Polyurethane for Table Tops: How to Choose the Right One

Finding the perfect polyurethane for your tabletops is not as simple as walking into a store and picking one. From determining the look and feel of your table to its overall durability, there is a lot to consider when selecting the best option for you. That’s why we are here to help. We will walk you through all of the different types of polyurethane available, ensuring that you have all of the information necessary to make an informed decision on the best polyurethane for table tops for your needs.

Polyurethane is a type of plastic used to protect wood surfaces from water damage and wear and tear, making it a good product for tabletops. Polyurethane comes in different finishes, from high-gloss to matte. You can choose the sheen that you like the best.

Types of Polyurethane for Table Tops

When it comes to polyurethanes, there are two distinct types: oil-based and water-based.

Oil-based polyurethane is proven to be more resilient from scratches and stains than its counterpart; however, the application process requires a bit more effort and extended drying time.

On the other hand, water-based polyurethane delivers a more straightforward approach for implementation with significantly reduced wait times for drying — yet not at the expense of durability that can only come from oil-based products.

Best Polyurethane Finishes on Amazon 

Rust-Oleum 284470 Varathane Triple Thick Polyurethane, Gloss,Quart
Minwax 409170000 Wipe-On Poly, Pint, Satin (Water Based), 16 Fl Oz
Minwax 356100000 One Coat Polyurethane, Quart, Gloss
Varathane 200261H Water-Based Ultimate Polyurethane, Half Pint, Satin Finish
Rust-Oleum Varathane 9061H Oil-Based Ultimate Polyurethane, Half Pint, Gloss Finish
Minwax Water Based Oil-Modified Polyurethane, Warm Gloss, Clear, 1 Quart
Rust-Oleum 284470 Varathane Triple Thick Polyurethane, Gloss,Quart
Minwax 409170000 Wipe-On Poly, Pint, Satin (Water Based), 16 Fl Oz
Minwax 356100000 One Coat Polyurethane, Quart, Gloss
Varathane 200261H Water-Based Ultimate Polyurethane, Half Pint, Satin Finish
Rust-Oleum Varathane 9061H Oil-Based Ultimate Polyurethane, Half Pint, Gloss Finish
Minwax Water Based Oil-Modified Polyurethane, Warm Gloss, Clear, 1 Quart
$21.99
$29.27
$24.97
$17.35
$9.98
$36.38
Rust-Oleum 284470 Varathane Triple Thick Polyurethane, Gloss,Quart
Rust-Oleum 284470 Varathane Triple Thick Polyurethane, Gloss,Quart
$21.99
Minwax 409170000 Wipe-On Poly, Pint, Satin (Water Based), 16 Fl Oz
Minwax 409170000 Wipe-On Poly, Pint, Satin (Water Based), 16 Fl Oz
$29.27
Minwax 356100000 One Coat Polyurethane, Quart, Gloss
Minwax 356100000 One Coat Polyurethane, Quart, Gloss
$24.97
Varathane 200261H Water-Based Ultimate Polyurethane, Half Pint, Satin Finish
Varathane 200261H Water-Based Ultimate Polyurethane, Half Pint, Satin Finish
$17.35
Rust-Oleum Varathane 9061H Oil-Based Ultimate Polyurethane, Half Pint, Gloss Finish
Rust-Oleum Varathane 9061H Oil-Based Ultimate Polyurethane, Half Pint, Gloss Finish
$9.98
Minwax Water Based Oil-Modified Polyurethane, Warm Gloss, Clear, 1 Quart
Minwax Water Based Oil-Modified Polyurethane, Warm Gloss, Clear, 1 Quart
$36.38

When selecting a finish for your tabletop, you can choose between high-gloss and matte Polyurethane. The finishing you pick will influence not only the overall style of your furniture but also its ability to remain easily clean.

High-gloss polyurethane supplies you with a smooth, reflective surface that’s easy to clean, but it is more prone to scratches and fingerprints than other materials. The matte polyurethane finish delivers an unobtrusive look that conceals flaws; however, the cleaning process may be slightly longer.

Polyurethane Application

Polyurethane can be applied with a brush, roller, or sprayer.

  • Brushing is the most common method of applying polyurethane. It is relatively easy to do and gives you more control over the amount of polyurethane you apply.
  • Rolling is faster than brushing and can help you avoid brush strokes. However, it can be more difficult to control the amount of polyurethane you apply.
  • Spraying is the fastest method of applying polyurethane, but it can be more difficult to control the amount of polyurethane you apply.

Also Read: How To Apply Polyurethane With Foam Brush; Step by Step Guide

Polyurethane Drying Time

  • For a lasting finish, oil-based polyurethane is the best option. Though it requires more time to dry than water-based polyurethane, it’s worth the wait since its duration and durability are superior. Depending on air temperature and humidity in your work environment, expect an estimated drying time of 8 – 24 hours for optimal results.
  • Water-based polyurethane dries more quickly in about two to four hours. However, it is essential to note that water-based polyurethane can remain tacky for several days after application.

Many variables must be considered when deciding on the ideal polyurethane for your tabletop, including its type, finish, and application process. Also, take some time to evaluate how quickly it dries and cures so you can use it immediately.

Advantages of Polyurethane

  1. Polyurethane is a clear, synthetic resin applied to wood to protect it from water damage and wear and tear.
  2. It is available in different finishes, from high-gloss to matte, so you can choose the sheen that best suits your needs.
  3. It is durable and can last for years with proper care.

Disadvantages of Polyurethane

  1. Polyurethane can be difficult to apply and take longer to dry than other finishes.
  2. It is also more susceptible to scratches and fingerprints than other finishes.
  3. Polyurethane is a synthetic resin, so it is not as environmentally friendly as other options.

Factors To Consider When Choosing Polyurethane for Your Tabletops

There are a few things to consider when deciding if polyurethane is the right material for your tabletop application.

1. The Intended Use of The Table

If the table is used for general-purpose applications, then polyurethane may be suitable. However, if the table will be used for more specific purposes, such as outdoor use or in a high-traffic area, you may want to consider other materials.

2. Durability Of the Material

Polyurethane is a very durable material, but it is not indestructible. If the table is subject to heavy use or abuse, you may consider using another material.

3. The Appearance of The Table

Polyurethane can be finished to resemble a variety of different woods, but it does not have the same natural beauty as real wood. If appearance is important, you may consider using another material.

4. The Cost of The Material

Polyurethane is generally more expensive than other tabletop materials but is also more durable. If cost is a significant consideration, you may consider using another material.

5. The Environmental Impact of The Material

Polyurethane is a synthetic resin, so it is not as environmentally friendly as other options. If you are concerned about the environmental impact of your tabletop, then you may want to consider using another material.

Type Of Polyurethane to Use on Your Dining Table

There are many types of polyurethane on the market, so how do you know which one to choose for your dining table? Here are a few things to consider:

1. The type of wood

Some woods, like oak, are more porous and require a more robust sealer. Other woods, like maple, are less porous and can be sealed with a lighter sealer.

2. The type of finish

Some finishes, like lacquer, are more durable than others and will require a stronger sealer. Other finishes, like varnish, are less durable and can be sealed with a lighter sealer.

3. The level of wear and tear

In case your table is going to see a lot of use, you’ll need a stronger sealer. If it’s just for occasional use, a lighter sealer will suffice.

Once you’ve considered all of these factors, you should be able to choose the right polyurethane for your dining table.

The Best Type of Polyurethane for Table Tops

There are countless types of polyurethane available, but which one is best for your table? The answer depends on the purpose of the table and – more importantly – how much you’re willing to spend.

To determine which type of polyurethane is most suitable for your tabletop, it’s essential to consider its primary use. Oil-based polyurethane should be employed if the table is exposed to heavy foot traffic. On the other hand, if you’re expecting minimal contact with people and objects in general, water-based may be more appropriate.

It is important to think about how you want the tabletop to look. If you want it to be shiny, use oil-based polyurethane. Use water-based polyurethane if you want it to be less shiny or matte.

When refinishing a tabletop with polyurethane, it is essential to adhere closely to the manufacturer’s suggestions. This product should be applied in thin layers and thoroughly dried before applying an additional layer. Doing so will ensure that your project looks great for years to come.

Whenever you are applying oil-based polyurethane, take special care to avoid creating bubbles in the finish.

Related Post: The Best polyurethane for countertops [Reviews/Buy Guide]

Types of Brush for Applying Polyurethane on Table Tops

Selecting the proper brush when applying polyurethane is absolutely vital. You have two options: natural bristle brushes, crafted from animal hair, and synthetic brushes made of nylon or polyester fibers. Both varieties offer satisfactory results; take your pick to bring out the most spectacular finish.

  • Natural bristle brushes are the superior option for coating surfaces with oil-based polyurethane. These bristles can hold substantial amounts of finish, allowing you to work more efficiently, as reloading is not required often. Natural bristle brushes offer a smooth and even application compared to other alternatives. Unfortunately, these premium tools can be pricey and challenging to locate in some areas.
  • Synthetic brushes are ideal for those who want to save money and time. Not only are they more affordable compared to natural bristles, but they can easily be found at most hardware stores. Additionally, synthetic brushes work well with various finishes – oil-based polyurethane, water-based polyurethane, lacquer, and varnish – making them the perfect all-in-one tool for any project.

Ideal Number of Coats of Polyurethane for Table Tops

For optimal protection of your table tops, three – or more – coats of polyurethane is the best way to go. Give each coat at least 24 hours for full drying before moving on to the next one.

Applying four coats of polyurethane ensures a hard-wearing finish that can resist the test of time and regular cleanings. Allow each coat to dry completely before you progress on to subsequent applications, allowing you to achieve maximum resilience.

Also Read: Best Oil-Based Polyurethane for Hardwood Floors

FAQs

Is Spray Polyurethane A Better Alternative to Brushing Polyurethane for Table Tops?

If you need a quick and mess-free way to apply polyurethane, spraying is ideal. But brushing can be your best bet if you require more control over the application process. Regardless of your chosen technique, always carefully read through the manufacturer’s instructions for optimal results.

What Is the Best Way to Apply Polyurethane to A Wood Tabletop?

When selecting your polyurethane, you must first determine if you want water-based or oil-based. Water-based is simpler to apply and easier to clean up, though it can make the wood grain look raised. Since oil-based takes longer for drying time but prevents this from happening, many opt for it as their choice of finish.

To ensure the most resilient finish, it is highly recommended that you apply a minimum of three coats of polyurethane. For an even glossier end product, feel free to add additional layers.

Also, when selecting your brush for this job, make sure its bristles match the type of polyurethane being applied – natural bristle brushes are ideal with oil-based, and synthetic brushes work best with water-based formulas.

How Do You Protect a Wood Tabletop?

Apply a clear polyurethane topcoat for optimal shielding against scratches, stains, and water damage. Not only does this provide additional protection from any external elements, but it will also amplify the natural woodgrain by imparting an exquisite sheen to your surface.

How Do You Finish a Table Top?

There are many ways to finish a tabletop, but the most common and durable method is to polyurethane it. Polyurethane comes in different finishes, from high-gloss to matte, so you can choose the sheen that best suits your needs. It’s important to apply at least two coats of polyurethane to protect the surface of your tabletop from scratches, stains, and water damage.

What is The Best Way to Get a Smooth Finish with Polyurethane?

Polyurethane can be applied to your tabletop in several ways for a beautiful and consistent finish. To achieve an optimal outcome, consider using a foam brush or lint-free cloth to coat the surface through long strokes evenly. You’ll get stunning results without any fuss with either of these methods.

How Often Should I Apply Polyurethane on Table Tops

We recommend applying a new polyurethane coat to your tabletop every six months to one year. This will ensure that the surface is protected from scratches, stains, and water damage.

Conclusion

Polyurethane is a type of plastic that is frequently used to coat wood surfaces to protect them from water damage and wear and tear. This makes it an ideal material for tabletops. Polyurethane comes in different finishes, from high-gloss to matte, so you can choose the sheen that best suits your needs.

Also Read: The Best Brush For Applying Polyurethane [Reviews/Buy Guide]