You probably use the kitchen table every day, and as such, you need to choose the best finish to enhance its durability and retain its beauty.

Whether you’re restoring an antique kitchen table or renovating a charity shop, finding the right finish will go a long way to restoring your wooden surface.

When finding the best finish for wood kitchen tables, we considered curing duration, ease of application, wood type and durability.

Best Finish for Wood Kitchen Table

The Best Finish for Wood Kitchen Table Reviews (Updated List)

We’ve spent hours researching previous customer reviews, expert advice as well as the finishes themselves. With this information, we bring to you the reviews of the seven best finishes for wood kitchen tables.

1. Best Finish for Wood Kitchen Top —Arm-R-Seal Oil Based Topcoat

General Finishes Arm-R-Seal Oil Based Topcoat, 1 Gallon,...
2,173 Reviews
General Finishes Arm-R-Seal Oil Based Topcoat, 1 Gallon,...
  • Arm-R-Seal topcoats are made with only the highest quality urethane resin
  • These topcoats are extremely durable and long lasting
  • They are formulated to be wiped on with a cloth or applied with a foam brush

Arm-R-Seal Oil Based Topcoat is a durable wood finish that comes in a can with a pry-off lid. It’s available in various sizes, so you can choose whichever size suits the surface of your wooden kitchen table.  

This semi-gloss oil finish is made of urethane resin, and when applied correctly, it can last for years before you repaint. For a wood kitchen table finished, this might come in handy. Once it dries, you can wipe the wood surface down using Clorox wipes to disinfect the wood table. 

You can use a damp cloth or a foam brush to apply Arm-R-Seal. It’s relatively simple to eliminate the drips, but you have to do it instantly to prevent drying. You will also want to work in a well-ventilated space.

Because Arm-R-Seal semi-gloss finish is an oil-based product, it has a few disadvantages. First, it tends to dry in amber color, which can be frustrating if it doesn’t blend with the final coat. 

The semi-gloss finish also takes ages to cure, and the fact that you cannot clean the wood table for 30 days after applying the final coat makes it even worse.  

Generally, this oil-based finish is recommended for more experienced woodworkers. It might take a lot of time to complete the kitchen table project, but the results are worthwhile. 


  • The Arm-R-Seal is a highly durable finish
  • The formula is easy to wipe on application
  • It delivers a natural look


  • The finish starts to yellow over time
  • It takes ages to cure
  • The formula can be harsh to wax coats beneath

2. Best for Clear Finishes—Minwax, Dark Walnut 70012444

1 qt Minwax 70012 Dark Walnut Wood Finish Oil-Based Wood...
8,684 Reviews
1 qt Minwax 70012 Dark Walnut Wood Finish Oil-Based Wood...
  • RICH EVEN COLOR – Minwax Wood Finish is a deep penetrating, oil-based wood stain that provides beautiful color and enhances the natural wood grain in one coat. It’s perfect for interior staining projects such as wood furniture, cabinets, doors and more.
  • QUICK DRYING – Staining interior wood has never been quicker. The special formula allows it to deeply penetrate wood pores within 5 minutes of application, resists lapping, and dries in two hours, making all your wood projects quick, beautiful and easy.
  • EASY TO APPLY – Use a clean cloth or wood stain brush to apply this wood stain in the direction of the grain. Wait 5-15 minutes and wipe away excess stain. The longer you wait, the darker/richer the color. Reapply coats for deeper color.

Minwax is one of the sought-after polyurethane for wooden dining table surfaces and can be used on both unfinished wood and finished wood. This is an ideal choice if you’re skeptical about applying a primer. What’s more, it’s easy to apply with either a bristle brush, foam brush, or a lambswool applicator. 

This clear coat for cabinets dries extremely fast when applied in thin layers. What’s more impressive is that it offers resistance to dust, which means you can safely use Minwax in a dusty environment or outdoors. 

Each coat takes a few hours to dry, after which you can roughen the wood surface by sanding then and applying another layer if necessary.  

Most woodworkers consider Minwax the best poly for kitchen tables because it’s easy to use. However, this finish might discolor the underlying wood despite the clear look.  

This often occurs because of the oil present in the finish. However, it is still the best oil-based polyurethane for wood tabletop if you’re looking to add more warmth to the wood. Others also say that it’s the best finish for walnut table.

That said, there are a few drawbacks to Minwax. The first one is the number of coats needed. To enhance durability, you’ll need to apply at least three layers of this product on standard surfaces and up to five coats on your wood kitchen table. 

Bearing this in mind, it will take quite some time to complete the project because you’ll need to sand between coats of paint and wait for the layers to dry before adding other coats. 


  • This finish is exceptionally durable
  • It offers resistance to stains
  • Variable application options


  • This finish has a yellowing effect when used over paint 
  • Sanding between layers is a must
  • You have to apply multiple layers of this finish for the best results

3. Best Finish for Interior Surfaces – Varathane 284473 Triple

Varathane 284473 Triple Thick Polyurethane, 32 Fl Oz, Satin
312 Reviews
Varathane 284473 Triple Thick Polyurethane, 32 Fl Oz, Satin
  • Ideal for use on all interior wood surfaces including furniture, doors, trim and more
  • One-coat coverage, water-based formula provides excellent scratch and stain resistance
  • Dries to the touch in 2 hours and covers up to 50 sq ft

The Varathene Triple is one of the paint and finishes industry veterans. It’s featured by Rust-oleum and offers 3x thicker coating than the other popular oil finishes. For this reason, Varathane is undeniably the best polyurethane for your wood kitchen or dining table.

This formula incorporates an improved self-leveling procedure that protects your tabletop from damages caused by spills. It also lets you complete the wooden surface finish with a single coating, drying up within two hours. 

The Rust-Oleum 248873 enhances the drying phase even though the coating is 3x stronger. This bossy finish will surely guarantee your wooden structure out-of-sight protection. 

The best part is utilizing this finish for interior use, such as dining room tables. In addition, the water-based formula offers resistance to stains, and the silky texture renders another level of beauty to the wooden structure. 


  • The formula incorporates oil-based polyurethane finishes
  • It’s manufactured by self-leveling technique
  • Durable coverage


  • This finish requires more than four coats

4. Best Finish for Maple Tops—Grizzly Industrial H2372

Wood Welded Emmet's Good Stuff Wood Finish - Quart
283 Reviews
Wood Welded Emmet's Good Stuff Wood Finish - Quart
  • Safe for Food Contact
  • Fast Drying - No Brushing
  • Water and Alcohol Resistant

The Grizzly Industrial H2372 Good Stuff Wood Finish has been ranked as one of the best finishes for kitchen tables, especially maple woods. In addition, its waterproof nature contributes to its durability. As such, it’s highly favored by most woodworkers because it can last for years without showing signs of damage. 

What’s more impressive is that this substance is odor-free, making it an ideal choice for dining tabletops. Grizzly Good Stuff Wood Finish is made of urethane gel that easily glides on unfinished wood surfaces and resists scratches.

Besides, it’s designed to enhance the natural beauty of the wood while offering a protective finish against moisture, stains, and solvents. This makes it a perfect finish for countertops, cabinetry, salad bowls, and wood cooking utensils.   

That said, you can use a cloth to apply this gel-like substance because it’s slightly liquid. Of course, you’ll also want to sacrifice a few bucks for this natural wood finish, but the results are worth every penny spent.  


  • This is a waterproof finish
  • It delivers an aesthetic finish
  • The formula glides effortlessly onto the wooden surface
  • This is a durable finish 
  • Its odorless nature makes it ideal for dining tabletops


  • Relatively expensive when compared to other finishes

5. Best for Highlighting Wood Grain—Rust-Oleum 9141H

Varathane 9141H Oil-Based Ultimate Polyurethane, Quart,...
360 Reviews
Varathane 9141H Oil-Based Ultimate Polyurethane, Quart,...
  • Protects interior wood surfaces such as furniture, cabinets, trim and doors
  • Oil based formula provides maximum durability and allows for a more even finish
  • Dries to the touch in 2 hours with coverage up to 150 sq. ft., recoat in 4 hours

If you’re looking to finish a kitchen or dining table that gets frequent use, Rust-Oleum 9141H might be your cup of tea. It’s explicitly designed for hefty tasks, making it an extra durable finish.  

This finish boasts its ability to highlight the coarse grain woods, and the warm tone shows off the complexity of every piece of wood on your dining table finish.  

Additionally, this wood finish has a powerful smell that’s completely normal to work with. However, it’s best applied in a well-ventilated space. 

And because this Rust-Oleum product dries up quickly, it’s a good idea to wipe up any drips once they occur. While this product is described as clear, it adds a golden glow to the wood and is scratch-resistant.

Even so, it’s still the best finish for finishing a wood table with beautiful wood grain. Meanwhile, you should avoid using Rust-oleum products over oil-based paint as they tend to yellow upon drying. 


  • Capable of applying thin coats of water-based polyurethane
  • Comfortable grip and quality wood body
  • Rust-free ferrule holds the bristles together
  • A quality product that can last for years with proper maintenance


  • It has a yellowing effect when used over paint
  • Requires more than four coats
  • Leaves behind white spots on drying

6. Best for Soft Finish–Waterlox Original Satin Finish

Waterlox TB 6044 Original Satin Finish, Quart, 32 Fluid...
843 Reviews
Waterlox TB 6044 Original Satin Finish, Quart, 32 Fluid...
  • Penetrates and waterproofs when used as a finishing system in conjunction with Waterlox Original Sealer/Finish
  • Forms a protective yet elastic finish against common household spills moisture and foot traffic
  • Formulated as a traditional interior penetrating Tung oil finish

This semi-gloss Waterlox oil-based finish is great if you have any surfaces with finer details and want them to remain intact. The product does a great job at making a finished surface look glossy while offering a soft and smooth finish.

The semi-gloss satin finish is made from tung oil, which is ideal as it can create a kitchen table finish that will not allow water damage.

This is because the oil will penetrate the wood’s surface, preventing spills from ruining the surface. It is great to apply on surfaces kept in areas with a higher risk of water splashes or spills.

Also, if you use it on a wood table, you can rest assured that it will also protect it from oil or food particles.

This satin finish is an eco-friendly solution because it contains tung oil from renewable natural resources.

Despite having a glossy finish, no annoying fingerprints will be visible on the surface. Instead, the semi-gloss satin finish will enhance the beauty of the piece.

Last, but not least, it is very easy to use, and it will last for a very long time.


  • It is very easy to use
  • It will not lose its shine very soon as it’s durable
  • The tung oil gives the natural touch
  • It protects the surface against spills, food particles, or oil
  • It offers the surface a smooth, semi-gloss finish look while allowing details to be visible


  • It does not have a pleasant smell

7. Fast-Drying Finish for Wood Kitchen table–Minwax 63010444

Minwax Fast Drying Polyurethane Protective Wood Finish, Warm...
2,087 Reviews
Minwax Fast Drying Polyurethane Protective Wood Finish, Warm...
  • PROTECT WOOD SURFACES – Minwax Polyurethane Wood Finish protects interior projects like woodwork, furniture, floors and cabinets. The oil-based, clear top coat is one of the most durable coatings for wood protection against scratches, spills and more.
  • OIL-BASED DURABLE FINISH – Clear finish provides long-lasting protection and warm beauty to both finished and unfinished wood projects. Protective coating is ideal for woodwork, furniture, doors, cabinets & floors, and is available in a variety of sheens.
  • SATIN SHEEN – Give your wood projects a sleek finish with this satin clear varnish. It not only protects the natural beauty of the wood, but offers a soft, unique sheen for a modern, cozy and on-trend look.

Are you tired of waiting for ages for the finish to dry? Well, you won’t have to wait that long anymore after using the Minwax fast-drying finish. The formula dries very fast, so your wood project will be done sooner, and it will not be at risk of getting messed up.

Like the previous product, the finish can offer a wonderful coating, which makes any furniture or wood stand out. In addition, it is easy to apply – all you need is a soft foam brush, bristle brush, or lambswool applicator, and the finish is best for farmhouse tables, wood furniture, cabinets, doors, woodworking, kitchen table and floors.

It is important to mention that the color may change a bit, all due to the oil in the formula. Still, you will be able to choose from several shades, depending on what suits your woodwork best.

You may need to apply several coats to ensure it is durable, but once you are done applying them, you will enjoy long-lasting results. Since the formula dries fast anyways, no dust, dirt, or debris will be trapped in it. So, after you are done, you can sand it.


  • It dries very fast, saving you time
  • Very durable
  • It can prevent food stains
  • It has flexible application
  • Usable on finished and unfinished wood
  • You can choose between different shades and sizes


  • It requires multiple coats· 
  • The color of the surface might slightly change

Best Finish for Wood Kitchen Table Comparison

Buying Guide

Now that you have your list of the best wood finishes, it’s essential you know the factors to consider when buying these coats for your wooden interiors. 

With that in mind, you will save on cost, reduce waste, enhance the durability of your furniture surface, and, more importantly, protect the environment from harmful chemicals.  

Factors to Consider Before Purchasing Wood Kitchen Table Finishes

1. Durability

Let’s face it—we all want a product that will sustain our wooden structures for an extended period. But, if the product in the picture doesn’t resist common frictions and firm sanding, it isn’t your ideal choice. 

Always double-check the sturdiness of your desired finish before purchasing it. Most of the veterans in the industry come with a very short tolerance that makes your work even more difficult. 

If you opt for the below-average alternatives, you will have to refinish your wooden structure every year. That’s why durability is a must-check in any product; otherwise, you might end up wasting time and resources. 

Recommended Reading: Nuvo Cabinet Paint Reviews

2. Curing Duration

Another critical factor to consider is the curing duration. If your interior finish takes ages to dry, then you’re in a severe problem. Your little ones or pets might end up messing the coat of your kitchen table upon touching it. 

There are a variety of multiple coats that dry faster than ever. Such will ensure that you achieve that shiny finish on your kitchen table within a short period. Therefore, when deciding on a wood finish, make sure you’re buying a product with the shortest curing duration. 

3. Ease of Application

If you’re new in the paint and finish industry, you may want to consider its application factors. For example, choose a finish that glides smoothly onto the wood and one that wipes on quickly so that you don’t get worried about your minor mistakes. 

However, if you’re an experienced woodworker who has been doing finish jobs for a while, you can opt for brush-on finishes or spray-on finishes for your kitchen table. 

But before then, ensure that your wood type is appropriate for the spray method, such as spray polyurethane. You will also want to read the instructions on the label before starting the work. 

4. Wood Type

When hunting for the best finish for your wooden table, you can consider many types of finishes. Such include:

Top Water-Based Finishes

Water-based finishes are considered the best polyurethane finish for table tops because they are relatively thin and dry to the touch. It’s a time-efficient alternative, especially for newbies who might lose their patience waiting for the finish to dry.

Water-based polyurethane comes in handy to ensure the slightest odor from the finish you’re applying. That’s because water-based products produce a slight smell during the application process, which dissipates on drying.

So, if you’re looking for a time-saving option, you can go for this water-based polyurethane because of the thinner coatings that offer a quick-drying solution. In a nutshell, you will be doing yourself a big favor by purchasing this finish.

Top Oil-Based Finishes

If you’re looking to add more warmth to your kitchen table, then oil-based products might be a perfect fit for you. These wood finishes perform exceptionally well in terms of quality and therefore can be used as kitchen table finish.

The oil-based products offer protective coating, making them ideal for kitchen use. In fact, it’s one of the best finishes for kitchen tables and is highly recommended by expert woodworkers.

  • The Varnish Option—Varnishes are an integration of oil, resin, and other substances. They are best used on outdoor surfaces due to their long-lasting nature. Varnish oil protect the wood against UV rays and extreme weather conditions. However, varnished wood takes time to dry completely. So before settling for varnish oil, make sure you take note of this feature. 
  • The Shellac Option—It is worth noting that shellac is quite easy to apply but it is not ideal for tabletops because it does not last long on wood surfaces. Even so, shellac is presumed to be one of the best formulas for tabletops because it incorporates wax and other products. And because there’s no information that proves this to be true, it’s recommended to keep shellac away from wooden table tops. 

5. Location of the Finishing Area

Many wood finishes are manufactured with strong chemicals. As such, they have intense odors. So, if you’re working in a space with minimal ventilation or if the weather doesn’t permit you to open the doors and windows, the chances are that your finish will be affected.  

For this reason, you will want to settle for a water-based finish because it’s less potent in areas with limited air circulation. That said, ventilation is necessary when using a spray-on finish or brush-on finish on your woodwork. 

Tips on How to Sand

  • It’s better to do it by hand when finally doing the final sand. When it’s the regular sanding, the standard orbital sander will be an excellent option. Sanding by hand for some minutes on your final coat will help do away with any marks left by the electric sander. 
  • Additionally, ensure that you evenly sand because changing anything at this stage could affect the final finish. For example, if you’re halfway finishing and using an 80-grit paper, it would be a bad idea to use a 100-grit paper. 

Kitchen Table Top Finishing Tips 

You will need to speed up when applying your finish because oil-based finishes can get sticky within just a few minutes. 

Likewise, water-based finishes dry fast, so you need to get your tools ready before you get to work. Finally, you’ll need to keep working until the process is complete—not abandoning the project midway. 

Using a roll-on brush is a better idea when applying oil-based finish—especially on larger wood surfaces. Sure, the finish won’t please you at first, but rest assured that the bubbles will quickly disappear after a few moments. 

You will achieve a much smoother table surface better than if you used a regular brush. Point to note—please use lighter coats when you have decided to use a roller brush to avoid hassles when rolling back and forth. 

When applying a finish on a wooden table, add some coat underneath. 

This is because wood is so delicate and stands at a higher risk of absorbing moisture, swelling, and shrinking. In a nutshell, ignoring to coat the upside and underneath of your wood will make it warp over time and ruin your kitchen table in the long run. 

If you want to avoid any damage to the wood, it would be best to apply three layers. Doing this will also make the kitchen table durable, and it will be easy to revive the finish when you need to. However, you should note that some finishes may need more layers. 

Because the end grain will soak up more finish, you need to seal it to avoid a darker appearance than the face grain. Additionally, you can get some finish before you get on the end grain. This helps limit the amount absorbed when applying your main coat. 

Finally, you need to clean the white residue once sanded. This prevents any residue from getting caught up when applying the second coat and may remain for quite a long time. 

See Also:

Best Finish for Cornhole Boards

When Painting Kitchen Cabinets Do You Paint The Inside?


What Should I Seal My Kitchen Table With?

You can use polyurethane to seal your wooden kitchen table because they have been known as suitable sealers for quite a long time. Besides, polyurethane prevents spilled milk, water, alcoholic beverages, and greasy food substances from getting into the wood. Poly is also strong enough to prevent heat marks on wood tables.

What Is the Most Durable Table Top?

Kitchen tables made from hardwood, such as teak, walnut, mahogany, oak, and maple, are very durable finish and can last years without wearing and tearing. On the other hand, kitchen tables made from composite are also strong but will not last longer than kitchen tables made from hardwood. 

How Do You Waterproof a Wooden Table Top?

There are ways many ways to waterproof your wooden table for a couple of years, but below are our favorite ones:

  • You can use tung oil finish or even linseed oil to form a hand-rubbed finish
  • Use polyurethane to coat your wood, lacquer, or varnish
  • Use a stain-sealant combo to finish and waterproof your wood

Satin or Semi Gloss Polyurethane for Kitchen Table?

Satin or semi-gloss polyurethane? Polyurethane finishes have the same formula, semi-gloss finish and satin finish have the same durability. But, the more sheen level a finish has, the more it will reveal damage with time. Satin does a better job of hiding imperfections and kitchen dirt than a semi-gloss finish which will show imperfections on the kitchen table.

What is the Best Finish for Wood Kitchen Table? 

The best finish for wood kitchen tables is the Arm-R-Seal Oil Based Topcoat, which’s highly durable and easily wipeable. 

The other six finishes for the wood kitchen table are also excellent alternatives. Just make sure that you have carefully checked the buying guide before purchasing any finish. 

4 thoughts on “7 Best Finish for Wood Kitchen Table(Guide for Tabletop Finishes)”

  1. I stripped the painted finish from a farmhouse type oak dining table top. Sanded and cleaned off, etc. Want to keep the look of the wood as it is, it has distress marks, etc. I do not want yellowing as that is why I stripped this tabletop. So, plan on just using a sealer. No stain. I am thinking on using Minwax water based polycrylic protective finish in ultra flat. T recommends 3 coats. Should I do more? Also, what is your opinion of protection and durability from this product. Thanks so much for your help. I am a newbie at this.

  2. Can I use varathane ultimate polyurethane satin over Dixie belle paint? It’s a silk mineral paint .
    Thanks for all the info
    Thank you for responding


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