Constant hard blows can take a toll on a Workbench top. These heavy blows leave dents, scratches, and blemishes on the benchtop, reducing its lifespan.

The best finish for the workbench should resist spills and protect the surface from marks and abrasions. It should also protect the surface from becoming slippery.

Different types of wood finishes such as oil, polyurethane, or film finish can be an excellent workbench finish. Depending on what you use the bench for, they give it much protection.

We are expert woodworkers and have used different finishes in our work. We created a detailed list of the best finish for workbench top.

Our Top Picks

Best Finish for Workbench

  1. Watco Rust-Oleum A65741 Danish Oil FinishBest Beginner Friendly Finish
  2. Furniture Clinic Boiled Linseed Oil for FurnitureBest for Kitchen Workbench
  3. CARGEN 3 PCS Wood Seasoning BeewaxBest Traditional Workbench Finish
  4. TotalBoat Gleam Marine Spar VarnishBest Marine Grade Benchtop Finish
  5. Minwax Fast-Drying PolyurethaneMost Durable Finish for Workbench Top
  6. Rust-Oleum 250241 Diamond UrethaneBest Non-Yellowing Exterior Varnish

Best Workbench Finish Options

1. Best Beginner Friendly Finish – Watco Rust-Oleum A65741 Danish Oil Wood Finish

Watco A65741 Danish Oil Wood Finish, Quart, Natural
  • Ideal for use on a variety of indoor wood surfaces including bare, stripped or sanded; not recommended for floors
  • Oil-based formula of blended oil & varnish penetrates deeply into wood pores for ultimate protection
  • Dries to the touch in as little as 6 hours and covers up to 170 sq ft

Watco Rust-Olem Danish Oil Wood Finish is an oil-based finish that stains and seals furniture, including a bench top. It helps protect your workbench top in a single step, resulting in a pleasant, natural hand-rubbed look.

You will only need to brush or wipe on and allow the penetrating oil to infiltrate your wood surface and preserve it. It works best on close-grained woods. This product is easy to work with and dries reasonably fast.

Applying two or three coats leaves your bench top looking new and protected. It is more suitable for indoor furniture and. The finish is easy to use and cleans effortlessly with soap and water. 

You can use it in the kitchen workbench as the finish is pet and food-safe when dry. Work in a well-ventilated space as it produces strong fumes when used. This finish keeps your wood from drying out.

For a beautiful finish, wipe the excess off after fifteen. The product creates a warm, rich glow to enhance the quality and appearance of the wood.

What We Liked Most

  • It is easy to use 
  • It cleans easily with soap and water
  • It protects and preserves your wooden surfaces
  • It is durable
  • It gives new life to your old wooden furniture

What Could Be Improved

  • It produces a strong odor

2. Best for Kitchen Workbench – Furniture Clinic Boiled Linseed Oil for Wood Furniture

Furniture Clinic Boiled Linseed Oil for Wood Furniture &...
  • SUPERIOR QUALITY WOOD TREATMENT: Similar to linseed oil, our Boiled Linseed Oil is a superior quality oil that has been treated with hot air so it dries quicker forming a tough, hard wearing & slightly glossy finish.
  • GOOD HOUSEKEEPING SEAL: This product was evaluated by the Good Housekeeping institute and after rigorous testing by their expert scientists and engineers, has been granted the prestigious Good Housekeeping seal. Evaluation of the product includes reviewing product effectiveness, as well as packaging and marketing claims.
  • USE ON ALL TYPES OF WOOD: Suitable for use on almost all wooden surfaces, terracotta tiles and all porous stone, the oil penetrates and seals the surface providing protection for interior and exterior surfaces, except exterior oak wood.

Furniture Clinic Boiled Linseed Oil is a high-quality finish. It is treated with hot air to make it dry faster, forming a tough, slightly glossy finish that does not wear out quickly.

Using linseed oil on wood is an excellent way to transform dry old wood. It also seals the bench to prevent cracking. This product works perfectly on all types of wood.

So you can use it on MDF and Plywood and get great results. This product soaks in well. Applying several coats results in a beautiful glossy finish. It produces a mild odor that will go away after a short while.

The finish gives you value for money because a little goes a long way. You can use it on food preparation surfaces as it is harmless when fully cured.

It does not bubble and is waterproof, therefore ideal for outdoor use. This product does not leave any oily residue. For better results, lightly sand your wooden surface before you apply. 

What We Liked Most

  • It is easy to use
  • It hardens your wooden surfaces
  • It is waterproof
  • It leaves a glossy finish
  • It does not bubble

What Could Be Improved

  • It is highly flammable

3. Best Traditional Workbench Finish – CARGEN 3 PCS Wood Seasoning Beewax Natural Beewax

CARGEN 3 PCS Wood Seasoning Beewax Natural Beewax...
  • 【FURNITURE CARE】 ---- Use beeswax furniture polish to rejuvenate dim furniture. Remove years of wax and dirt accumulation, restore the appearance of old furniture, improve the natural beauty and texture depth of finished and unprocessed wood. This wood polish can form a protective seal to protect any odors, stains, moisture, and that can not damage the furniture. Keep the furniture wood permanently as new and naturally.
  • 【ALL NATURAL INGREDIENTS】 ---- Our wood seasoning beeswax for furniture are made from a blend of natural beeswax and mineral oil through traditional techniques. No GMO, paraffin free, non-toxic, safe and healthy. Beeswax gives off a light natural honey smell that is enjoyable to the senses.
  • 【GET REBORN】 ---- The function of bees waxing furniture polish is to remove grease, dirt, and dust on the surface of the paint. It can be safely used for beeswax furniture and treated wood. It also cleans and polishes wooden floors! Just aim, apply, and wipe the wood seasoning beeswax, the dirt accumulated over the years will disappear in front of your eyes, giving the furniture a new look.

Old is gold. If you are looking for an oldie finish that can keep the bench top modern and durable, your search ends with this product. Wax Seasoning is made using traditional techniques from a mixture of organic beeswax and mineral oil.

It is GMO-free, non-toxic, secure, and healthy. It also has a light natural honey scent that is pleasing to the senses. This product comes in a pack of three.

This product is fast drying as it only takes twenty minutes to one hour. Touch the surface with your fingertip to confirm whether the finish is dry. If it is dry, it won’t feel sticky.

Ensure to wear gloves when applying as the wax stays on your hands even after washing. If you are using this product on your wooden floor, do it in parts as it takes longer to be absorbed, leaving prints when you walk on it.

This product restores your old wooden furniture and workbench top giving it a new shiny look, even if you’ve used it for decades. The finish is completely waterproof, making it suitable for exterior applications.

If your tables have wine or coffee stains, you don’t have to use bleach because this product effortlessly removes them. This product removes years of dirt and wax accumulation, letting you start on a clean slate.

What We Liked Most

  • It removes stubborn stains on your wooden furniture
  • It does not have a foul odor
  • It is friendly to the environment
  • It is waterproof
  • It is easy to use

What Could Be Improved

  • It takes longer to be absorbed into the wood

4. Best Marine Grade Benchtop Finish – TotalBoat Gleam Marine Spar Varnish

TotalBoat Gleam Marine Spar Varnish, Gloss and Satin...
  • CLASSIC MARINE VARNISH contains premium tung oil, phenolic resins and UV blockers for a beautiful transparent amber finish on all types of interior and exterior wood on boats, strip canoes, kayaks, outdoor wooden bar tops, garage doors, furniture and more
  • DURABLE URETHANE SPAR VARNISH with maximum UV resistance; it remains flexible after curing, and won't peel or crack when the wood expands and contracts with seasonal humidity and temperature changes
  • EASY TO APPLY BY BRUSHING, ROLLING OR SPRAYING: For a high gloss finish, apply 4-6 coats of Gleam Gloss; for a sleek satin finish, build with coats of Gleam Gloss varnish and use Gleam Satin for the final coats; Application Temp: 45-105F, 0-85% RH

TotalBoat Gleam Marine Spar Varnish is an excellent outdoor wood sealer. It is a waterproof finish for paintwork on boats, kayaks, strip canoes, furniture, outdoor wooden bar tops, garage doors, and other wooden items.

This product is ideal for verticle surfaces because it does not run or sag. It is not dense and therefore needs no thinning.

This product is fast drying, especially where there is low humidity. This product is ideal for use on furniture frequently because of its durability. It is easy to use and levels up well.

It is resistant to harsh weather, making it perfect for outdoor use because this product has a thin consistency; simply apply four to six coats for best results.

This product dries up fast, so be quick when applying to avoid ugly brush strokes. Use a natural bristle finish brush or a spray gun to apply this finish.

Gleam may be the most fantastic varnish you’ll ever use. It is in the right consistency right out of the can, allowing it to glide on so smoothly that you’ll doubt it is a varnish. It won’t sag even on vertical surfaces.

What We Liked Most

  • Resistant to harsh weather
  • Easy to apply
  • It has a thin consistency
  • Fast drying

What Could Be Improved

  • It is pricey but worth every penny

5. Most Durable Finish for Workbench Top – Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane Protective Wood Finish

Minwax Fast Drying Polyurethane Protective Wood Finish,...
  • 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.
  • SEMI-GLOSS SHEEN – Give your wood projects a sleek finish with this semi-gloss clear varnish. It not only protects the natural beauty of the wood, but offers a long-lasting, semi-shiny, sleek sheen for a modern look.

Give your workbench top a glossy finish with this semi-gloss clear varnish. It preserves the natural beauty of your wood and provides a durable semi-shiny, elegant sheen for a modern look.

The finish dries clear, enabling you to recoat in four to six hours. So, you finish the projects faster than expected. For best results, apply with a top-quality foam and natural brush.

It is the best finish for workbench because it is durable and easy to maintain if it gets damaged. It gives the surfaces superior protection from abrasions, spills, and other damage. Use it on bare wood, cabinets, floors, and furniture. 

Avoid shaking this product. Thoroughly stir it before and during use to stop the product from settling on the bottom of the can. Apply two to three coats.

Sand the surface lightly with fine-grit sandpaper recommended for sanding between coats before applying the third coat. 

It is a high-quality finish with a rotating spray fan, making it easy to use on vertical and horizontal applications. You won’t struggle with sags and drips, and no need to clean up. Just toss the can once you’re finished.

What We Liked Most

  • Ease of use
  • No cleanup
  • Availability in different sheens
  • Waterproof

What Could Be Improved

  • Unsuitable for high traffic areas

6. Best Non-Yellowing Exterior Varnish – Rust-Oleum 250241 Diamond Spar Urethane Satin

Rust-Oleum 250241H Ultimate Spar Urethane Water Based,...
  • Durable, poly for outdoor wood surfaces such as furniture, doors, windows, fences, trim and more
  • water based formula is easy to apply and cleans up with soap and water
  • Dries to the touch in 30 minutes and covers up to 87 sq. ft. per quart, recoat after 2 hours

If you need a poly for exterior wood, this is it. It is a non-yellowing formula that keeps the wood looking elegant for years. Use it on exterior outdoor wood surfaces, and you may love the results.

It dries in thirty minutes and covers up to eighty-seven square feet per quart, and you can recoat after two hours. This stuff applies easily, dries clear, and has a tough, durable feel.

It may turn milky when it gets rained on. Wipe it with a soft cloth, and it will dry quickly and look great again. The finish is ideal if you are looking for a product that won’t add a yellow tint and is not glossy.

It is effortless to apply and dries crystal clear. Even though you prefer matte finishes, this satin finish can take your project to the next level.

You can use it indoors without a care in the world as it produces no fumes when used. It has a simple soapy water cleanup. 

What We Liked Most

  • It’s non-yellowing
  • Works as marketed
  • Easy to use and cleanup

What Could Be Improved

  • Pricey but worth it

Best Finish for Workbench Comparison Table

Workbench Coating: Types of Workbench Finishes

Choosing the right workbench finish is never easy. With Many finishes in the market, each promising you heavens, it can be challenging to pick the best one suitable for your unique project.

You need to buy a finish that will protect the benchtop and keep it stylish for long. Since workbenches get loads of abuse, you need a finish a simple repair finish if it becomes damaged.

With these goals in mind, let’s look at different types of workbench finishes that could be perfect for your project. 


Polyurethane is the best workbench wood finish due to a few distinct qualities. It is less sticky, completely waterproof, and suitable for indoor and outdoor use.

It dries quickly to the touch, enabling you to recoat in two to four hours. You can lightly use the surfaces after twenty fours. It is also easy to repair if it gets damaged.

Cleaning the finish is also relatively simple. If you spill motor oil or other lubricating oils on it, you can effortlessly clean it up with soap and water.

This finish type goes well with plywood. Although you can use it on other benchtops, it works best with plywood.

Related read: Best varnish for wooden front door.

Oil-based or water-based

Wiping on several coats of boiled linseed oil or tung oil is one of the earliest and easiest methods of finishing a workbench. It is affordable and straightforward to apply.

Unlike a film finish, the oil penetrates the wood pores instead of sitting on the wood. The oil acts as a barrier to any spills or drips while using your bench.

The most significant advantage of an oil finish is its ease of maintenance. To keep the workbench fantastic, apply another coat of oil regularly. You might want to scrape or sand the benchtop before using oil. 

You can also use linseed oil, oil-based polyurethane or tung oil on a softwood workbench to protect it from dings and spills because oil finishes take longer to dry. 

Wax finish

Wax is an excellent option for finishing a workbench. It offers reasonable protection and keeps the surface gorgeous for some time. You can also use it on bare wood. Also, you can apply it over French polish, varnish, or oil.

It’s also easy to maintain. You just rewax the affected portion and move on unabated. Another significant advantage of this finish is that you can make your beeswax finish in the comfort of your home.

Varnish finish

Film finishes such as varnish or lacquer provide the best protection for a workbench. They resist spills and protect surfaces from abrasions and dings. A film finish is lovely, especially if you’re constructing an “exhibition” workbench.

How to Finish A Workbench Top

Finishing a workbench top does not have to be stressful. Here’s how to do it.

Materials Needed

  • Your favorite finish
  • Synthetic-bristle paintbrush
  • 80- 220 grit Sandpaper 
  • Clean water ( optional based on the product you’re using)
  • Soft Cloth

Step 1: Sand the surface extensively

Sand the surface to smooth bare wood with rough sandpaper( 80 grit). Ensure the surface is smooth and very clean. Work your way up and end with 120 grit sandpaper.

Step 2: Clean the wood

Clean the wood thoroughly after sanding to remove sanding dust and other impurities. If you use a water-based finish, clean the wood with a damp cloth and let it dry.

This might raise the wood grain, but sand lightly with 120 grit sandpaper to make it smooth. This will stop the finish from raising the wood grain and result in a rough final finish.

Step 3: Apply the workbench sealer

Apply your favorite finish with a high-quality bristle or foam brush. If your project is massive, use a large brush to expedite the process. Keenly follow the instructions on the can for best results.

Also, please pay close attention to weather conditions as they can affect the drying time, significantly impacting the results. Some finishes require light sanding between coats while others do not. So, keep an eye out for this.

Step 4: Reapply the finish

Once the first coat has dried, apply another coat. It is advisable to apply thin coats in place of one thick layer for professional results. Apply two to three coats before calling it quits, but it will depend on your personal preference.

Give the surface enough time to cure before using the surface. The rule of thumb is to wait for twenty to seventy hours before subjecting the surfaces to any pressure.

How to Protect Workbench Top

To protect a workbench top, use a drying oil finish or a thinned coat of polyurethane varnish. Allow the finish to cure fully. It forms a thin protective film that prevents glue, paint, and other scum from adhering to the workbench top.

When it begins to wear off (which will happen quickly with consistent use), simply grab a random-orbit sander and sand it down before applying more finish. 

If the surface has large dents or surface distortions, restore the surface by planing it flat and applying the oil finish again.

You could also use polyurethane, varnish, or wax. These products are easy to maintain and clean and offer the benchtop unmatched protection. 

How Long Does It Take for Finish to Dry?

There are no hard and fast rules for how long a finish takes to dry. It depends on a specific product, the application method, and weather conditions in your locality.

However, the approved wait time for water-based finishes is four to eight hours. A wax finish takes twelve to twenty-four hours to dry completely.

Tung oil-based products can take twenty-four to forty-eight hours to dry. Generally, water-based polyurethane takes approximately twenty hours to dry.

Oil-based polyurethane takes forty-eight hours to dry. Refer to the instructions on the product’s can to know the appropriate time the finish takes to dry. 

Is It Okay to Not Apply Finish on Workbench?

Do not finish it if you regard scratches and dings on your workbench top as a badge of honor. If you need your workbench to look stylish and modern, finish it with top-of-the-range products.

Please note that failure to finish a workbench will result in dents and marks. It all boils down to your personal preference.


What is the best finish for pine workbench?

A drying oil finish is the best finish for a pine workbench. Drying oils are oils that harden upon exposure to air. They include linseed oil, tung oil, and walnut oil. These oils penetrate the wood surface and form a film that protects the pine workbench from water and moisture.

What is the best finish for plywood workbench?

The best finish for plywood workbench top is polyurethane varnish. This type of finish is durable and easy to apply, making it the perfect choice for protecting your Plywood workbench from wear and tear. In addition, sealed polyurethane workbench tops are protected from moisture, ensuring they last for years.

Also, find out the best way to polyurethane a table and the best finishes for table tops.

What is best finish for butcher block workbench?

Teak oil is a good finish for butcher block workbench because it is durable and protects the wood from moisture. It also has a nice smell and adds a bit of sheen to the wood. There are other finishes that can be used to finish butcher blocks, but teak oil is a good option. Now, find out how to apply teak oil to your outdoor furniture.

Should you put finish on a workbench?

It depends on your taste and style. If you don’t mind the scratches and dents, leave it unfinished. Nevertheless, finish it if you need to protect the bench from marks and gouges and prevent it from becoming slippery.

What should I put on my work bench to protect?

It depends on what you use the bench for. Varnishes will make the surfaces slippery, and the tools will slide and fall. If you don’t need slick surfaces, apply polyurethane or oil finish.

What is a good surface for a workbench?

Unused scraps of laminate flooring can make an excellent workbench surface. Laminate is durable and washable. You can easily scrape off dried glue and paint. If you use small nails to secure your laminate, you can seamlessly pry it off and replace it.

Is MDF or plywood better for workbench top?

MDF is smoother, which makes moving heavy loads easier. Also, unlike plywood, it does not splinter. Plywood is ideal if you get messy with glue and other solvents. It’s inexpensive and straightforward to replace, and you can reuse the old piece for artifices.

Is plywood good for workbench top?

Plywood offers a smooth surface that will not bend or curve. Because it is dimensionally stable, the bench will not change from one use to another. Based on how you construct it, it can be as firm as you need it to handle as much weight as required.

Read also: Best height for workbench.

Workbench Top Finish Summary

If you need your workbench to be durable and serve you for years, investing in the best workbench finish is a wise decision.

The best workbench finish will protect your workbench top from scratches and keep it fantastic for ages. Our top choice finish is Watco Rust-Oleum A65741 Danish Oil Wood Finish.

It works as marketed, is durable, affordable, and easy to maintain. It is also easy to apply, even if you are a complete novice. You can also apply a rejuvenating coat hassle-free.

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