Last week we talked with Krystal and Russell who had written to me asking for some advice about how to proceed with adding another protective layer to their oak table. This week we discuss their options if they decide to take their table to a local refinisher as opposed to applying that layer of finish themselves.

There is a whole world of coatings technology to explore regarding your table refinishing project. But the truth of the matter is that conversion varnishes and 2K polyurethanes are probably not going to be part of this discussion based upon how I have described that you should proceed thus far.

These coatings need to be applied by a professional finisher in a controlled environment. They also are going to need a different, more aggressive preparation than TSP and a light scuff sand. You would want to strip the table and go down to bare wood. That’s a lot of work! I’m not sure that’s your desire.

Why, you ask? Because of that great unknown. Again, we don’t know what’s on the table already for a finish and these chemistries are more than a bit aggressive, chemically and in the case of a 2K poly, quite different.

So, now that you have the table prepped as I described last week, you can safely proceed in a couple of directions pretty easily. Your guy in Chico can take it from here.

I would first spray some kind of barrier coat over that existing finish. This is to help with any residual contamination as well as to provide some extra sticking power for what you are to apply as your new top coat. If you are going to use a solvent-based system, I’d apply a vinyl sealer. My preferences would be for a vinyl that is really going to give you some performance. I would recommend M.L. Campbell’s C100-25 sealer or their C101-89 sealer. Both have the ability of accepting a catalyst which will boost their performance and both work in concert with what we will apply as a top coat. The C100-25 would be my first choice in this situation because it’s a true vinyl sealer. The C101-89 is a vinyl modified nitrocellulose sealer.

Spray on one coat of sealer. Let it dry. Scuff it lightly to get out any nits while being careful to not sand through that coat. Follow that with one good, 5 mil wet coat of a pre-cat such as M.L. Campbell’s MagnaMax. That’s a great product to use here because, when cured, it has the characteristics of a conversion varnish in both the moisture and chemical resistance areas. Tables get a lot of hard use. Magnamax will help out with that.

If you want to go with a water-borne system, I’d shoot a coat of de-waxed shellac as my barrier coat. Again, be very careful not to sand through that when you scuff it. Then, I’d shoot two wet coats of M.L. Campbell’s Agualente or Aguabarnice over that.

Agualente is a pre-cat water-borne. It will be tougher than the non-catylized acrylics or poly-acrylic blends that are on the market. Aguabarnice is a post-cat water-borne and has even better protection properties. Be sure to scuff sand with P320 between those final coats.

Be forewarned here! Water-bornes cure at a different rate and schedule than solvent-based finishes. It takes water-bornes more time to get their resistance fully into effect. Think of it as concrete. That gets 28 days before it is considered fully cured. Give your table top the same respect.

In either case, don’t plan on any kind of rough use for the first month. With the water-bornes, that goes double with any liquids during the first week plus. Water-bornes in early stages of cure tend to spot when water is dropped on them and left to stand. Remember, this is a piece of furniture just like any other.Use place mats. Use hot pads under hot dishes. Don’t expect any finish to stand up to dragging ceramic dishes across its surface.

I hope that you enjoy your table and that it gives you the years of use that you want from it as part of your home.


Until next time…spray on!


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