We are on kind of old turf here, so to be blunt:
- Will anyone be eating the dried paint?
- Will anyone be eating off the table top?
- Will you be using lead based paint to finish?
If the answer is "no", don't worry about poisoning yourself, or even
making yourself sick.
In general terms, solvent based paints dry harder than latex. So do
the solvent based clear coats (lacquers, polys, etc.). Solvent based
paints are also significantly more cleanable.
An industrial grade colored oil based coating (enamel) sold at a real
paint store will dry harder than you will believe. About three coats
of that stuff will give you what you seek, which is a washable surface
with great abrasion resistance. I use different brands for high usage
surfaces like handrails, restaurant doors, etc., when the clients want
Clear coats such as lacquer and poly don't really get hard until you
get into the two part systems that you catalyze before using. These
finishes are not for the inexperienced.
And in general terms, high gloss finishes will be the hardest, most
abrasion resistant finishes. When you apply the high gloss version,
you have the least silica, zinc, clay, or whatever else the
manufacturer puts in the finish to dull its reflectivity, leaving you
with pretty much the cured resin as the end product.