10 Best Finish for Outdoor Wood Table- Reviews & Buyer’s Guide 2021

Image of outdoor wood table coated with the Best Finish for Outdoor Wood TableAn outdoor wood table is an excellent way to improve your backyard’s look and provide guests and family members with comfortable experiences. However, maintaining bare wood is both time-consuming and expensive. It can be hectic, especially for an outdoor wood table, which is always subjected to harsh external conditions. You will always need the best finish for outdoor wood table to keep it in the best condition possible.

The finish is suitable for outdoor furniture as it has U.V. rays and water-resistant qualities that offer superior protection from sunlight and rain. It also protects the wood from mold and mildew and further enhances the wood’s durability.

Working with the finish is easy as it is self-leveling and cures into a lovely finish. You do not have to worry about maintenance as soap and water clean-up does the job well.

The formula is environmentally friendly and safe for use, making it an excellent choice for family projects and prolonged woodworking sessions. Besides that, you can choose whatever application method you prefer depending on the tools available.

Read this article for more information concerning the product and what makes it stand out. You will also find a detailed buyers guide that will shed more light on considerations to make before you shelf a specific formula.

How do you finish an outdoor wood table?

If you have an outdoor wood table, the below steps will help you do the finishing correctly.

Step 1: Consider your area’s climate.

Before beginning with the finishing process, it’s good to know the kind of weather you’ll encounter often.

If your area has consistent sunny days, consider a product that will offer protection from the sunlight. 

On the other hand, a water sealant will be best for you if your area has consistent rainy days.

Step 2: Surface preparation

Sanding has always been the remedy of most surface preparations, and your outdoor wood table is not an exception.

If your wood has a previous finish, consider using a chemical wood stripper.

Step 3: Do the painting

Painting your table will offer it the strongest protection against mother nature. The pigments in most paints contain UV blockers that reflect away the UV radiations.

Tip: Latex paints are durable than the oil based. Also, the appropriate time to do the repainting job is when you notice fading, chipping, or peeling.

Step 4: Apply water sealants.

Even though your area might be experiencing many sunny days, applying a water sealant will offer protection against water during rainy days.

Here are the main types of water sealants:

  • linseed/ walnut/ tung oil.
  • Water based wood sealer.
  • Oil based semi transparent stain.

Apart from applying the sealant, below are other methods you can use to protect your outdoor wood table:

  • Applying varnish.
  • Using epoxy sealer and exterior varnish.
  • Protecting it from sun and rain.

How long does polyurethane last outdoors?

The duration varies depending on the environmental conditions of your area and the specific type of polyurethane.

For instance, the Gloss based varnish and Danish oil can survive in harsh outdoor conditions for about 10 or 20 years.

Even so, other polyurethane products such as satin finishes and stains may not make it up to 20 years outdoors. 

The reason is that their pigments and flattening agents always disable the driers in the long run. Other water based coatings and paints can survive outdoors for at least three years. However, shellac will go bad in less than a year.

Note: When choosing the ideal polyurethane for your outdoor use, consider the one with the right pigments. It should have additives for UV protection.

Finally, ensure the label says “for exterior use” so the finish can flex with the expanding and contracting wood.

Can you use polyurethane on outdoor wood?

Yes, you can. It’s the most durable clear exterior finish. However, you should consider the one ideal for exterior use. 

Tip: Polyurethane for outdoor use must have the following properties:

  • UV Resistance

You must know that most clear finishes don’t have the same durability as paint. Therefore, choosing the one with UV absorbers will be a big win.

The absorbers work by absorbing the rays then releasing them as heat. Titanium dioxide is commonly used since it can be finely ground to reflect UV radiations while being transparent to visible light. 

Note: Even though blocking compounds will help block the UV light, adding more will make your polyurethane opaque.

  • Flexibility

By the rule of the thumb, the variation of temperature always causes most materials to contract and expand. Thus, you need to go for the best exterior polyurethane with the correct combination of oils and resins.

Doing so will ensure that it flexes with the wood. 

Note: You must recoat annually. And don’t forget to do proper surface preparation.

But what should you do when recoating and the oil finish is still intact? Here, you’ll only need to remove dirt and grease.

Afterward, lightly sand the surface before wiping it down with mineral spirits.

What is the best clear coat for wood outdoors?

I recommend Marine spar varnish. This product has outstanding key ingredients that contribute to its durability.

These ingredients are alkyd resin (reaction of linseed oil with alcohol and acid) and linseed oil (extracted from flax seeds).

With such composition, this product can easily and effectively flex with the wood as it swells and shrink from the variation of the surrounding temperature.

Even so, I suggest that you choose a spar finish with UV absorbers. If you want maximum protection from the outdoor inhibitors, I recommend applying up to six thin coats.

The durability of this clear coat is unparalleled. However, lightly sanding and adding a fresh coat yearly will make your wood more durable beautiful.

Despite the different types of clear finishes in the market, you’ll realize two main categories.

One type will soak into the wood fibers while the other forms a shell on top of the surface. Thus, you must know what’s best for your wood.

What is the best polyurethane for outdoors?

I suggest going for an epoxy sealer with exterior varnish. Even so, such products are always the most labor intensive finishes.

Best Finish for Outdoor Wood Table Comparison Table

Best Finish for Outdoor Wood Table Buyer’s Guide

A woodworker has to choose the specific finish that is most suitable for their wood table depending on aspects such as their preferences and the wood tone. Some woodworkers may even wonder if they need a finish for their wood.

This section will give more insight into purchasing the best finish for an outdoor wood table and factors to consider before you shelf one.

Reasons for Buying the Best Finish for Outdoor Wood Table.

  • Durability. The wood finish gives the lumber durability as it protects it from damaging elements such as water, U.V. rays, mold, and mildew. The formula also cures into an anti-scratch finish that keeps the wood looking fresh for longer.
  • Maintenance. The formula is easy to maintain and cleans up quickly with soap and water. It also allows you to recoat without prior sanding, which saves money and time.
  • Application. Working with the product is enjoyable as you get to choose your most preferred application method. It works with a sprayer, roller, or brush, and you adopt what works for you.
  • Safe to use. The solution has a low odor and fewer VOCs, making it safe for use at home for outdoor and indoor projects. This attribute also allows you to have longer working sessions without feeling nauseated.
  • Enhanced appearance. The wood finish highlights the wood grain and makes the wood more attractive. It also preserves it from changing color as a result of sunlight exposure.

Factors to Consider When Getting the Best Finish for Outdoor Wood Table.

  • Environmentally Friendly

Preserving the environment should always be a priority as we use and dispose of products. Therefore, an appropriate wood finish would be non-biodegradable and does not harm nature.

Please check the product’s specifications to determine if it meets the required environmental safety standards.

  • Safe and Comfortable to Handle

A woodworker should also mind their health as they pick out a wood finish. They should take their time to search for a low odor and follow the application safety measures provided.

The formula should also be easy to handle and instructions easy to follow. This quality helps both professionals and DIYers get the maximum benefit and easily use it despite their woodworking expertise levels.

  • Desired Finish

You should determine your preferred finish before purchasing the product. For example, if you want a satin or gloss coating, ensure that you get the appropriate formula.

Sometimes, a woodworker may want a finish that makes the wood grain visible. They need to get a transparent formula that does not cover or alter the wood’s natural color.

Also, some products require more coatings than others for them to give a particular look or design. Please read the manufacturer’s guidelines and instructions to apply the formula to meet your expectations.

  • Affordability

The wood finish prices vary from product to product, and you should predetermine the amount you are willing to spend before beginning your search. The formula price should be affordable and maintenance costs manageable.

  • Application

If you want to buy a wood finish for outdoor projects, ensure that you check if it is U.V. rays and water-resistant. Adverse weather conditions shorten the wood’s lifespan, and you want a finish that resists such effects.

It is also a good practice to determine if the finish can work on painted and stained wood. You will make a better choice because you will get a formula based on how fast you need the project completed.

If you are in a hurry to finish the wood table, ensure that you get a formula whose application gives excellent results without factoring in whether you had previously stained the wood.

Best Finish for Outdoor Wood Table Products Review

Here, I’m taking a keen interest in individual products. Some of the aspects that will be discussed include the top features, advantages as well as disadvantages of each product. Keep reading for more…

1. Ready Seal

Ready Seal wood stain adds color and seals the wood from moisture in one step. It requires no primer or a wet line application as it blends itself to give superb results. The formula also needs no back brushing and does not leave laps, rubs, or streaks. 

You can choose the application method you prefer, as spraying, rolling, or brushing will do an excellent job.

The unique stain and sealer combination eliminates extra costs and time during application. It requires no thinning before spray applications: thus, you can comfortably spray it on your wood table. Also, the product is easy maintenance as no stripping or sanding is necessary during reapplication.

The Summary of Top Features

  • Ready Seal enhances the beauty of the wood by highlighting the wood grain.
  • It is a wood stain and sealer: thus, suitable for multiple applications.
  • The product is oil-based and semi-transparent and produces impressive results for outdoor wood applications.
  • Ready Seal is biodegradable: thus, safe and environmentally friendly.
  • The formula is mold and mildew resistant, offering maximum protection from mold and mildew damage.

ProsReady Seal 512 5-Gallon Pail Natural Cedar Exterior Stain and Sealer for Wood

  • The product meets the required VOC levels.
  • It contains no linseed oil and will not stain your hands.
  • You can apply the product at any temperature.
  • It penetrates deep into the wood and protects it from moisture damage.
  • Ready Seal is U.V. rays resistant and gives the wood long life.


  • You need to remove all the paint or stains from the surface before application.
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2. RTG Outdoor Wood Furniture Varnish

This water-based polyurethane formula glorifies and maintains the wood’s natural beauty with a durable and ultra-clear finish. It cures into a strong finish that prevents clouding, chipping, fading, yellowing, scratching, and peeling. The product is excellent for swings, patio tables, and other wood pieces.

RTG Outdoor Wood Varnish is 100% waterproof and U.V. resistant, which keeps the wood table looking beautiful for a longer time. It allows you to overcoat in as little as 1 hour during favorable weather conditions, and you do not have to sand the product between coats. Therefore, you can apply multiple coats in a single day and finish your project faster.

The product is a self-leveling DIY solution that cures into a smooth finish. It is easy to apply using a spray gun, roller, or brush, giving you the freedom to choose what works best for you. 

The Summary of Top Features

  • The formula has an easy-pour spout that prevents spills and drips.
  • It is safe to use as it has an extremely low odor and low VOC content.
  • Maintaining the product is quite simple as soap and water give impressive results.
  • Image of wood finishRTG Furniture Varnish is waterproof: thus, suitable for outdoor applications.
  • No sanding is required between coats allowing you to do your recoats quickly.


  • The product extends the wood’s durability.
  • It dries fast to allow you to complete your project on time.
  • RTG Wood Finish beautifies the wood while retaining its natural color.
  • Both DIYers and experts can comfortably use the finish as it is self-leveling.


  • You need to use gloves as you handle the finish.
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3. DEFY Extreme Exterior Wood Stain, Crystal Clear

The wood stain is easy to maintain as you do not have to strip or sand during recoats. It cleans up well using soap and water, significantly reducing your maintenance budget. The formula is safe to use and environmentally friendly as it is water-based and 250 VOC compliant. Besides that, you can comfortably clean it with soap and water: thus, maintenance is simple.

Apart from offering superior protection from damaging U.V. rays thanks to zinc nano-particle technology, the product does not alter your wood’s beautiful look. It acts as a sunscreen on the wood and keeps it looking fresh. 

The Summary of Top Features

  • The product is water-based acrylic: thus VOC compliant and cleans up easily with soap and water.
  • It uses zinc-nano technology that protects the wood from sun damage.
  • Defy is easy to apply as you can use a roller, brush, or sprayer.
  • The stain has high-quality resins that offer better resistance to darkening and fading.

ProsDEFY Extreme 1 Gallon Exterior Wood Stain, Crystal Clear

  • Defy protects the wood from fading and graying.
  • It is easy to maintain as no stripping or sanding is necessary during recoats.
  • The formula cures into a durable finish that keeps the wood attractive for longer.
  • You can use the stain for different wood colors as it is available in more than one color.
  • It is safe to handle, and you can use it in family projects.


  • You must thoroughly clean the wood before application.
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4. Star Brite Premium Golden Teak Oil

Star Brite Premium Golden Teak Oil is appropriate for your outdoor wood table as it contains U.V. rays absorbers that keep the wood safe from damage caused by the sun. It has advanced tung oil polymers that offer superior protection for teak and other fine woods, assuring you of longevity. The formula works well on pools and boats: thus, suitable for so many other wood projects.

When applying the product, use a clean cloth, brush, or sponge and ensure you follow the wood grain’s direction to maximize oil penetration. 

Star Brite Premium formula is thus easy to use and dries faster to allow woodworkers to enjoy their sessions.

The Summary of Top Features

  • The formula enhances the teak’s appearance by giving it a natural warm golden color.
  • It has U.V. rays absorbers and preserves the wood from weathering due to sunlight exposure.
  • You can use the product in various projects such as pools, boats, and wood furniture.
  • The oil contains advanced tung oil polymers that offer maximum protection for teak.
  • It cures into a durable finish that keeps your wood intact for longer.

ProsStar brite Premium Golden Teak Oil - Sealer, Preserver, & Finish for Outdoor Teak & Other Fine Woods, 32 oz

  • The product lasts 4 to 6 times longer than average teak oils.
  • It is easy to use and fast drying.
  • You can use it as a preserver, sealer, or finish for your marine teak.
  • The oil is also suitable for teak furniture and other fine woods.


  • You have to treat dirty or weathered wood before using the product.
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5. TotalBoat Gleam Marine Spar Varnish

The varnish contains phenolic resins, premium tung oil, and U.V. blockers to offer maximum protection to the wood. These impressive qualities keep the wood looking beautiful regardless of the weather conditions.

TotalBoat cures into a beautiful, warm transparent amber finish that enhances the wood’s beauty. It gives you the option of getting a gleaming gloss or a satin finish to suit your project requirements. On top of that, the cured varnish remains flexible. It expands or contracts depending on the temperature and humidity changes.

You can use the product for multiple product applications such as strip canoes, boats, furniture, and outdoor wooden bar tops as it works well in both interior and exterior settings. TotalBoat is easy to apply, and whether you are a beginner or a professional, you will enjoy working with it.

The Summary of Top Features

  • The varnish dries fast and allows you to coat within an hour as 72 degrees F.
  • It provides saltwater resistance and superior Ultraviolet rays protection to keep the wood from yellowing over time.
  • You can easily apply the formula with a sprayer, brush, or roller.
  • TotalBoat is available in gloss and satin to meet your project’s needs.
  • It expands and contracts with the wood during seasonal humidity and changing temperatures. 

ProsTotalBoat Gleam Marine Spar Varnish, Gloss and Satin Polyurethane Finish for Wood, Boats and Outdoor Furniture (Clear Gloss Quart)

  • The product is ideal for indoor and outdoor wood applications.
  • It works both as a sealer and a finish.
  • TotalBoat cures into a radiant durable finish.
  • It is self-leveling, making it easy to use.
  • The formula is perfect for transparent coating applications.


  • You have to do an annual maintenance coat to preserve the beautiful finish and enhance U.V. rays protection.
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6. RUST-OLEUM 250231 Outdoor Clear Satin Finish

Suppose you want a durable finish for your outdoor wood table: a finish that will withstand adverse weather conditions. Look no further! This clear satin finish works well for outdoor applications as it is packed with U.V. rays absorbers. It protects the wood table from harmful elements and enhances its durability. The formula also cures into a smooth finish and gives the lumber an elegant design.

Rust-Oleum dries fast and allows you to apply up to three coats in a day. It has a low odor and is easy to maintain with a water clean-up. After application, the formula cures into an anti-scratch finish and features a clear, non-yellowing coat.

The Summary of Top Features

  • Rust-Oleum features a clear, non-yellowing finish keeping the wood attractive.
  • It is easy to wash up with water: thus easy to maintain.
  • The formula has U.V. absorbers: thus, protect the wood against elements.
  • It enhances the wood’s durability by resisting scratches.
  • You can use the finish for multiple exterior wood applications.

ProsRUST-OLEUM 250231 Gallon Outdoor Clear Satin Finish

  • The formula is suitable for outdoor applications.
  • It dries fast.
  • Rust-Oleum cures into a smooth finish and gives the wood table an elegant design.
  • It has a low odor: thus, safe to use for long working sessions.
  • The finish does not darken or gray when exposed to the sun.
  • Both DIYers and experts can comfortably use it as the manufacturer provides a user’s guide.


  • The product is pretty thick and may not work well with a sprayer.
  • The surface must be clean to ensure proper adhesion.
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7. TotalBoat Lust Marine Varnish

Apart from giving the wood unmatched durability, TotalBoat also enhances the wood table’s beauty by making the grain visible. It is ideal for both indoor and outdoor furniture, therefore, suitable for multiple home wood projects.

The finish cures into a U.V.-resistant waterproof finish that does not fade, ensuring the wood looks good. It won’t peel or crack when the wood expands and contracts due to temperature changes and provides superb results for marine and household woods. On top of that, TotalBoat allows rapid recoating, and you can do multiple coats in one day.

The Summary of Top Features

  • TotalBoat Varnish imparts a rich, clear amber tone that enhances the wood grain.
  • It gives the surface a U.V.-resistant finish that keeps it from fading.
  • The varnish is also waterproof and preserves the wood table from water damage.
  • You can use the product for marine and household woods as it does not peel or crack when the wood expands and contracts due to temperature changes.
  • It is perfect for both interior and exterior wood applications.

ProsTotalBoat Lust Marine Varnish, High Gloss and Matte Finish for Wood, Boats, Outdoor Furniture (High Gloss, Quart)

  • The product cures into a lustrous amber finish.
  • It is a high build formula and does not require multiple coats to give desirable results.
  • You don’t have to sand between coats.
  • TotalBoat offers exceptional durability and finishes clarity.
  • It dries fast and allows you to finish your varnishing projects on time.
  • You can build up layers to give a glossy finish.


  • You have to remove any paint from the surface before you apply the varnish.
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8. Luminos Cold – LUM1151 – Ocean – Wood Outdoor Finish Stain Protector

Luminos Cold prides itself as a new formula with a better touch and a wide range of new and modern colors. It also does an excellent job protecting the wood from rain, U.V. rays, frost, and mold. The formula is also water-repellent, which gives the wood maximum durability from moisture.

The finish is a water-based product, non-sticky, and you can repaint it without sanding. This attribute makes it suitable for woodworkers looking for an easy-to-maintain product. 

The multiple stain colors embellish outdoor furniture, fences, doors, and window frames, and you can choose how intense you would want it to be and match the wood color. Besides that, Luminos Cold dries quickly and allows you to finish your work within no time. 

The Summary of Top Features

  • Luminos Cold is suitable for a variety of applications as it works on both treated and untreated wood.
  • It colors and embellished fences, outdoor furniture, doors, and window frames.
  • Maintaining the product is easy as sanding is not necessary during recoats.
  • The formula comes in modern and new colors to accommodate your sophisticated project’s needs.
  • It enhances the wood’s durability by protecting it from U.V. rays, frost, mold, and rain.

ProsLuminos Cold - LUM1151 - Ocean - Outdoor Wood Finish Stain Protector IR Reflective - Blue Ocean 3QT

  • The finish gives a color that accentuates its brightness to the sun.
  • It is a water-based product.
  • Luminos cold dries fast after 15 minutes.
  • It is easy to store the finish, and the plastic can does not rust.
  • The formula is water-resistant and keeps moisture from damaging the wood.


  • You must remove any varnish or paint before application.
  • The product requires gloves to avoid splashes.
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9. General Finishes Exterior 450 Water Based Wood Stain

Are you looking for a good quality stain that will offer fantastic results for your wood projects? The Exterior 450 Wood Stain is what you need! It offers the woodworker premium quality and comfortably works on outdoor projects with vertical surfaces such as entrance and garage door. 

The formula protects the wood from sunlight damage, thanks to its U.V. absorbers. It is also anti-mildew, which slows mold and mildew growth and prevents the wood from changing color.

The Summary of Top Features

  • Exterior 450 stain has U.V. rays absorbers that protect the wood from sun damage.
  • It also enhances the lumber’s durability by protecting it from mildew.
  • The product is easy to apply as brushing, rolling or spraying does the job well.

ProsGeneral Finishes Exterior 450 Water Based Wood Stain, 1 Quart, Cedar

  • The stain is ideal for outdoor projects with vertical surfaces.
  • It keeps the wood from fading or changing color from sunlight.
  • You can quickly clean the finish with soap and water.
  • Exterior 450 is mold resistant and keeps the wood in good shape for longer.


  • The product does not give desirable results for large horizontal surfaces such as decks.
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10. TotalBoat Halcyon Marine Varnish

TotalBoat Halcyon Marine Varnish dries extremely fast and allows you to apply up to five coats in a day. No sanding is necessary between coats, and you get to finish your project much faster. The formula cures into a hard, satin, or gloss finish for impressive bright work that is easy to maintain. It is weather and U.V. resistant, which allows it to expand and contract naturally without cracking or yellowing.

The varnish is easy to use as it is self-leveling and allows foam brush, roller, and spray application. It has no harsh perfumes and cleans up easily with soap and water. Also, you can choose clear or amber glossy or clear satin, depending on your preferences.

The application process is easy and enjoyable as the product has a convenient, resealable pour Pak packaging that makes it easy to store and pour. Once it cures, it forms a maximum abrasion, moisture, and scratch-resistant finish, assuring you of longevity.

The Summary of Top Features

  • The formula gives the wood long life as it protects it from U.V. rays, abrasion, stain, scratch, and moisture.
  • It is ideal for marine indoor and outdoor furniture.
  • You get a healthier working environment as the product is eco-friendly and has low VOC.
  • The varnish enhances the wood grain and imparts a natural, clear tone that does not discolor with time.
  • It is ideal for both outdoor and indoor projects such as doors, trim, cabinets, furniture.

ProsTotalBoat Halcyon Marine Varnish (Gloss, Quart) | Water-Based Polyurethane Wood Finish | Clear Gloss UV Protection for Interior and Outdoor Use

  • The product clean-up is easy with soap and water.
  • It has a unique pour Pak bag that is easy to pour without messy drips.
  • Maintenance is easy; you don’t need to sand during recoats.
  • The marine varnish flows smoothly and lays down evenly.
  • It dries fast.


  • It does not work well on painted or stained surfaces.
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11. Rust-Oleum 9441 Ultimate Spar Urethane Oil Based, Quart, Semi-Gloss

  • It’s an oil based formula.
  • Provides maximum durability.
  • It allows for an even finish.
  • The item dries to the touch in only 2 hours.
  • It has a coverage area of up to 190 square feet.
  • Recoating is after 8 hours.
  • The product is water and UV resistant.
  • It’s a semi gloss finish that provides a smooth and classy look.
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12. ZAR ZAR-34112 34112 Ultra Fast Drying Exterior Polyurethane, Satin, QT, Clear

  • It provides superior protection.
  • Fast drying (2 hours).
  • It’s formulated with ultraviolet radiation absorbers and antioxidants.
  • Specifically made to offer protection to exterior woods subjected to direct sunlight.
  • It’s ideal for wooden marine surfaces located above the water line, exterior doors, fences, and other woods exposed to extreme weather conditions.
  • It’s oil based.
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13. Minwax 13205000 Helmsman Indoor/Outdoor Spar Urethane, 1 gallon, Satin

  • It contains UV blockers.
  • The product has special oils that allow it to flex with the wood.
  • Suitable for most outdoor furniture.
  • It forms a protective barrier against rain and moisture.
  • Ideal for use over light colored woods and stains.
  • This item dries quickly.
  • Easy to clean with warm water.
  • It provides more chip and impact resistant surfaces.
  • More durable than spar finish.
  • It’s ideal for providing an extra tough clear finish.
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The best finish for outdoor wood table should be one that enhances the wood’s durability. It should also accentuate the wood grain, thus making the table more beautiful. The formula contracts and expands with temperature changes and preserves the wood from peeling and cracking. You can also determine your finishing project’s end product as the solution allows you to continue coating till you get your desired result.

The Ready Seal is my top pick as it has additional attributes such as a wood stain and sealer, which makes it useful in different wood projects. The formula is biodegradable and thus environmentally friendly. Using the product is fun and enjoyable as no thinning is required before spray applications.

Image of a woodworker wearing hearing protectors for woodworking

Tyron Otieno

Tyron is an avid woodworker and writer. He founded this website to help other woodworkers, whether hobbyists or professionals by sharing his knowledge and experiencie after a decade of woodworking.