Hello my friends! I’m excited to announce that today marks the 1 year anniversary of Quick-Tip-Tuesdays on the SI Blog! WOW – time flies when you’re having fun! You may have noticed I didn’t include Q-T-T in the post title. I figure we all know what Tuesdays are about around here – so from now on I’ll just get right to it. 😉One of the most common questions I get asked is “Should I wax or poly?”.
The conversations sound something like this: I’ve painted a piece of furniture and it looks amazing… now what? How do I protect my restyled piece? What’s the most durable topcoat? Will wax hold up under heavy-duty use or extreme weather conditions?
Here’s an email I recently received from Lisa. (Thanks so much for sharing Lisa!)
I JUST came across your blog like 2 days ago and it’s great. Thanks for all you do. I would love to paint this table and chairs, and I’ve been reading on your blog different ways to go about it. I have 3 small boys and there is no point in buying a nice table because they will destroy it.
I have painted dressers with chalk paint before so I’m leaning towards spraying the table and chairs with that. But I feel like the wax will not give enough protection. This kitchen table will be spilled on, banged on, and sprayed and wiped with Lysol at least once a day.
Is there a top coat that will give it the protection it needs from every single day big family use? Or is this wishful thinking? Any help is MUCH appreciated.
Hi there Lisa!
This set would look amazing painted up!…very nice. For high traffic tables and chairs I like to use a non yellowing Polycrylic or Polyurethane topcoat. Many water-based brands are easy to work with and environmentally friendly.
A few of my favorites are Varathane, Minwax and General Finishes. All of these brands come in flat, semi or gloss sheen.
Poly sealer/topcoat will ensure your high traffic furniture is protected because it cures to a super hard finish. Seals to prevent dirt, grease, scratches, stains etc. It’s also easier to clean… great for your boys. 😉
Have fun with your project and enjoy your week.
Don’t let this email to Lisa give you the impression that I don’t use wax. I DO! And I use A LOT of IT – on MANY if not the majority of my chalk painted and milk painted pieces!
But here’s MY take on using wax or poly:
With the growing popularity of chalk and milk painted furniture, wax has become a SUPER POPULAR topcoat. Why? Because both chalk and milk painted furniture is porous in nature – wax easily absorbs into the surface.
When the wax hardens, it seals the painted surface with a lovely natural looking soft sheen. The sheen can then be controlled by additional buffing. And some gorgeous effects can be created by using dark wax, white wax, or metallic wax finishes!
Having said this, my preference for HIGH TRAFFIC items such as dining sets, children’s furniture or even kitchen/bathroom cabinets is POLY.
I also prefer using poly products to seal latex/acrylic or enamel painted pieces because they are NOT porous is nature!
The brands I use most often are Varathane Diamond Finish, Minwax Wipe-On Poly, and General Finishes High Performance Topcoat.
These polycrylics and polyurethanes cure to a super hard finish and protect against grease, dirt, and stains. Also, a poly topcoat has a more forgiving cleaning process. Once fully cured, ‘regular’ cleaning products can be used unlike waxed surfaces. For waxed pieces, a slightly damp cloth is recommended for cleaning – and depending on use, reapplication of the wax may be required a few years down the road.
With all the different brands and various opinions on wax and poly, it can be confusing on which topcoat to use on painted furniture. To keep things simple, I use wax on chalk painted and milk painted pieces (unless they are high traffic items!) and poly products on everything else!
If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below! And please chime in with YOUR opinion(s) on using wax or poly? When you wax. When you poly. And why! As always, I love hearing from you and learn so much from your comments!
Catch last week’s Q-T-T here – and if YOU have any ideas or tips you would like to share on the SI Quick-Tip-Tuesday-Series, send me an email!
Enjoy your day and have fun with your next project!
Like what you see? Subscribe to Salvaged Inspirations so you’ll never miss a post!
Follow along on Pinterest, Google+, and Facebook for more inspiration!
Thanks!! The soft coat in between is for making it look distressed. Can I just layer paint and sand instead of using the soft wax?
Yes you can but it really depends what type of distressed look your after Alicia. I’ve used vaseline and bees wax but have reserved the soft waxing for the entire piece at the end. For future reference, here’s an article on which distressing technique may be right for you.
Alicia Novess says
Hi there! I’m chalk painting a dining room table and chairs. The chalk paint requires to use a soft wax inbetween different color layers of chalk paint. Can I still poly at the end?? Thanks!
Hi Alicia…great project! Unless there’s a new technique I’m unaware of, there’s no need to use a soft wax in between each layer of chalk paint. You can choose to wax your very last coat OR opt to topcoat with a poly. 🙂
I have a kitchen table I chalk painted 2 years ago, and used wax to seal it, It is defiantly worn now and the top needs redone. It was off white, and I used dark wax to distress it and regular wax over that. the outer part of table tap is worn down to just the off-white. i am going to repaint the top, i’d like to poly coat the top, but I like the look of using dark wax is there something I can use over paint to “antique” it before using clear poly?
Hi Tami! A dark glaze will work beautifully to create an antique/aged look when top coating with poly.
andrea kreis says
I just found your site and it has been very informative. I just painted an old dresser with chalk paint and now want to apply polyurethane. You showed a pic of a can of wipe on poly in this blog; do you have a tutorial showing how to apply it?
Thank you so much.
Hi Andrea! I love the Minwax Wipe-On-Poly for hardware and small surfaces, but I don’t use it for large surfaces anymore. (As hard as I tried, I couldn’t get a perfectly even finish on large surfaces) So no, unfortunately I don’t have a tutorial for this product. It is super easy to apply though. It really is wipe-on-wipe-off! 🙂
Lisa Tarver says
I love your page along with all the tips of advice! 🙂 I’m a beginner, and just painted all of my ugly builder grade kitchen cabinets (they were oak) with a latex Behr Antique White. I intended all along to do the glazing technique to get the distressed look; however, would it not be easier to just sand the places I want to look distressed (mainly edges and random areas) to the wood grain and then seal with a polyurethane? Again, I’m just asking, since I’m not an expert. If you went that route, what brand/type of polyurethane would you recommend (one that doesn’t yellow).
Thank you, Lisa
Hmmm…it really depends on the look you’re after Lisa. Sand distressing gives a very different effect from glazing and both are lovely. I know these aren’t kitchen cabinets but you can see how glaze transforms a piece here and here. Varathane has a non-yellowing poly that I use over whites and pastels. Great project Lisa!
Jerrie Gall says
I have a white chalk painted vanity that is finished with clear poly. I was wondering how I can make it a dark piece.
I would like to achieve a dark espresso finish.
Would I need to sand down completely and start fresh or can I chalk paint and poly over existing finish?
Thank you for all your wonderful tips!
Hi there Jerrie! For a stained expresso finish (assuming this is a wood piece) sanding off the existing finish would be required. Then stain and poly. For a painted expresso finish, you can simply give the existing finish a light sanding with 220 grit and then paint and poly in the color or your choice.:)
I want to use some poly I already have (and I’m hoping it will work!) I just painted my lower kitchen cabinets with a home-made chalk paint recipe. They’re navy, so I’m not super concerned with yellowing- I have a can of the Minwax Water-Based Polycrylic finish in clear gloss. Will this be sufficient for the job? I don’t want them super shiny, and am worried that wax alone won’t be durable enough to hold up to the traffic they’lll see with being lower cabinets + my kids! Any Advice?
Thanks SO much!
Hi Rhiannon! Minwax Water-Based Poly definitely works over homemade chalk paint because I’ve used it many times. Super durable and easy to clean. 🙂 And yes, seeing as you’re topcoating navy – you don’t have to worry about yellowing… however you may want to test the sheen in an inconspicuous area to make sure it’s not too glossy for you.
Denise- Thank you SO much for your quick reply and suggestion on a sample area to test- good idea!
Loved reading all the questions and comments, thank you for taking the time to answer everyone!
I have painted two chairs, not knowing what I was doing, I went to Sherwin Williams, who advised me to use their All Surface Enamel (Acrylic Latex Satin) paint. I do have a Lowe’s within 30-miles but nothing else close.
I did clean with mineral spirits but did not use a primer, as I’ve read several articles stating that I should have…..I’ve painted 2 coats and it looks good, not great. Should I have sanded between coats? I was worried that it would mess up my paint and I didn’t want it rough.
Now, I want to add distressing of some kind. I don’t want to sand, I want to add some type that I can brush or wipe-on so it stays in the crevices. Someone told me that I wouldn’t be able to find anything that would adhere to this paint? Is this true? I need all the help I can get, this is much harder than I expected.
Hi Peggy! I always sand with a high grit sand paper in between coats because it gives a smooth professional finish. To create an antiqued look in the crevices of your SW All Surface Enamel (great furniture paint btw!) you can use a glaze or dark wax. 🙂
I am redoing my kitchen cabinets. I am using chalk paint and sealing it with polycrylic for durability. Can I distress it with dark wax over it
Yes, wax can be applied over poly Gail.
Hi! Just found your site and it is VERY informative. You have a pic on this specific page but I cannot find out how you did it 🙁
Top Left pic of a dark dresser with maybe decoupage on top???? Where is your tutorial on how to achieve? My teen daughters fell in love with it and I want to do this their bedroom (white or antique white base).
It will be their nightstand. Would you wax the entire piece, wax the stand and poly the top or poly the entire thing?
Hi Jennifer! So glad you’re finding the SI Blog helpful! Here is the tutorial on the decoupaged dresser – top left pic. 🙂
If I have already put the wax on top of the chalk paint can I then add the poly to the top of the wax?
Poly should not be applied on top of wax Kristi!
Hi Denise 🙂 I like your name 😉
Question for you, Have you used the Minwax Paste Finishing Wax in Natural on white chalk paint before? I am hearing mixed reviews about it going on clear or not. Just trying to decide the best wax for my white chalk-painted dressers! 🙂
Hi Denise 🙂 I like your name too 🙂 Yes, I have used Minwax on pure white and it will slightly warm the white because there is an orangey tint to it. I use Minwax a lot but it’s not my go-to for white pieces. I prefer Annie Sloan or Trewax which are both totally clear waxes.
Do you have a favorite non-yellowing poly? I used Varathane triple thick poly in a matte finish over a few white chalk painted pieces and at first I loved it. It went on very smooth, no odor at all, and was easy to work with. I thought it was my new favorite way to finish until my pieces yellowed right away. Very disappointed. Do you suggest that I lightly sand off the poly and apply a new top coat such as wax or do I need to sand, add a fresh coat of paint, and then seal? Or I thought about just using a dark wax over the already yellowed poly’d pieces, but then I lose out on the white piece of furniture.
Varathane has a Non-Yellowing poly that works nicely. I’ve used it on quite a few white pieces and have had no issues. As for sanding or repainting or dark waxing, that’s a personal preference. The sanding or wax will work but I guess it depends on how much extra work you’re willing to give the piece. I know, so frustrating when they yellow though. 🙁
Thank you I have found the paint on amozon and the make is rustins chalk paint .
I’ll have to look that up! Thanks Mark! 🙂
Hi if your chalk paint already has wax in it do you still clear wax it ?
Hmmm… I’ve never heard of a chalk paint that already has wax in it Mark. If this is a new product, it may be best to read the instructions or call the manufacturer. However, I would guess that a topcoat/clear wax would still be beneficial though.
amanda ludlow says
I have painted my kitchen cabinets with chalk paint, I applied a dark wax over them. I would like to put a top coat over them, I know the poly won’t adhere to them. Is there any other product besides poly that will adhere to them, specifically made for covering over wax? Could I use an oil based poly on them instead of a water based poly?
Hmmm, not that I know of Amanda. Wax can be applied over poly but not the other way around. If you’re happy with the look, you could always use them as is and once the wax wears away, clean them up and apply the poly. Or another option which is more work now, remove the wax with mineral spirits, glaze to achieve a similar looks and then add a poly topcoat. Either way, kudos to you for restyling your existing cabinets! 🙂
Hi! I am chalk painting some vinyl club chairs that we will use on our back patio which faces southwest. We live in Florida with high heat and humidity; the patio is QUITE hot by dinner time so we avoid it then, but after the sun goes down its is pleasant. I was planning on waxing the chairs after I finished painting them because i heard it will make them feel like leather and keep the paint flexible on the seat. But I just read somewhere that you should not wax outdoor furniture in high heat areas because it will become tacky and kind of reactivate the wax in the heat. That would be no bueno on a dining chair!! How should I finish these chairs do you think?
If they were my chairs Beth, i would buy an outdoor water based poly. Varathane has a good one that I’ve used on outdoor furniture and it lasts and protects nicely.
My husband just painted our kitchen island from a standard white to a dark navy blue. I think it’s a waterbase paint and was wondering what we could use to keep the paint on and not peel or scratch off so easily.\
Thanks so much!
Hi Raquel! Before applying a topcoat, a paint job should be 100% adhered. No peeling or scratching. Reason being is a topcoat, whether it be wax or poly is not applied to keep the paint on, but rather protect the paint from dirt, stains, minor scratches etc. In kitchens, I prefer a water based poly over wax. Super tough and easy to clean. 🙂
So how long do we wait to see if the paint adhered to the island before adding a topcoat? Also, does poly have a shinny finish? Our paint is flat. Thanks so much =)
Raquel, if properly prepped (ie light sanding/prime prior to painting) the paint should be adhered once it’s 100% dry. Also, you can buy topcoats that have satin or flat finishes. General Finishes has a wonderful Flat out Flat poly if you want no sheen at all. 🙂
Can finished chalk painted furniture that already has a wax top coat be painted over?
Yes Kerry, so long as you use chalk paint to paint over it.
Lisa Nash says
I’ve chalk painted a desk,applied clear wax, then dark wax to antique, but have not waxed the top of the desk yet. From past experience, wax does not hold up well ( fingerprints, etc). I’d like to put an acrylic poly on top – could I then apply clear wax, then dark wax to match the rest of the desk? I’ve never done this before.
You can apply wax over poly Lisa. However, when using a dark wax over poly, you may get a slightly different effect. The dark wax applied to the body of your desk has the porous paint texture to adhere to whereas a poly’d top will be perfectly smooth. You might need to ‘fiddle’ with the effect a little to match it up.
Renae Miller says
One of my cabinet doors was waxed as it was used as an example piece when I was being taught by the Annie Sloan Stockist. Can I just sand that wax off and then apply the poly to it? Also, how many coats of poly do you feel is necessary for kitchen cabinets?
thank you so much!!
Yes Renae, you can remove the wax by sanding (paint may need a touch up) or with mineral spirits. For a water based poly, I would recommend at least 3 coats – however it should tell you on the manufactures label.
How long after I’ve painted with the chalk paint can I apply the poly?
I like to wait 24hrs whenever possible but so long as your chalk paint is 100% dry, you can apply poly.
Renae miller says
So I can just apply my poly over top my chalk painted cabinets? Do you use a brush to apply?
Yes, poly can be brushed on or sprayed on.
La Saxton says
I am confused about what I should put on my dining room table top as a top coat. I painted it with chalk paint, I have 2 (thin) glazed coats of wax, and one glazed coat of dark wax for antiquing.
(by glazed I mean, wax was painted on and then wiped quickly- I am not sure that is the right terminology??) Sounds like poly won’t stick as a top coat, so should I just do another coat of wax and plan to wax it 1-2 times per year? This table won’t be used that much, 5-10 times per year. Love your site, thanks for all the helpful hints.
Correct. If you’ve already waxed, poly will not adhere over wax. If you already have a few coats of wax applied, your good to go! If in a year or two you notice the sheen could use a touch up, apply another coat. 🙂
I was told that I should wax my chalk painted kitchen cabinets, THEN after 30 days, I could use a polyurethane on them. What do you recommend?
I would recommend one or the other Renae. Applying any sort of topcoat/poly over wax is not ideal because it will not adhere properly.
I waxed a chalk painted dresser and now think I should coat it with a polycrylic. AOK? How long should I let the was cure?
Hi there Karen…great question! Wax can be applied over polycrylic but polycrylic can NOT be applied over wax. Why? Wax repels water and polycrylic is a water based topcoat. Unfortunately, the poly will not adhere properly.
Hi, I was wondering if you could use a dark wax or other seal over spray painted wood furniture. I spray painted some wooden dining chairs but they came out a bit too bright (I was going for blush but they are more pepto than blush)…I’d like to tone them down with a dark wax look…what do you think?
Yes, a dark wax or dark glaze would certainly tone down the spray painted color Kimberly. I would suggest testing a small area to see if it’s the look you like before applying it to the entire chair though. 🙂
Hi There! Super post! I just did a desk in chalk paint and sealed it with wax.
Now, I am getting ready to do my kitchen table. I will need to poly it fo sure due to having four kids 🙂 is the min wax wipe on poly you have pictured non-yellowing?
No, the Minwax Wipe-On doesn’t say it’s a non-yellowing product and from experience, it does slightly yellow when used over white paint. Varathane has a NON-Yellowing water based poly however it’s not wipe-on… you apply using a brush. Good luck with your table Kristin.
Hello, there is really good info on here so I hope you can help me. I wanted to do a refinish on a small antique vanity table and went completely the wrong way abut it. I prepped it then used applied two layers of spray primer then used chalk paint (I don’t know why…..!) and then sanded and waxed it. I am not satisfied how it turned out because used clear finishing min was and the piece is to white, I was looking for more of an aged look. Can you suggest what I can do to fix this? Can I apply a darker wax or minwax stain over the wax to darken it or do I need to take the layer of wax off? Thank you! Love your work!
No, no Eva…don’t take off the first coat of clear wax. You can apply a dark wax right over top to create an aged look.
Can wax be used over “regular” paint (i.e., not chalk or milk paint)? I bought a gorgeous antique painted dresser for my daughter recently: hot pink, with chalkboard drawers and a white top. The paint is chipped a bit (I’m guessing it wasn’t sanded/primed before painting), so I’m thinking I’ll just distress it a bit (b/c, let’s face it- my 4 year old will certainly ding it!). I really like the look of waxed furniture: would it work?? Thanks! Love the blog!!!
Thanks Mileah! Yes, you can apply a wax finish over ‘regular’ paint but because it’s not a porous as chalk paint, apply very sparingly and remove ALL excess by buffing. Otherwise you may end up with an uneven looking finish which will attract finger prints etc.
I love your work and your blog!! Thanks for taking the time to help others. I have recently refinished my 1990’s bed with black chalk paint by Valspar. I used their wax on the headboard and footboard and it seems to leave a smudge any time something touches it. For this reason, I am thinking I will use Poly on my nightstands so that they won’t mark up as much. Here is my question: Can I use Poly on just the tops of the night stands or do I need to poly over the entire piece? I ask because I already waxed most of it when I realized it was an issue 🙁 Any ideas??
I have used poly on dresser/table tops and waxed the body. I do this when I restyle a piece with a stained top with a painted body. You can also do this if the entire piece is painted but you will want to match the poly sheen as best you can with your wax sheen. ie – don’t choose a high gloss poly and then not buff your wax to a high shine!
I bought a flag wall art piece that’s painted on wood that I want to hang outside (it will be on a farmers porch under a roof). To protect it, what do you suggest I use? The flag design is a combo of chalk & reg paint, and the sides and back are raw wood. I’m thinking of using an oil based poly on the sides and back, and either wax or water-based poly on the flag design. My concern about using wax is having to keep it up. Do you think that will be needed for an outdoor decoration? Thanks in advance for your advice!
Oil based poly is certainly durable but rather than using 2 separate topcoat products, if it were my wall art, I would purchase an outdoor water based poly that I could use on the entire piece. UV protection and will not need reapplying down the road as wax might. 🙂
Hi, glad I came across your blog..lots of good info! I just painted for the first time using chalk paint. It is a coffee table and I used black. So far, so good. I’m glad I investigated using wax vs poly and now know I need to go with the poly, at least for the top. Will the black paint ‘bleed’ when I apply it? I seem to recall this happening with certain colors of stains in the past. I guess I can wait to find out lol, but thought I would ask. Thanks! 🙂
I’ve never had my chalk paint bleed while applying poly so I’m thinking it should be ok Laurie 🙂
Thank you! 🙂
I have a water based, oil-modified polyurethane by minwax I want to apply to my POP chalk painted furniture…are there issues with this? Looking for the most durable finish for a child’s desk.
The issue with using a poly/polyurethane over a white or light painted furniture is it’s possible it may slightly yellow over time. Poly is very durable and I have purchased and used a non-yellowing poly over my painted pieces. Works nicely.
Can you use wax on a semi gloss paint?
You can Merrilee but wax works very best on porous paints…like chalk and milk paints.
I recently replaced all of my interior doors in my house. I am wanting to chalk paint & distress them. What kind of finish would you suggest I use? Thanks -Meg
DIY or brand name chalk paint is very porous so therefore in high traffic areas, I would use a poly for durability and clean-ability.
Would I still be able to get the distressed look using poly ? I know the dark wax gives a nice aged look but I would like the kitchen cabinets to have a durable top coat. Also, would you recommend milk paint or chalk paint for kitchen cabinets ?
Thanks a million
If you like the dark, antiqued, distressed look Justin, a glazing technique can give you a similar look to dark wax. Then using a poly for the topcoat wont be an issue. Personally, for my kitchen, I wouldn’t use milk paint OR chalk paint (although chalk paint would be the preference of the two). I would opt for a super durable paint specific to cabinets like Advance by BM or SW ProClassic (which can be purchased in a matte/eggshell if you prefer a flat look) which does require some prep but is easy to clean and maintain and incredibly durable!
If you have already waxed the piece, can you apply poly over the wax?
Love your articles and your blog.
Thanks Barbara. 🙂 No, poly should not be applied over wax.
Hi Denise, I have just finished painting my dining table and chairs that were originally pine and they look great. In the past I have painted various wardrobes and side tables and each time I have finished them off by applying a top coat of wax. Naturally I have done the same with my table and chairs however, it was not until I had finished did it cross my mind that wax may not be a sufficient enough top coat for this high traffic piece of furniture…..
Do you know whether it is still possible to apply a further top coat of poly to give it an extra layer of protection or is it too late?
Hi Nick. It’s not advised to apply a poly over wax because it’s kind of like the oil and water scenario. The wax will repel and the poly will eventually (probably sooner than later) peel up.
Ah I see… So apart from sanding the whole thing down and starting again, there’s nothing I can do about it?
Rather than sanding the entire project down Nick, wax can be removed using mineral spirits. Odorless and good ventilation is ideal. Just wet a cloth and wipe. You will see and feel the wax being removed. Once the wax is wiped off your piece(s) then you can wipe clean and give a very light sanding if need be – then topcoat with your poly. Just my 2¢ – if it were my painted and waxed table, I would roll with the wax before putting in the additional work. Wax is durable. But may need reapplying eventually… then you may want to switch to the poly. 🙂
Jen in Jersey (for now) says
One thing I haven’t been able to determine- which is easier to repair down the road?
We move a lot (12 times in 17 years) and our furniture is constantly being handled by the “lowest bidder” movers that the military loves. As a result they show a new crop of dings, scrapes, and gouges after every move. I spent a lot of time refinishing two separate pieces of furniture at our last house only to have both scraped and gouged during our last move, it was heartbreaking.
I’m refinishing our two side tables, coffee table, and the sofa table I refinished at the last house. This time I’m deliberately distressing the pieces and using multiple layers of paint and stain. It is a complete PITA but I’m looking for a finish where additional scratches can just be sanded, touched up with a stain pen and finished.
So, knowing all that, would you recommend wax or poly?
Hi Jen… wow – that’s a lot of moving! 🙂 Lacquer, varnish, poly’s are the most durable finish and you can always add a few additional coats for extra protection and beautiful finish. Having said this, even with the toughest topcoats, when furniture gets moved repeatedly, sometimes scrapes, scratches and knicks are unavoidable. I know how you feel though, if it’s a piece you love… it can be heartbreaking.
Jen in Jesey (for now) says
So as far as repairs go, is it easier to repair the poly or the wax?
Personally, I would go for a Poly…the harder, more durable finish as I mentioned above. Reason being, depending on the damage, both wax and poly would require pretty much the same steps to repair. However, poly will stand up to rough movers far better than wax.
I’ve painted my entire kitchen cabinets white and don’t know how to protect them because so many products yellow. Please help!
Varathane sells a Non-Yellowing Waterbased Poly that’s very durable. You can also go to your local Sherwin Williams or other paint professional store and ask what type of non-yellowing poly they have Suellen.
Great tips dear.You have share awesome ideas to make furniture more beautiful.
I have just started out selling my painted furniture in New Zealand – and have taken your advice and wax low traffic pieces and poly high traffic pieces and it’s working well. You’ve been an awesome source of help and guidance – thank you!
Hi! Just found your blog and I am wondering what wax you use for your chalk paint pieces? I just painted a end table with chalk paint and am now needing to seal it with wax and am wanting it to look a little antique-ish. Any ideas? Thanks!
I use Minwax and Annie Sloan and I also like CeCe Caldwells wax. If you’re looking to antique and darken your piece, a dark/tinted wax will work nicely.
Jeri Johnson says
I like wax as a quick top coat but if you ever want to repaint it is a bear to remove. You need to use mineral spirits and many passes of a cloth to remove. I use the wax on pieces that I chalk paint and have also top coated them with poly. Just a tip .
Great point regarding removing a wax topcoat Jeri!
Julie Beals says
Hi Denise! Sorry if someone has already asked this, but with the Poly do you first wax it then use the Poly as a second way to protect it? I see that CeCe Cauldwell now has a poly that I believe replaces wax to make it easier on the poor arms! Im asking as I have a dining table i am thinking of redoing and i dread wearing my arms out waxing! thank you!.
Julie, poly will not adhere to a waxed topcoat. I either wax or poly. Never both. 🙂
Hi. I just painted a piece of furniture and then waxed. Hated it so I used polyurethane over top (not realizing it won’t stick to wax) now the top scratches very easily just at a single touch. What do you suggest I do? I don’t want to remove all 3 layers of paint by sanding all the way down. Could i possibly just sand down past the poly? Please help my email is included for easier
Hi Krissy. Yes, I wouldn’t sand all the way down. Try sanding just enough to remove your top coats. You may want to add one more ‘fresh’ layer of paint and then topcoat in your preferred product. 🙂
Once again your post was perfectly timed. My husband recently finished an entire wall of built ins and I’m getting ready to paint the final coats. I was debating how to protect the shelves that will get heavy use and was considering wax but now I’m thinking the wipe on poly is my best option. My concern is that the cabinets are painted white and I have read that the poly will yellow over time. Any suggestions?
Hi Sharon! I’d check your local Home Depot/Lowes etc, because there are polyurethanes that state “non-yellowing” right on the label. They’re a great choice when top coating a white or light color.
I’ve heard even non-yellowing poly will yellow over chalk paint. True or false?
In my experience, false.
Do I really have to do 3 coats of Varathane crystal clear? And do I really have to sand if I wait longer than 2 hours between coats?
Lindsay, you don’t “have to” do anything you don’t want to do…lol. However, to get a professional finish that will last for years and be super durable and easy to care for…yes. 🙂
Hi Denise, thank you for all the easy to read, educational blogs you post. It’s been very helpful in my quest to re-design my husbands’ office space and re-paint his work desk. He’s very please with it but me not so much. It will see much use so I sanded, primed, painted 2 coats of red and sealed with 1 coat of poly (painted on). But the result was a sort-of semi gloss rough texture. Because the poly was so watery I didn’t feel comfortable rolling it on so I painted with a high-quality angled sash 2.5″ brush. We let it dry for 4 days (overkill?) But I can sort of see the uneven brush strokes that dried. Do you have any suggestions to fix it and make it smoother? (sand again and another coat of poly?)
By the way, I have photos of the finished desk but I couldn’t seem to post it up here if it would help. Oh and the poly was the exact same Minwax you used on the teal dresser you re-finished on your laundry room.
Hi Charissa… glad you’ve found the posts helpful! I’ve noticed on the manufacture labels of the poly brands I like to use, they say 3+ coats with a light sanding in between. And each brands dry time before recoat may be slightly different but within 24 hours is a safe bet.
joe (mo-jo) says
I’ve been reading and viewing your work, its all very beautiful. I personally choose waxes for hard use surfaces. I received a factory polyurethaned honey oak (typical natural) kitchen table from a friend, it was full of scratches. (I hate Poly), so i sanded it all off on the top. I wanted to stain it, but oil stain takes a long time to cure so I remembered something somewhere and I used RIT dye instead as a stain. It was easy peasy and ready to top coat the next day. I debated oil poly, water poly or wax. I took a risk and tried the wax. Love it. When it shows some wear I just rewax it, unlike poly –your screwed. It has only needed waxing once a year and it’s used everyday. As for the honey oak base I roughed it up and sprayed it satin black. I lightly distressed the bottom of the base where feet hit (already broken in). I don’t like fussy furnitture to worry about, life’s too short to worry about scratches.
This is so interesting Joe! My sister has used RIT Dye to revamp/re-dye clothes and cloth shoes but I had NO idea it works on wood. Your table sounds fabulous and thanks for leaving your comment… I love learning new ways to use different products! 🙂
Rit recently came out with a new line so now you can do plastics also, I’ve seen it do a great job on legos. I bet it’d be great on some cheap kids furniture or even as accent handles since you can make custom colors!
Thanks for this Cece! x
Lisa P says
Love your site!!!, Recently I saw a gray dresser you painted with Behr dark gray color (think it was. Behr) and it would be perfect for my teenage sons room but can not find it on your site at all. Can you help me find the color???? Just loved it……thanks a bunch!
Lisa, the most recent gray pieces I’ve painted is a gray french provincial dresser and a MMS Sutter Gray Dresser. Both have the colors included in tutorial. 🙂
I can not find your tutorials anywhere on your site? Can you help me navigate? Not a recent paint job on a chest…older post….
Lisa, I’ve never painted a chest in a dark grey. Are you sure you saw this particular piece on Salvaged Inspirations? If you can email me some more details, I may be able to help navigate or direct you to a different site if I’m familiar with the bloggers work.
Joe- Could you post some pics of your project? I’d love to see the results!
Have you ever polyed a piece that you chalk painted? Thanks!
I have Charlene! Here’s an outdoor seat that was painted in chalk paint and then protected with an outdoor poly. https://salvagedinspirations.com/painting-outdoor-furniture-with-chalkmineral-paint/
I am using fusion paint to paint a dresser and a side table. This paint has a matte finish and does not require a top coat – however, would you use a finishing product to add protection (for the side table which is a high traffic item?)
How about if one wanted to add seen/glossiness to the item. How could I do that?
I’ve used Fusion before and it’s a wonderful paint but for sure, if it’s going to get a lot of use, top coating with a water based poly is a wonderful idea. And you can choose whatever sheen you would like when you go to buy your poly. 🙂
I just painted a table, with an oil base paint( a little gloss), I would like to sand lightly on some edges, I’m not sure what to cover it with after, or do I need to?
Hi Gail! Once 100% cured, an oil based enamel w sheen is really durable. Unless the table is high traffic or out in extreme elements, a top coat may not be needed.
I chalk painted a kitchen table and chairs for my daughters apartment for college, I didn’t realize I could have used poly on the top! I have waxed it but it still doesn’t look right! Can I poly over wax? If not can I put another coat of chalk paint over the wax and then poly over that? Please help!
Hi Jeaneen! Poly should not be applied over wax because it’s like the oil and water scenario. The wax will eventually repel the poly topcoat. However, you can paint over the wax to create a fresh finish to poly over OR sand off or wipe off the wax with mineral spirits and then use the poly.
Thank you! I have painted back over the top of the table and I am going to apply the poly tmrw! Thanks so much!
My pleasure Jeaneen. I’m sure your daughter is going to love her new set! 🙂