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Polyurethane or Wax finish on dining table??


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#1 Bess

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 08:33 AM

Do any of you have a wax finish on your dining table? If so, how do you like it? How do you wipe it? If you had a choice between buying a dining table with a wax finish or a polyurethane finish, what would you decide?

We just bought a table and currently it has no finish...just stained wood. We HAVE to do something with the top, and are undecided about the best way to go about it.

Thanks for any thoughts!

#2 Makita

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 09:02 AM

Our dining room table and hutch were custom made by The Joinery in Portland. They use a mixture of tung, linseed, and other penetrating oils. I love the natural look of the wood it provides but with two young children that make messes (despite table cloths or placemats), I frequently need to apply orange oil to the table surface. When not covered with a table cloth, I apply orange oil every 3-4 months, as recommended. I love the natural look though so prefer it is visible. I thereby need to apply the oil once a week or so.

Of course, this also means that the table doesn't have a hard finish to protect it from dings of little boys that like to bang their fork tongs on the surface. :glare: The kids have learned though to be gentle. They help to apply the oil and have learned the importance of taking care of things. They recognize that the table & hutch are special to us because it was made with wood that Papa harvested and sawed on his own mill. They know that the pieces will be given to them when we are older.

#3 Bess

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 09:37 AM

I thereby need to apply the oil once a week or so.


So does this orange oil protect it from water stains? If you have a glass on the table and it leaves a wet ring, would the ring stain the table if you didn't wipe it up? Also, when you wipe the table, do you use a wet cloth, and if so, do you dry the wetness with a towel right away? Just trying to understand how day to day maintanance would be like. Thank you!

#4 Tarheel Heather

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 09:41 AM

I had wax on our table, not easy to keep clean. I stripped off the wax and put poly on.

#5 Allearia

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 09:47 AM

Our dining table that we had before kids originally had just a wax finish. Even without the kids I guess I wasn't that careful about water stains or diligent about doing the wax. I stripped the wax off and sanded it and finished it with polyurethane. It now looks pretty good even with now 6 and 3 year old boys. I like being able to spritz on some gentle cleanser and clean the table easily. I think I will re-do the polyurethane sometime soon but that is more of a preventative step. I would definitely go for polyurethane but maybe someone with older kids or who knows they would be really good about using placemats and oiling/waxing frequently would do fine with a wax finish.

#6 sjp

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 10:10 AM

another vote here for stripping off an old finish to redo with poly. my table was bought by my parents 40 years ago, danish modern with an oil finish. ALWAYS getting rings and other damage on it.the oil seemed to attract and hold in dirt, the bottom of the legs were always very dark and dirty even though i would try to clean them with oil and 0000 steel wool. so i finally had the whole thing sanded off and refinished with poly, great decision. now i don't even need placemats, the table just wipes clean with a damp sponge. it is a bit shinier than it used to be, but i prefer that look. it looks brand new.

#7 Makita

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 06:48 PM

So does this orange oil protect it from water stains? If you have a glass on the table and it leaves a wet ring, would the ring stain the table if you didn't wipe it up? Also, when you wipe the table, do you use a wet cloth, and if so, do you dry the wetness with a towel right away? Just trying to understand how day to day maintanance would be like. Thank you!


No stress. I encourage coasters/placemats but it is no big deal if forgotten. The oil finish protects from stains or water rings. After a meal, I generally wipe the surface down with a damp cloth. Sometimes I then dry it with a dry cloth but generally I let it air dry.

We've had the table for 3-4 yrs now and we have yet to have a stain. We just have one small area that my little guy poked with the tines of his fork that is hardly noticeable. I could sand it out easily but haven't bothered. I rather like that our table tells a story.

I love the natural feel and look of the wood. It is black walnut though, so I imagine the color/density of the wood makes a difference.


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