Help with choosing finish for a cedar bar top

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Forum topic by txsci posted 06-25-2015 02:00 AM 3101 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 1630 days

06-25-2015 02:00 AM

Topic tags/keywords: cedar question

I don’t have a lot of woodworking experience but really enjoying this project thus far. Building two red cedar bar tops for our cabin – one will go to covered patio and will get a few hours of TX sun exposure, another one will go indoors. Each one is about 84*12” of so. I was reading about finishes here and elsewhere and it seems that my original idea of BarTop Epoxy is no go for the outdoor one – no UV protection. I would probably prefer to finish both the same to save on the materials cost as the total area is not that big. Here are a few options I am considering – please comment and help me choose:
1) Marine-grade spar varnish, seems like Epifanes or Awlspar or Schooner is what most folks like. How many coats will I get out of one quart? Should I dilute the first couple of coats?
2) Cetol Marine +Cetol Marine Gloss. I hope the pigmentation won’t interfere a lot with the natural beauty of the slabs. I’ve read that application is much faster and maintenance is easier.
3) Defy extreme (clear/cedar) + something on top to make it glossy. Can spar varnish or Merine Gloss or anything cheaper work for this?

For all of the above my two major consideration:
-How beginner-friendly/forgiving the process is?
-How often and how hard of a maintenance is needed.

If there is another good option I’ve missed – let me know.

3 replies so far

View Andre's profile


2889 posts in 2369 days

#1 posted 06-25-2015 02:48 AM

Do you want to do it once or have to touch up every year? Marine spar varnish then West Epoxy! Done, make sure it is dry or it will cloud.

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View RussellAP's profile


3105 posts in 2850 days

#2 posted 06-25-2015 03:04 AM

I agree with Andre, but if you’ve never used epoxy then the chances of it coming out right are slim. If you do use it, make sure you stir it with the proper tool for a long long time. I’ve had table tops ruined because one little quarter sized piece didn’t mix right. I’d actually use epoxy to seal it before you top coat it. Just trowel it around till it covers and wait for the holes to appear. I just give the holes a dab of epoxy and let them smooth out. You have lots of time to work with epoxy and you’ll need every minute of it to pop bubbles and pull sh*t off like small hairs. You’ll need to spend about 3-4 hours doing that. After 8 hours it should be dry on the top, but I’d let it sit 48 hours in a dry room with air movement to cure. Good luck. Personally I’d use System 3 Marine Spar. Two coats of that stuff is all you need. Thin the first coat 10 – 15% though.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View txsci's profile


3 posts in 1630 days

#3 posted 06-25-2015 02:42 PM

Let me make sure I get it: One option is epoxy over varnish another one is varnish over epoxy (or epoxy goes on top of varnish as well). But will it really last forever despite direct sun exposure—I was under impression that epoxy is not meant for this. I get the idea that the varnish may provide the UV protection if its on top but how can it do it from the bottom…

And, yeah, it sounds with epoxy I may be getting over my head. Is there easier shortcut for epoxy, e.g. pour-on thing like this one

No comments on cetol from anyone? I like the ideas of #M polsh+ another coat instead of striping it down for maintenance.

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