Bar Top Finish Durabillity

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Forum topic by ChefHDAN posted 10-23-2014 11:45 AM 913 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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798 posts in 2274 days

10-23-2014 11:45 AM

Hello LJ’s,
I’m curently workng to get a “Gastro-Pub” completed and opened for business, on the side of my “Real Job” and am fortunate to have some true craftsmen doing my millwork, and I’m very pleased with what they’re doing but I’m questioning the finish chioce made by our Architect. The book matched live edge walnut bar top has a varnish applied and I question it’s durabillity. When I ask the question the Architect states they didn’t want to have a poly “look-feel” which is not an uncommon sentiment here and the millwork guys state it’s equal to or as durable to a poly finish.

Please share your opinions with me for the durabillity of this and what your experience would suggest for a maintenence cycle for a bar operating on a college campus 7 days a week 16 hours a day.

Many Thanks!

Bill Sr. dusting off the top after sanding down a pair of dutchmen to lock the slabs together

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

8 replies so far

View mahdee's profile


3470 posts in 1192 days

#1 posted 10-23-2014 12:39 PM

Looks nice. Obviously these folks know what they are doing. Why not ask them about it and see what type of varnish is applied and how long it will last before it needs to be refinished.


View Shuddy's profile


5 posts in 1969 days

#2 posted 10-24-2014 02:16 PM

Very nice bar!

View chrisstef's profile


15492 posts in 2431 days

#3 posted 10-24-2014 02:27 PM

I would just make sure that there is a warranty that goes along with that bar top. Being in construction myself, we typically need to sign a “workmanship guarantee” at the end of every project. Here’s a snippet of the language:

Warrants to the Owner and the Architect that all materials and equipment furnished under their contract are new, unless otherwise specified, and that all work is of excellent quality, free from faults and defects in workmanship and material, and in conformance with the Contract Documents and/or manufacturer’s recommendations.
If, within one year after the Date of Substantial Completion of the Work or designated portion thereof or within one year of acceptance time as may be prescribed by law or by the terms of any applicable special warranty required by the Contract Documents, any of the work is found to be defective or not in accordance with the Contract Document, the undersigned will correct it promptly after receipt of a written notice from the Owner to do so unless the Owner has previously given written acceptance of the condition.
Nothing in the above intends or implies that this guarantee / warranty shall apply to work which has been abused or neglected by the Owner or his successor in interest.

The last line may give one a bit of pause though.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View Bluepine38's profile


3337 posts in 2510 days

#4 posted 10-24-2014 04:16 PM

If it is going to be used 7 days a week to make money, I think that any varnish or poly will wear out. It is
going to get alcohol and water spilled on it, condensation from cold drinks also will need to wiped/scrubbed
off. A poured epoxy will last longer. If that finish does wear out, you are going to have to shut the bar
down to refinish it which will cost money and profit. Just my opinion, and I have been wrong before.

-- As ever, Gus-the 77 yr young apprentice carpenter

View ChefHDAN's profile


798 posts in 2274 days

#5 posted 10-25-2014 06:24 PM

Many thanks y’all good talking points here, I think the “client” was thinking of a poured epoxy top and confusing it with poly, I think I’ll be staying late one night with some wipe on poly to put a litle insurance on it

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View NoThanks's profile


798 posts in 953 days

#6 posted 10-25-2014 08:03 PM

First let me say that no finish is going to go unmarred in those circumstances.
You didn’t say what type of varnish the architect has selected.
I believe a conversion varnish would be the best selection for this,
I have used it on commercial bar tops before and found it to be the most durable to handle the abuse..

-- Because I'm gone, that's why!

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 1912 days

#7 posted 10-25-2014 08:49 PM

Hmmm, I built a bar counter in Montana many, many, many years ago. I used what is called “Bartop” finish. Take your time and put it on a layer at a time and you can build it up to 3/8” or more.

One of the counter tops has an 1891 silver dollar embedded. It will never come out, but a lot of people try to lift it out with finger nails and pocket knives.

Any damage can be repaired by a scuff sanding and another coar of the finish.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View OSU55's profile


1039 posts in 1414 days

#8 posted 10-30-2014 03:55 PM

Don’t want plastic “look-feel” so use varnish instead of poly? Sorry, but there’s no difference in the look-feel between the two if the same film thickness and sheen is used. I agree with Iwud4u – conversion varnish would probably be the best choice. Target Coatings has waterborne architectural finishes for this type of application.

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