How to Wax Furniture

how to use wax how to wax

Waxing is scary.  I think most people fear using wax as a topcoat because it is an old technique and unfamiliar to them.  Even my grandpa who used to paint beautiful furniture with lots of hand-painted accents did not use wax to finish his pieces.  He used a hard topcoat.  Many people do not believe that wax can hold up like a topcoat.  I really didn't either when I started painting furniture. But I am happy to say that many of the first pieces that I have kept for myself that were finished with wax have held up just great.  Waxing should not be something you fear.  It should be easy and enjoyable.  The finish applied by wax is like no other and it adds such beauty to all painted pieces.  I hope you can get past the fear and enjoy waxing as much as I do.

There are a few things you need to know about wax to get a good finish.  Most importantly wax needs to cure at least 30 days to harden completely and be durable.  If you cannot wait that long you need to use another topcoat.  Not all waxes are created equal.  I have used waxes from many different manufacturers over the years and have found that wax can be (and should be) smooth and creamy and easy to apply. Yes, EASY TO APPLY.  The brush you use should also be flexible and easy to work with.  My favorite brand of wax (and paint) is DIY Paint.  I love it so much that I am now a retailer.  You can read more about Why I Love DIY Paint here. I sell DIY Paint, brushes, finishes, and topcoats, including waxes, in my online store, and in project shop booth at Plaza Antiques and Collectibles Mall.

If you are creating a piece of furniture that will receive heavy use like a dining table wax is not the best choice for the top.  Heavy use is best covered with a durable topcoat.  You can read more about all the other topcoat choices in my previous blog post, Wax, Poly, Or Top Coat- How to Finish Your Piece. My favorite top coat for a durable finish is Big Top from DIY Paint.

So now that you have decided to go to wax how do you start?  The first thing you need to do is apply a coat of clear wax.  You can apply wax right after the paint has dried.  Use a rag or any brush to apply wax, but investing in a wax brush is a good idea.  A wax brush can hold a lot of wax and making applying it simple and quick to apply.  When you wax always take the wax out of the container and put it on a paper plate to work with to prevent contamination of the wax.  Dip your brush in the wax and then brush it on.  You can use circular strokes or long brush strokes.  Make sure the wax covers the entire piece.  Luckily, DIY Paint is clay-based and changes color slightly when waxed.  This is called "wax-freak-out" by many. Don't worry the color will lighten once the wax is dried.

DIY Paint Fancy Farm Girl with Clear Wax Applied on top. Notice the "wax-freak-out".

Once the wax is dried you can decide if you want to just apply another coat of clear wax or if you want to try a colored wax.  DIY Paint makes wax in clear, dark, black, white and Verdigris Patina WaxVerdigris Patina Wax looks like oxidized copper. Great over copper patina. Depending on the look you want you can achieve it with wax.  You can even mix different colors of wax if you want.  If you have already used clear wax when you apply a colored wax you will have more control.

Door painted with DIY Paint Bohemian Blue and all colors of wax. 

 If you are using another color wax for your second coat you need to use another wax brush.  You also want to have a clean rag ready to wipe back wax if you apply too much.  Apply the wax the same way you applied the clear and wipe back as much as you want to.  Wax is fun to experiment with.  Using more than one color of wax can add highlights and depth to your piece.  I highly recommend that you create a sample board to play with wax before you apply it to your piece directly.  You can also apply a colored wax first without a clear coat underneath.  The colored wax will be darker and harder to wipe away.  I use straight dark wax a lot, but make sure you like the look before you use it.

DIY Paint Hey Sailor with Dark Wax and no Clear Wax base.

Finally, make sure you buff the wax when dry.  I usually wait twenty-four hours before I buff.  You can use a clean rag or a buffing brush.  I love my Buff Large Wax Buffer from Paint Pixie.  It is an investment but saves you so much time and energy.  Buff it till it shines.  You will know when you are done.

Buff Large Wax Buffer Paint Pixie


I hope I have eased some of your fears associated with waxing furniture. You can start off with clear wax until you are comfortable or you can boldly jump in and try the colors.  Whichever you choose I wish you great success on your next piece.  Happy Waxing!

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