The Best Finish For Coffee Table: What To Know Before Buying

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If you own a durable dining room table, redwood coffee table, maple coffee table, or the beautiful oak coffee table, you need the best finish for them too. Either Lacquer or polyurethane? Let’s have a look!

Our Best selection of Finish for You…

Buying Guide

  • Polyurethane: The Best Finish For Coffee Table

For your DIY coffee table, walnut coffee table, pine coffee table, or others, close your eyes and go for a polyurethane finish because it provides the best topcoat for a coffee table. This is comfortable to apply and gives a stunning look to your table. It is superb and also great heat resistant. 

In the presence of many finishes for various projects that add a glossy look to wood tables, why is polyurethane considered the best finish for coffee table slabs?

This is a general question, and the answer is simple. Polyurethane is a polymeric sealant that binds with the strong wood for creating a protective coating to save different tables and other furniture surfaces. 

A carefully applied polyurethane protects wood from damage such as cracking, chipping, drying out, or becoming dull because of the mixture.

When wood absorbs moisture, it may bend and damage the shape of your coffee table. The commonly used wood sealers are made from either polycrylic or polyurethanes.

Polyacrylics are often a viable option but go for polyurethane if the table is used daily and exposed to moisture or high temperatures. 

Kinds of Polyurethane Finish

There are two types of polyurethane finishes, water-based and oil finish. Both are suitable for various purposes.

Finish for Coffee Table

The polymer is mixed with the oil-based or water-based medium in both solutions. When you apply this medium to wood and polymer sets, the solution’s residual parts will evaporate in the air and wipe out completely.

In the polyurethane family, perks and pitfalls exist. Both oil-based and water-based are useful in their way.

Both are good and best choices, but mostly oil-based polys give wood a slight amber tone. Patience is required because; it takes time to dry. But after hours, the result will please you. Let’s discuss them in detail! 

  • Water-Based Poly

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Water-based Poly cures clearly and sometimes dries out in a couple of hours. This polyurethane has a mild smell, soy-like or faintly ammonia, different from oil-based poly.

Oil-based has a strong smell. Water-based products cost you more, and they are also not concentrated as oil, which means you have to apply additional coats for getting the best possible result.

Moreover, the sealant may chip or weaken out quickly, mainly within two years. It clearly states that you have to reapply the sealant frequently.

Still, a water-based finish gives a clear and clean finish to your coffee table and also the odour is bearable. They have a thin consistency, which helps them to dry out comfortably.

Many people also love water-based poly as it provides a natural appearance to your coffee table and the wooden surfaces. The flexibility of a water-based finish allows you to apply it to any surface with ease and in no time. 

  • Oil-Based Poly

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Oil-based is often known as the best polyurethane for coffee tables and other tabletops. Its ability to carry the polymer means the coating applied on the surface of wood stays longer, and it gives better protection against scratches and moisture.

Oil-based also has a high concentration of polyurethane which means you have to apply a few coats to protect the surface completely of a table used most of the time in a day. 

They last longer than water-based polyurethane finish. It also imparts a warm tint to the wood, which is known as a suitable outcome.

With time, oil-based finishes acquire an amber or golden tint. If you want to retain the appearance of your coffee table, go for water-based as the oil-based also contains chemicals and needs proper ventilation. 

  • Are Lacquers Good or Not? 

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Some people like to apply Lacquers on their coffee table as it is a thin solvent-based finish that is different from other finishes.

It is usually applied using the spray. It evaporates the solvent, so it dries out quickly. It goes deeper into the wood and nourishes the grains, hence bringing out natural beauty.

cofee table

Lacquers will give a glossy look to your coffee table. To get the best glossy look, use lacquer, lacquer-based paint, clear finish, etc. Refinishers and designers always go for lacquer as it is durable, beautiful and results in a crystal-clear finish. 

The biggest benefit of lacquer is that it dries out in no time. It needs a lot of coats and is also considered as toxic, volatile and flammable.

Although it is comfortable to spray, it is not always recommended for all people. It is better to leave it on professionals who work in well-ventilated areas.


How Do You Seal a Wooden Coffee Table?

After getting the best wood finish for the coffee table and applying it, you must seal the stains to prevent bleeding. Apply a sanding sealer, sealer coat of thinned shellac, or any other suitable sealer. Remember, don’t try to use Shellac with water-based stains. If you just prepared a polyurethane coffee table, apply the compatible sealer.

Should I Use Lacquer or Polyurethane?

If you own a durable coffee table question comes to mind about the best protective finish for a coffee table. Either Lacquer or polyurethane is the toughest finish on all these tables. Polyurethane lasts for years, and this is highly recommended. Lacquer dries within 15 minutes, so you have to apply many coats daily. Experts recommend Polyurethane as it is also the best finish for stained coffee tables.

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