I’m the first to admit that using an all natural ’boutique’ wax like Annie Sloan or CeCe Caldwell’s is heavenly to work with.These waxes are buttery soft which make them very easy to apply and buff. They also provide a beautiful sheen.
For this ease of use, these brand-name waxes sell at a premium price of $30 or more and are only available at selected retail shops.
The same gorgeous wax sheen and protection can be obtained for much less ($10-$14) with a reputable shelf-brand. Minwax Furniture Paste, Johnson Wax, Daddy’s Van or Briwax are all far less expensive and readily available in any hardware store and/or online.
The difference with these waxes… they are usually more dense to work with.
If it’s your first time working with a paste wax, you may find these waxes more dry or crumbly. It may even take a slight learning curve to apply it thin and evenly.
The Solution: Mix Mineral Spirits and Wax for a ‘Buttery’ Application!
Although I’ve heard of many professional furniture re-finisher’s using this method, I had never tried it before. It was Amy, one of our SI readers that e-mailed in and inspired me to give it a go.
[box] Amy writes: I’ve tried 2 versions of a wax finish….. Pure, plain Johnson’s wax which was a pain to buff. Then I found a recipe for 50/50 mineral spirits and wax …. I LOVED this and will stick with it. It went on super fast and just rubbed so easily to a nice finish.[/box]
For my version, I mixed slightly less than Amy. I eyeballed 80% Minwax Furniture Paste to 20% Mineral Spirits and mixed them together on a paper plate. An exact recipe isn’t necessary because every wax will have a slightly different density.
If you’re worried about adding too much, just add the mineral spirits a teaspoon or tablespoon at a time and mix it into your wax. Once the wax is as soft as you’d like, start applying it to your piece.
WORKS LIKE A CHARM!
The wax softens to a smooth buttery consistency (or Crisco lard texture) making it JUST AS EASY to apply and buff as the expensive boutique waxes!
Next time I use a DIY Dark Wax (or purchased) I’m definitely using this tip again. Mixing Mineral Spirits into my Dark Wax will lengthen and extend the “play” time and make it so much easier to apply into all the curved details.
Thanks again Amy for sharing this great tip and inspiring me to give it a try!
If you’d like to check out last weeks Q-T-T you can see it here.
Enjoy your day!
Thanks for the detailed and easy-to-understand inspiration! Will the applied wax melt if the wood is near a radiator? Or, if it’s applied to a dining table, and soup is served with placemats in between, will it melt into the placemats?
Hi Linda! No. So long as the wax has cured 100%, it will not melt off in extreme heat. Furniture artists have used waxed outdoor furniture and used it in high temps and it fairs just fine.😊
Betsy Hickman says
I lightly sanded a French parquet refractory table and then applied Regency micro-crystalline clear wax. Can I seal the wood with something that won’t leave water marks?
Barbara Wainscott says
Help! I just found your website and was so excited to find someone with a possible solution to my problem. I have an antique metal carrousel horse that I had painted years ago authentically. I wanted to update the look of my den and repainted it in brush-on Rustoleum oil based oil-rubbed bronze paint.. I want it to look like old, worn bronze that has been used for years and so I chose not to used metal reactive paint as it doesn’t look as smooth and the choice of patinas is not the color I want. I would like to add a little mottling of the brown color (the paint is very dark brown) and a light olive/moss green in the crevices. Wax is the only way I can figure out to accomplish that. Since the base coat is oil based I think I would have to use oil paint in the wax. Will artist’s oils work, and if so would I mix the color in the wax first and then add mineral spirits if needed? And if I’m adding oil paint to the wax will it need anything besides the wax it’s mixed in to seal it?
If I’m understanding correctly, there are a few things you can try to get an old worn bronze look. Yes, you could add a darker (maybe even black) oil-based paint to the wax but it’s my guess this will be a very subtle look… maybe too subtle. I find tinted wax works best on lighter paint colors. Another option is an oil-based glaze and you can read more here. I think this will show up better and no topcoat required. Hope this helps. 🙂
Leslie S Roberts says
I am considering painting a hallway with chalk paint and finishing with wax but am worried about how much work hand buffing the wax will be. Any suggestions?
Kelly Widness says
Hi, I’m doing my first piece of chalk painted furniture. Have painted 2 coats of AS Aubusson blue, and I know I want the darker look at the end….what order do you suggest or what to use next? Do I poly?…..then do a dark wax? Or do I just wax? I found the poly was VERY difficult to go on (just did one drawer), and air bubbles galore. Could I do a clear varnish then wax? Need a clear-cut plan, please tell me your suggestions! BTW, it’s a dresser turned entertainment center.
Hi Kelly! If I was having difficulty with the poly, I would just wax. An entertainment center isn’t really high traffic (usually more decorative on top) so a few coats of wax should be good protection AND you get your dark wax finish. Just my two cents. 🙂
Thanks for your thorough explanations. I applied Annie Sloan’s dark wax on yellow chalk paint and I am not liking how dark it is. Can i use mineral spirits on a rag and go over the areas that are two dark while preserving the antique look? Or do I need to pain over again?
Yes, mineral spirits will work but can be harsh. If you have any clear wax, try applying the clear over the dark areas and it will ‘erase’ some of the darkness for you.
Can I use this technique on ceramic pillars. I whant to paint the pillar first.
Hi Magda. Yes, you can wax and use this technique on anything painted. 🙂
I am using mineral spirits mixed with dark wax for the first time. Do you still wax with a clear wax first them use the dark mixed with mineral spirits or just put the MS/dark wax mixture on chalk paint without clear wax?
You can do either or Leslie. When I apply a clear coat of wax prior to the dark wax, it gives me more control. ie – it’s easier to rub some of the dark wax off if I don’t like the look. So this technique is nice when I want a subtle antique look. If I want a darker/heavier antique finish, I just dive right in with the dark wax. 🙂
Hello! This is very informative for a newbie like myself! One question about cutting the wax with mineral spirits: won’t it damage the paint? MS is used for cleaning paint brushes so I’m worried it will damage the paint. Also, I tried mixing MS with my Minwax paste and there are still some very small clumps in it that I can press out with a cloth when I apply the wax (I assume, I haven’t tried yet), but it’s not completely clump free. I’m mixing with just a plastic fork. I don’t have anything industrial to mix with. At what point is the mix sufficient and ready to apply? Thanks!
No it won’t damage the paint because very little is needed to soften/thin the wax. I literally add 1/4 tsp at a time so as not to overdo it. As for the clumps, when I mix I usually have a few lumps remaining too, but once I use my waxing brush or rag to apply and then rub in, they disappear and blend in nicely.
Jacqueline Mitton says
Really appreciate all your tips! Need help now, please!
I just did a set of chairs using chalk paint recipe number 1, . I used the same batch of paint as I had used for a chest of drawers. I waxed the chest with Annie Sloan wax – no problem, but I ran out, so I waxed the chairs with your recipe above with a tiny amount of mineral spirits.. When it came to buffing up the paint started coming off, it looks awful! Now what? Can I chalk- paint over the adulterated wax and then use poly – it might have been a better choice for chairs in the first place, but I don’t really like the finish as much . (Done that on a table.)
Hi Jacqueline! Sorry to hear the wax didn’t work on your second project. I know how frustrating that can be! It’s my guess that the chair’s surface could have used a light sanding before painting. When the paint has adhered 100%, the wax won’t budge it even when buffing. If it were my chair I would sand it (not down to the bare wood but a good sanding to get the wax off and create some tooth for the paint to stick to), repaint – and then decide whether to wax or poly. Hope this helps and good luck.
Jacqueline Mitton says
Many thanks for the tip, Denise. I’ll let you know how I get on – it’ll be a while as I’m busy getting my new garden painting studio sorted! Really appreciate all the work that you put in here!
can mineral spirits be used with normal wax as compared to dark wax? Many thanks
What do you use to make dark wax stain?
Love your post! Very informative. I’ve been looking for the best method to wax a buffet I just refinished. It’s stained a light grey with a white wash finish. I don’t want yellowing, so will Minwax Furniture Paste be the best product for a clear finish? I saw you mentioned some other brands, but those are a bit of out my budget. Thanks!
Mixwax Furniture Paste over a grey and white washed finish should be just fine Lucha. I’ve only noticed a slight yellowing when apply the Minwax over stark whites. Having said this, if your worried TEST. Apply a small amount of Minwax to an inconspicuous area and see if you like your results. 🙂
Hi Denise, Just wondering, how do you tint your wax, what are the best products, and also could l use a boot polish, in between crevices
Hi Deb! Here’s how – https://salvagedinspirations.com/tinting-furniture-wax-with-paint/ … and yes, although I haven’t tried using shoe polish, others have and it does work.
I am soooo happy I came across your site as I am getting ready to embark on the ‘chalk paint’ journey!! After reading your ‘top 4 chalk paint recipes’ I decided to not go the way of A.S. as she is just sooo expensive – man, she must be a gazillionariss! Then I just finished reading about the waxes and all your tips are so helpful.
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your knowledge with all of us.
So happy you came across the SI Blog too Lisa. I hope you find it helpful! …. “she must be a gazillionariss”… love your sense of humor…lol.
I would like to re- do my kitchen cabinets, however I have been trying to decide which option would be be better, chalk paint or rustoleum transformation kit. Also, if I decided to make chalk paint, I was wondering after waxing can I seal cabinets to help them as far as scrubbing and daily maintenance? Thank u.
Hi Ruth. If you opt for wax over chalk paint, NO other sealer/top coat can be applied over the wax. This is the rule of thumb with cabinets, furniture, or anything you use wax on.
I make my own chalk paint. I painted & distressed my Pantry door. Black chalk paint, the distressing brought out the white underneath. I waxed it about 3 times (using the “buttery” wax recipe above) and I love it! I have to lightly relax and buff about every 6 months or so. It doesn’t build up, at least not yet. But because it is in my kitchen & gets hit by the morning sun through the window, it tends to melt away somewhat. (Hence the relaxing/buffing every 6 months)
But it’s totally worth it! I use about a 1” paint brush and have a small Rubbermaid container with my clear/natural “buttery” wax mixture that I use for all my waxed pieces. I use S.C. Johnson (which is pretty soft already so not much MS is needed, and another container of Minwax furniture Paste mixed with slightly more MS, as it is much denser than the S.C. Johnson wax.
I lightly apply by painting the wax with the grain of the wood on the door. There are different directions the wood goes. It flashes quickly and buffing is a breeze.i absolutely love using this tip! I would have probably given up on waxing furniture a long time ago if I hadn’t have found this recipe. I have tinted wax with shoe Polish. This tip has opened up a whole other range of ideas for my DIY-ing.
Thank you! And the reply’s & other comments are so helpful!
I’m so happy this works for you Monica! And I’m just imagining that gorgeous waxed and buff sheen you have on your pantry doors — I bet it looks stunning! Thanks for all your tips and feedback. Much appreciated because your comment is SO HELPFUL as well! XOXO
You can use a matte poly acrylic.. you do not have to use wax..in a kitchen that is hot and humid wax could melt and get sticky. If you want to have that distressed look without the shine use the matte poly over your paint, with 2 or 3 coats of poly your cabinets will take a beating…and they will be easier to clean.
Also do not use the wax as a sealer in a bathroom..and I use the poly because it does not turn yellow.
IF you are tinting the wax with a grey tone, should you still worry about the yellow drying color?
No MG. Once you’ve dark tinted a wax you don’t need to worry about a yellow tinge.
I’m wondering if mineral spirits can be substituted with turpentine? That’s what I have on hand at the moment!
By the way, love your site!
Samantha, I’ve never used turpentine to cut my wax so I Googled-it for you. (You all ask the best questions because I get to learn new things too!) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turpentine turned up this result: Quote- “Turpentine has long been used as a solvent, mixed with beeswax or with carnauba wax, to make fine furniture wax for use as a protective coating over oiled wood finishes.” Because it specifies “oil wood finishes”, I’m really not sure how it would react over a painted piece? If you give it a try, I’d love to hear your results! Or if anyone reading this has any experience with turpentine – feel free to chime in!
The small amount of turp in the wax would not effect the paint. Also, though you haven’t said specifically, oil paint is what you need to tint the wax.
Hi Jerri-Ann! I always use water-based paints to tint my wax, never oil based. Works great.
Hi Denise, thanks for the great tips. I’m wondering how long you let the wax sit on your piece before you buffed. Minwax directions say to wait 15-20 minutes. Also, I’ve had trouble in the past getting a nice, even surface when waxing over black paint. Do you know if your MS-Wax recipe will help get better results?
When I wax with the Minwax Furniture Paste (with or without mineral spirits) I use it the same way I use an Annie Sloan or boutique Wax. I work in smaller areas and wax on and then wax off. A perfect black can be finicky so a lot of buffing is beneficial. If you cut the Minwax with a tiny bit of MS, it will help with applying thinner layers and buffing process. (btw – beautiful photography Diana!)
Blake @ Glitter your Dash says
Thank you SO much for sharing this! I’ve been looking to re-do a few furniture pieces in our house & have been looking for the right wax to use. This is SO helpful! I’m want to paint these pieces an off-white, so am really looking for a colorless wax. Do you have any suggestions on what wax to use?
Hi Blake! Minwax Furniture Paste is perfect for lighter furniture with an antiqued look or medium to dark painted furniture because it will slightly yellow and add a warm hue. So for a perfect white finish, I really like Annie Sloan’s or CeCe Caldwell’s boutique waxes. They provide a totally clear topcoat on white painted furniture.
deanna fuqua says
Doesnt the mineral spirits when mixed with the wax break down the wax to which its not as durable? like say on kitchen cabinets?? will I need to rewax if i make a glaze with dark wax and mineral sprits?
Great question Deanna. Mineral spirits have been used by artists to thin paints, varnishes etc for many years. If used sparingly the wax remains durable (I dribble the mineral spirits into my wax and then mix… like start with a 1/4 tsp for a heaping tablespoon of wax because you can always add more) it will soften the wax consistency for easy application.
Will this work with the “green” eco-friendly mineral spirits?
Great question Alana! I’ve never tried but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. A product like Klean-Strip Green Odorless Mineral Spirits smells better and has less air pollutants but still cuts through oil-based paints, varnishes, shellac, stains etc. If anyone else has tried…feel free to chime in. 🙂
Can you tint the wax if you add mineral spirits? I’m redoing a small rocking chair in chalk paint and am at the stage of waxing. Thinking of mixing ballet pink to the wax but wondered if paint would peel. Thank you. Love your blog. Lots of great ideas.
Yes Dianna! You can add mineral spirits to you DIY dark wax. This will slightly thin/soften your wax and provide extra application/dry time.
I have been doing furniture for awhile now and your right. I use ASCP brush because I do so many pieces but I also use cheap dollar brush’s small ones work good for tight areas.
And I love your site full of info. Thanks Shabby Elegance kt in WA.
Im so excited to try this tomorrow!! Ive NEVER bought AS or any name brand chalk paint. I have ALWAYS made my own and have pretty much mastered my recipe at this point but have been wanting to try a soft wax. Ive always used an antiquing glaze then finished with a brush on Valspar Protective finish. I bet u could add the Valspar Antiquing glaze the the wax once it is mixed to get an antiquing wax!
Aloha Denise: Thanks so much for all your tips. I just don’t know what I would do without you! I was searching all over for a solution to my waxing problem, not that it was a problem, (I am using Minwax finishing wax) I did what you all say and use very little, but I was thinking I needed to “melt” it a little and so was looking through your site and found this….It makes so much sense. I will try it on my piece tomorrow.
Aloha Lianna! I was unplugged for the long weekend but PM’d you and replied to the rest of your message there! Look forward to hearing back.
Did you apply the wax/mineral mixture with a brush or cloth?
I applied the wax/mineral mixture with a dollar store chip-brush and it worked beautifully Trish.
Kathleen R says
Thanks for explaining this. I made up a mixture of wax and mineral spirited a few days ago. But it was so runny I was concerned to use it and so threw it away. I’ll try again now and get the proportions better.