Outdoor picnic table finish that will protect hand-paintings

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Forum topic by THinFC posted 04-04-2016 04:09 PM 305 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 201 days

04-04-2016 04:09 PM

Hi All,
I’m a newb to this forum.
I’m hoping there’s an expert out here that can give me some guidance. I’ve poked around a little and found definite opinions on outdoor furniture finishes, but I’ve got sort of a weird case.

I have an outdoor picnic table that my mother, who has now passed, had lovingly hand-painted daisies on the top, most likely with an enamel of some sort. Daisies were her favorite flower, so after she passed, this table was instantly transformed into a family heirloom. I want to protect it with everything I can, for as long as I can.
The table itself is a red cedar, I think, but very faded. Mom’s hand paintings are in surprisingly good shape, but the tabletop finish is pretty much gone. It cleaned up nicely, however, and is ready for some bulletproof finish of some sort.
If it weren’t for mom’s handwork, I would have slopped on some teak oil or something similar and moved on. But I know that teak oil needs raw wood to sink in and cure, and the paint won’t allow that to happen, so it won’t protect any of the stuff that I specifically want to protect.

I would like some guidance in choosing a really tough outdoor coating that won’t wreck the hand painting, but will cure and protect the wood really well. Spar urethane? Oil based or water based? Other solutions that won’t upset the hand painting or hide it?

More food for thought…when the finish is cured, I have a piece of thick tempered glass that will be placed over the tabletop to protect it from being marred. Then I’m going to take a further step and make a removable opaque cover for the table to keep out UV when we’re not using it. Our deck gets a lot of sun, so I have to protect it somehow.

Any ideas from all you experienced folk?

Thanks and kind regards!

2 replies so far

View JBrow's profile


743 posts in 338 days

#1 posted 04-07-2016 03:24 AM


I would not even to attempt to answer your question. The picnic table is just too important a piece to get wrong. I think the steps you are planning to protect the table top are critically important. I would suggest that you contact a few local glass shops to determine if you can buy a glass cover that offers some protection against UV, in addition to the opaque cover your are planning.

As far as what finish to apply, I suggest that you contact individuals expert in exterior finishes. Painting contractors with a good reputation come to mind. Perhaps someone who restores finishes could also inform your decision. I found the representative with who I spoke at Twin Creek Log Homes to be knowledgeable of outdoor finishes for my red oak exterior fence. Whether they could help you choose the right product I cannot say. But if interested, you can get their phone number off their web site. Good luck.

View THinFC's profile


2 posts in 201 days

#2 posted 04-08-2016 03:02 AM

Sounds like great advice. I’ll call around some local experts and see what they say.

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