Satin Finish Over Epoxy

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Forum topic by JustScrewIt posted 04-09-2019 01:00 PM 670 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View JustScrewIt's profile


4 posts in 745 days

04-09-2019 01:00 PM

I’m looking to build a nice dining room table. The plan is to make a French country style table. I’d like the top to be 8/4 walnut boards with breadboard ends. The issue I’m grappling with is the durability of a walnut table top. This will be a table for daily use and I have 3 kids ranging in age from 1.5 to 6 who will be abusing it and eventually writing/doing homework on it. I’m worried that walnut may not hold up and will show a lot of scratches and dings and writing indentations within a short amount of time. I made some bench seating with sapele tops finished with Arm-R-Seal which looked amazing a year ago but have already accumulated quite a few deep scratches and marks compliments of those kids.

So, to try to maintain the look of walnut, which is what the wife really wants, I was considering using epoxy to give it an ultra durable finish. The only thing is, I’d prefer not to have that super glossy epoxy finish, which I generally like, but just not for this particular project. My question is this – has anyone ever used just a seal coat of epoxy to soak into the fibers of the wood and reinforce the hardness of the surface, or even applied a light flood coat, and then sanded back and coated that with a satin finish urethane to get the best of both worlds?

I don’t mind if I lose some of the natural feel of the wood, I would just like to show off the natural look while keeping the shine down but also giving it a relatively child proof, durable, and easy to clean finish. Any advice or personal experience to share would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

9 replies so far

View bondogaposis's profile


5979 posts in 3413 days

#1 posted 04-09-2019 01:16 PM

This will be a table for daily use and I have 3 kids ranging in age from 1.5 to 6 who will be abusing it and eventually writing/doing homework on it.

My first reaction was to say, make it out of concrete, but honestly I think you’d be better off to make a more utilitarian type of table with a plastic laminate top until your kids get older. Then you won’t have to worry about it and they can’t do much damage and when they grow up replace the top with the walnut one that you and your wife will treasure.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View johnstoneb's profile


3167 posts in 3234 days

#2 posted 04-09-2019 01:23 PM

You need to get a large piece of clear plastic to put over the top for protection. There is no such thing as child proof.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View Firewood's profile


1465 posts in 2696 days

#3 posted 04-09-2019 01:50 PM

Even an epoxy coating will show signs of abuse. Once they are older and you want to refinish it, removing the epoxy may problematic.

For now, make one you won’t feel bad about scrapping in a few years when you replace it with one that you can enjoy for years to come.

-- Mike - Waukesha, WI

View CaptainKlutz's profile


4382 posts in 2556 days

#4 posted 04-09-2019 01:59 PM

LOL, my grand parents covered all their nice tables with sheet of tempered glass.
Didn’t stop us using butter knife to carve our names in apron of table, but it was nice try? :-0)

My parents decided to use polycarbonate sheet instead of glass (we broke one of granny’s with bowling ball – don’t ask). Steak knives will carve into plastic stuff really easily. LOL

+1 Laminate for every day table with kids At least till they are 7-8 years old, and destructive modes are intentional.
Otherwise, make the table top thick and heavy. When kids are teenagers and at least try to be nice to furniture, then you can machine off 1/8” all the way around and make the table you really want.

If you really want to make walnut table, there are professional/industrial grade 2 part polyurethanes used on things like bar furniture; that will be easy to apply (spray), and just as durable as epoxy. They come with different sheen levels too. Visit a commercial paint supplier to get some.

PS – repairing kid damage will always required sanding, color patching, and refinish. Impossible to avoid, even with raw wood.

Best Luck.

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View LesB's profile


2962 posts in 4505 days

#5 posted 04-09-2019 04:44 PM

First, regardless of what you use plan on refinishing it in about 15 to 20 years.
If it were mine I would apply about 5 coats of floor grade Polyurethane which can be a satin finish or you can burnish it with 0000 steel wool and paste wax or 600 grit sand paper to get the satin finish from a gloss finish. If the finish gets dull or scratched looking you can sand it with 320 grit sand paper and apply additional coats. I prefer water based poly although some people think the oil based cures harder. Look for the commercial grades not retail grade like MinWax. When it is time to re-finish it you can scrape the old poly off, sand smooth and put a new finish on. With the thickness you describe if the surface is badly damaged you could probably resurface the whole table when the time comes…...look into using a router and guides to plane a new flat surface.

That being said we have an old oak table that was worked over by the kids, including scout projects and the works. Today it shows it’s “character” with a lot of memories as to how each blemish was created.

-- Les B, Oregon

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4639 days

#6 posted 04-09-2019 05:18 PM

I’m a little surprised that Arm R Seal didn’t hold up I know people who have used it on floors without damage. Les has a good approach but as Mike said: “your Epoxy finishes can get scratched too”. How about a removable top that slips over your existing top for everyday use, it could have banding around the edge so it fits perfectly over your existing top and be removed when you have a guest, It could have a wood pattern laminate so it’s not too much out of place. If not that, you’ll have to take drastic measures and take your kids hammers away LOL


View SMP's profile


3839 posts in 967 days

#7 posted 04-09-2019 05:39 PM

Well if your wife is like mine, she will want a new table in a few years to go with whatever the current trend is at the time. If thats not the case, here’s my advice, worth the price:

Make your table top, plane and sand both sides. Finish both sides with 2 coats of gloss Arm-seal and a final coat of Satin Arm-r-seal. Now take the side that looks a little better and flip that down and use the other side as the table top for the next several years. Flip it when your kids are teenagers and hide in their room wanting nothing to do with dinner at the table.

View Jarrhead's profile


91 posts in 4421 days

#8 posted 04-09-2019 05:42 PM

I am getting ready to start a trestle table build for my daughter and son-in-law, who also have young children. I have all the same concerns as the OP. I decided to build the table from cherry, and I will use Stonecoat epoxy on the top. It is basically a flood coat process. Check out their videos on Youtube. I figure the epoxy will let the beauty of the wood show through, but still be durable. And after it gets dinged up they should be able to sand it smooth and recoat, if they choose.

-- trn2wud

View LesB's profile


2962 posts in 4505 days

#9 posted 04-10-2019 04:29 PM

a1Jim has a good idea. In the past I have seen “table cover pads” that were made to protect the top of the table and were even used under table clothes during meals to protect from hot dishes and spills. The folded up for storage when not in use.

-- Les B, Oregon

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