Durable table finish over existing?

natsisSeptember 29, 2010

I'd like to add a protective coating to my dining room table. I have no idea what finish is on it now. I'm hoping I can just sand the surface a bit and then use Waterlox. It has a dark, almost black, stain and I don't want to sand so far that I would sand off the stain. Is this possible with Waterlox or any other durable finish? Right now I have to be very careful with moisture and heat or I will get a foggy spot on the finish. This is our everyday table so it needs to be easier to use.

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Many times, on this site, people ask what finish they can put on a piece of furniture so it will stand up to abuse. Some finishes are better than other as far as durability is concerned, but no finish will survive rough use. The proper way to protect a table is with a pad and tablecloth. If you don't have the money to purchase a custom made pad, you can make one out of something like an old mattress pad with a tablecloth over it. No finish will survive beverages, plates of food, homework and things like that.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 9:55PM
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Thanks for your thoughts. I really don't want to use a table cloth on a daily basis. Many years ago I put what I think was a polyurethane finish on an unfinished birch table. I put about 6 coats. That table really held up to all kinds of abuse. I wiped it or scrubbed it down with a sponge every day. Now my son uses it for a desk. I'd like to have that kind of finish on my new (used) table. I would still use a trivet for very hot things but don't want to have to worry if someone sets a glass or coffee cup down.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 11:06PM
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You answered your own question.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 2:52PM
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Not quite. I guess my real question is - can I only lightly sand the surface so as not to remove any stain and still coat it with something (like polyurethane or Waterlox)and expect that it will adhere properly?

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 3:12PM
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I would wash it down with warm water and soap, drying immediately so no water soaks in. Then wash it again with paint thinner and let it dry for a day. Then go over it with 0000 steel wood and vacuum clean and wipe with a microfiber cloth. Seal with dewaxed shellac. Sand lightly with 220 sandpaper. Another coat of shellac and light sanding if you think it needs it. Vacuum and wipe clean. Now apply your finish.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 4:16PM
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I used fine steel wool then polyshades over a kitchen table about 15 years ago and still iron on it and do crafts and everything else around here that needs a flat serface. It has held up extemely well. I would no longer recommend that product because the formula seems to have changed but it does show that you can protect a surface to make it more user friendly.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 11:58AM
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In one of the woodworking magazines, a few months ago, they tested and rated rub-on finishes for durability. Poly Shades came in first and Waterlox was second (close behind) in a field of about tweleve rub-on finishes.
So there you are; steel wool, Waterlox, and you'll have the finish you desire. Too bad Poly Shades won't work any more.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 6:18PM
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I don't think it was Poly Shades, but Minwax's wiping version of polyurethane was excellent for water resistance. So is the non-wiping version, Fast-Dry Polyurethane, which you can thin yourself to the application consistency you prefer. Waterlox also had excellent water resistance, but Waterlox is not going to be as abrasion-resistant as the polyurethane.

I've used Minwax Polyurethane a lot, and it's very durable. I can't find it where I live any more, in SoCal.

I agree with someone's prep, although I'd probably skip the shellac myself. Just make sure the surface is CLEAN and DULL.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 1:33AM
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I would like to know more about the "wiping version" of polyurethane. I like to use polyurethane, but don't want the item I am using it on to look like it is encased in plastic. How does the wiping version work differently? Do you use regular old poly or do you look for something different??


    Bookmark   October 4, 2010 at 11:01AM
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I used a wipe on Poly on my stair railings over unstained oak. It doesn't look at all like plastic. They just have a nice satin sheen. Maybe if I did many many layers it would eventually look like a plastic coating. Minwax makes a product that is called "wipe-on poly"

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 11:45AM
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