I’m not the kind of person that “babies” my furniture. I have my hands pretty full just trying to stay on top of how much water my kids have drank today…and has it really been that long since they’ve had a bath? Don’t worry, they are safe and loved on…but sometimes that means other things get ignored. I don’t own a single coaster. So, when it comes to keeping my painted furniture safe from zooming matchbox cars and sticky fingers: wax is my go-to. But let’s be real, nothing hand painted is going to be indestructible. Let’s take a collective deep breath and decide not to fret over scratches and chips. That’s the beauty of distressed home decor. The more wear and tear, the better. It adds character and reminds us of the beauty of messy kids and real living. With that said, do some preventative care to keep it in the best shape possible… and to reduce the necessity of those “deep breaths.” Let’s talk about how to wax painted furniture.
If you missed Parts 1 and 2 in this series, you can find them below:
First, I would like to point out that there are different types of furniture wax. We will discuss two kinds today: Clear Wax and Dark Wax. Clear Wax is going to deepen the color, protect and seal your piece; Dark wax is used to “antique” your piece.
Lint-free Cloth (Muslin, an old t-shirt, etc.)
1. Clear Wax
The following steps are for applying Clear Wax.
- Make sure your piece has completely dried.
- Dip the tips of your brush (you could use a wax brush or a regular paintbrush) into the wax. Seriously, less is more.
- Work your wax into the paint in circular motions. Work in small sections as it dries quickly.
- After each small section (no more than 3 min) wipe/rub in with your lint-free cloth. You want a very thin layer. It should absorb into the paint, not sit on top.
- Continue until the entire piece is covered. You will be able to notice if you missed a spot because the clear wax deepens the color.
- You can leave it as is and it will have a matte finish, or after 24 hours, you can buff it to a shine with a soft, lint-free cloth.
*Just as a side note, furniture wax works really well with porous paint, like chalk paint. It will not work as well with latex paint. If you used latex paint, I would recommend water based polycrylic.
2. Dark Wax
Dark wax is a whole lot of fun because it can really take your piece to the next level. Although, it’s certainly not necessary. There are some pieces that look fantastic with just clear wax, but if you are trying to create a truly aged and antiqued look, dark wax is your new BFF.
Some helpful hints before you start:
*If you are new to dark wax, you may want to practice in an inconspicuous place on your piece as it takes some getting used to.
*Apply dark wax after clear wax. If you do not use clear wax before you apply the dark wax, it will stain the actual paint color, and it is much harder to spread around. On the other hand, if you like the color that the stain produces, by all means, go for it.
*You can mix your dark wax with some clear wax to lighten the color.
The following steps are for applying Dark Wax
- Dip the tips of your brush into the dark wax. I’m talking a teeny, tiny amount.
- Apply in small areas and immediately wipe off. You can do this in crevices and detailed sections (think dirt collecting over time), or all over for a patina effect.
- If you find that you have used too much, apply clear wax to that section and wipe off. It’s kinda like a dark wax eraser.
- This is definitely a technique where you need to be constantly taking a step back to analyze if you are getting the look you are going for, until you get the hang of it.
I know that some of you are probably visual learners, so you can find a video tutorial for using clear and dark wax here. Just know that she has used milk paint, that is why the paint is chipping.
It is also helpful visiting an Annie Sloan stockist. They have wood samples with every paint color option, and you can see how that color will look by itself as well as with clear and dark wax. Search here to find one in your area.
Have fun with this, and give yourself plenty of grace. Waxing takes a little practice, but is worth the effort!