How to Seal a Bar Top

Adding a bar to your home can make a focal point in a room. Sealing a bar top properly resists moisture from condensation on glasses and repels spills and splashes without harming your wood. You may either apply stain to your bar top or leave it in the natural color of the wood. Applying polyurethane as a top coat seals the wood with a glossy, clear finish to protect your bar.

Sealing a bar top protects the wood finish from moisture.
  1. Place a sheet of 50-grit sandpaper around a sanding block. Sand the entire bar surface. Switch the sandpaper to 85-grit and repeat this step. Sand from edge to edge on the flat surface, including the lips or trim on the edges of the bar.
  2. Wipe the bar off with lint-free cloths to remove the sanding residue. Pour mineral spirits on a lint-free cloth to dampen it and wipe the bar down. Let the mineral spirits dry for about 10 minutes until completely dry to the touch.
  3. Pry the lid off a can of polyurethane with a flathead screwdriver. Stir the contents thoroughly with a paint stick until it is uniform in consistency.
  4. Dip a foam paint brush into the can of polyurethane and apply it to the bar top starting on one end and working to the opposite end. Use brushstrokes that follow the grain of the wood. Make a single thin coating on the bar top. Use the angled tip of the foam to apply it in corners and along edges. Let the sealant dry for at least six hours.
  5. Place 220-grit sandpaper on a sanding block and lightly sand the coated bar surfaces. Dampen a lint-free cloth with mineral spirits and clean all sanding residue off the bar.
  6. Repeat Steps 3 and 4 to apply a second coat of polyurethane to the bar. Wait 24 hours before light use of the bar or 48 hours until it is used fully.

Things You Will Need

  • 50-, 85- and 220-grit sandpaper
  • Lint-free cloths
  • Mineral spirits
  • Sanding block
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Polyurethane
  • Paint stick
  • Foam paint brush


  • Apply the sealant to the front and side of the bar to protect them as well and have a uniform project.
  • Polyurethane requires only thin coats to produce the best results. Thick coats will make blemishes in the finish.


  • Never shake a can of polyurethane to mix it. This action creates air bubbles that transfer onto the surface and leave dots on the woodwork.
  • Wait at least eight hours after stain is applied to seal a bar top.

About the Author

Mary Lougee has been writing for over 10 years. She holds a Bachelor's Degree with a major in Management and a double minor in accounting and computer science. She loves writing about careers for busy families as well as family oriented planning, meals and activities for all ages.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images