How many coats of polyurethane on table: The best guide and useful tips

Most people consider a table to be one of the most important pieces of kitchen furniture. A stove, cabinets for kitchen utensils – all this surrounds the tabletop. So, how many coats of polyurethane on table? Well, At least three. Let’s take a closer look.

Durable coating – How many coats of polyurethane on table?

The surface of the table in some cases can be practically destroyed (for example in the case of wood). Buying a new table, sometimes, is not an option (prices are biting sometimes). The cost of a board made of high-quality wood can turn your head off (usually, renewal of your main kitchen attribute design could cost up to 500 dollars).

Tip. Get more useful information about How to fix water-damaged swollen wood furniture.

Forks, knives, hot dishes, excessive moisture, or vice versa – dry air – can make your table a real storehouse of broken dishes in the house. Aren’t your house is witch hut? No, so apply polyurethane with all necessary accents.

Dinners, suppers, and conversations take place at the dining table on a daily basis, and its aesthetic appearance sets the tone for the entire kitchen design. Modern design artisans have developed many templates for successful, cozy, and ergonomic kitchen design, and the table is always in the center. Apply two coats of qualitative polyurethane and a complete result will satisfy you 100%.

If you have a simple set of tools at home, by purchasing ordinary polyurethane, you will return to the kitchen table surface a bright appearance, and smoothness of the coating and update it both externally and functionally. Any side brush marks could be polished later.

Some people who love outdoor gatherings will choose a small but comfortable kitchen table. Covering it with polyurethane will avoid the negative effects associated with the weather.

High humidity or excessively dry weather can be damaging to the table material. Water-based polyurethane is a perfect choice here. Oil-based polyurethane will be the better choice for indoor furnishing.

How many coats of polyurethane on table
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Wooden table surface – The preferred choice for a kitchen

Most often, people choose a wooden table – it is qualitative wood that is the preferred option for a countertop furnish, due to its ergonomics and a large selection of custom options, and colors.

At the same time, wood is an excellent material for making furniture yourself. An additional coating of a homemade kitchen table surface with polyurethane will be the final cherry on the cake. A durable, sturdy wooden table will please the eye and, in the end, will cost significantly less than an analog from a store.

Think twice before planning your kitchen or backyard decor – cost is less of an issue, while ergonomics and design may call for a stylish, high-quality table. Polyurethane coating is not uncommon in such a case.


The aesthetic component is extremely important in the design of the kitchen – such an intimate place that occupies a special place in a home. A polyurethane-coated dining table in a large living room with high ceilings or even a small, round wooden table covered with spray polyurethane added later – it’s completely your choice. Just don’t forget for a complete design picture.

Take an outer look, bring your family and friends, and take advice for kitchen design polishing.

The main thing is to maintain a balance between the ergonomics and fit the glossy polyurethane shine of the material into the overall picture of the kitchen. Oil-based or water-based, polyurethane coating should be smooth, without any redundant brush strokes.

Oil-based or water-based, smooth and durable, the polyurethane coating will make a table surface resistant to scratches and any other damage, giving it a new look and ergonomics

You will be extremely surprised – polyurethane is a truly durable coating that provides enviable resistance to any kind of scratches, or punctures, tolerates high temperatures, and doesn’t become fragile at low temperatures.

Tip. Furthermore, you can read more about How long does polyurethane take to dry.

How many coats of polyurethane on table
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Impairment issues. More coats?

Regular use of the kitchen table is usually associated with impairment – forks and knives, various damages, and scratches. The traces of long-term use of furniture cannot be unseen. The table surface loses its stylish appearance over time. The way out of the situation is to refinish the surface of the table. 

Pure or combined polyurethane coating gives the table exceptional strength. High-quality manual finishing of the table with polyurethane guarantees its proper use for a really long time.

Polyurethane as a universal material

Polyurethane is considered to be one of the most versatile furnishing materials. Want to replenish an item with extra durability – coat a table surface with polyurethane. Single layer. Does your old table need a total rework? Try out three-four coats of polyurethane on it. It will serve you a decade more.

Since the beginning of its invention, polyurethane has been considered one of the most versatile finishing materials used in many light industries. In particular, among the most striking advantages of polyurethane, experts note the following:

  • Polyurethane has the lowest thermal conductivity level among all coating materials. If you put hot dishes on the table, then you can be sure that the coating will remain intact, will not undergo thermal deformations, and your table, even after many years of hot serving, will remain an aesthetic addition to the kitchen design without dents and streaks of the coating;
  • Due to its exceptional versatility, polyurethane can be used on both vertical and horizontal table surfaces. Almost any geometrical ideas can be furnished with a polyurethane;
  • Polyurethane blends have enhanced electrical insulator properties, so if you’re experimenting with furniture ergonomics, polyurethane is the ideal choice. With the help of various add-ons, the kitchen table can be supplemented with lighting – and in this case, it is the polyurethane coating that will play the role of the optimal coating;
  • At low temperatures, polyurethane performs at its best, guaranteeing resistance to deformation and cracking. It is polyurethane that will be an excellent choice for decorating even a winter kitchen;
  • Polyurethane protects perfectly the countertop from the damaging effects of excessive moisture while having an excellent level of resistance to salt accumulation and ultraviolet radiation. Due to its resistance to almost every kind of impairment, polyurethane will be an ideal choice for covering not only a kitchen table but also a rack for cutting vegetables;
  • Oil-based or water-based polyurethane – the choice is yours. However, note the fact that an oil-based spray of polyurethane is a great choice for a wood table set outdoors. Impregnation of wood with polyurethane will create a uniform layer of protective coating, and excess moisture will be completely unbearable to multiple durable layers of material;
  • The multiple polyurethane coat protects your table from corrosion, rust formation, microorganisms, and mold growth;
  • Polyurethane is extremely flexible and will not crack or flake when used outdoors or in hot, dry weather.
How many coats of polyurethane on table
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Tip. Also, you can read more about How to remove polyurethane from wood.

How to get or where to find polyurethane

Synthesis of polyurethane at home is not possible. However, if you are determined to synthesize the material yourself for subsequent work with the countertop, it can be made in an industrial workshop, for example, a chemical plant.

Water-based polyurethane vs. oil

Before you get started

Before you get started, you will need to select the type of coverage. There are several main types of polyurethane coats on the modern market. In particular, the most common ones are oil-based and water-based.

Oil-based polyurethane

Oil-based polyurethane has been known for decades. This is a form of alkyd lacquer that combines excellently with polyurethane resin. Alkyd is a unique substance found in almost any oil-based varnish or paint. Thanks to alloying with an oil-based polyurethane resin, the product is much more resistant and durable.

Ideal for covering kitchen countertops where knives or other kitchen utensils can scratch the surface, stripping it of its shine and aesthetics.

In addition, the polyurethane finish is highly water-resistant, scratch-resistant, and exceptionally heat-resistant. Most experts recommend covering the table with polyurethane, and not with ordinary varnish.

Even a novice can cover the table with oil-based polyurethane, the main thing is to know all the aspects and subtleties of manual work with such a toxic substance.

Oil-based polyurethane is more common in stores. Guarantees a high degree of physical protection, higher than that of a water-based substance. Thanks to the alloying components, the oily polyurethane coating provides a sufficient level of durability to the coating, keeping the appearance of the table neat throughout the entire service life.

Oil-based polyurethane is cheaper and requires a less specific approach – just a few times a month you need to wipe the table cover with a regular rag and the appearance of the cover will be perfectly even, smooth, and aesthetic. The oil-based polyurethane coat requires at least three coats to give the table a perfect finish.

Most experienced craftsmen use oil-based polyurethane for the finish. Given that oil-based polyurethane is cheaper, its use remains appropriate despite market trends. Thanks to its outstanding properties, oil-based polyurethane has gained popularity with many companies and private craftsmen around the world, remaining the same copper brand for quality work with furniture.

Water-based polyurethane

Water-based polyurethane guarantees an incredible finish, smoothness, and shine. It dries faster after application, but its price can bite depending on the quality and manufacturer.

How many coats of polyurethane on table
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How to apply polyurethane?

Most experts don’t recommend self-coating the countertop with polyurethane varnish. Due to the toxicity of the substance and the specifics of working with wood coatings, oil-based polyurethane coats must be used with extreme care and caution.

Necessary tools

However, if you are confident in your abilities and decide to try to update the look of the kitchen table yourself, you will need a number of tools that can be found in almost any apartment:

  • Sandpaper. To work with oil-based polyurethane, you will need a usual sandpaper, the fraction practically doesn’t matter. Most experts recommend the use of fine sandpaper, which will allow you to sand the surface more thoroughly, despite the high cost of time;
  • Mineral spray. Enriching the surface of the table with a mineral spray is a very good way out, due to its additional mineral spirit coating, it will be possible to increase the absorbency of the surface. This will have the best effect on the final result;
  • Microfiber dry cloth for cleaning the table. Given the multi-stage and sequence of work, you will need to clean out the table often – and here you will need a high-quality fabric rag;
  • Oil or water-based polyurethane products. The type of polyurethane is quietly important because its base will affect the final appearance of the table. Thanks to the use of water-based polyurethane sprays, a thin layer can be achieved.
  • If you use oil-based polyurethane, then yours will shine with a glossy sheen and delight the eye every time the family gathers at the dinner table;
  • Foam brush. The use of foam rubber is necessary to wipe the surface of the table after each application of polyurethane. Foam rubber absorbs perfectly excess moisture and ensures even application of oil-based polyurethane. It almost leaves no brush strokes.

Step 1. Beginning

The procedure will be required in absolute order, and in accordance with all hygiene standards. First of all, thoroughly wash the table surface – it should be perfectly dry and clean. It is also necessary to clean the countertop from any other coating, for which you will need sandpaper. First use a harder sandpaper, then move to a finer one. The surface before starting work must be perfectly flat and smooth.

If you need any additional tools, find them in advance. In the process of applying polyurethane, it is unlikely that you will be able to move away from the table, so everything you need should be at hand. Brush strokes can dry up the wrong way – it may break up the whole structure.

If you are building a table from scratch, then you first need to fully assemble the structure. After assembly, it will be possible to start applying the polyurethane coating – your new table should be a truly blank canvas.

At the beginning of work, apply a little white spirit to a rag and wipe the surface. This will dry the table to the desired state – to start working with a semi-urethane coating, you must have an absolutely clean and dry surface.

Step 2. Multiple layer processing

After the pretreatment of the table, apply the first, thin layer of polyurethane. The first coat must be roughly thin. Let it dry completely. Thanks to this layer, each subsequent one will repeat its shape, so keep a close eye on each stroke or layer (if using a spray). If you apply polyurethane yourself, then pause after each application.

Work with a brush very carefully; otherwise, the polyurethane will lie unevenly, which will affect the ergonomics of the table. Dry the table should be in the fresh air, but try to protect it from dust. Use special covers or leave the table to dry under a canopy.

Step 3. Final coat

Use 1500-grit fine sandpaper to complete the finish. Carefully remove small imperfections and bubbles from the top layer of the countertop. After the polyurethane surface has completely dried and hardened, a thin layer of a special finishing wax can be applied to give the table a sheen.

Right after that, the procedure will be finished – a final layer of the table will be done, and you will get your furnishing at its best.

How many coats of polyurethane on table
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Tip. You can read my guide and learn more from the post How to remove polyurethane from wood.

How much polyurethane on the kitchen table?

Specialists strongly recommend applying three, a maximum of four layers of polyurethane to the surface of the table. It is extremely important to follow an even first layer because it will set the shape of the surface for each subsequent one. If your countertop is old then more material will be needed and an oil-based polyurethane is recommended.

If the table is new, or you are building your own kitchen table, then use a spray to soak the polyurethane into the top layer of wood, making the table exceptionally strong and able to withstand most types of physical damage found in the kitchen.

Useful tips

  1. When applying polyurethane to a painted table, always check the condition of the paint both before starting work and during the application of the material. Immediately after coating the table with polyurethane, the paint may turn yellow due to the toxicity of both substances – this will affect the final appearance of the table.
  2. In extreme cases, the table can be pre-painted, and immediately after the paint has dried, apply polyurethane as the final coat;
  3. When spraying polyurethane on a glossy surface, it is necessary to additionally monitor the evenness of the table surface. If during the work you notice any stains, eliminate them, or you will have to do all the work again, removing the polyurethane layer by layer.
  4. It could cost you the whole countertop, and qualitative wood material is very expensive these days. You can also work out your table with a light sanding – the final coat will be graceful this way;
  5. When using spray polyurethane, make sure that the rooms are checked. All traces of toxic substances must be carefully removed or evaporated. Open windows wide and keep out the draft. Volatile compounds formed by paint can cause serious harm to your health;
  6. If you are painting with a brush, use a foam brush. The natural bristle brush options that people use for painting can have nasty streaks that will affect the final aesthetic of the work done;
  7. Apply the coating very gently, layer by layer, until the job is complete. Thanks to careful work, you will get a decent result – your table will serve you for many years while applying polyurethane to maintain home comfort. Check out the final coat – it should be totally smooth. After polyurethane is done, you can apply a few layers of mineral spirits for a better view.


Due to the uniqueness of the protective layer of polyurethane, the highest level of protection of the table surface from mechanical damage is achieved. Given the prevalence of polyurethane as a surface layer, its use ensures that the strength characteristics of your furniture are maintained and even enhanced.

Multiple coats may be essential for enhancing the durability of the tabletop. Smooth finish – for a better complex design of the kitchen.

The main thing in the work is to apply layers of polyurethane gradually, with individual attention to each layer. Let the material dry in time, which will give you enough time to think about the design moves for arranging your kitchen.

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