While looking for the best bar top finish to reclaim the gorgeousness of your old, cracked wooden bar and tabletops, aesthetics and outlook are not your only concerns. You also tend to think about whether the finish would be natural and durable or not.
And unless you are an expert in the chemistry of finish materials, you are likely to become overwhelmed by the market’s vast selection. From brand variation to different types, the product range is indeed extensive.
So, we rounded up some of the highest quality ones after going through tons of options available. Hope it makes things easier to get a suitable finish for you.
While looking for a finish for wooden tables or bar tops, furniture, floor, or other projects, which kind of finish to choose is kind of a hard decision to make.
Because it’s not only about the aesthetics but which one will protect the wooden surfaces.
And understanding what each kind has to offer will surely help you decide on one. So, have a look at the types.
Polyurethane has a nice blend of aesthetics and durability. It also provides you a range of finish choices from high and semi-gloss to matte. The finish tends to differ depending on what’s it based on, water or oil, and the sheen level.
So, within the option of polyurethane, there’s a lot to consider. While lower sheen level finishes like matte preserve the natural wooden look more, high sheen level aids in giving your bar top an exotic look.
So, most people tend to go with the middle ground, satin bar top finish whose sheen level is slightly higher than matte or semi-gloss below the high gloss one in the sheen spectrum.
These finish types also vary as being water-based and oil-based. The sheen level doesn’t seem to affect the durability, and it almost solely depends on whether you choose a water-based or oil-based product.
While oil-based ones tend to be more durable and preserve the look and surface for a longer time, they contain harsher chemicals and VOCs.
Epoxy, otherwise known as a pour-on bar top finish, is probably one of the most versatile finishes that you can use for any smaller to bigger projects: live edge river tables, bar or tabletop, and furniture finish for both home and commercial purposes.
The finish is exceptionally durable and resistant to water and scratches. In addition, epoxy produces a transparent or gloss finish that protects the inner wood layer while adding exotic aesthetics to your home or restaurant.
However, using an epoxy finish is tricky as you must have to get the ratio right. It seems to be a daunting task for most beginners, but following the instructions clearly, pretty much anyone can nail the gorgeous epoxy look.
Wax is the most traditional and easiest way of coating wooden tables and bar tops. However, besides some home or DIY projects, we don’t see many people using wax nowadays.
The reason can be, wax never gets very tough. Wax also lacks other protective qualities. It doesn’t resist or repel water and is more prone to scratches and blemishes.
Still, the finish is the easiest to work with, and maintenance is effortless as well. You can wipe out the finish any time you like and reapply.
6 Best Bar Top Finish 2022 Reviews
Below are some of the premium quality products selected with utmost care to fit in any situation. Give it a thorough read or just skim over it; you are sure to find the desired one.
Pro Marine Epoxy Bar Top Finish
Epoxy and Epoxy Hardener
100% solid materials
Mix in the ratio of 1:1
From commercial tabletop finishes to your home art and jewelry making, epoxy is something you can use anywhere. And a brand name that has quite a reputation in the market is the Pro Marine.
And this particular epoxy bar top finish from Pro Marine is widely popular for its versatile application.
Besides achieving a high gloss surface on your old or new tabletop, you can use this on any wooden finishes and furniture, artwork, and many more.
While, according to most customers, the product is a beginner-level epoxy coating, you must follow the instructions very precisely to achieve the best result. And yes, the manual describes everything very clearly.
The hardener and resin need to be mixed at a ratio of 1:1. After mixing properly, you can pour it over the surface, and the highly viscous liquid will level itself, producing a ⅛ inches thick layer.
The high gloss finish you will get is UV and water-resistant, meaning it won’t discolor in the presence of sunlight.
However, like any epoxy, slightly yellowing is inevitable when exposed to sunlight. And the instruction clearly says not to use outdoors.
The tough and hardened surface is impact-resistant and less susceptible to scratches as well. And all these aids in giving you a durable and long-lasting finish to your tabletop.
Although some customers complained about air bubbles, you can easily avoid that by using a blowtorch.
Versatile applicability, from tabletops to artworks
Self-leveling resin mixture gives a ⅛-inch thick layer in one pour
Water-resistant formula is less susceptible to water damage
Tough and impact-resistant finish is scratch-proof as well
Clear instructions of beginners to follow easily
Might discolor in the presence of sunlight and shouldn’t be used outdoors, as the instruction say
Pro Marine Crystal Clear Bar Top Finish
Crystal clear epoxy
Mix in the ratio of 1:1
VOC-free, inert epoxy
If you want to have that true epoxy high gloss finish, this Pro Marine Crystal Clear Bar Top Finish might be the way to go.
The reputable brand is very particular about its customer experience and never compromises on quality.
The problem most people face with epoxy is unnecessary bubble formation. Well, the product with a quality formula is entirely free of any Volatile Organic Compounds that aids in minimizing bubbles.
You can also apply a seal coat beneath the flood coat to further eliminate the issue.
The clear glass-like aesthetics of your tabletop is sure to catch anyone’s eyes. And it lets you use the epoxy with any acrylic paints to experiment and produce your imagination.
You can also use it to create beautiful-looking artworks, a glossy finish on your guitar, or any other wooden surface. It works on stainless steel, canvas, marble, tile, plywood, and many more.
The resin is mixed with the hardener in the ratio of 1:1, and make sure you maintain the proper temperature and follow the procedure accurately while mixing.
The hardened, high gloss finish is again scratch-resistant, which preserves its original glossy finish, food-safe as compliant by FDA, water repellent, UV resistant.
All these features make your table super safe to use around kids, pets, in the kitchen, or as a dining table without worrying about damaging the finish.
The self-leveling epoxy won’t give you any hard time while applying. However, it’s not resistant to very high temperatures, making it unsuitable for applying on kitchen countertops.
Quality formula minimizes bubble formation
Self-leveling makes it easy to apply
Food safe finish as approved by FDA
Can be used on versatile surfaces and for different purposes
Creates a beautiful glass-like scratch-resistant finish that is very durable
Not ideal for kitchen countertops as it’s not very high-temperature resistant
Epoxy Resin Crystal Clear Live Edge Bar Top Finish
Free of VOC
Crystal clear and rock hard finish
Ever wanted to create a live edge river table at home? Well, live-edge tables or furniture are absolutely beautiful, and they give a kind of create a raw beauty in your living space.
And this epoxy resin would be an ideal choice for your live edge bar top finish. What makes the finish so popular among the customers is its easy application, fast curing, and longer workability.
Unlike most epoxies, it’s slightly runny, giving you a longer work time of about 45 minutes. And it gets hardened pretty fast too! Unlike days, you can have your tabletop ready with only 24 hours of curing.
The less viscosity also translates into more flexibility and self-level during application. You can use the finish on any wooden surface, be it cutting boards, chairs, countertops, or others.
The 1:1 mixing ratio eliminates any confusion for beginners. You can also add acrylic paint and various pigments to make vivid artworks. Also, thanks to its fantastic color stability, your artwork will be preserved for a long time to come.
The product’s reasonable price also seemed appealing to most customers, considering the fact that it can easily outperform other resins and meet all your finish and coating needs.
However, we found one issue: the curing time is not always consistent. Sometimes it’s longer than 24 hours, and it might occur if you don’t maintain the hardener to resin ratio and temperature right.
Longer work time provides ease of use
Cures fast and becomes rock hard within 24 hours
Flexible and can be mixed with dyes and pigments to make different artworks
Has color stability and preserves the color for a long time
Comes at a reasonable price
Inconsistent cure time might be for some mixup in the ratio.
MAS Table Top Pro 2 Part Epoxy Bar Top Finish
Crystal clear finish
Bush and spreader included
Professional grade finish product
Both professionals and beginners equally like this 2 Part Epoxy Bar Top Finish from the American Manufacturer MAS.
Apart from including a half-gallon of hardener and resin, it comes with a 4-inch brush and a 4-inch spreader.
That translates into the easy application of it if you don’t have any kit. Also, the resin is self-leveling, just mix it in the ratio of 1:1 and apply it to your tabletop.
Add a seal coat on the clean surface beneath the flood coat to minimize bubbles and pores. And to achieve a bubble-free smooth finish, don’t forget to use a heat gun.
The working time is also a standard of about 30 minutes. Additionally, you can apply it on vertical surfaces and use the kits to give an even spread.
The bar top pour finish requires 24 hours to cure and produces a high-gloss finish that is attractive and durable. Apart from furniture and tabletop finish, the thick consistent epoxy can versatile surfaces and artworks.
However, some customers think that the hardening time is very short and recommended not using it for minor creative projects that require several color mixes.
Nevertheless, you can make a smaller mix, depending on your project size, so that you don’t waste any get the best out of it.
Comes with a brush and spreader for easy application
Standard working time provides ease of use
Produces high-gloss and durable finish
Hardens quickly, requiring less curing time
Professional grade finish, suitable for both pros and DIYers
Quicker hardening can be problematic in several instances, but you can avoid that by making mix as required
Rust-Oleum 260165 Polyurethane Matte Bar Top Finish
Water based polyurethane
Soft touch polyurethane
For those of you who want to keep the natural look of the wooden surface while protecting it from scratches and spills, this Rust-Oleum 260165 Polyurethane Matte Bar Top Finish might be the ideal choice.
The matte finish not only gives an elegant outlook to the surface but also ensures minimum smudges and fingerprints on it.
This water based bar top finish ensures quicker dry within one hour. You can then apply the next coat for further protection.
The finish also has a lighter consistency, allowing you to apply it easily over tabletops and furniture. You can also use it on your doors and kitchen cabinet to achieve a beautiful matte finish with no gloss.
The soft-touch polyurethane gives a smoother finish while being very durable and hard. It’s also scratch-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about your pet causing damage to the finish.
In addition, you can clean it easily with soap water to maintain its gorgeous outlook. No, the cleaning solution will not harm the finish or cause it to fade.
The polyurethane bar top finish seems very popular among woodworking enthusiasts for its quality and reasonable price.
However, the description doesn’t say anything about being UV-resistant; you shouldn’t use it outdoors.
Water based finish dries quickly
Lighter consistency provides ease of application on various surfaces
Resists scratches and ensures a gorgeous outlook for a long time
Can be cleaned easily with soap water
Provides a smooth and soft-touch finish to tabletops
Not UV resistant and shouldn’t be used outdoors.
EasyPour Epoxy High Gloss Bar Top Finish
Mixing cup, spreader, and spatula included
Easy pour finish
BPA free and Low VOC
While using epoxy for the first time, most people are concerned about not getting the ratio right, and a slight variation in the ratio can ruin your whole project.
So, at the very last, we have a easy-pour product and comes with one silicon spatula, one plastic spreader, and two mixing cups. With this easy-to-use product set, beginners can easily get the mix right.
And it’s self-leveling too! Just pour, and it will evenly distribute itself. Apart from that, the kit ensures a consistent and thorough mixing that helps in reducing bubbles, a common problem with most epoxies.
It produces a transparent high gloss finish that is sure to add elegance to your tabletop. And the water and UV-resistant coat will make sure your finish lasts long without discoloration, scratch, and blemishes.
Although it’s UV resistant and prevents yellowing to some degree when exposed to sunlight, outdoor use should be avoided to preserve glossiness and transparency.
And you can use it on versatile projects from jewelry and accessory making to arts and crafts. Also, the high gloss bar top finish turned up to a great value for money with its extra convenient kit.
However, this finish doesn’t let you eliminate the bubbles. And several consumers have had this issue. Still, make sure to work at an optimum temperature as described in the manual to minimize the bubbles.
Effortless for beginners to fix accurately with the mixing cups
Spatula and spreader ensure thorough mixing and even finish
Produces spectacular high gloss finish
Can be used for versatile projects and on different surfaces
UV resistance helps in conserving the gloss-look
Produces too many bubbles if the proper temperature is not maintained
Things to consider while buying Bar Top Finish
Knowing about the best products only might not be enough for choosing a quality option for you. Instead, try understanding what you should consider before buying and look for options accordingly.
One of the first aspects you look for in a finish is durability. The epoxy coatings are pretty long-lasting, forming a hard glass-like finish over your tabletops.
However, you need to choose one that’s water and heat-resistant. If not, then there’s a chance the finish getting fade over time in contact with water or kitchen heat.
There are various coatings in the market that FDA approves to be food-safe as well. And that’s kind of a relief knowing your child or pet is safe no matter messy it is.
In addition, the scratch-resistant feature aids in keeping the shiny finish smooth, free from any scratches or blemishes.
And the UV resistance helps in maintaining the transparent look of the finish. So, check for whether the finish applies to outdoor use or not.
How the finish turns out or whether it matches your decor is another important thing you should check before purchasing.
A high-gloss epoxy will make your bar or countertop appear like glass while giving an elegant look to it. However, if you want a natural wood look, a matte bar top finish is the way to go.
Workability refers to the ease of use or application and is one crucial factor to consider, especially if you are a beginner. And the factor like equipment required and working time determines how easy the finish is to apply.
If you have no experience working with epoxy, there’s a chance you might mix up with the ratio. In that case, get a product that includes kits like a mixing cup and spatula. And before mixing, check what’s the work time of the finish.
Work time less than 20 minutes can be problematic for beginners as the mix will get harden quickly. So, choose one that has a standard work time of 30 minutes or longer.
Another helpful feature is the self-leveling of the finish. Most epoxy finishes claim to be self-level, but look for authentic customer reviews to know that for sure.
In addition, some products come with a spreader to help you evenly spread the epoxy and achieve a smooth finish.
Bubbles are a common issue with most epoxies, and while there are hardly any products that ensure zero bubbles, you can always find one that produces minimum.
And you can use a heat source to eliminate them. While applying polyurethane, use a quality bristle brush or cloth not to leave any brush strokes.
Curing time refers to how long the finish takes to harden. Various epoxy resins have different curing periods but fall in the range of 24 to 72 hours. You can also find products that cure faster.
For polyurethane finishers, the drying and curing time depends on whether it’s water or oil-based.
The typical drying time is 24-48 hours, though. But it can become harden over time, and complete hardening might require weeks or months.
What curing time you should choose mostly depends on the purpose. For instance, if you want a finish for commercial purposes or a project that must be finished within due time, a smaller curing period is helpful.
Faster curing finish provides you flexibility and ease of use where you need to apply several layers of protection.
How To Finish a Bar Top?
The finishing process depends on which coating product you are using. But you need to get it right regardless of whether it is polyurethane or epoxy.
Let’s have a quick look at how to finish a bar top.
Step 1: Surface preparation
You should start by sanding the bar top to get a smoother surface. This step is more important for older or defective tabletops.
Next, remove all the debris and dust formed due to sanding and clean the area thoroughly with a cloth.
Step 2: Mixing
Next, get the resin and hardener mixture ready in a container or mixing cup. Remember not to pour too much of the product, mixing only the required amount.
Make sure to use the same amount of epoxy and hardener and stir it for only a few seconds.
Step 3: Seal Coat
Then apply a thin layer of seal coat first. This will help in preventing air bubbles. You can leave the finish to self-level if you are using it on a smaller surface.
For larger surfaces, it’s better to use a spreader to distribute the epoxy throughout the surface evenly.
Step 4: Flood Coat
Before applying the flood coat, make sure the layer beneath is dried completely. You don’t need to wait for the seal coat to cure; you can add another layer if the layer becomes hard enough to touch.
Follow the manufacture’s instructions to learn whether the seal coat requires sanding between the layers or not.
Step 5: Cure
After finishing all the layers, leave the tabletop or furniture in a dry place to cure. The curing time can be from 24 to 72 hours.
Make sure the surrounding temperature and humidity are optimum as per the instruction manual.
One problem you might face with epoxy is the bubbles that make the finish look cloudy and clumsy.
If the mixing is correct and optimum condition is maintained, there should be very few bubbles, and you can use a heat source like a blow dryer or propane torch to eliminate them.
Applying polyurethane finish to table and bar tops is simpler as it doesn’t involve any mixing. You just have to clean the surface properly before adding the coat.
You can consider light sanding, too, if the plane has many irregularities or if you are applying a water-based polyurethane layer over the wax or oil-based finish.
Next, use a soft brush or cloth to apply the finish. Low-quality brushes can be harsh and leave undesired strokes.
Make sure the strokes are straight and along the grain.
Once the first coat is dried properly, you can apply a second one. However, you need to lightly sand between the layers for oil-based ones. You can avoid the in-between sanding with water-based ones.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is It Necessary To Maintain The Resin And Hardener Ratio?
Yes, always make sure the hardener and resin are mixed in the ratio of 1:1. Otherwise, the finish might not cure properly or be as hard as expected. So, it’s indeed necessary to maintain the resin and hardener ratio.
How Long It Takes For The Polyurethane To Dry?
Whether it’s water or oil-based polyurethane, the drying time is most likely to be 24 hours. Some water-based product dries within 24 hours, while some oil-based ones may require 48 hours to dry.
Remember, the finish is not hardened completely; it is hard enough to touch only.
How Many Coats Of Polyurethane Are Required For A Bar Top?
Usually, two coats of the finish are adequate for protection. However, an additional coat will make the finish more lustrous and stronger.
So, you should consider giving the third coat for restaurant bar tops that are likely to face more water and alcohol spills.
What Can Finish Coatings Be Put Over Epoxy?
Adding another layer of coating over epoxy makes the finish more durable and resistant to sunlight. Sometimes other paint coatings are applied for decorative purposes.
So, if you want a barrier coat over your epoxy finish so that it doesn’t undergo discoloration, put latex paint, two-part linear polyurethane, bottom paints, or others over the epoxy.
To sum up, finishes make the tabletops and wooden furniture durable and protects them from external factors while giving them a gorgeous and attractive outlook.
It’s not easy to find the best bar top finish, though. Tons of products and their types make it a challenge to choose the right one.
Nevertheless, if you know what finish type you want, finding the right one will require you to go through some quality options. In this guide, we attempted to cover all there is to know about epoxy and polyurethane finishes. Hope this helps.