Painter's Touch or Painter's Fingerprint??

I am currently painting two small tables. I had originally planned to stain them but for several reasons decided to go with paint. I am using Rustoleum's Painter's Touch (Espresso) and, although a little drippy for my taste, is going on fairly well.
My question/concern is that although it appears dry, it is easy to scratch with a fingernail. This will be an issue as these are for laptop use. I have considered giving them a few final coats of Deft lacquer but am now hesitant as to if this is the best choice.
The tables are made in two parts, a top and bottom half, which slide into one another and bolt together. The two halves can be raised or lowered for height adjustment, the bolts locking them in place. If the paint scratches so easily now, after approximately three light coats, I suspect it will only get worse with use.
Does anyone have any suggestions for a durable finish that will not noticeably scratch and protect the surface? Including from an accidental fluid spill?? All suggestions welcome.
`Casper
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Most paints take a week to two to fully cure. The thicker the coats, the longer the cure time. See what they are like in that time frame.
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Ed Pawlowski wrote:

Right, wait a couple weeks for the paint to cure before applying any topcoat, if that's what you decide to do. In the meantime, the paint will be soft and easily scratched, a pain when you're moving furniture back into a newly painted room.
Greg M
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I can certainly wait. I was already in the process of waiting at least 48 hours before checking it again. I had hoped to finish one table per week but I'd rather have them perfect. `Casper
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What you used, is it water based? Latex paints seldom really harden very much. You might want to consider using an Alkyd Oil based paint.
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I used Rustoleum's Painter's Touch ... http://www.rustoleum.com/CBGBrand.asp?bid=3
I used the "Expresso" color, but label is same ... http://www.rustoleum.com/cbgimages/documents/PT_12oz_SatinHoney.pdf
Cleanup with mineral spirits, so I'm guessing there is some oil in it.
I can only find a matte and gloss finish in the same product line and really wanted a semi, but my major concern is the scratching.
Could it be since it is a little colder in the basement that it is retarding the drying? (50-60 deg) Can says dry in 24 hours.
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wrote:

Clear plastic desk pad???
Mike O.
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Check out - Behlen Rockhard Table Top Varnish
A few sources:
http://www.woodcraft.com/family.aspx?FamilyIDu1&refcode INFROO
https://www.highlandwoodworking.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdIDB92
http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?Offerings_ID 265
I've got no financial interest, blah, blah, blah ...
Joel
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Joel,
Thanks for the info and links. I will definitly check them out. I will probably go with Woodcraft since there is a store close by and I need to mke a trip there anyway.
Do I need to thin this out? Or does it go on full strength?? I haven't worked with varnish much; just on old windows.
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Casper wrote:

I have some experience with that varnish; yes, I would go with the assumption that you might need to thin it, at least a bit. Get the Behlen brand thinner that's *meant* for it; I have tried using regular mineral spirits and it doesn't work very well (I've had it congeal on me). You'll want to lay on a good wet coat and keep a "wet edge". Also, it sands and polishes beautifully, but don't try to lay down a bunch of really thin coats by way of leveling each one with sandpaper (unless you're very careful) because if you break through one coat into another you *will* get witness lines (DAMHIKT). Also, it's a very glossy finish, so if that's not what you want you'll have to compensate somehow.
--
Free bad advice available here.
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Not necessarily. I usually make my first coat a 50/50 varnish/thinner mixture. That acts almost like a prime coat. I did buy the Behlin thinner, but I think that (less expensive) ordinary thinner works just as well. I was just playing it safe with commissioned piece. Maybe someone at Woodcraft may know the answer.

so far, I've used Rockhard on two tables. I doesn't self level as easily as most varnishes, and it's best to wait a while before rubbing, if that's what you plan to do. See if you can get hold of Jeff Jewett's video. There's lots of good information on varnishing.
Good Luck ---
Joel
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Joel,
Thanks for the tips. I will definitly look for that video. I have lots more projects to work on and plan to use varnish more.
`Casper
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Kelly Moore's Durapoxy water base and holds up well. I guess they call it something else now but her's tthe link to the stuff.....smells like blueberrys! http://www.kellymoore.com/products/pn_7100_envira_poxy

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Blueberries? Now that is cool. This stuff can be used on walls too. That alone may be worth a trial. I've a few rooms to repaint this spring. I may even try it out on the inside of my barn. I'm hoping to clean out my 10'x16' to turn into a workshop. `Casper
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