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Popular Topcoat Choices For Woodwork Projects

January 6, 2019Olen Murriel

Have you been involved in a major woodworking project? Have you completed assembling and sanding your woodwork? Are you satisfied with the evenness of the stain and how it brings out the wood grain’s character? Then you need to go a notch higher. Your woodwork still needs protection from the elements. You need to use a high-quality woodwork protectant to shield the stained finish. If you do not protect your woodwork, it will crack, deteriorate or dry out.

Check out some of the commonly used finishes that you can use to protect your stained woodwork project.



1. Polyurethane

This is one of the most readily available topcoats that you can use for your project. It is quite easy for you to apply and will last a long time To crown it all up, it brings out the stained wood’s color quite well Polyurethane topcoat finishes can either be oil or water-based. The way that you will apply and use each type differs. There are some disadvantages to using polyurethane. In the event that your finish gets damaged, polyurethane finishes are difficult to repair cleanly. With time, the polyurethane finish tends to develop a yellowish tinge that may affect the overall aesthetic appeal of your woodwork project.


2. Lacquer

If you are looking for a finish that can handle wear and tear well, you should consider a clear lacquer topcoat finish. Lacquer finishes are water resistant, especially if your woodwork may be exposed to moisture. There are tinted lacquer finishes that behave like paint. You can apply them to your woodwork by spraying or brushing. However, try to avoid spraying as it dries quite fast and can be a messy affair. Avoid exposing your lacquered woodwork project to UV light as it may get damaged.


3. Hand-Rubbed Lacquer Finishes

In case you desire a mirrored finish on your woodwork project, try hand rubbing the lacquer. This process may take you a lot of o time and energy, but it will be worth your while. It may be quite tricky to apply this finish on intricate pieces. However, you can apply it to your tabletop where the mirrored finish will stand out.


4. Shellac

Shellac is the easiest type of topcoat that you can work with. It is actually derived from resin secretions of certain insects which are processed and mixed with alcohol. In case your woodwork gets damaged, for whatever reason, a shellac topcoat finish is easy to repair If you want to achieve a mirror-like shine, you can integrate French polish techniques with your shellac topcoat. However, shellac finishes are not as resilient or waterproof as their counterparts.


5. Paste Wax

Paste wax finishes have been around for a long time. In fact, the wax of choice back in the day was beeswax. In the recent past, beeswax has been replaced by carnauba wax. Much as it is considered a top coat, you can use it in conjunction with polyurethane or lacquer topcoat to give a shiny finish.



With your woodwork project, the finishing is important. A great finish will bring out the intricate graining and make your woodwork project to stand out. However, assembly, sanding, and staining are not all there is to it. You need to protect the staining on your woodwork project.
There is a wide variety of popular topcoat finishes that you can choose from.

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