Reply To: Your go-to durable finish for white oak

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Ed
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For a table top that needs to be durable, my go to is General Finishes Arm-R-Seal. As it is oil based, it will impart some amber. Try it on some scrap and see if you like it. I’ve not found anything more durable. Use good fire safety with your rags and applicators because of the oil. This is a by-hand finish, not spray.

Leave adequate time between coats. Don’t rush it.

Another option is Waterlox, but I have not tried that on a table. The traditional Waterlox sealer / finish leaves a medium gloss sheen. If you want satin, there is a satin topcoat that could go overtop of it. I’ve not tried their satin yet and have concerns about applying it on vertical surfaces because Waterlox (and Arm-R-Seal) like to run, so I tend to use thin coats. The Waterlox satin instructions say to make sure to use a wet coat. Maybe it would be fine, but I’ve not tried and was concerned about streaking, so I’ve always stayed with the traditional medium gloss sheen when I use it, e.g., on a chair.

Getting back to your requirements, the Arm-R-Seal (and probably Waterlox) will be good bets for durability. You need to apply them to test pieces to assess “natural” as that is purely subjective. As for maintainable, that is the bane of all finishes. I don’t know what to say there.