Best Polyurethane for Table top

Top 7 Best Polyurethane for Table Top (Reviews & Buying Guide 2021)

Tabletops, like every other pieces of furniture wear out over time. And when they do, the tabletop losses its aesthetic value and appeal. However, with the best polyurethane finish, your old tabletop can look stunning again.

But the issue here is getting the best polyurethane for tabletop is complicated. With the various polyurethane products on the market, it can be tough making the right choice.

In this article, we will be reviewing the best polyurethane finishes for table top and what you should know before buying one.

Choose from our top 3 Picks

Product Name
Best Buy
Minwax 233334444
Editor's Pick
RUST-OLEUM FBA 230031
Combo Polyurethane
Minwax 710330000
Image
Minwax 233334444 Polycrylic Protective Finish, Half Pint, Satin
RUST-OLEUM FBA 230031 Varathane Gallon Gloss Waterborne Diamond Floor Finish, 1
Minwax 710330000 Water Based Oil-Modified Polyurethane, gallon, Satin
Prime Status
-
-
Star Rating
Size
Half Pint
1 Gallon
1 Gallon
Oil/ Water Based
Water Based
Water Based
Water Based
Best Buy
Product Name
Minwax 233334444
Image
Minwax 233334444 Polycrylic Protective Finish, Half Pint, Satin
Prime Status
-
Star Rating
Size
Half Pint
Oil/ Water Based
Water Based
Where to Buy
Editor's Pick
Product Name
RUST-OLEUM FBA 230031
Image
RUST-OLEUM FBA 230031 Varathane Gallon Gloss Waterborne Diamond Floor Finish, 1
Prime Status
Star Rating
Size
1 Gallon
Oil/ Water Based
Water Based
Where to Buy
Combo Polyurethane
Product Name
Minwax 710330000
Image
Minwax 710330000 Water Based Oil-Modified Polyurethane, gallon, Satin
Prime Status
-
Star Rating
Size
1 Gallon
Oil/ Water Based
Water Based
Where to Buy

Last update on 2021-08-31 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Reviews of the Best Polyurethane for Table Top

1. Minwax 233334444 Polycrylic Water-Based Protective Finish – Best Overall

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.

Minwax 233334444 Polycrylic Protective Finish, Half Pint, Satin
  • This product adds a great value
  • 0.5 point
  • Finish - Satin
  • Water clean-up
  • Low odor, non-yellowing

Last update on 2021-08-31 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The paint gives off a low odor, which is one of the things I love about the paint. It also appears non-yellowish on the surface even after some time, which is excellent for people who want to maintain the color of their tabletops that are non-white.

Pros

  • Easy to apply
  • Works well with soap and water
  • Dries into a hard and waterproof finish
  • Durable
  • Quick drying-formula
  • Great quality

Cons

  • The finish yellows over time when used on white surfaces.
  • The paint comes in a small tin.

Verdict
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.

2. Varathane Gloss Polyurethane Floor Finish -Best for Gloss Finish

Although labeled as a floor finish, you can use this polyurethane finish on tabletops, kitchen cabinets, and other wood surfaces. This high-gloss finish will provide a crystal-clear result when used.

The Varathane gloss waterborne floor finish is highly durable and offers maximum resistance to scratches and wood chipping. Though it’s water-based, it resists heat and chemicals to a great extent, prolonging the tabletop’s lifespan and maintaining its beauty.

This high-gloss polyurethane product dries quickly too and has high odor emission. Using this polyurethane requires that you stay in a well-ventilated area to contain a strong odor. However, the odor fades fast after application.

Sale
RUST-OLEUM FBA 230031 Varathane Gallon Gloss Waterborne Diamond Floor Finish, 1
  • The product is Gallon GLS WB FLR Finish.
  • Elegant design and Finish
  • The product is manufactured in United States
  • Varathane Gallon Gloss Waterborne Diamond Floor Finish
  • Water-based finish for hardwood floors

Last update on 2021-08-31 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

It’s also easy to clean with soap and water, making it one of the best finishes available on the market.

Pros

  • This polyurethane dries pretty quick
  • Cleans easily
  • Great finishes
  • Easy to apply
  • Cures durably
  • Offers optimal resistance to scratches and wood chipping

Cons

  • Gives off a strong odor

Verdict
Despite the pungent smell it gives off at first, this polyurethane finish is highly recommended. It’s not difficult to apply, cures durably, and dries pretty fast.

Read Also: Best Finish For Pine Dining Table 2021| Finishing a Pine Table

3. Minwax 710330000 Water-Based Oil-Modified Polyurethane Satin – Best Combo Polyurethane

Minwax polyurethane finish is one of the best polyurethane finishes you can use to coat your tabletop. What makes this product an excellent choice is that it’s both water-based and oil-based, so you get a premium-quality finish.

This oil-modified water-based polyurethane offers superior protection and adds an extra clear stain finish on your tabletop when applied. Unlike most conventional oil-based finishes, this polyurethane has a lower odor, mainly due to the water-based.

It finish also dries fast, and you can use it on all woodworking surfaces. Apart from its fast-drying feature, the polyurethane cures into a superior durable and hard finish.

The polyurethane is water-friendly. You can use warm water to clean off the dust on the paint when it’s dry. The finish has optimal resistance against abrasion, heat, chipping, and chemicals, thanks to oil-based formula.

Minwax 710330000 Water Based Oil-Modified Polyurethane, gallon, Satin
  • Lower in odor than traditional solvent-based polyurethanes
  • Protects and adds beauty to interior wood surfaces including woodwork, furniture, doors, cabinets and floors
  • Dries quickly
  • Cleans up easily with warm water
  • Recommended uses: woodwork, furniture, doors, cabinets, floors

Last update on 2021-08-31 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Minwax also comes in a big container, measuring about 1 gallon in size. This means that you can coat your tabletop all through without purchasing any extra can. This saves you a huge deal.

Pros

  • It cures into a durable and hard finish.
  • Dries quite fast
  • Provides crystal-clear finish
  • Contains both oil-based and water-based formula
  • Easy to use
  • Low odor
  • Great value for money

Cons

  • Not easy to correct any mistake due to its super-fast drying ability
  • Unsuitable for exterior use

Verdict
If you want a polyurethane finish that’s both oil-based and water-based, this is the finish to go for. This product is one of the best topcoats that you can purchase. It dries fast and provides a clear satin finish.

4. ZAR 33912 Oil-Based Polyurethane Wood Finish – Best Self-Levelling Formula

This is another excellent polyurethane finish you can trust to revitalize your tabletop and improve its aesthetic value. Unlike the Minwax modified polyurethane finish, this ZAR product is oil-based only.

This self-leveling formula offers smooth and clear finishes. It features an exceptional drying ability and cures durably into a thick and hard finish. Additionally, the finish is resistant to stains, abrasion, and chemicals. This makes it a right choice for coating surfaces that are regularly exposed to heat and chemicals.

This paint also has good coverage. With a paintbrush, this paint can cover about 125-150 sq. ft. per quart. This means you get to use minimal paint while coating, which not only saves you paint but saves you money.

Like most oil-based polyurethane, this product gives off some odor when using it. However, it’s not as high as what some others offer. Plus, it’s incredibly thick, and that flat, matte finish is excellent.

ZAR 33912 Oil Based Polyurethane Wood Finish, QT, Clear
  • For interior use only
  • Included in MPI Category #57
  • Tough abrasion resistant finish
  • Smooth, self-leveling formula
  • Great for floors

Last update on 2021-08-31 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

It also comes at a reasonable price tag. If you are unwilling to spend more than required, this product will be a right choice for you.

Pros

  • Thick
  • Dried into a flat and matte finish
  • Self-leveling
  • Easy to clean
  • Large container
  • Tough and durable

Cons

  • It is not suitable for exterior uses.

Verdict
ZAR Polyurethane finish will improve the beauty and resistance of your tabletop to chipping and wear tremendously. It’s super durable, thick enough, and offers a superior finish.

5. Minwax Water-Based Helmsman Indoor/Outdoor Spar Urethane – Best Polyurethane for Indoor and Outdoor Use

If you are looking for a clear gloss finish that you can use for interior and exterior use, I suggest you get the Minwax Water-Based Helmsman Indoor/Outdoor Spar Urethane.

This water-based poly includes UV blockers that minimize the sun’s effect on your coating project. Best of all, this product offers protection against moisture, rain, and temperature, allowing you to paint at your convenience.

This urethane finish dries quickly and cures into a thick, durable, and hard finish. It’s also resistant to wear and abrasion, prolonging the lifespan of the wood when applied.

Sale
Minwax 630500444 Water Based Helmsman Spar Urethane, quart, Gloss
  • Contains UV blockers to reduce the sun's graying and fading effects
  • Forms a protective barrier against rain and moisture
  • Special oils allow the finish to expand and contract with the wood as seasons and temperatures change
  • Ideal for use on doors, windows, trim, bathroom cabinets, bar tops, kitchen countertops, outdoor furniture
  • Crystal clear finish is ideal for use over light-colored woods and stains. Dries quickly and cleans up easily with warm water

Last update on 2021-09-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This non-ambering finish has low odor formula and environmental-friendly. It doesn’t color the wood and sticks pretty well. It’s relatively easy to apply, whether you intend to use a foam brush, paintbrush, or spray. The paint is comfortable with water and soap, making cleanup easy.

Pros

  • Can be applied via many mediums
  • Cures into a strong finish
  • Durable and resistant to abrasion
  • Water and soap-friendly
  • Thick
  • No amber coloring
  • Low odor
  • Ideal for both interior and exterior use
  • Contains UV blockers

Cons

  • Not suitable for plastics as it would cause bubbles

Verdict
Minwax Water-Based Helmsman Indoor/Outdoor Spar Urethane is one of the best indoor/outdoor finishes you can find on the market. It gives a clear protective finish that’s incredible. It’s resistant to UV rays, rain, moisture, and temperature, making it the perfect finish for different coating purposes.

6. TotalBoat Halcyon Marine Varnish Water-Based Polyurethane Wood Finish – Best Large Capacity Polyurethane

TotalBoat Halcyon Marine Varnish is another excellent quality product that’s great for interior and exterior use. This water-based poly comes with UV protection that makes it usable outdoors so that you can coat any wood surface outside without sun interference. The poly creates a super precise finish and adds beauty to your project.

In addition to that, the TotalBoat has an ultra-fast drying capability. It recoats in one hour, offers better clarity and protection against abrasion. Thanks to its superior durability, your tabletop and other outdoor pieces of furniture will stay much longer.

The poly cures into a slight amber finish. However, the clear finish won’t change the wood surface’s appearance or discolor it, unlike conventional amber-coloring polyurethanes. Instead, the paint brings out distinctly the wood’s natural color, which makes it incredible.

TotalBoat-497712 Halcyon Marine Varnish (Gloss, Quart) | Water-Based Polyurethane Wood Finish | Clear Gloss UV Protection for Interior and Outdoor Use
  • DURABLE MARINE-GRADE VARNISH cures to a hard gloss or satin finish for beautiful brightwork; for interior and exterior use on wood trim, toerails, cockpits, doors, cabinets, chairs, outdoor furniture and more - on your boat or at home
  • PROTECTS AGAINST DAMAGE FROM SUN AND WEATHER: Provides superior sun-blocking protection and maximum resistance to salt, abrasion and scratches; excellent adhesion and flexibility let wood expand & contract naturally, without cracking or peeling
  • EASY TO APPLY, EASY TO CLEAN UP: Spar urethane is easy to apply by brushing, rolling or spraying; looks milky-white at first, but cures to a clear or clear amber color, depending on formula; for a satin finish, use gloss for build coats and satin for finish coat; easy soap & water cleanup
  • FINISH VARNISH JOBS FASTER: Dries fast so you can finish faster than with traditional varnishes; apply up to 5 coats in a day, no sanding between coats; apply at least 2-4 heavy coats for interior applications; 4-6 coats for exterior applications
  • CHOOSE FINISH AND COLOR: Gloss finish comes in Clear or Amber colors; Satin finish comes in Clear only; Kit Sizes: Pint, Quart and 4 Quart; Coverage: 40-50 sq ft/pint; 80-100 sq ft/quart; NOTE: Halcyon Satin is not available in a 4 Quart kit

Last update on 2021-08-31 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

You can use this paint with a paintbrush, roller, and spray. Plus, it has a low odor and limits exposure to harmful chemicals so that you can work in a cleaner and safer environment. The paint is water-friendly and cleans up with soap and water is easy.

Pros

  • The paint is easy to use.
  • Dries faster
  • Comes with UV protection
  • Resistant to wear, abrasion, and weather
  • Self-leveling formula
  • Easy to apply
  • Cures durably and into a hard, glossy finish

Cons

  • Expensive

Verdict
This finish may be expensive, but it’s worth considering. It’s super easy to use, and you don’t need to sand between coats with it. It dries fast and adds beauty to the wood without discoloring it, despite its amber appearance.

7. Varathane Ultimate Polyurethane Water-Based Semi-Gloss Finish – Best Affordable Polyurethane

Varathane Crystal-Clear Polyurethane is the finish that can add natural beauty and protection to your tabletop. This polyurethane product delivers a scratch-free and crystal-clear semi-gloss finish that you would love.

This water-based formula dries quickly and cures into a somewhat durable coat. Once applied, the polyurethane can dry within an hour of recoating, which is impressive. Plus, it creates a subtle and smooth finish.

This durable finish works well with water and soap. When the surface is dirty, you can wash the surface with water, which won’t affect the finish. The polyurethane is water-friendly.

It also has a low odor and never yellows, even after many years. Whether the surface is white or non-white, you can trust this polyurethane to deliver a quality semi-gloss finish.

Rust-Oleum 200181 Polyurethane Water-Based Spray, Semi-Gloss Finish, 11 Ounce
  • Protects outdoor wood surfaces such as furniture, fences, boats, trim and more
  • Water based formula dries fast and cleans up with soap and water
  • Dries to the touch in 30 minutes with coverage up to 25 sq. ft. per can, recoat after 1 hour
  • Durable formula provides outstanding stain and scratch resistance with excellent clarity
  • Semi gloss finish creates a smooth and classy look

Last update on 2021-08-31 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

One thing I love about this polyurethane is its spray feature. You don’t need a brush to apply the finish. Instead, the spray feature allows you to apply directly from the container without any medium. This makes it an excellent choice for hard-to-reach areas. The spray feature also minimizes the amount of paint used and saves you more time.

Pros

  • Produces semi-gloss finish
  • Easy to use
  • It doesn’t yellow over time.
  • It has a low odor.
  • Fast drying
  • Water and soap-friendly
  • Resistant to scratches and stains

Cons

  • The coverage is relatively low.
  • Small container

Verdict
Varathane Crystal-Clear Polyurethane is a right product for small coating projects as the coverage isn’t superb. However, it’s affordable and dries fast compared to others within its price range.

Best Polyurethane for Tabletop Buyer’s Guide

Before you settle for polyurethane finishes, you need to consider lots of factors. If you are looking to improve your wood’s aesthetic value and protect it from wear, you must be ready to invest in good-quality polyurethane.

The simple fact is building a new piece of furniture is costly, whether it’s a cabinet or a tabletop. That’s why you must maintain the ones you have by all means necessary. Below are factors that you must consider;

Type of Polyurethane

There are two types of polyurethane – water-based and oil-based polyurethane.

Water-based polyurethane usually appears bright and glossy when applied to a surface. It contains natural ingredients that help to keep the wood hydrated; hence preventing the wood from drying. Water-based is expensive and has low resistance to heat and chemicals. This makes them unsuitable for coating areas regularly exposed to heat and chemicals.

Oil-based polyurethane is less expensive and more durable than water-based polyurethane because it can withstand heat and chemicals better. However, it usually leaves off amber coloring on the surface. Plus, it can expand and contract depending on weather conditions.

Oil-based polyurethane takes a longer time to dry and gives off a slight odor when dried. It forms a hard, thick covering in a few coats. However, you will have to wait in between each coat to dry before applying another.
The appearance of the Polyurethane
Do you want your tabletop to look glossy, satin, or smooth? Polyurethane cures into different appearances, and you must determine which one suits you best.

The type of polyurethane you choose will determine how beautiful your tabletop will be when it’s dried. For instance, water-based polyurethane cures into a glossy appearance, while oil-based cures into an amber, stony finish.
Bubbles
Although bubble finishes are mostly caused when you use paintbrushes or painting techniques, the finish also plays a big part. When buying polyurethane, you need to make sure that it’s bubble-free or has self-leveling capability.

It’s hard determining if a poly will cause bubbles to appear on the surface, but you could ask the shop attendant if you are buying offline. If buying online, you can ask the manufacturer or their customer service team to verify if the product will make bubbles appear when applying it.

Curing and Drying Time

There is a difference between allowing the paint to dry and allowing the paint to cure. To avoid buying the wrong polyurethane finish, you need to understand what it drying and curing mean.

For paint to dry, it means that the solvents have evaporated from your paint coatings. The paint will leave a feeling of being dry when touching it. However, it’s not 100% utterly dry.

For paint to cure, it means the paint has reached its maximum hardness. At this point, it’s scorched.

The time it takes for polyurethane to dry and cure matters. When shopping, you need to determine if you want to settle for a finish that has fast drying time or not.
Durability
When choosing the best polyurethane for tabletop, durability is one factor that you should highly consider. Although most polyurethane products are durable, some last longer than others.

When talking about durability, we mean its resistance to scratches and abrasion. To get the best polyurethane, you need to ensure that it’s scratch-resistant and not prone to abrasion.

How to Speed Up the Drying Time of Polyurethane

Like I earlier pointed out, knowing the drying time of poly is crucial. You wouldn’t want to spend a whole day waiting for a finish to dry while there are methods you could employ to speed up the drying process.

To speed up the drying time of a finish, you need to, first of all, identify those factors that can slow down drying time. Once you have identified them, you will be in a better position to address them. Below are factors that can affect the drying time of a finish. Read a full guide on speeding up the polyurethane drying time here

Type of Paint

Paint varies, and each type has its own drying time. The drying time is mostly stated on the package, so all you need to do is check. What distinguishes one paint from the other is the paint’s material.

Paints like latex/water-based paint take approximately 4 – 24 hours to dry. The cure time takes between 21 – 30 days. Oil-based paint takes about 6 – 8 hours to dry, while it takes between 3 – 7 days to cure.

As I said, it’s best to allow the paint to dry correctly. Some paints come darker than others, which means it will take such a long time to dry. If possible, you should wait till it’s cured for optimal results.

Type of Wood

The wood type also affects dry time. Some woods do not dry and cure appropriately because of the presence of chemicals, inhibiting the process.

Atmospheric Condition

Temperature affects the dry time of the paint. Paints will thicken and dry longer in low ambient temperatures, as opposed to high temperatures. Paints that take too long to dry will create an uneven surface, which will cause you to redo the painting.

Humidity is another factor that affects drying. In high humidity, there is an increase in water vapor on surfaces and the air. Since wood is porous, it will absorb moisture, making it hard for the paint to dry.

Ventilation

Ventilation is an essential factor that affects the dry time of the paint. If there’s no proper ventilation, the paint will take longer to dry. When next you’re painting, ensure the area is ventilated to increase the drying time.

Now that we know the problems, let’s now state the solutions. Below is how to speed up the drying time of the paint.

Use water-based finish

As already explained, water-based poly dries faster than its counterparts. If you seek a poly that will dry into a durable finish in the shortest possible time, avoid every other paint type and stick to water-based finishes.

Maintain an excellent working temperature

High temperatures affect a paint’s drying time, so ensure that your paint dries quicker, you need to work in a temperature between 26 degrees Celsius and 35 degrees Celsius. Polyurethane dries better under this temperature because it’s neither too high nor low.

Maintain a properly ventilated area

Ventilation is key to drying a finish. You need to maintain proper airflow when painting. Ensure the blinds are taken off and possibly open the doors. If you are dealing with oil-based polyurethane, you need to ensure the area is well-ventilated to contain the pungent smell emanating while painting.

What is the best polyurethane for a tabletop?

Minwax 233334444 Polycrylic Water-Based Protective Finish is the best polyurethane for a tabletop. It’s durable, dries fast, and adds a beautiful finish to the tabletop.

What kind of polyurethane do you use on a dining table?

I recommend you use oil-based polyurethane. Oil-based polyurethane offers additional protection to the wood. When applied, it cures into a hard and durable finish.

Additionally, the finish is highly resistant to chemicals and heat. That makes it ideal for dining tables as well as tabletops frequently exposed to heat and chemicals.

How many coats of polyurethane should you put on a kitchen table?

You need to apply at least two coats of polyurethane on a kitchen table for the best result. You can apply more coats if you want the finish to be healthier, thicker, and more rigid. For water-based, it’s best to apply three coats because water-based poly coats in thinner layers.

How long does polyurethane take to cure on the table?

It takes a minimum of three days for polyurethane to cure on a table.

Do you sand the final coat of polyurethane?

No, you shouldn’t sand the final coat of polyurethane. Depending on the number of coats, you should only sand the first one if you intend to apply two coats. If three, then you just need to sand in between the first two.

Once you apply the final coat, let it dry properly and that’s it. However, if you are going to sand off the final coat, you need to apply a gloss finish.

What is the difference between polyurethane and polycryclic?

Polyurethane comprises water-based and oil-based while polycrylic merely is water-based.

Why is my polyurethane still tacky?

Polyurethane, especially oil-based dries in two phases. The solvent first evaporates, leaving the resin on the surface. This evaporation can take hours depending on the temperature, ventilation, humidity, and poly thickness. When the solvent has evaporated, the resin will make the table feel tacky for a few extra days.

Can you put polyurethane over paint?

Yes, you can put polyurethane over paint as much as you can do that on an unpainted surface. Putting polyurethane over the paint will not just protect the paint but improve the lifespan of the surface. Read More about it here

Conclusion – Best Polyurethane for Table Top

Applying the best polyurethane for tabletop will offer optimal protection to the wood, boost its lifespan, and enhance its overall look.

With this article, making the right choice won’t be a problem, as I have compiled the best polyurethane finishes you can use on a tabletop.

These polyurethane products reviewed here are super affordable, high-quality, and have a wide coverage, making them the best around for tabletop.

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