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#11
Ok, I have a client that is opening a rustic restaurant. He wants to make the tables out of weathered poplar from a local sawmill, keeping the weathered side up. The surface will be sanded minimally, if at all. He wants a quick, easy to apply finish that will allow the weathered look to show through, slightly durable (because he knows that people will scratch into the surface) and possibly renewable.

What can I recommend ? I can build pretty much anything, I've always had someone else put the finish on it so I am clueless as to finishes. Thanks
I no longer build museums but don't want to change my name. My new job is a lot less stressful. Life is much better.

Garry
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#12
I'd use GF EnduroVar because of the chemical resistance, the light amber tint will be a plus in this application. Its a waterborne so: water cleanup, self leveling, 30—45 minutes to recoat, spray, foam brush or wipe. Refinish ~5 years by cleaning with a pressure washer and then recoating. Drawback is that it needs to cure for 72 hours at >60°F before use. Crystalac PolyOx is similar but lacks the amber tint and is not quite as chemical resistant.
homo homini lupus
"The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." Yeats
Si vis pacem, para bellum
Quodcumque potest manus tua facere instaner opere Ecclesiastes
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#13
It sounds great on paper but in reality I think the idea is flawed. The tables have to be wiped down several times a day.

The local Starbucks got new furniture just one year ago and they are asking me to refinish all the table tops. I put down 4 coats of oil based poly on the earlier furniture and it stood up for 9 years and looked new when they replaced it.

They wipe down the tables a minimum required 2 times per hour--about 30 times per day. In reality probably about 10 or 12 times per day. Anything short of a bullet-proof finish is going to look like crap in short order.

An oil finish will wipe away in a month and the wood will start to rot on the surface from all the times it gets wet.

If you want the grain to show through then several coats of wipe on might do the trick. I brushed on the poly and buried the grain. But it looked like wood, and it never rotted and I think 6 months down the road if you apply anything that is not bullet-proof you will be sanding and refinishing.
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#14
museumguy said:


The surface will be sanded minimally, if at all. He wants a quick, easy to apply finish that will allow the weathered look to show through, slightly durable (because he knows that people will scratch into the surface) and possibly renewable.






I would be surprised if any finish will meet those criteria. Rough, weathered lumber and a clear, film finish sound kind of mutually exclusive to me. I'd suggest topping the tables with a piece of glass instead.
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#15
Bill Wilson said:


[blockquote]museumguy said:


The surface will be sanded minimally, if at all. He wants a quick, easy to apply finish that will allow the weathered look to show through, slightly durable (because he knows that people will scratch into the surface) and possibly renewable.






I would be surprised if any finish will meet those criteria. Rough, weathered lumber and a clear, film finish sound kind of mutually exclusive to me. I'd suggest topping the tables with a piece of glass instead.


[/blockquote]

I agree. I don't think that there is a finish that will allow a natural grain and will stand up to the rigors of daily restaurant use. Additionally the film finish of a good clear poly will prevent splinters (which I see in the future of a non-sealed wood surface).

The baltic birch table tops that I refinished had already shown some surface rot where the lacquer had softened and worn off. It looked a dull gray and I had to sand almost through the top veneer to get rid of the damage.

I agree that glass would work, but it makes floor cleaning more difficult as you are not going to turn a glass topped table upside down and rest it on another table to free up floor space for mopping/polishing.

My 4 coats of Minwax oil based poly looked "as new" after 9 years of service in Starbucks. They say that modern waterbased do as well. Until they outlaw the oil based I think I will stick with what I know from experience stands up.

The oil based poly will be less expensive than glass and is not subject to breakage. It allows you to stack tables for floor cleaning, and gives a bit of immediacy to the actual wood.

In a restaurant the ability to keep the dining room clean without too much fuss is a prime consideration.

The inside-the-barn look was popular in the 1970s; I am not certain that it is so in 2015.
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#16
I largely agree with the LIL's remarks. Pretty much any restaurant in even a remote small town anywhere in NAFTA will get shut down quickly if the table tops have food in cracks or divots¹. Going around with a pressure washer during business is not a reasonable option.

If the weathering is largely cosmetic so this is not an issue then a good waterborne will do the job much better than an oil based and meet the criteria. If there are significant cracks, divots etc. then I agree that there is no approach that meets the criteria. The only possible choice of a finish would be poured epoxy. That's not particularly easy and it will somewhat mute the weathered look.

BTW get paid up front. Restaurants etc. go broke quicker and more often than any other business and he doesn't sound like he has a good handle on the business.

¹ Besides the health guys not liking that it will put off pretty much any customers.
homo homini lupus
"The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." Yeats
Si vis pacem, para bellum
Quodcumque potest manus tua facere instaner opere Ecclesiastes
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#17
See, I never thought of any of this. That's why I asked the brain trust here. I'd hate to put time and money into these tables and have major issues in a short period of time. We will re-evaluate the thought process and I will keep you guys updated.

Thanks a bunch.
I no longer build museums but don't want to change my name. My new job is a lot less stressful. Life is much better.

Garry
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#18
This is a quote from a different forum that says it all.

"A few years ago I was determined to make waterbased finishes work in my shop,I was previously using Conversion Varnish.The real tests are after being on the job for a few years,in bathrooms and kitchens.I tried General Finishes,ML Campbell,Fuhr,and a few others,I always used the manufacture's best product they offered.After about 3 years,we gave up the fight,they just weren't performing good enough.I was getting a lot of callbacks for finishes wearing off,and adhesion issues also.I now use 2k Poly,which I feel is safe if you proect yourself during the spraying process.Once the finish dries,there is no off-gassing,and it's formaldehyde free,unlike most other solvent based finishes.2K Poly is very popular in Europe,since they have higher safety standards than we have here,I am not sure if they even allow Conversion Varnish use anymore.All of my finish reps have told me that waterbased finishes being safer,is a misconception.These reps sell both products,so I don't feel like they are being biased.I usually have 3-4 reps that stop by from different companies,and not 1 of them has ever told me that there waterbased line is as good as there solvent based products.The only salesmen that have ever tried to tell me waterbased performs just as good as solvents are the companies that only sell waterbased. "
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#19
I've never finished tables for a restaurant. I'm sure that is a brutal test for any finish. But I've been using WB products for almost 20 years and have yet to have a failure except in my testing. My kitchen was done almost 20 years ago with a product called Safe and Simple by Parks, who got bought by someone. Anyway, it looks as good as nearly any kitchen made with wood after 20 years of daily use. I did another kitchen and several vanities with GF water borne products, over the past 5 years, and all still look fine as far as I know. I'm sure I would have heard if they didn't.

I posted some testing here a couple of years ago comparing several solvent and water borne products for chemical, heat, and sunlight resistance. GF's WB EnduroVar and OB Arm-R-Seal tested better than anything else in the test. EnduroVar was superior to consumer grade OB poly, like MinWax. In full disclosure, Waterlox and P&L 38 varnish were not in the test because I've never used them.

No one product works for all applications, but I've had excellent results with several water based products. They may not be as durable as the best solvent based products, but they are at least as good as many of the common ones you can buy at the BORG. But don't take my word for it. Read Jeff Jewitt's or Chris Minnick's reviews for their reviews/opinion.

John
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#20
Well some people are just plain out of touch with reality. GF has a waterborne Enduro Conversion Varnish and EnduroVar is more chemical resistant than almost all oil based finishes. I used Crystalac PolyOx on a heavily used hotel bar and it was still fine after 7+ years. I helped a friend refinish a go-go bar with a well thought of oil based and it didn't last 18 months.
homo homini lupus
"The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." Yeats
Si vis pacem, para bellum
Quodcumque potest manus tua facere instaner opere Ecclesiastes
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