The best way to seal a wood table top

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Wooden table tops add warmth to any environment, whether it's a formal dining room table, a well-used coffee table or a favourite night stand. Whatever the style or age of the wood, it is important to make sure your table top is properly sealed so it can be preserved for years to come.

Project supplies

Sealing a wood table first requires the correct supplies. If you plan to stain your wood table top first, you will need wood stain in the colour of your choice, a paint brush or sponge and a rag. Once the staining process is complete, you will need a paint brush or foam brush, approximately 5 cm (2 inches) wide, to apply an oil-based polyurethane that will seal your wood table top and keep it safe during everyday use. Remember to have fine-grit sandpaper on hand for sanding out imperfections between finishing coats.

Workspace requirements

A suitable workspace is essential for creating a beautiful finish and properly sealing your wood table. Because coats of stain and polyurethane require time to dry between coats, find a clean room or work area where dust or particles from other projects won't affect the finish. If you are not using a workshop to do your table top sealing, use a dust sheet under your workspace to protect your floors from spills or damage.

Time frame

Sealing a wood table top properly won't happen overnight. Give yourself a few days to go through the staining and sealing process. After the wood is stained and a coat of polyurethane is applied, allow it to dry overnight. Check the instructions on the polyurethane to ensure you allow for proper drying time. This coat must be sanded and the dust cleaned off with a rag before a second coat of polyurethane can be applied. Because you will need to apply at least three coats of polyurethane to properly seal your table top, you must allow a minimum of three to four days to complete the job.

Final finish

The final coat of polyurethane should be carefully applied in the direction of the wood grain, and left to dry overnight. This final coat will not be sanded and will completely seal your wood table top. Although every piece of furniture is susceptible to dings and scratches, a sealed table top will protect the wood from spills and stains. If damage to the final coat occurs, you can always sand the table top smooth again with fine-grit sandpaper and apply another coat of polyurethane.

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