kitchen tables make the tables look far more attractive too. In that way, you need to know what the best finish for a kitchen table would be and these guidelines may help you pick a perfect finish that caters to your needs.



A Glance at Tabletop Finishes

If you are new to the finishes department at your local hardware store, it is advisable to start your polyurethane trial with an oil-based wipe-on type of polyurethane. This polyurethane has a quick-drying formula that is relatively simple to apply. A water-based wipe-on polyurethane can work too, but it results in a glass-like finish. If you would like that type of finish, you may choose to settle for the water-based polyurethane instead.

Shellac is not a good choice due to its non-durable nature, thus stopping it from being the best kitchen finish for wooden tables. Tung oil is also not ideal because of its slow-drying properties. With tung oil, you may have to apply coats over and over again until you achieve your desired results.

Again, when you are new to the polyurethane aisle, remember to ask for guidance from the store experts. Experts will give you good suggestions on the best kitchen table finish. There are many of the best polyurethane for kitchen tables – you just need to find the best wooden tabletop finish for you.



Best Finish for Wood Kitchen Table

You may become overwhelmed at the variety of different table top finishes for your dining table. We have isolated the leading products for finishing wood, and have listed the advantages and disadvantages for each so as to help you find the best brand for your needs.

Table Top Finishes


The GRIZZLY INDUSTRIAL Good Stuff Wood Finish

This particular finish has been listed as one of the best finishes for kitchen table tops, especially maple wood tops. It is a waterproof finish, which adds to its durability. It is believed to be a long-lasting finish that won’t be easily removed within months or even years. It is also an odorless substance that allows you to be in your dining area while your tabletop is drying.

GRIZZLY INDUSTRIAL Good Stuff Wood Finish For Tops
  • Easy-to-use urethane gel for raw or unfinished wood surfaces
  • Safe for food contact, fast-drying - no brushing
  • Water and alcohol resistan, resistant to moisture and stains
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The experts suggest using a cloth to apply this gel-like substance. The consistency of the Grizzly Good Stuff Wood Finish is far less liquid, making it simpler to use. You can expect to pay a good few dollars for this wood finish, although it is worth every penny spent.


  • Has a waterproof finish. 
  • Has an aesthetically pleasing finish
  • The mixture glides easily onto the wooden table
  • This is a long-lasting finish. 
  • Has been said to be the best finish for a dining table. 


  • Relatively pricey in comparison to other finishes. 


GENERAL FINISHES Arm-R-Seal Urethane Topcoat for Tabletops

With a name so tough to pronounce, you can expect a tough topcoat. Once this brand has been applied as a kitchen table finish, you can anticipate that it will last a long time. A key ingredient of this finish is that of urethane resin, which is known for its durability. It is available in an array of different sizes, which means that you can buy the right quantity of finish for your table without needing to waste.

GENERAL FINISHES Arm-R-Seal Oil Based Topcoat
  • The Arm-R-Seal topcoat is made with only the highest quality urethane resin
  • This topcoat is extremely durable and long-lasting with a natural look
  •  It is formulated to be wiped on with a cloth or applied with a foam brush
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The urethane comes in a can with an easily removable lid. Clorox disinfectant wipes can be used to effortlessly clean your tabletop post-application. You need to ensure that you work in a well-aired space so that the smell of the substance does not affect your ability to breathe. This finish can be applied easily by using a foam brush or a rag, which also helps to prevent excess drippage (although you still need to react quickly). The unique aspect of the General Finishes Arm-R-Seal finish is that your tabletop will dry with a topcoat that is amber in color. This finish looks spectacular but, since the color is not transparent, it requires careful thought prior to purchase.

If an amber tint on your wooden tabletop is what you seek, you should definitely purchase this brand. 

This is a product that is oil-based in nature, making it a slow-drying alternative. Experts state that you must avoid wiping the table for 30 days after the application of the final coat. So, please do not pull out your wipes to try and disinfect the table immediately after applying this finish.

This brand produces the best finish for a wooden table, and is also a product preferred by handymen who work with wood daily. To be frank, although the Arm-R-Seal produces a desirable finish and is one of the best polyurethane for tabletops, wood experts are more likely to using this product than beginners.


  • This finish is water-resistant. 
  • You can purchase a container size based on the size of your table. 
  • The finish lasts a long time once applied. 
  • It produces a luxurious amber finish. 
  • There is hardly any smell produced during the application process. 


  • The curing process requires patience. 
  • Bubbles may appear initially when using the substance. 


MINWAX Wood Finish Penetrating Stain

The Minwax brand is known to be a fast-drying topcoat that both professionals and non-professionals can use. It is an easy-to-use substance because it is a wipe-on polyurethane finish with minimal drying time. Minwax is recommended to be used on an unfinished wooden surface as well as on a finished surface to produce the best finish for the kitchen table. The substance is effortlessly spread onto the wooden table with a bristle or foam brush. Alternatively, a lamb’s wool applicator can be used as well.

MINWAX Wood Finish Penetrating Stain
  • Available in 28 beautiful colors
  • Can be used to add beauty to any bare or stripped wood surface
  • Penetrates deep into wood fibers to highlight the grain
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The main reason as to why new handymen prefer the substance is because of its quick-drying nature. It works well for outdoor tables as well as for a kitchen table finish because it dries fast, allowing no dust to settle on the drying polyurethane surface. Within a few hours, you can scruff the surface smoothly with sandpaper grit. It doesn’t require a steady or expert hand to apply the Minwax, so a novice can still achieve the best kitchen tabletop finish and stunning results when working with this brand.

Although the product may be described as clear, the table finish may not be entirely transparent and may cause a slight tint on your wooden surface. The reason that Minwax produces a tint is that it contains a high concentration of oil in the solution. The wooden table’s change in tint will be visible from the initial application, so keep this in mind when deciding on a polyurethane brand.

The appearance of your wooden table will appear warmer because with Minwax, a single coat is never quite enough.

Ideally, three or more coats are required, although wooden kitchen tabletops will need at least five coats to obtain the best finish. This will be a rather lengthy process, so bank on the application taking time. If time is not a factor for you, Minwax has the best polyurethane for tabletops.


  • Minwax doesn’t allow stains to settle on tabletops, thus preventing food stains. 
  • The coating lasts long. 
  • Minwax can be applied with a few types of brushes. 
  • This finish is durable and long-lasting. 


  • This product needs to be applied over and over again to ensure the best finish. 
  • You will need to sand in-between coats
  • This finish creates a warm tinge on the surface. 



Signs of the Best Wooden Table Finish

If it is your first time attempting to get the best finish for a wooden kitchen table, remember that you need to tread carefully during the entire process. Be patient. Ensure you choose to work with the best possible products from the get-go. Below is a guide on what to look out for when trying to find the best polyurethane for kitchen tables.

Best Polyurethane for Table Top


Application Requirements

While Minwax is easy to apply, it is still advisable for polyurethane to be used strictly by professionals. Therefore, when choosing a polyurethane for your first curing attempt, make sure you find one that is easy for you to apply. Many experts tell beginners to go for wipe-on polyurethane mixtures, as the chances of going wrong with this type of polyurethane are very slim.


Wood Finish Types

When searching for the best finish for kitchen tables there are various types of finishes that you can consider:


Top Water-Based Finishes

Water-based finishes are known as the best polyurethane for tabletops because of the fact that the substance is fairly thin and requires a shorter drying time. It is a time-saving option, especially for beginners who will lose their patience waiting for the finished design.

Water-based polyurethane works best if you want to ensure minimal odor from the finish that you apply. That’s because water-based products have a slight smell during the application process which disappears after drying. It is because of water-based polyurethane being thinner than other substances that causes it to be a quick-drying solution. So, if you are an individual that is looking for a time-saving finishing process, you will be doing the right thing by purchasing a water-based finish. 


Top Oil-Based Finishes

You would choose an oil-based substance for a warmer tabletop finish. These finishes offer the best results in terms of quality and therefore can be used as a kitchen table finish.

The oil-based finish protects the wood. It is of the best quality, which makes it perfect to be used in the kitchen. The oil-based finish is one of the best tabletop finishes and is recommended by experts.


The Varnish Option

Your first instinct as a novice would be to use varnish. Varnishes are an amalgamation of oil, resin, and other substances. It is best to apply varnish on outdoor surfaces due to varnish’s durable nature. Varnish ensures protection against the sun’s rays. It takes a long time to dry fully, however, so this must be considered before using this particular product.


The Shellac Option

It is important to note that shellac is relatively easy to apply but is not preferred on tabletops due to the fact that it does not last long on surfaces. Shellac is assumed to be one of the best substances for tabletops as it is made from wax and other products, but this is a misconception. It is advisable to keep shellac away from wooden table tops.

Kitchen Table Finish


Usage Consideration

It is not required that you start with substances that are too complex to use. You should rather opt for a substance that is easier to use to avoid messing up the tabletop entirely. Try to consider options that have been recommended for novices to avoid going wrong.



It may not be on the top of your consideration list, but you should buy a product that will not produce an unpleasant smell. It is unbearable to work with a product that has a very strong smell.


Product Longevity

Be sure to choose a product that will last a long time. It may cost slightly more to buy a quality product, but it is always better to pay more and spend less in the long run. The more wear and tear a table goes through, the better off you will be with a durable table finish.

Varnish as well as oil-based polyurethane generally lasts longer on tabletops. If a longer-lasting option is what you seek, perhaps try linseed and Tung oil-based finishes. Shellac is not the best type of finish because it is a non-durable option.


Working Area

Many of these wood finishes are not free from odor. The area designated for working must always be well-aired with cross-ventilation so that you can handle the strong smells.  Buy low-odor products if you cannot guarantee proper cross-ventilation.



Always keep the costing of products in mind. While some finishes may be worth the hefty price tags, many may not be. Always seek guidance about products and whether the quality is ensured by higher-priced products.



Handy Help for a Classy Finish

To ensure that you achieve the most attractive possible finish for your wooden table, we have compiled some helpful tips and ideas to guide you through the process.

Best Finish for Dining Table Top


Sanding Ideas

  • Use your hand to sand. Try to sand by hand using a grit disc. Sanding by hand is the preferred option as it will produce better results than sanding with an orbital sander.
  • There is a technique to sanding. Begin by sanding every part of the surface in the same direction using the same sized grit disc. If you start sanding with a bigger grit size, the treated areas will look different to the areas that were sanded with a smaller grit disc.
  • Sand enough but not too much. Try not to get carried away with the sanding process. Experts will advise you to stop at 150-grit for harder-grain wood, 180-grit for fine wood, and end grain to show far more drastic effects. For end grain, you may need to sand at 220-grit or more.


Application Ideas

  • Work with ease and speed. While you should never be too hasty during the buying of finishes, you must speed up the application process. When working with water-based polyurethane, the drying time is sudden. An oil-based substance becomes honey-like in texture if left too long in its container. Thus, you should ensure that all of your curing equipment is by your side. Remember, you cannot stop for any reason once you have started the application of the polyurethane.
  • Choose a roll-on finish type. Since speed and efficiency is needed to coat, perhaps you should settle for a roll-on oil-based polyurethane. It is easier to smoothly roll on the substance in comparison to trying to coat it on with a brush. It does yield a pleasurable finish. The instant after you apply the roll-on polyurethane, the bubbles that appear may look unattractive. However, once the bubbles vanish, the finish is smooth and aesthetically pleasing. The trick is to apply light coats to prevent bumps from forming. Water-based polyurethane is also not a suggestion.
  • Coat the entire table. When working with the best wood finishes, you must keep your goal in mind at all times. The idea of using polyurethane is to protect your table from absorbing too much moisture, which means that you need to coat underneath the table as well. Just a coat on the underside will protect the table and not deem your coating exercise fruitless.
  • Apply a minimum of three coats. You should select a durable product option but nevertheless, three coats work like a charm. If you want to add layers to better protect your wooden table, you can even decide upon four or five layers.
  • The end grain effect. When using finishes on the end grain of your table, there may be a considerable color change in comparison to working with the face grain. A test must be done initially, and if the end grain looks horrific once coated, treat the end grain first. The end grain can be treated with droplets of finish to reduce absorption.
  • White residue must go. Once the finish has dried after the wet sanding process, white marks may form. The idea is not to let white residue settle onto your wooden surface. If the white is left on the grain, it will create an unpleasant look on the table.

Best Finish for a Kitchen Table





When Working on Wooden Surfaces, Which Clear Coat Will Last the Longest?

The very formulation of varnish makes it a thicker substance that lasts longer, dubbing it desirable for use on wooden surfaces and in the outdoors.


Should One Choose Water-Based or Oil-Based Polyurethane?

When making this decision, there are a variety of factors to consider. The oil-based finish results in a finish that is not as clear as that of the water-based option. Therefore, if a crystal-clear finish is on your agenda, definitely go for a water-based option. It is worth noting, however, that the oil-based polyurethane is easier to roll on and apply.


Why Should Applying Kitchen Wooden Table Finish Be a Requirement?

Since you want to keep kitchen wooden tables looking great for a long time, you must set out to achieve the best finish for tabletops. A table which has no finish tends to look less pleasing. Uncoated surfaces are also far less durable than well-coated ones.


Is It Possible to Apply Polyurethane to a Painted Surface?

Certainly, it is possible to apply polyurethane to painted surfaces provided that you prepare your surface for the finish.


How Do I Seal the Wooden Surface?

When using a sealer, it seeps into the wood as a means of protection. Sealer application is simple, especially when it comes to sealing timber. Enlisted below are the steps:

Step 1: Work on a clean surface. The dirt on the table will cause complications when it comes to the adhesion of the formula.

Step 2: Start by working with a paintbrush to apply the sealer. The paintbrush will ensure that you make the perfect strokes while showing no streaks at all.

Step 3: Get the sealer to dry fully before you apply or reapply layers. One layer of sealer will do the trick. No additional layers of sealer need be applied.


If There Is a Varnished Wooden Table, Can It Be Painted?

Just as you can varnish over a painted surface, you can paint over a varnished surface. In fact, painting renews older looking wooden surfaces and may result in the best finish for your dining table.

A suggestion: The thick and clear formulation of varnish ensures a shiny surface that is well-protected. The varnish may create an entirely new look for your table. So if that is the kitchen table finish you seek, use varnish!


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