Best finish for bathroom vanity top

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Forum topic by Broglea posted 05-05-2010 02:34 AM 16130 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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684 posts in 3057 days

05-05-2010 02:34 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I’m about to put the finishing touches on a walnut bathroom vanity with a maple top. The sink will be a drop in sink resting on the maple top. I have a lot to learn about finishng. Here’s my question.

What would be the best finish for the maple top? I will not be staining the top. My wife wants to see the wood grain. My concern is keeping the top protected from the water. What product or method can give me the best of both worlds?

10 replies so far

View Knothead62's profile


2584 posts in 2928 days

#1 posted 05-05-2010 02:36 AM

I did a baby changing dresser with a waterproof polyurethane many years ago. Lasted through two babies.

View Kelly's profile


2002 posts in 2911 days

#2 posted 05-05-2010 08:28 AM

I love hardening oils (thinned) for penetration and the effect they give wood grain. Once polymerization has taken place (hardening), you can finish with a polyurethane for extra durability.

Though some argue it’s just advertising hype, wood saturated with hardening oil is more durable because the cells that were saturated with oil will not compress as easily. Add a poly or other durable surface coat of your choice and you’ve got a durable product that will out last many others. Even if it is compromised, the saturated wood will resist moisture too.

View studie's profile


618 posts in 3113 days

#3 posted 05-05-2010 08:57 AM

Kel, What product name of hardening oil did you use? I have used oils such as teak oil or seafin for many years with great results. Now use wipe on poly a lot but I agree the oil lets the grain show better. I would always use poly on a top that sees water but that can be done as the last coat over most other finishes, BLO or any stain for that matter. I have seen water base poly go bad on areas near water tho. So I always use regular poly.

-- $tudie

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3788 days

#4 posted 05-05-2010 12:29 PM

If I were faced with a project like this I would also use poly as a top coat. It is hard, will protect the wood surface and is not affected by water. Part of my normal finishing routine is to put on a base coat of boiled linseed oil (blo) to enhance the grain and provide some internal protection and then topcoat with an oil base poly.

For this project 3 coats of poly should be plenty to provide the surface protection that you need. Just be sure to topcoat the underside of the top as well.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View CharlesNeil's profile


2388 posts in 3837 days

#5 posted 05-05-2010 03:05 PM

I used general finishes Arm R vanity . but I would suggest you coat all the surfaces, underside and all with a couple of coats, exposed top use 3 to 4 coats… its good stuff for this enviorment… I have several friends who also have used it for high traffic and moisture areas..

View Kelly's profile


2002 posts in 2911 days

#6 posted 05-05-2010 06:47 PM


I’ve used a lot of boiled linseed oil, some walnut oil and, lately, I’m partial to tung oil (polymerized and raw), insofar as hardening oils are concerned.

For the mixes, I like Seafin and its brothers (or sisters), like Profin, from Daley’s, out of Seattle area. It’s easy to work with and produces nice finishes.

I play with finishes. I started to after I figured out that somebody like me or you made it to begin with (not Dupont, or some other big corporation – go read Daly’s history). My rule now is, if it will mix, it’s fair game to experiment, such as by adding oils to poly’s, thinning batches by varying rates (for penetration), adding driers and so forth.

In the end, I don’t use a lot of downtown wiping finishes because I don’t care for paying full price for a product that is, essentially, thinned varnish. Once in while it’s convenient though and I may even buy some “teak oil,” or “tung oil finish” even though I know it’s just adulterated tung oil or BLO.

I think the waterborne finishes have their place, but I’m slow coming around for general use. Take latex paint, as an example. How many of us have used a standard latex interior paint to finish a book shelf, only to discover the books still stick to it a year later? Oil based paint, on the other hand, is good to go after a few days.

Waterborne finishes don’t have the penetration, if only due to drying speed. If you can keep the project wet with finish, it has more time to soak in, but that can be, at best, challenging on vertical surfaces. If you don’t have good adhesion, you’re going to have problems.

Of course, cheap finishes, whether waterborne or oil based, will go south when subjected to the elements. They don’t have the tolerance for shifts caused by temperatures and humidity. With oil based products, you can merely add a bit more oil and, though you reduce the hardness of the end product, you also give it more flex, thus an improved tolerance for material expansions and contractions.

View Kelly's profile


2002 posts in 2911 days

#7 posted 05-05-2010 06:49 PM

Charles brought up a good reminder regarding coating “all” surfaces.” Pay extra attention to the cuts around the sink where the plywood layers or particle could be exposed. This can minimize the possibility a broken seal would let water wick into the raw cut areas and swell the base material.

View Broglea's profile


684 posts in 3057 days

#8 posted 05-06-2010 12:42 AM

Wow. Some good advise so far guys. Thank you!

View Dmitriy's profile


1 post in 2281 days

#9 posted 01-24-2012 01:36 PM

Best online deals on Bathroom Vanities.This is one of those cases where you have a tough decision to make. True standing water protection just can’t be done without the use of a thick film finish. Since most people don’t want their vanity top to look like bar top, you’ll have to come up with a reasonable compromise between beauty and protection. But with a thinner film comes less protection. So this is definitely a a case where you need the clients input. Arm them with information and let them make the decision, since ultimately they have to live with the results.

Bathroom Vanities

View kellyjones112's profile


6 posts in 1889 days

#10 posted 02-19-2013 06:27 AM

Currently I don’t have wood counter top in my bathroom, if I would intend to install this then I will follow the following: Seal by CPES (clean penetrating Epoxy sealer), then put a coat of varnish such as Epifanes. That process keep the wood sealed and protected very well, without any thick film.
Flooring MD

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