tWorkbenches, especially their top, get exposed to repeating hard blows. These heavy works tend to leave spots, dents, marks, etc., reducing the lifespan of your workbench. Here the best finish for the workbench ensures superior protection.
Without it, your workbench will end up with lots of scratches. In fact, it performs as a bodyguard for your workbench. At the same time, finish for the workbench top keeps the benchtop non-slippery, preventing unwanted slippage of tools.
We introduced our top 7 picks and added a few info points to help you make precise decisions. Let’s get started.
Which Types of Finish to Use to Protect Workbench?
The market is full of various finishes. Several brands are manufacturing different types of finishes. This means you need to choose the best finish for the plywood workbench top from a plethora of options.
Moreover, any finish type is not suitable for all workbench tops. Only some are the right fit. Well, figure them out from the below section.
Polyurethane is less sticky compared to other finish types. You can apply several coats of this finish and put your hands on it without having an uncomfortable feeling. But before putting your hands, make sure to dry the finish thoroughly.
Also, cleaning the polyurethane finish is pretty straightforward. If motor oil or other lubricants spill on it, you can effortlessly clean them with soapy water.
This finish type matches perfectly with plywood. Although you can apply it over other benchtops but its best partner is plywood.
The oil-based finish is another good option for the workbench. It penetrates through the wood and heals it from inside. So, if your workbench requires serious renovation, this kind will be the right fit.
Additionally, this finish generally consists of Tung oil or linseed oil. It efficiently protects the workbench from scratches, spots, dents, etc.
The drying time of this finish is much less than other finishes. So, you won’t have to wait for a whole day to start your work.
Choosing a wax finish for your workbench will also be a wise decision for sure. It is also efficient in providing the required protection. The best thing about wax finish is, you can apply it on bare food.
So, a wax finish can be applied to wood without sanding. Besides, if you want to add an extra layer, you can apply wax. It means, that after applying your regular finish, you can use wax which will provide some extra protection to your workbench.
The wax application process is pretty easy, and it goes quite perfectly with any existing finish. This finish type is long-lasting and protects your benchtop from outside damage.
Raw Tung oil takes a long time to dry. Manufacturers use chemicals and additives in the Tung oil to speed up the drying time. Moreover, you can take assistance from heat to reduce the drying time.
Furthermore, Tung oil offers a coating that resists moisture efficiently, making it ideal for hardwood surfaces for its penetrating characteristics.
Danish oil provides the utmost protection to your wood surface from stains, chemicals, and heat. It is a mixture of varnish and thin oil. Danish oil takes a minimum of 15 minutes to penetrate the wood grain. You should apply each layer of this oil only once a day.
This oil type is the best option for new or fresh wooden surfaces.
Raw linseed oil takes a very long time to dry, and that is why boiled linseed oil is used to coat workbenches. When applied and properly dried, this oil type provides the utmost smooth result.
Make sure to buy “heat-treated” or “polymerized” linseed oil because it will dry quickly. Unfortunately, boiled linseed oil generates toxic fumes, making the application process uncomfortable.
Latex Primer is the best protective finish for only workbench made with Plywood, MDF, and HDF board. This type of primer can effectively tackle Plywood, MDF, and HDF board from smoke, rust, nicotine, water, ink, tannin, grease, pet stains, and many more.
7 Best Finish for Workbench Top – Reviews of 2023:
Here choosing the best finish for a maple workbench top requires careful consideration. We reviewed the finishes of different wood types in this section. Read the reviewed products’ features, benefits, and drawbacks below.
1# Rust-Oleum WATCO 242219 Danish Oil
Want to add natural texture to your workbench? Buy the Rust-Oleum WATCO 242219 Danish oil Finish for Workbench that can be applied on finished, raw, or sanded wood. It uses an oil-based formula that penetrates deeply into the wood grain.
The finish enhances the natural finish of the wood grain, creating a warm glow of the traditional hand-rubbed finish. You won’t face any trouble during the application process. Within 1 hour, using a regular brush, you can complete several projects.
The drying time of this finish will simply impress you. It dries super-fast. It takes only 6 hours to dry to touch, and you won’t waste any time getting your workbench ready to rock. One gallon covers 85 sq. ft., which is quite higher than its rivals, and 2 coats are enough to get the expected finish.
Its low VOC formula helps reduce allergy-causing toxins. Also, for this reason, it is easier to wipe off using mild soapy water. Overall, the product protects your workbench from abrasion, peeling, chipping, and spills.
The Rust-Oleum Zinsser 824H Sealcoat wood sealer for the Workbench helps seal the surface so the stain and finish look more consistent. It is pretty compatible with most traditional wood finishes. If you want to seal your interior wood, buy this finish without thinking twice. Even it seals the floor efficiently.
No other finish type dries faster than this finish. It dries lightning fast. So, sanding and recoating can be done within minutes. This lightning-fast drying finish will let you complete the job for you in half the time it generally takes.
Usually, other finish types get yellowish or darken over time. The best thing about this finish is, it doesn’t yellow or darken with age. The finish will look new for many days. It helps maintain your wooden surface’s natural beauty and grain.
Besides, you will never sweat while applying this finish for its convenient application process. Moreover, the finish is easy to wipe off with ammonia or alcohol and water. It leaves a satin finish, providing a clean and polished look to the workbench surface.
Thumbs Up / Pros:
Lightning-fast drying time for faster processing time
Convenient to apply and wipe off
It doesn’t darken with age
The finish protects the natural beauty of your benchtop
It seals all interior surfaces efficiently
Thumbs Down / Cons:
The packaging is not so good
3# TotalBoat Lust Marine Varnish
Who doesn’t want to keep their piece of workbench a heavy-duty and robust look? The TotalBoat Lust Marine Varnish will help you get many years of service from your workbench by protecting the surface from damages, scratches, spots, marks, or dents. This high gloss finish is suitable for interior and exterior wood projects.
The premium finish is scratch-resistant and peel-prof. One of this finish’s best features is that its glossy look remains the same for many years regardless of the temperature changes. More importantly, the oil-based formula doesn’t crack or peel over time, making it ideal for marine and workshop wood.
This marine varnish gives an amber and rich finish on wooden workbenches to improve their appearance. At the same time, it resists UV effectively; you can use it for exterior projects without hassle. Additionally, the waterproof feature protects wood from water splashes.
Another worth-mentioning feature is its drying time. Super-fast drying time will let you accomplish a project faster and more efficiently. Also, applying this finish several times without sanding is possible. In addition, this varnish is effortless to use and relatively thick.
Thumbs Up / Pros:
Durable and long-lasting
Provides UV protection
Ideal for both indoor and outdoor surfaces
Thumbs Down / Cons:
A little bit pricey
4# Sunnyside Corporation 872G1S Licensed Oil
Dress up your workbench to look perfect using the Sunnyside Corporation 872G1S Licensed Oil Finish for Workbench. This is a quality finish for wood furniture and antiques. It gives a gorgeous look to dry and dull wood. You will love it for its non-toxic and biodegradable formula.
The finish performs as a natural wood protector. Its pure raw linseed formula protects the wood from water, wear, and weather. It extends the lifespan of your wood once you apply it on rough wood and maintains the natural grain of the wooden workbench.
Moreover, wood can fade over time if exposed to different things. This finish adds new life to faded and tired wood. By retaining the wood’s natural grain, it brings back the shine of faded wood. More importantly, it effectively resists rust once applied to metal.
As it is formulated with a non-toxic formula, making it non-allergen. That is why you can use it safely and apply it to children’s wooden toys or kitchen chopping boards. Over time, this finish for the workbench becomes long-lasting and harder. Thus, frequent maintenance doesn’t become necessary.
Thumbs Up / Pros:
Effectively seals the wood from water nicks and marks
Extends oil-based stains and paints
It brings out the natural wood grain
Resistance to weather, water, and scratches
Offers great results on unfinished wood
Thumbs Down / Cons:
It is meant for interior only
5# OLD MASTERS 92404 Spar Marine Varnish
Are you looking for a superior exterior protective finish? Don’t look further and buy the Old Masters Spar Marine Varnish. It is formulated with tung oil, giving a clear coat. Unlike other finishes for workbenches, it doesn’t change the appearance of your benchtop.
Also, the finish is equipped with ultraviolet absorbers that withstand weathering because of salt spray, water, and sun. It filters UV effectively and ensures extra protection to the wood. This way, you can coat your wooden workbench or furniture for extended hours without hassle.
You won’t have a tough time while applying this finish. All you need to do is stir the finish well before and during application. Use pure and polyester bristle brush, then follow the application instructions labeled on the container.
The finish doesn’t require thinning while applying, and a small portion goes a long way. Moreover, it also takes less time to dry under ideal drying conditions. Furthermore, sanding is needed between 2 coats. Additionally, you can easily wash off the finish with a soap and water mixture.
Thumbs Up / Pros:
Formulated with UV absorbers
Protects against UV
Best choice for interior and exterior surfaces
Easy to use
Enhances the surface appearance
Thumbs Down / Cons:
Sanding between coats is unavoidable
6# Liberon Black Bison Paste Wax
When it comes to giving a rough look at your workbench, the Liberon Black Bison Paste Wax offers the best solutions. It is a blend of waxes, including premium-quality carnauba wax, making it eligible for withstanding water and finger marks.
It is formulated to protect and nourish all kinds of wood. Customers highly appreciated its distinctive and pleasant aroma. Also, no other finish type can beat it in terms of quality. The finish feeds, polishes, and helps to eliminate the drying out of wood.
The wax is not only efficient in improving the appearance of a surface, but also it covers scratches and marks efficiently. Additionally, for its silicone-free formula, you can use it on toys. Simultaneously, it is safe to use and EN71 Part 3 is approved.
The application process of this wax is a breeze. Use lint-free and soft cotton cloth for convenient application. When you need deeper penetration, it is recommended to use Liberon Ultra Fine Steel Wool. Thanks to its quick drying time, that is only 20 minutes.
Thumbs Up / Pros:
The wax minimizes wood drying out
Covers dents, marks, and scratches effectively
Protects wood from everyday usage
Suitable for use on both antique and modern furniture
Thumbs Down / Cons:
Repeated exposure may cause skin dryness
7# KILZ Restoration Stain, Odor Blocker & Primer
The KILZ Restoration is a 3-in-1 finish for the workbench. It is a water-based sealer, blocker, and primer manufactured following the latest technology to perform similar to an oil-based primer. This finish effectively tackles smoke, rust, nicotine, water, ink, pet stains, tannin, grease, and many more.
Coverage of this finish is quite exceptional, which is roughly 300-400 square feet per gallon. It is efficient enough in blocking odor. You can use it over different interior surfaces like woodwork, ceramic tiles, brick, plaster, painter metal, etc.
The formula is non-flammable and non-combustible and has a low odor. As a result, you can concentrate on the job. Also, for its non-flammable formula, it is safe to use. Besides, it covers stain marks on wood surfaces with a 2 coat application. Also, it is capable of covering virtually any stain and even smoothing out minor drywall imperfections.
Cleaning the workplace becomes messy if the finish comes with hard-to-clean characteristics. You will love to know that this finish is incredibly effortless to clean. If you want superior adhesion, buy this finish without thinking twice.
Thumbs Up / Pros:
Dry to touch in half an hour
Non-flammable and low-odor
Easy to sand for a smooth finish
Ideal for restoration and disaster recovery
Subcoat for flooring
Thumbs Down / Cons:
Buying Guide – to Choose any Wood Stain for a Workbench
Consider the below factors before buying the high-quality wood stain for the wooden workbench top.
Since workbenches are exposed to heavy work, choosing a finish that withstands hard blows effectively is important.
For an extended period, your selected wood stain should be resistant to scratches, dents, permanent marks, abrasions, etc.
This feature will help you save valuable money, time, and effort.
Generally, you can apply to finish using a brush, cloth, spray, or cotton. The application process depends on the finish type.
For example, applying lacquer is easier than using spray since it dries quickly. In this case, if you use a brush, you may get an uneven finish.
On the other hand, you will face difficulty applying an oil-based finish with a spray, although you can do it. However, it will require excessive wiping on the surface later.
Drying and Curing Time
No matter what happens, you need to give proper time to dry the finish thoroughly.
However, if you are required to finish the project quickly, you can select a finish type that dries fast. The drying time of water-based polyurethane finishes is faster compared to oil-based finishes.
Before buying, always read the label carefully. The label will give you a clear understanding of the drying time of your selected finish.
Ease of Use
Some finishes are challenging to apply. Whether you are a beginner or professional, select an easy finish to apply.
Mistakes can happen during application; how fast you recover from those mistakes. Easy to use finish for the workbench will help you apply it on different surfaces quite comfortably.
How to Apply Finish on Workbench?
Once you buy a finish, the next thing is to apply wood stain to your workbench. You will love to know that applying finish on the workbench is extremely effortless, and it can be done without taking assistance from professionals.
Here we will be sharing the basic idea of the application process. Read the steps carefully.
Step 01: Workbench Sanding
Sanding the workbench is mandatory before applying any finish. Thus, you will get an even-out surface, and applying the finish will be much smoother.
For this, grab sandpaper and start sanding. Make sure the surface is smooth enough. Proceed to the next step once you finish sanding.
Step 02: Workbench Cleaning
Sanding will create lots of dust and mess. So, cleaning the workbench after sanding is necessary. At the same time, keeping the benchtop in its best condition will give you the required outcome.
Prepare a mixture of mild soap and water. Get a soft cloth. Use the mixture and cloth to clean the surface.
Step 03: Applying the finish
After cleaning, it is important to let the surface dry completely. Once dried, apply the first coat of finish on the benchtop using a soft bristle brush.
Go slowly and steadily. Don’t hurry. While applying, make sure that the brush stroke is along the grain instead of against it. Then, let the 1st coat dry.
Step 04: Apply the 2nd Coat
Once the 1st coat is dried properly, follow the same process to apply the 2nd coat. A single coat is not enough, and based on your requirements; you may need to apply more than 2 coats. Between 2 coats, leave the finish for proper drying.
What if I don’t apply finish on the workbench?
Some people don’t apply to finish on the workbench even after knowing that the chance of getting scratched is high if they don’t do so. They consider it as a badge of honor. More scratches, dents, marks, and permanent spots mean they are hard-working.
On the other hand, other people want to see their workbench a bit rough.
So, applying finish on the workbench is entirely a personal preference. If you are okay with the scratches, don’t apply the finish. While, if you want a dent-free, scratch-free workbench, apply a finish. You can also try licensed oil or Danish oil finish for long-lasting durability.
What is the standard drying time of the workbench finish?
The drying time of the workbench finish varies depending on the type of finish. For example, an oil-based finish takes 24 hours to dry.
But this is an average estimation. Depending on the brand, it can vary also. This is because different brands use different formulas for manufacturing finish.
While wax finish takes only 10 – 20 minutes to dry, on the flip side, polyurethane takes a minimum of 24 hours and a maximum of 48 hours to dry.
which type of finish is best for butcher block workbench?
For a butcher block workbench, consider two options. Pure tung oil, a food-safe choice, enhances the wood’s beauty and provides protection. Alternatively, water-based polyurethane offers exceptional durability, quick drying, low odor, and easy cleanup, ensuring your workbench remains both functional and appealing.
What finish should I put on my pine workbench?
One popular option is clear water-based polyurethane, which provides excellent durability and protection against stains, spills, and wear and tear while preserving the natural beauty of the pine wood.
Another choice is a tung oil finish, either pure or as part of a tung oil blend, which can impart a warm and natural appearance to the workbench while offering moderate protection. Because, Oil-based finishes like linseed oil or Danish oil can give the pine a rich, traditional look and some protection.
Moreover, a wax finish can provide a softer and more rustic appearance, though it may require more frequent reapplication.
If you want to get long-lasting service from your workbench, buying the best finish for workbench is the best solution. These finish types will keep your workbench top scratch-free and let you complete your projects more efficiently.
We believe you can make a precise buying decision with the above comprehensive guide. Also, follow the application method discussed above or read the instructions labeled in the product. Remember, the expected result depends on the application process. However, choose the right finish according to your requirements.
Hi, I am Rogers Weber, the man behind Solvesonic. I am a mechanical engineer. I use many kinds of tools almost every day at my workplace. I love to write about tools, painting, home improvement, and DIYs. I enjoy helping people to solve their problems through my website. => Follow me on Twitter