5 Best Finish for Workbench Top (Countertop Specialists)

You might love doing your woodwork on your workbench but all of those hard works do tend to leave a mark. That is if you don’t have the best workbench finish by your side.

Here, the finish can even ensure superior protection. 

But without it, you will end up with lots of scratches. However, providing a bodyguard’s care isn’t all a finish does. The best finish for workbench top also ensures that the workbench doesn’t become too slippery.

If it does, your tools will fall and you will leave the workstation with an ouchie on your leg. To ensure that you don’t face such scenarios we have introduced our top five picks.

Plus, we even added a few info points so that it can help you make a choice. Trust us, they will help you out a lot in your decision-making.

Anyway, if you’re ready we can get started-

1. Furniture Clinic Linseed Oil 

At A Glance

  • Type: Oil-based finish
  • Drying Time: Approximately 20 minutes
  • Compatibility: All woods
  • Amount: 250 ml
  • Finish: Semi-Gloss

First and foremost, we have the winner on our list and this one is the Furniture Clinic Linseed Oil . We did give it the title of best overall but is it actually worth the hype?

Well, there’s one way to find out-

This is the only product on our list that is made of linseed oil. And that works best for your workbench. Because it slips deep into the wood and refurbishes it from the inside. Plus, it is also very easy to apply.

Even if you make a bit of a mistake you can wipe it off and reapply. That’s because this oil-based finish does give you the time to actually rectify your mistakes. That being said, it also dries pretty fast.

But, how long does it take to dry?

Well, it takes about 20 minutes to dry. But that doesn’t mean it will be completely dried. The drying time only means that you will be able to gently touch the workbench without creating a total disaster.

Also, give it an hour if you want to reapply another layer. And while reapplying the layer make sure that you wipe off the excess finish from the workbench.

Aside from that, this finish works on all types of wood. So, even if your workbench is not made of plywood, that won’t be a problem. You can use this oil-based finish for your workbench anyway.

But that’s not all, this finish is actually quite versatile in nature. That’s because other than wood it also works on terracotta tiles, concrete, and stones. So, you can use them for any purpose you want.

Besides all these, you will end up with a semi-gloss finish. So, your wood won’t look too shiny but it won’t be dull either. Moreover, the Furniture Clinic Linseed Oil can actually bring out the life of the wood.

Furthermore, it was tested by the “Good Housekeeping Institute”. They commended the item for its effectiveness and packaging. So, it is certified to be one of the best finishes out there.

2. Watco 65241 Oil Wood Finish

At A Glance

  • Amount: Quart
  • Number of Color: 9 Options
  • Type: Oil-Based
  • Coverage: 170 sq ft
  • Drying Time: 6 Hours
  • Finish: Warm glow

Secondly, we have the Watco 65241 Oil Wood Finish. It is another oil-based finish. But hey, it’s not the same thing. For instance, it is not made of linseed. So, what’s new about this?

Well, we loved its color variation option. You see, with this finish you get to select a color from the 9 options that are available. So, you can put a new twist to your workbench and make it look attractive.

So, you can choose from anything between dark walnut to red mahogany. The choice is yours. But there are some similarities between this one and the last product.

One of the most important similarities is the ability to slide deep into the wood. And then heal it from the inside. This actually gives your old workbench a good amount of firmness.

Aside from that, this one takes a bit longer to dry. In reality, it takes about 6 hours to dry completely. So, after that, you’re free to reapply the finish.

But you do get good coverage with this product. You see, it comes in a one-quart bottle but you get to cover 170 sq ft. And that is more than enough for an average workbench.

In fact, you will easily be able to apply two to three layers of coats without an issue. This one packet will be enough to cover it up completely.

3. TotalBoat Gleam Spar Varnish

At A Glance

  • Type: Satin Polyurethane Finish 
  • Finish: Glossy
  • Drying Time: 1 Hour
  • Coverage: 250 sq ft
  • Amount: 1 Quart
  • Required Coatings: 4 to 6

Switching things up a bit, we have the TotalBoat Gleam Spar Varnish. Unlike the other products, this one is not oil-based. In fact, it is a satin polyurethane finish.

Because of the satin finish, you will be able to get a glossy finish. Something that you won’t find from the other products. So, if you want your workbench to be shiny and shimmery then this is the one for you.

Besides that, it only takes an hour to completely dry, provided that the room temperature is 72 degrees. And yes, it is not as fast as the other ones that we have seen so far but it still dries within a decent time.

So, it is possible to apply 3 layers of coatings in one day. And that’s more than enough for an average workbench. Thus, your work can be completed within a day and you can start using the workbench right afterward.

Other than that, it is great for outdoor usage. That is because it provides UV protection. So, if you do place your workbench outside this finish will protect it from the sun.

Moreover, it is waterproof. So, even if you spill some water or any other form of oil it can be easily wiped out. Besides, applying this is quite easy as well.

4. Minwax 71029000 Polyurethane

At A Glance

  • Type: Polyurethane Finish
  • Amount: 1 Gallon
  • Finish: Semi-Gloss
  • Item Weight: ‎8.23 pounds
  • Product Dimensions: ‎6.5 x 6.5 x 7.62 inches

Moving on, we have the Minwax 71029000 Polyurethane. This is another great finish that works well with workbenches. You see, this one is a polyurethane finish so you will be able to get a lot of its benefits.

Aside from that, you get the option of choosing a lot of different end results. That means you can pick whether you want the finish to be glossy, semi-glossy, or even satin. Moreover, there are different size options too.

So, if you want something for just one layer of coating you can buy an 11 oz bottle. But if you want a lot of coverage then you can also buy 1 Gallon of this finish.

Plus, you can customize your desired end results by choosing semi-gloss or gloss ones. And if you want more nature usage then opt for satin. It brings out the true essence of wood and provides protection at the same time.

Moreover, it is quite long-lasting. So, you won’t have to worry about reapplying from time to time. It will last you for quite some time before calling it quits.

Plus, it can be used on both finished and unfinished wood. So, whether your workbench is being newly finished or whether it was already marinated with another finish won’t matter. This finish will go right on top of it either way.

5. Rust-Oleum Zinsser 854 Sanding Sealer

At A Glance

  • Type: Sanding Sealer
  • Amount: 1 Quart
  • Coverage: 400 to 600 sq ft
  • Drying Time: 10 Minutes
  • Wax rate: 100% Wax Free

Last but not least, we have the Rust-Oleum Zinsser 854 Sanding Sealer. Yes, this is the very end product on our list. But it has its wonders. So, let’s have a sneak peek to look at what this one offers-

Well, if you looked at the list then you must know by now that this is one that has the lowest drying time. It only takes 10 minutes to dry. So, they are not kidding when they say they dry at the speed of lightning.

Besides this, the Rust-Oleum Zinsser 854 Sanding Sealer has great coverage too. It can cover anywhere from 400 to 600 sq ft. And it only comes in a 1-quart package.

So, you will easily be able to apply 4 to 6 layers. And if you have an average workbench then you will also be able to save up a few for next usage.

Moreover, it doesn’t darken or become yellow with time. There are some who do that. And they are not the right kind. You certainly don’t want your workbench to look all neglected.

Besides, it is completely wax-free. So, the chances of your tools slipping from because of this finish is quite low. And hence the chances of you getting your foot hurt is awfully low.

Moreover, it is easier to clean it up with ammonia and water. So, one wipe and your workbench will be squeaky clean.

What Is the Purpose of a Finish?

Now, before fully committing to a finish you should know what it actually does. After that, you will be able to decide whether it is actually worth the purchase or not.

Generally, finishes are used on woods so that they don’t get damaged or destroyed. For instance, finish protects the wood from scratches, water spills, corrosion, blotchy gel stains, and many more.

However, when it comes to a workbench it mainly protects the wood from scratches to the best of its ability. But hey, you will be working with woods and whatnot on that workbench. Thus, it becomes a challenge.

And that is exactly why you need the right type of finish. To know what to purchase do keep on reading-

What Type of Finish Works on Countertop?

best finish for workbench top

Now, if you have done your research then you might have seen that there are various finishes in the market. Too many brands and too many types. That means there are simply too many options to choose from.

While every finish to work to some extent on your workbench top only some are the perfect fit. And what are they?

Well, check them out yourself-

1. Polyurethane Finish

The first finish that we highly recommend is the polyurethane finish. In fact, most people will agree on the fact that polyurethane is the best.

And why is that?

Well, they are not all sticky. No matter how much you apply the polyurethane finish you can still place your hands on it and not feel anything yucky. But before that, you do have to let it dry. Otherwise, you know. Disaster!

Moreover, you will be able to clean your workbench pretty easily. So, if you spill something like motor oil or some lubricant you will be able to get rid of that. They won’t be detrimental to your workbench.

As for specialty, the polyurethane finish works best on plywood. Although they can work on others they have their greatest partner selected. And a workbench that has a polyurethane finish on top of it will stand for a longer time.

2. Oil-Based Finish

Secondly, you can use oil-based finishes. They are pretty amazing because they can penetrate through the wood and heal it from the inside.

Thus, if your workbench is in dire need of refurbishment then this is the right kind for you.

Besides, the oil-based finish usually contains linseed oil or tung oil-based. They ensure that the workbench stays protected and doesn’t get scratched.

As you will have quite a lot of tools that will be a great benefit to have by your side.

Moreover, this oil dries pretty quickly. Thus, you won’t have to waste your day waiting for the finishing work to end. It will be over quite soon.

3. Wax Finish

Lastly, you can choose the wax finish. They provide pretty great protection for your workbench as well. But the best thing about them is that they can be applied on bare wood.

So, you can apply wax finish before you even start sanding. Apart from that, you can also apply wax as an extra layer. That means if you want some extra protection after applying your regular finish you can opt for a wax finish.

It goes well with any existing finish and can be applied pretty easily. Besides, it sets quite easily as well. And works from the outside to protect your workbench to its maximum capabilities.

Is It Okay to Not Apply Finish on Workbench?

Although the workbench gets scratched and has the danger of permanent marks, some people don’t apply the finish. Their way of thinking is that when the number of scratches on your workbench is more it indicates hard work.

Plus, they think that the scratches are a badge of honor. But for other people, they can be quite a bother. In the end, they do make your workbench look a bit rough.

Thus, it comes down to personal preference. Now, if you like some scratches that are fine with them then don’t apply a finish.

However, one thing is for certain that you will get marks if you don’t apply finish on your workbench.

How Long Does It Take for Finish to Dry?

The time duration for a finish to dry varies. This mainly depends on the type of finish you’re using. For instance, it takes about 24 hours for an oil-based finish to dry.

However, that is an average estimation. It does vary for different brands. This is because each of those brands uses different formulas to corporate the finish. Some even ensure that the finish dries faster than others.

On the other hand, wax finish dries faster. For instance, it takes somewhere from 10 to 20 minutes for this type of finish to dry. But polyurethane finish tends to take a longer period. They can take 24 to 48 hours to dry.

How to Apply Finish on Workbench?

After buying a finish you might be clueless about what to do. So, to know what to expect we will show you a quick way of applying finish.

This part will give you a basic idea of what has to be done. Thus, get ready with us as we start to explain the steps. Now, remember, the steps are brief so do keep in mind that there’s more to it than what meets the eye.

Step 1: Sand the Workbench

First things first, before applying any finish you need to sand the workbench. This will even out the surface and the finish will fall on the workbench quite smoothly.

So, to sand, the workbench, grab sandpaper and start rubbing it to make the surface even. Once you’re done you can move on to the next step

Step 2: Clean the Workbench

Secondly, you need to clean the workbench. That is because sanding will create a lot of mess. Besides, with the finish, you will be locking the workbench in its current conditions.

So, you will want to keep your workbench at its prime before applying finish on top of it. Now, for cleaning you will need soap and an old rag. Make sure to wipe if squeaky clean.

Step 3: Apply Finish on the Workbench

Afterward, you need to apply finish on top of your workbench. For that, we hope you selected the right kind of finish.

Anyway, with a brush gently apply the finish on top of your workbench. Now, while doing so ensure that you stroke the brush along the grain and not against it.  After that, let the finish dry.

Step 4: Reapply Finish

Once the finish dries up, you need to reapply the finish. You see, one layer of finish won’t be enough. So, make sure that you apply at least 2 or 3 layers before you call it quits. And make sure you give them enough time to dry off.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What is the average size of a workbench?

Answer: The sizes of the workbench vary. But the average range tends to be between 28 inches to 36 inches deep, 48 inches to 96 inches wide and 28 inches to 38 inches tall.

Question: How much finish is needed to cover an average workbench?

Answer: The average coverage needed for a workbench is between 10 to 25 square feet. Thus, even with less than half a quart, you will get pretty decent coverage of the workbench.

Question: Can finish cause tools to slip from the workbench?

Answer: Yes, some of the finish can make your workbench too slippery. So, with them, there are high risks of your tools slipping down and hurting your toes.

Question: What type of finish ensures the tools won’t slip?

Answer: Most of the finishes out there try to ensure that the workbench doesn’t become too slippery. However, among them oil-varnish does the best job.

In Short

That’s our report on the best finish for workbench top. Now, if you are still confused then you can always go for our first choice. It is the number one product for a reason.

Anyway, the decision is yours. Do your time and best of luck deciding. We will leave you to it. This is all for now. Goodbye, folks!

Kevin Smith

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