If you are considering finishing or refinishing a wood coffee table, you will have several finishes to choose from. There are a few that are better than others, and your choice should depend upon your lifestyle.
Type 1: Stain and Varnish
Stain with oil-based varnish is by far the best choice for a wood coffee table finish. Once it is stained and varnished, it is very durable and can withstand a lot of wear and tear. If you use oil-based varnish, which is more durable, and the table becomes scratched, you can usually wash it off and revarnish it to fill in the scratches.
Type 2: Paint
Paint is a close second in durability to stain and varnish. Once painted, a wood coffee table can be washed off if something is spilled on it. If you wish to redecorate or get tired of the color, this can be remedied with another coat of paint. If you have children in the home, be sure to use child-friendly paint.
Paint can also be applied in faux finishes, such as marbling, sponge painting and rag painting, for an extra decorator's touch.
Type 3: Oiled
An oiled wood coffee table is a good choice for a busy family because it is durable and can easily be touched up when damaged. You can treat it as you would an oiled cutting board in your kitchen. Wash it off to clean it and then dry thoroughly. Put on a new coat of oil when it looks dull.