13 Best Finishes For Wood Kitchen Tables – Top Picks Of 2023

Retain your furniture's charm and restore its beauty with these easy-to-use products.

By Shreya VishwanathanShreya Vishwanathan  • 
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We spend a lot of time in our kitchens. Therefore, investing in the best finish for wood kitchen tables makes sense. The tables are used for multiple purposes such as chopping, eating, doing homework, and practicing arts and crafts. In addition, the kitchen table is regularly exposed to water, grime, and whatnot! Hence, your kitchen table should be durable enough and well-protected to withstand all these things.

To help your wooden kitchen table retain its beauty, you need the best wooden finish. Whether you’re restoring an antique kitchen table or making a new one, the best finish will make the table long-lasting and won’t cause any damage. We have curated a list of the best finishes for a wood kitchen table in this article. Check them out!

Top PicksCheck Price
Minwax Fast Drying Polyurethane Clear Satin
Price on Amazon
General Finishes Water Based Topcoat High Performance – Satin
Price on Amazon
General Finishes Wipe On Arm-R-Seal Heavy Duty Oil And Urethane Topcoat – Semi-Gloss
Price on Amazon
Rust-Oleum Varathane Ultimate Polyurethane Water Based Clear Wood Varnish - Gloss Clear
Price on Amazon
Waterlox Original Sealer/Finish Premium Wood Finish
Price on Amazon
Waterlox Original Satin Finish
Price on Amazon
Rust-Oleum Ultimate Polyurethane – Matte
Price on Amazon
Grizzly Industrial Emmet’s Good Stuff Wood Finish For Maple Tops
Price on Amazon
Tried And True Wood Finish Varnish Oil
Price on Amazon
Behlen Rockhard Table Top Urethane Varnish – Satin
Price on Amazon

Top 13 Best Finish For Wood Kitchen Table Reviews And Buying guide 2023

1. Minwax Fast Drying Polyurethane Clear Satin


The Minwax Fast Drying Polyurethane Clear Satin is an ideal finish to use on any wooden surface like furniture, doors, floors, and cabinets. This is a durable coating which is perfect for wood surfaces that are indoors, and provides them with long-lasting protection and beauty. Great for refinishing dining room tables this oil-based finish makes sure that you can use your wooden kitchen table freely and wipe it with a cloth, sponge and any cleaning material without being too cautious. The final finish that you get is of wood that was weathered and cured to stand regular use and overuse.


  • Can be used on unfinished wood as well as finished surfaces
  • Polyurethane finish
  • The finish dries up quickly, giving you fast results.
  • Can be applied using a flat brush.


  • The smell from the finish may last a few weeks after application.
Price at the time of publication: $13.97

2.General Finishes Water Based Topcoat High Performance – Satin

The General Finishes Water Based Topcoat High Performance finish is ideal for dark colored wood and furniture stains. This finish is one of the hardest and most durable polyurethane top coats in the consumer market. This top coat also contains characteristics of a poly acrylic blend which makes it quite consumer-friendly. The result you get? A refinished dining table which shows off its original grains and is durable and hard, protected from all kitchen and food damage. The finish is easy to apply using a lint-free soft cloth and requires minimum skill level.


  • The top coat contains UV stabilizer so that the finish is protected in sunlight, does not break down and underlying stains do not fade away.
  • Each coat dries up in about 2 hours
  • Polyurethane durability makes it ideal for use on floors as well.


  • This topcoat may not be suitable for white furniture as it may turn yellow with time.
Price at the time of publication: $45.95

3. General Finishes Wipe On Arm-R-Seal Heavy Duty Oil And Urethane Topcoat – Semi-Gloss

The General Finishes Wipe On Arm-R-Seal Heavy Duty Oil And Urethane Topcoat in semi-gloss is made with a superior quality of urethane resin. This oil-based finish needs to be applied in about 5 top coats onto your kitchen table so that it stays protected for years. With this finish, you can let your kids be messy and enjoy their food without feeling too stressed about messing up the refinished dining room table. Wipe and clean your table as many times as you want in a single day without worrying about the finish wearing off.


  • Top coat is very long-lasting and durable
  • Can be easily applied by using a cloth or a foam brush
  • The product penetrates into the wood so that protection is provided from deep down.


  • The product may require to be built up with multiple coats for best results.
Price at the time of publication: $82.0

4. Rust-Oleum Varathane Ultimate Polyurethane Water Based Clear Wood Varnish – Gloss Clear

The Rust-Oleum Varathane Ultimate Polyurethane Water Based Clear Wood Varnish in clear gloss is a water-based finish and a great option for refinishing table tops. This dining table finish is formulated in a way that it can be easily used on painted or bare wooden surfaces, protecting it from scratches and damage. This water-based finish is absolutely clear, free of any odor and can be easily cleaned even using water. So if the table gets a little too soiled after a meal you can freely wash it down or wipe it down, and it will go back to how it was before.


  • Suitable for finishing doors, furniture, trims, and cabinets
  • If dried at 70° to 80° F, drying time is about 30 minutes for touching, 2 hours for a recoat and 24 hours for beginning light use.
  • Protects furniture against scratches, stain and abrasion


The product may not work well on fiber-made doors that look like wood.

Price at the time of publication: $24.48

5. Waterlox Original Sealer/Finish Premium Wood Finish

The Waterlox Original Sealer/Finish Premium Wood Finish provides durable waterproofing to your furniture including kitchen wood tables. This finish penetrates deeply into the wood and waterproofs it when multiple coats are applied. It can be used by itself or along with Waterlox Original Satin Finish or Waterlox Original High Gloss Finish. This dining table finish is long-lasting and forms an elastic finish which protects against spills and moisture. This finish also provides adhesion to dense oily and exotic woods like rosewood, teak and ipe. The number of coats to be used depends on how porous the wood is.


  • A single gallon can cover up to 500 square feet of area per coat
  • Does not require the product to be thinned down.
  • Works as a primer, sealer, tie coat or paint additive too.
  • Non-toxic when dry


  • The sealer may have more of a high-gloss finish than a semi-gloss one.
Price at the time of publication: $28.32

6. Waterlox Original Satin Finish

The Waterlox Original Satin Finish penetrates right into your wood kitchen table and waterproofs it when used along with Waterlox Original Sealer/Finish. This Tung oil finish is formulated to make wood furniture inside the home durable and stain-resistant. The result after application is a satin sheen on the wooden surface to make your refinished kitchen table look brand new and all polished up. With this oil-based finish you can use your wooden dining table without a single worry about maintenance and have your entire family seated in front of you while you prepare their favorite meal.


  • Elastic finish protects furniture surface from spills and moisture.
  • 90% of the resin portion is derived from renewable natural resources
  • This oil-based finish is ideal for areas where there will always be plenty of water splashes around.


  • The finish may have a slight orange hue to it.
Price at the time of publication: $46.84

7. Rust-Oleum Ultimate Polyurethane – Matte

The Rust-Oleum Ultimate Polyurethane offers a matte finish on your kitchen wooden table. Ideal for interior use, this poly finish protects wooden surfaces like doors, trims, cabinets, and furniture. The formula is water-based acrylic and can be touched within 1 hour of drying. However, if you need to recoat it, you must wait at least 2 hours. It is best to apply this finish to the kitchen table in a well-ventilated area. The result after application is a kitchen table that is ready to be used roughly for years to come.


  • Protects furniture from long-lasting marks created by fingerprints as well as smudges.
  • Results in smooth and stain-resistant surface.
  • Dries within 1 hour of application.


  • It may slightly darken unfinished wood.
Price at the time of publication: $33.58

8. Grizzly Industrial Emmet’s Good Stuff Wood Finish For Maple Tops

Grizzly Image: Grizzly Industrial Emmet’s Good Stuff Wood Finish For Maple Tops

The Grizzly Industrial Emmet’s Good Stuff Wood Finish for Maple Tops is a great finish for wood kitchen tables. The finish is safe even if it comes in contact with some food, and does not include any poisonous substance. This finish is fast-drying compared to other wood finishes for tables. The finish is also resistant to alcohol and water, which means even if your clumsy friends come over you do not need to huff and puff. This table top finish is most ideal for maple furniture and will leave it with a very natural-looking stain.


  • Made using non-toxic urethane
  • It offers a low sheen finish so that your furniture doesn’t look like plastic or cheap
  • Needs only about 30 minutes between two coats


  • Brush marks may be visible if brushed on too many times.
Price at the time of publication: $48.0

9. Tried And True Wood Finish Varnish Oil

The Tried And True Wood Finish Varnish Oil penetrates right into the furniture to provide strength and protection from rough use. The formula of this varnish oil is from the 19th century and is 100% free from solids and solvent. The finish from this varnish is so unique that you can even chop and cut on the surface without worrying about permanent marks. This varnish oil is safe even if food comes in contact with it, letting your family be healthy and hearty. The linseed oil in this finish is polymerized and fortified with natural resin varnish. The result is a semi-gloss finish which is abrasive and scratch-resistant, making the kitchen table look highly polished.


  • Includes resin in high content and gives a semi-gloss sheen.
  • Buildable durability, each coat makes it stronger and glossier
  • Becomes more durable and harder with time


  • It may need to be applied by someone who is skilled in hand-rubbed polish.
Price at the time of publication: $39.99

10. Behlen Rockhard Table Top Urethane Varnish – Satin

The Behlen Rockhard Table Top Urethane Varnish in satin finish provides a hard resistance to abrasion to your refinished dining table. This coating provides a long lasting hard finish so that your wood kitchen table doesn’t need regular maintenance, which can be quite a hassle in the long run. Considering the multiple uses you get out of a wood kitchen table, it only makes sense to protect it from damage from lemon juice, crayon stains, wine spills, and so many other unaccounted for accidents that can take place on a dining table.


  • Can be applied with a flat brush or a spray gun
  • Alcohol, water, chemical, and detergent-resistant
  • Ideal for cabinets, tables, chairs, etc.


  • If the finish is not applied evenly, it will leave some hard uneven surfaces once it dries.

11. Rust-Oleum Varathane Ultimate Polyurethane Oil Based Satin Finish

Rust-Oleum Varathane Ultimate Polyurethane Oil Based Satin Finish Image: Rust-oleum

The Rust-oleum Varathane Ultimate Polyurethane Oil Based Satin Finish protects wood surfaces like trims, doors, furniture, cabinets, and much more. The formula is oil-based and provides a high level of durability and a very even finish to your refinished table top. You can start recoating the table again after 4 hours by when the first coat dries up giving you a smooth surface to work on again. The satin finish of the oil-based product gives a very natural and classic look to the wood kitchen table and protects it from stains and scratches at the same time.


  • Can be applied using a simple plain brush.
  • Table top polyurethane finish can be achieved
  • The polyurethane formula provides 2 times more durability as compared to other traditional finishes for tables.
  • The formula is self-leveling and eliminates brush strokes giving a very clean look


  • The finish may take a long time to dry and may have a strong odor.
Price at the time of publication: $27.19

12. General Finishes Enduro-VAR Water Based Urethane Topcoat – Satin

The General Finishes Enduro-VAR Water Based Urethane Topcoat in satin finish is a lovely top coat material for refinishing table tops. The polyurethane is water-borne and flows out very well despite the fact that it has consistency of a semi-gel. The biggest advantage of this topcoat is that it is self-cross linked, water-based polyurethane that is oil-modified. This means that it looks similar to oil varnish but behaves like a water-based coat. This wood finishing approaches warm ambers well, and does leave a blue or green cast that generally all other water-based finishes do.


  • Can be applied using a simple foam brush and does not leave any brush marks on the furniture.
  • Furniture stays as good as new even if sunlight reaches it, as long as it stays indoors.
  • Extremely water-resistant, can be used in humid areas as well.


  • Spraying the finish may be better than brushing it on as brush marks may be hard to hide.
Price at the time of publication: $39.95

13. Old Masters Gel Polyurethane Clear Satin Finish

Old Masters Image: Old Masters Gel Polyurethane Clear Satin Finish

The Old Masters Gel Polyurethane Clear Satin Finish is just what you need for a quick yet long-lasting effect on a refinished dining table. This gel varnish creates an almost clear, hand-rubbed and protective finish that makes it look like it was worked on by a craftsman. This can be used on old family furniture that has been with you for decades and can also be used on newly built pieces, giving them a beautiful finish. The finish from this varnish could range from semi-gloss to satin, depending on the number of coats you apply.


  • Results start showing in 2 coats itself which saves you time as well as money.
  • Very easy to apply
  • Used by professionals for commercial purpose too


  • The drying time between two coats may be as high as 6 hours.
Price at the time of publication: $45.7

Here is a guideline that outlines important factors that help to decide the right wood finish for your kitchen table.

Best Finish For Wood Kitchen Table – A Buyer’s Guide

You may still feel a little lost and have questions about how to refinish a wood table or if you can manage to apply the product yourself. Follow this buying guide to know everything about refinishing tables tops.

How Easy It Is To Apply The Product

When working with the right finish, applying finishing products is fairly easy. When choosing the final finish for your kitchen table, if you are not very experienced with DIY projects, it is best to opt for a finish that can simply be wiped on. This way there is no scope for mistakes, and your kids can also join in the fun of application!

However, if you are confident about your skills and have worked with wood before, you can try using finishes that need to be brushed on or sprayed on. These options definitely need extra skill and hence are not recommended for beginners. No matter what finish you finalize to use, read the instructions by the manufacturer so that you are doing exactly what needs to be done to get the right impact.

Types Of Wood Finishes

There are multiple options available when it comes to kitchen table finishes, each option with its advantages as well as disadvantages. Here are a few common wood finishes that are easily available:

  • Oil finishes: Oil-finishes do a great job of adding depth as well as color to a wooden table that is unfinished, making the table suitable for use in the kitchen.
  • Water-based finishes: Water-based finishes are very quick to dry, which makes them a preferred option when you want to complete your project in a rush. The result is a slick and glossy look.
  • Varnish: Varnish as a finish is clear, but takes a long time to dry and requires skilled labor for application. Varnish works best when used along with a dye.
  • Shellac: Shellac is made using solvents along with wax. While it is very easy to apply, it is not good enough for heavy duty use on a kitchen table.

The Durability Of Wood Finishes

The kitchen table top is subjected to a lot of heavy duty work, that too, on a daily basis. It is obvious that in order to finish wood table top, the material used should be durable with long lasting effect. The refinished dining room table is where you eat and work every day, which means it will also be cleaned multiple times in a day, and you should not feel the need to think twice before wiping it down with a damp cloth when required. Let’s not forget the spilling down of wine or your little ones dropping milk and water even though they think it is a game.

In order to tackle all of these issues, the finish must be absolutely durable, should be able to tolerate high and low temperatures and not let scratches mark the table permanently. Poly finishes that are oil-based and varnishes turn out to be the best when durability is concerned. Linseed oil and Tung oil are slightly less durable than the above and shellac should never be used. While lacquer is also a good idea when it comes to toughness, it may become yellow over time.

Wooden kitchen tables need to have seamless finishes because they are used for a variety of purposes. Some people tend to chop vegetables directly on the table, while some kids tend to sit with their homework while their parents are cooking. Hence, the finish needs to be strong enough to handle every kind of work that goes around on the kitchen table. More so, good finishes also determine the durability of the table and keep it protected against harmful toxins and chemicals. If cleaning is an issue, you should opt for oil-based finishes that make sure that you can wipe off the impurities from your kitchen table without any hassle.

Why Trust StyleCraze?

Shreya Viswanathan, the author of this article, has a great eye for high-quality, durable, and safe products for home use. Her list is backed by well-researched reviews and feedback from several online user forums to help you select the best finish for the wooden kitchen table. The products listed above provide a clean finish, dry up quickly, and are durable and budget-friendly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Must I have my wood kitchen table finished?

Yes you must. Not only will a finish make the table more durable but a unique finish may also add extra beauty and charm to your kitchen table.

What are the steps to sealing a wood table?

Simply apply a very thin coat to the top of your kitchen table with a brush or a spray gun and let it dry. Sand the table surface with 120-grit sandpaper and add one more coat of lacquer. The two coats are good enough to seal the table, but if you wish to have more depth you can add two more coats.

Can I apply polyurethane over paint?

Yes you can. Applying polyurethane over a painted surface is always a good idea as the paint is protected. Oil-based polyurethane lends a very smooth finish, but it takes time to dry.

Can I paint over varnished wood?

Yes you can. The best paint to use is water-based acrylic resin or paint. However if you need to use oil-based paint then you must prep the surface only with oil-based primer first.

What is the best finish for a wood table?

Oil-based poly finishes and varnish are the best finishes for a wood kitchen table. Linseed oil and tung oil too are a food option but are slightly less durable.

Can I use oil or wax to finish a wood table?

Yes you can use oil or wax to finish a table as they penetrate into the wood and make it stronger.

What is the most durable clear coat for wood?

Table top polyurethane finish is the best and most durable clear coat for wooden kitchen tables.

Is it safe to use polyurethane on the kitchen table?

Yes, polyurethane is approved by the FDA as a food safe coating for wood tables.

Which is better oil-based or water-based polyurethane?

Water-based polyurethane is better because the finish remains the same for many years to come without making any changes to how the wood kitchen table looks.

Is tung oil good for the kitchen table?

Tung oil is one of the oldest oils used for finishing wood on kitchen tables. Tung oil can be additionally finished with a resin varnish for additional protection.

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