So you want the look of raw wood and excellent protection against spills and scratches? Until recently, that request might have provoked a few chuckles.
Rust-Oleum’s water-based Ultimate Matte Finish Polyurethane will get you pretty close. When dry, this finish has the minimal look of a wax finish—the wood is hardly darkened at all, even with multiple coats. Soft to the touch, it feels a bit like wax, too. But unlike a wax finish, it offers the superior protection of a polyurethane, and it doesn’t have to be regularly renewed.
Ultimate Matte Finish is very easy to use. It dries in two hours, so you can apply the recommended three coats in one day. Cleaning up your brush or paint pad only requires soap and water. This finish is not recommended for floors or outdoor projects.