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2

Depends a lot on the specifics of the finish, but the most common finish, water-based polyurethane, does not create a fire hazard. Neither do other finishes, but some of them are mixed with solvents that make them easier to apply, which can be highly flammable. These solvents evaporate out, and won't be a fire hazard for long, but will be while applying. So ...


6

Honestly, the best option for a bench that expects hard use is a sheet of 1/8" "tempered hardboard" - I don't know if that's one of those places where we are separated by a common language or not. Masonite® is the best known brand name, though they make multiple products so that may not be definitive. You put a trim board sticking up 1/8" ...


3

You'll get similar life from polyurethane and oil paint. It might be wise to use a satin or matte sheen to reduce the appearance of wear, which is the real issue. You can always recoat if actual wear-through or other damage occurs, but you probably don't want it looking distressed immediately. Epoxy might give a little more hardness and thickness, but it's ...


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