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Sealer / varnish for table?

OzarkQOzarkQ Posts: 150
edited 2:02PM in EggHead Forum
Hi all -
I found some good prices at two places here for some cedar. One place had redwood also, but it was a lot more pricey! I was suprised at the variations in prices at various yards... anyways - my table is close to done, just need to get the bottom deck on... and lift that egg in! What do you guys like for protecting the cedar? I bought a jar of clear deck sealant, but wasn't sure if varathane or an oil etc might be a better choice. I would like to avoid something that's going to peel off later - unless it protects that soft cedar from dings.. :)


  • PharmeggistPharmeggist Posts: 1,191
    I called my Dad on this one... this it what he uses with great results. I just copied and pasted internet link for you. I think it would be fine to use on a table. You could read the MSDS sheet of the product on the website. Good Luck!
  • PitmasterPitmaster Posts: 74
    A spar urethane works great. It gives you UV protection and is good for outdoors (exterior). Helmsman or Minwax. Shy away from varnish as it does not completely dry, it will feel sticky if in the sun for extended periods.
  • WileECoyoteWileECoyote Posts: 516
    Make sure to get top grade cedar with very few knots or cracks. This will keep moisture out and prolong life in addition to looking better.

    I just finished my table and I used Minwax Polyshades Urethane & Stain. It was a bit pricey but it looks great and provides a nice strong finish coat which should last a few years before needing touch up, maybe longer if you keep the table covered and out of the elements when not in use.

    My table report has lot of photos so check it out to see what you think of the stain. Here is the link.
  • Villa EggVilla Egg Posts: 11
    Cedar has a chemical composit that can react to many finishes. The polyshades is not an exterior finish with uv protection so it may not hold up. Sikkens is great for this project; however, WATCH the humidity levels when applying.
  • BuckdodgerBuckdodger Posts: 948
    Used Helmsman spar urethane semi-gloss to cover some minor scratches on my table and it worked out fine and matched the original finish. Cedar table....Bob

    Alexander City,Al
  • WileECoyoteWileECoyote Posts: 516
    eggheadisland wrote:
    Cedar has a chemical composit that can react to many finishes. The polyshades is not an exterior finish with uv protection so it may not hold up. Sikkens is great for this project; however, WATCH the humidity levels when applying.
    My table is under a roof all the time so no direct exposure to UV or the elements. I also plan to keep it covered when not in use so I don't expect the Polyshades to be an issue. If it is then I will just sand it and apply Helmsman or something similar.

    Keep in mind that cedar is fairly weather resistant to begin with so the urethane and stain are mostly just for looks anyway. I liked the Polyshades because it was pretty thick and had stain mixed in, and it was oil-based which tends to hold up a lot longer based on my experience. I applied three coats with a light sanding in between each coat and it came out fine. Time will tell how long it holds up but I expect to get about 2-3 years out of it.
  • OzarkQOzarkQ Posts: 150
    I'm in southwest MO - so I will have a lot of humidity and UV exposure. I plan to use a cover - but my 15 year deck stain lasted 1 year.. so I plan on it being beat up! I was hoping the sealant would just protect from incidental grease stains and maybe even bangs & dents?? That might be asking too much though!

    As a side note - the variation in cedar price is crazy - it was $1.82 / ft for 1x6 at one yard vs. 79¢ / ft at another! Looks pretty dang good though - can't wait to get that egg in it's new home.
  • Villa EggVilla Egg Posts: 11
    Deck stain is not very good for this application. The way the ranking goes for outdoor finishes is helmsman spar 30/gallon, Man O War Mcloskeys $50, Epiphanes $200/gallon 8 coat minimum...but it will look like a million dollars. Higher the gloss stronger the finish....the sun is it's biggest enemy. I stain mine with a special oil then clear coat with varnish/poly.
  • OzarkQOzarkQ Posts: 150
    Are there limitations to the oil you can use? I was wondering about using a light colored oil for the first layer and then hopefully cut down on the other layers needed of the spar urethane that I bought. I haven't applied urethane before - do you all sand between coats and just go thin?
  • Villa EggVilla Egg Posts: 11
    When you say a light oil what do you mean? To color the wood or to protect the wood? What type of wood are you putting the finish on? Oil based products will darken the wood over time no matter what. Spar varnish (helsman) sand to 150 not 220. 1st coat thin it 50% and apply allow to dry (watch humidity). Take a green pad and just rub it over the surface just to open the pores...all next pad....etc...etc. There are When you say a light oil what do you mean? To color the wood or to protect the wood? There are old yachting tricks to applying without having to sand in between coats but it is not worth the risk. Apply it in the shade and role it in the sun to dry of possible.
    That first coat can be applied with the green pad/rag as well ***scrubbing it into the pores****
  • OzarkQOzarkQ Posts: 150
    Light oil - I meant light in color. I think the spar will protect the wood enough - will it change the color of the wood much? When washing the wood off of the sanding dust with a damp sponge, there were some marks from the sander that showed up when the wood was wet, but gone when it was dry. Do I need to continue to sand those spots till the marks are gone?

    As far as the thinning - with thinner I assume?

    Thanks for the info - great for the novice!

  • TuckTuck Posts: 54
    I just built my table on saturday. I still need to sand it and apply the varnish. I'm bought a marine grade varnish. I hope it will last a good while.
  • Villa EggVilla Egg Posts: 11
    Any oil based product will darken the wood over time. The oils react to a natural chemical within the wood. Over time wood will darken and to what degree is impossible to predict, since environmental conditions and wood species will vary. If you put a raw piece of cherry wood in the sun it will darken it naturally (fast). To prevent natural darkening of woods you can put on a coat of sealcoat (shellac) first or use water-based finishes, I don’t trust shellac outside and water base it new.

    When wiping off the dust DO NOT use water it will RAISE the grain and you will have to sand again. Use a rag and the same product you are thinning with.

    Thinning: use mineral spirits or naphtha if you want it to dry faster (naphtha). If you do go crazy and get Epiphanies marine varnish only use the thinner they sell with it.

    Seeing the sanding marks? YES, you will see those...use an orbital sander. I use to go crazy about seeing scratches (150 grit) but than an old timer pointed out that is gives the surface more area to absorb varnish (more traction).

    You will need a good brush for varnish (bagger hair) and don’t OVER brush it. Put it on in the same direction and let it settle out. If you miss a spot (its called a HOLIDAY on yachts) too bad you will have to wait until it dries, sand it out and get it on the next coat. Send me your email and I can send you photos of outdoor bar tops that are couple years old.


    It may hold up better, but any (horizontal finish) outside will get destroyed by the sun. Marine may have more UV protection but it too will die out.
    THE key to preservation is recoating before it starts to break up.

    IF YOU PUT A COVER OVER THE ISLAND it will save the finish by 80% or so...well worth the $150.00
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