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I asked an artist to paint on a table. So, I have now a wooden board (90x150cm) with a nice drawing/painting (he used different types of paints, pens, sprays, etc.) Since it is a table I'd like to use it (don't know yet if it will be a kitchen table or an office table).

How can I protect this masterpiece so that I can use my board as a normal table?

I have been thinking about glass (heavy and not very handy) or lacquerware (nice but is it really food safe?). What are some other options?

Some additional context: So, I looked for the official website of the artist and discovered that the tables are listed there together with the painting materials used: aquarelle, ink, acrylic and wood varnish.
enter image description here enter image description here

So apparently they are already varnished but my question still holds: is it safe enough for the masterpiece? Is it food safe? Should I consider other options?

  • How much of the surface does the masterpiece cover? If the entire surface is paint could have issues surfacing it and getting proper adhesion. Do you know what kinds of paints and sprays were used? – Matt May 6 '16 at 12:17
  • Not that it is off topic here, but you may be able to get some good answers from woodworking.stackexchange too. – beattyac May 6 '16 at 12:29
  • @Matt It is the whole surface and no... I don't know. – Surb May 6 '16 at 13:02
  • @Matt Should I post a picture? – Surb May 6 '16 at 19:00
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    That would help a lot for sure – Matt May 6 '16 at 19:02
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-Note-: I started this answer before there was mention of potential of varnish on the table. This answer would hold outside of that.

While you can usually epoxy over almost anything if you already have a varnished surface you might not need to bother. "Varnish" a little vague so it would be hard to be exactly sure. I would like to think the artist is aware of this so it should not be an issue.


I think one of the better choices here would be epoxy resin. You could also call it a bar-top finish. They are essentially the same thing. I had some initial hesitation in offering this suggestion until I saw multiple artists used epoxy resin to give a glass finish to their own acrylic paintings. (One such example)

They are meant for strength and longevity. However they are more susceptible to sunlight and UV rays then other finishes. You see this in other crafts as well like penny tables. Epoxy resin is usually food safe once fully cured check your individual product information to be sure. .

If you have never done this before this should not be your first large project with epoxy resin

You need to work in an area that would be relatively free of dust and debris. Epoxies come as two liquids that need to be mixed together: a resin and a hardener. Most require a mix of 1:1. Hard to say exactly how much you would need to cover your entire surface.

If you can remove the legs off your table I would do that and then use some small blocks or other objects to prop the table off the ground. Epoxy resin is self leveling so it is imperative that you ensure your table is level before application. Use a level or series of level to help ensure that. At the same time you need to put down something under the table so that the resin has something to drip onto. This is supposed to happen to ensure an even finish.

Mix/stir your epoxy resin and pour over the table. You can use a brush to help the resin get around the whole surface. You are not "painting" the surface but helping the resin get complete coverage. Again, it will drip over the edges and that is fine as it helps coat the edges. You have a few minutes so if you need to add more resin to your surface you have a small window to add more without harming it.

Bubbles are bound to happen so have a blow torch or heat gun handy to help pop them before the resin starts to cure. I even heard breathing (not blowing) on them helps them pop. This can especially be an issue for a mixed media table as there will be plenty of places for air to hide. Make sure that whatever you are using that you don't want near surface contact and stay in motion. You don't want to burn it or cause wrinkles if the epoxy is starting to cure.

You can sometimes thin your epoxy to give it a longer curing time which both allows it to seep better and gives you more time. Note this can affect its overall strength.

Once you have your surface coated and bubbles removed then you typically would leave it to cure over a couple of days to be sure. If you have the means to tent the table this will help keep dust off. Be sure whatever you do that there is no risk of the blankets or what not falling onto the table.

Epoxy resins can be a complex subject if you want them to be. There is a lot of scenarios that would be too hard to cover hear. Do you research and always pay attention to product labels. So, if you are curious about this I would recommend reading up on it more. If you wanted to explore this in more detail I would recommend asking specific questions about your particular quandary.

Art-Resin has some starting videos on the subject.

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I know that you yourself mentioned glass and listed the downsides, but there are also a couple of advantages that I wanted to point out.

My kids elementary school has an annual holiday boutique, and each classroom does an arts&crafts project which is sold at the boutique (adoring parents make a captive audience).

One year, one of the classrooms did a similar project, where they adhered a collage made of the children's artwork to a small side table. One of the room parents then tried treating the surface (I am not sure what product they used), and had all sorts of issues getting a satisfactory finish on the table.

Eventually, the parents involved sanded down the table's surface and readhered the artwork (luckily they had the foresight to use copies for the project, not the actual original artwork). Then they went to a local glass manufacturer/supplier, and had them fabricate a top for the table. The glass used was quite thick (~1.5-2"), and the glass was cut slightly wider than the actual table top and then the glass supplier ground the inner section down so that the glass top fit over the table top and had a small lip around the edges to hold it in place.

The table was purchased and donated back to the school, and was used in the main office. Because this was an elementary school, the table was frequently subjected to cleaning and disinfection with a bleach & water solution, which could have a long-term impact on other chemical finishes. It also held up very well to scratches and gouges caused by less than skilled hands using scissors and metal utensils on top of the table.

So, if you decide against applying a finish, maybe my good experience with glass will lead you to rethink a glass top.

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