I've used epoxy under marine varnish on sapele for my row boat. I like it. Can I use it on a counter top in the kitchen? It's tough, looks good, will seal the wood and prevent bowing due to uneven drying. But is it safe to use in the kitchen?
If it works on the boat, it will work in the kitchen. The Kitchen is a far less hazardous environment than a boat.
The major drawback to Spar is that it usually isn't as friendly with abrasion as you might want on a kitchen countertop. But if you use a satin or dull sheen, it will look more natural.
Personally instead of spar, I'd use a true polyurethane (low/satin/dull sheen), oil based. They have a bit harder of a film finish. I've always preferred the one sold by Sherwin Williams (their label, not the Minwax they also sell).
If you're an industrial type, you'd do even better using 2-part polyurethane, and if you require thick build underneath it, using clear polyester finish underneath the 2K Urethane. But if you happen think epoxy and spar are expensive, you ain't seen nothing yet lol.
Spar varnish is notoriously soft and flexible. That's why it works better in direct sunlight. Personally, I would be very worried about hot serving dishes. It would take a serious warning and a great contract to negate any responsibility of the customer not taking precautions. I'd also worry about the myriad of cleaning products that can be used in the kitchen that don't get within a mile of a boat. Third concern would be kids with ball point pens doing homework, if they still do that sort of thing. Maybe it all goes to the printer now. I was once called to a Lexus dealership that had a nice new mahogany counter put in. Right there in the middle was two bold signatures pressed right into the wood. I shared regret for their predicament, and suggested they call the designer and millwork company.
Matt and Rich: Thank you. Yes, you're right, the spar varnish is soft. I'll use the epoxy, but with 4 or 5 coats of wipe-on Minwax polyuretehane over it. Any concerns with that? Your help is much appreciated!
Do a couple sample boards. Polyurethane will likely need a good mechanical bond to hold on. You should practice with grits for sanding the epoxy, and then do some adhesion testing. I was using wipe on poly for my artist turning work, but found that Minwax was making their regular strength poly with a thinner viscosity. I just use it now. Hate paying that much for more solvent! Just reread your first post. I don't agree with epoxy preventing bowing due to uneven drying. Nothing prevents bowing. Epoxy will slow the moisture exchange, but if the wood isn't properly dried or has internal stress, epoxy won't help.
Marine Spar Varnishes have poor rub resistance, poor taber abrasion/ pencil hardness ratings, and aren’t all that resistant to common household chemicals/cleansers. I maintain and/or finish upwards 250 individual mahogany brightwork items annually for the past 20 years or so with PTO formulated marine grade spar varnishes, and feel that the finishes are way too soft for your type of application.
For this application PU system is the best, sealler and top coat. Do not mix the chemistries.... Nowadays we have water based PU , anyone here have used this on a kitchen counter? To tell us how it worked?
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