What's the best way to protect/preserve antique paint?

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Working on an antique cart coffee table with Coca-Cola base. The paint is old and chipping but the look is perfect. I'm looking for suggestions on how to protect/preserve the paint and seal everything. This is my first attempt at this and I've seen similar projects. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Also, if anyone has ideas on how to remove the flush bolts shown above the lettering, I'd like to know. Bolts/nuts have rusted over time and spin when I attempt to loosen them. All I can think to do now is weld something to the top of each (there's 12 total) and break them loose that way. Other option is to break the boards off redo the top with new planks, not exactly what I want. Thanks!
q what should the best way to protect preserve antique paint
q what should the best way to protect preserve antique paint
  5 answers
  • Gma Kirk Gma Kirk on Jun 19, 2017
    to protect the paint, I would coat it with a matte Spar Urethane.

  • Lisa Cain Lisa Cain on Jun 19, 2017
    Or you could spray Polycrylic (sp?) as it doesn't yellow or just even brush over the top a few good coats of Mod Podge over the top. I use it ALL the time to seal painted signs I make that will be indoors.
    Wish I could help with the bolts, but don't have any answers for that.
    Looks good though, good luck.

  • William William on Jun 19, 2017
    Use a marine grade varnish for the paint and lettering. I don't know if WD40 would work on the nuts and bolts. But you can try. Let it really soak in. Coca Cola may work. Other wise to can try PB Blaster. Used it in the HVAC trade and removing rusted parts on cars. All else fails you may need to just cut them off. A Dremel would do the job.

  • Deb Rice Deb Rice on Jun 19, 2017
    Because it's an antique, I'd recommend Miss Mustard Seed's "Tough Coat."

  • Cori Widen Cori Widen on Jun 19, 2017
    Try Coca Cola! So many Hometalkers like it for this purpose :)