Paint Rub-Through for a Table Top

Thoughts on how to prep and undercoat for an opaque paint finish with some exposed wood. April 18, 2010

I'm designing a dining room table top and would like to paint the top white, but I actually want to have the wood burn-through the paint. I'm a little unsure which species of wood and paint would be best for this. I'm leaning towards oak and a milk paint. Perhaps someone has had this happen unwanted and can share their experiences? I'm not interested in a faux-like sand through, rather a more natural aged burn-through. Below is a reference image of a similar finish.

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Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor R:
I don't know if it's an option or not, but I'd personally tape off the edges and make a toner with the opacity that you're after. I think you could do it on any wood you'd like. The texture will come by how you prepare the wood rather than an actual burning through.

From contributor R:
You can go with any color stain or paint for the base color on a rub through finish. What I do is put my base color on and then seal with a vinyl sealer. Sand and apply top color of a flat latex wall paint and when it dries I can do my rub-through with a Scotch-Brite pad and a little water. Then I will seal that with vinyl sealer, sand and topcoat.

From contributor B:
Latex? On a table top?

Do it this way:
1) Stain your wood (maple is a good choice) to the color you would like to show through.

2) Apply a clear conversion varnish or catalyzed urethane sealer.

3) Scuff sand with 320 grit being careful not to sand through this (yet).

4) Apply a catalyzed white conversion varnish primer or catalyzed urethane that is white.

5) Scuff sand entire table and cut through the areas you would like to show the stain color underneath (the clear sealer you applied will help keep you from sanding through the stain).

6) Remove all your sanding dust with a tack-cloth and apply the highest quality clear catalyzed urethane you can buy (I like ICA's OP383 or 385 myself).

7) Allow 3-4 days cure before placing in service.