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Durable tabletop

Posted by Bakergirl (My Page) on
Thu, Apr 12, 12 at 8:41


We have and old table that is too large for the nook seating area in our new kitchen. We are thinking about cutting it down to size, taking the four legs off, and making it a pedestal table. It's a solid wood, and in pretty good shape--but the wrong color for the kitchen. It's also a softer wood--not pine, but softer than will hold up to a household with two young kids. My husband wants to add a formica top to it. I *really* don't want formica in our brand new, modern style kitchen. If I stain it, would several coats of poly (or something else?) provide some protection from the scratches/dents that are otherwise inevitable with little kids?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Durable tabletop

No finish is going the be significantly harder than the underlying wood.

RE: Durable tabletop

That's what I was afraid of. Thanks.

RE: Durable tabletop

only thing you could do is to put down a thick epoxy bartop finish. Probably not the look you want.

RE: Durable tabletop

Behlen Rockhard Table Top Varnish is significantly tougher than polyurethane, although in my hands it seems slower to harden fully. It's chemically similar to Bakelite, which is seriously tough stuff. You can order it from Rockler or Woodcraft or perhaps directly from Behlen. My dad used to finish table and bar tops with traditional (non-polyurethane) marine spar varnish. Soft (flexible) but very water resistant, and easier to repair than most varnishes. Flexibility might be a virtue on a soft table top. I recently revarnished a table top my dad refinished with spar varnish back in the middle '60s. The skirt and legs were still in pretty good shape so I just cleaned and wire wooled them and ragged on a couple thin coats of polyurethane gel varnish. We'll see how well gel varnish sticks to 47-year-old Dupont Dulux spar. (Not a recommendation.)

RE: Durable tabletop

Even Rockhard over a soft base will not be all that resistant to very hard use.

The finish will simply crack when the underlying wood is dented.

A VERY thick pour on type finish can limit damage y spreading impacts out over a larger area of the wood without failing itself.

The problem is it is a ugly looking thing for residential use.

A 1/4 inch layer of 'plastic' over the surface.

RE: Durable tabletop

Concur Rockhard might very well crack. Spar varnish might be a reasonable compromise in a clear coat, though it will scratch and do even less to prevent dents. It just won't crack as easily

It's occurred to me, however, that since you're going to have to live with dents between major refinishing jobs, almost regardless of what finish you use, you might consider making a virtue of necessity by going with a distressed paint finish. This approach would have the additional virtue of finessing the problem of getting soft wood to stain evenly.

Better yet, you could paint the table as if you were going to distress it then and let the kids distress it naturally. :-)

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