Protecting without refinishing a wooden table

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Forum topic by Veryverynewbie posted 07-29-2018 03:58 PM 449 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 543 days

07-29-2018 03:58 PM

Topic tags/keywords: protecting a tabletop no refinishing wooden table care finishing refurbishing traditional

I have an older (we think from the 1950s) wooden table that is in great shape; I don’t want to have to refinish it, because I love the color and even the uniqueness of its few blemishes.

However, I do have three little kids, and I’m looking for a way to protect the surface. I know you can use polyurethane, but I’d prefer to not have to, if there are other ways.

I’ve done several hours of googling, and almost everything I’ve found involves refinishing (which I do not want to do), and nothing seems to say, “You can’t protect the tabletop without refinishing,” so I’m just not really sure where to turn to get a definite answer.

If there’s some information already out there, I’d love it if someone could just point me to it. Or if there’s a really quick answer, I’ll take that too.

Thanks in advance!

PS I should note that I’m not looking for a miracle. :) Really, I’m just hoping to discover if there’s a way to keep damage from happening if, say, yogurt is spilled on the table—or a water ring is left for more than ten seconds! The kids aren’t complete destroyers. I’m not looking for protection from, say, fork banging and pencil stabbing. It’s definitely more about everyday protection against normal wear and tear.

7 replies so far

View bilyo's profile


960 posts in 1709 days

#1 posted 07-29-2018 04:40 PM

I would start with maintaining a coat of good quality floor wax on the top. After that, if you can control the timing of when it gets “heavy” use, put a good protective table cloth on it ( like this ). If its “heavy” use is random, then something fixed and more durable is probably called for. With 3 small kids, I would hesitate recommending a glass top, but perhaps a sheet of acrylic or poly-carbonate might be appropriate. Also, could you make a removable false top of plywood or Masonite with a Formica surface for the kids to use and remove it when you have dinner guests?

View CaptainKlutz's profile (online now)


2247 posts in 2101 days

#2 posted 07-29-2018 04:41 PM

IMHO – you can not add any significant level of protection directly to wood on an old table top without refinishing it.

Best I can offer is this:
1) add glass cover to top of table.
2) cover table in plastic
3) do not let kids use it.
4) Wax and polish it regularly with high quality wood furniture that contains harder carnauba wax (such as Mylands or Liberon Black Bison), to reduce damage from using table.

Best Luck.

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

View Aj2's profile


2650 posts in 2405 days

#3 posted 07-29-2018 05:56 PM

There’s no protecting a table from children.Some kids are more destructive then a room full of beer drinking ruffians.

-- Aj

View LesB's profile


2314 posts in 4050 days

#4 posted 07-29-2018 06:04 PM

Kids will just add “character” to the table top but in the 1950’s the kids would have suffered “bodily harm” if they damaged the top of the table. That’s another time…. They can be taught respect for such things but for some it may be too much effort.

Besides the other suggestions some people use to use a table pad to protect their delicate table tops. You can still buy table pads. They fold up for easy storage when not in use.

-- Les B, Oregon

View oldwood's profile


162 posts in 1851 days

#5 posted 07-30-2018 03:20 AM

Assuming that there is not a bunch of wax or other gunk on the surface you may be able to lay on a couple coats of matte finish poly which will add some good protection but not change the character of the present surface.

View 000's profile


2859 posts in 1506 days

#6 posted 07-30-2018 03:29 AM

View bondogaposis's profile


5605 posts in 2958 days

#7 posted 07-30-2018 02:11 PM

However, I do have three little kids, and I’m looking for a way to protect the surface.

About 1” thick concrete should do it. Remove the concrete when the kids are grown.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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