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painting wood furniture

I have received such great information on prep, technique, equipment to use,etc  but I have a question that I have not seen addressed.  I plan to paint a kitchen table white. I am concerned about hot/ cold damaging the painted surface.Can I put a urethane finish over the topcoat to protect it? I do not want to use anything that will "yellow"the white surface, but worry about the surface withstanding everyday use.

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Posted 2012-05-01T00:15:14+0000  by pollyb pollyb

Hi Pollyb, Welcome to the community.


To avoid yellowing use a latex paint instead of an oil based paint. The curing agents in oil based paint cause the yellowing of the finish as the paint ages. Heat also causes yellowing and in a kitchen there is often a lot of heat.

You can apply a urethane finish over the paint to add durability, however even the urethane may change the color when applied.

The best way to paint your table is to spray on the paint and the urethane finish. Allow the latex paint to dry thoroughly before applying the urethane.

We had a similar issue at our house, I wanted to protect the finish on our beautiful oak dining table, but I did not want to hide the top with a table pad.

So we had a clear glass top fabricated to cover the wood table top which protects it and allows the beauty of the wood to show through. After 10 years the glass has become scratched but the table top is as good a new.

You might consider this for your white table as well.

I hope these ideas are useful to you


Posted 2012-05-01T00:52:17+0000  by Mike_HD_OC

 An oil based urethane will definitely impart a slight amber tone of its own. However, a water based urethane is crystal clear. The urethane will also help lessen that gummy feeling that acrylic based paints have, especially when it is humid. Additionally, objects tend to stick to that gummy surface. It is very annoying. I am not an advocate of acrylic paints on furniture, particularly not on table tops or shelving for this reason.


Yellowing is particularly present in alkyd based oil paints. Avoid them and the yellowing is abscent or not  so severe. I often stear customers toward spray cans.  I have sprayed Rustoleum on many surfaces and have had no problem with yellowing after several years. Because it is oil, it exhibits none of the undesirable qualities of acrylics.


A couple tips for using spray cans: I always heat the can by putting them in hot water for several minutes. Run straight hot water from the tap. It is normally around 125degrees and will not cause the can to rupture. Heat does two things; it increases the pressure in the can, and it makes the oil paint more viscose. It simply flows better when it is warm! It was an old painter's trick to thin oil paint without actually "thinning" it with thinner. Warm oil paint flows like melted butter!


Fortunately, table tops are flat. This allows you to really lay the paint on without fear of runs or drips. Spray the  surface with long, straight strokes, overlapping by about 50%.  Remember, If the paint looks stripey when wet, it will look more so when dry! To aid in seeing how well you are laying the paint on, put a light down close to the surface so that you get a reflection off the surface. This will make it obvious if you are laying it down evenly or not.


When spraying the top, do the edges of the top first.  If you do them last, you will send a " dry fog" of paint over the surface and it will settle onto the already tacky surface, giving a rough feel to the surface.


A good, hard oil paint does not need to be clear coated, but it would not hurt to do so if you wish.


HD Answerman had a good suggestion for table tops that get daily use. Have a glass company make you a glass top. The best of finishes will not hold up to the daily family use. Make a template by tracing the edge of stiff paper placed on the top with a crayon and bring it to the glass company. I have always been amazed at how reasonable glass can be. Multiplate glass is also amazingly strong.

Posted 2012-05-01T05:36:11+0000  by ordjen

Hey PollyB!


I'm PatInPaint and I answer questions just like this almost daily at The Paint Pit.


The thread includes a lot of detail about oil-based polyurethanes yellowing ... your primary question.


I thought I'd add that if you choose water-based paint for your table, you'll have to use a water-based Polycrylic urethane.


Polycrylic Semi-gloss.jpg


The oil-based polyurethane is not manufactured to go over water-based paint!


On the other hand, although they yellow over six to eight years, oil-based polyurethanes tend to be a bit more durable.


Don't overlook the possibility of using an oil-based semi-gloss or high-gloss paint.


BehrOilSG.jpg  GlidPorFlr.jpg


Either will produce a beautiful white finish that does not require polyurethane ... and oils self-level so you'll produce the smoothest finish using oil-based paint.




So, during your decision making process, decide whether durability or non-yellowing is your highest priority ... but most importantly, remember that if you use water-based paint you'll need to use water-based polyurethane!


NOTE: It is unusual to find a water-based product in a spray can. However, should you choose water-based products, you will still have the option of using Polycrylic spray.


When your project is complete, come back and post photos with a description of your choices.

Posted 2012-05-01T12:35:58+0000  by Pat_HD_ATL

The glass top is a great idea! Thanks Mike.

Posted 2012-05-01T15:59:08+0000  by pollyb

How helpful....thank you so much!

Posted 2012-05-01T16:13:03+0000  by pollyb

Thanks for joining us on The Community Polly!


You may want to click over to this post and read about the oil-based paints mentioned earlier.


Whether on furniture or cabinets, the oil-based paints actually give you the most durability and the best chance to produce an perfectly smooth finish ... even though they will yellow in six to eight years.


Come back when we can help you again!

Posted 2012-05-01T17:24:18+0000  by Pat_HD_ATL


An anecdotal case of what oil based yellowing can cause: Years ago I had a customer request that we blank out her 1960's wood paneling in her family room with a blue color with a glaze over it. We put a protective coat of oil varnish on it and it looked great. The next morning, the paneling had taken on a distinct greenish look due to the yellowing of the varnish. We had to completely start over! However, this time we used Minwax Polycrylic as the protective coat. The blue color remained unchanged. Live and learn!!!

Posted 2012-05-01T18:01:21+0000  by ordjen
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