This post is all about waxes and sealers because I get a lot of questions about this. How to apply it, which brand to use, clear vs. dark, etc.
I use the following sealers over chalk based paint – Annie Sloan Clear Wax, Annie Sloan Dark Wax, Maison Blanche Dark Brown Wax and – my favorite – Fiddes & Sons Supreme Wax Polish.
Tip One.: All waxes can be applied easily with an old t-shirt. I see no reason to go out and buy an expensive wax brush that will need cleaning. It’s much easier to throw out an old t-shirt when you’re done. I do recommend a brush for Annie Sloan Dark Wax as the bristles get into a piece’s nooks and crannies better. I use a stencil brush I bought from AC Moore that was pretty inexpensive.
Tip Two: I sand all of my pieces with a super fine sanding sponge prior to waxing. I take the sponge and go over the entire piece in a circular motion until smooth and there are no sanding lines left. You can sand after waxing but I prefer prior. I also do all of my distressing prior to waxing. This way, my distressed bits are sealed nicely and the finish of my piece is super smooth. I have heard from other bloggers that there is no way to get around brush marks when using chalk paint. This is not true. Follow my advice and sand prior to waxing and all brush marks will disappear. Beware that it is messy and I use a mask while I do it.
Tip Three: After I sand, I use a damp paper towel to wipe off the chalk dust before I apply my wax, or (my secret) I use a handy leaf blower in my garage that I bought for this purpose ($40 at HomeDepot) and it blows all of the dust away. I also use the blower to blow away all of the debris when I sand back the wood on top of a piece to refinish it.
Annie Sloan Clear Wax goes on well and doesn’t have too much odor. However, it is thick when applying and you really need some elbow grease to rub it in. Apply it section by section onto your piece. It will stain your piece if you leave it sitting too long on one section without rubbing it in. I have to really stress the fact that you should only put on a thin layer and do not glob it on. I apply it in a circular motion and really buff it in. After it cures, I go over it again with a soft, clean cloth to give it more sheen.
Fiddes & Sons Supreme Wax Polish is super easy to apply. It goes on like butter – super smooth – but it does have a strong odor. I actually open the door or window if I’m inside while applying and it takes a few hours for the smell to dissipate. However, it is so easy to apply that it is worth dealing with the smell. It gives a great sheen and smoothness to a piece.
Annie Sloan Dark Wax always needs to be applied on top of a dried/cured coat of clear wax. If you apply the dark directly onto your paint, it will stain and smear. This wax is super dark and you need only a tiny bit to create an aged look. I tend to use it only in crevices or detailing that I want to look aged. In my opinion, it is a tricky product. Used sparingly, it can create a fantastic finish – really beautiful. Use too much and your piece will just look dirty. If too much dark is applied, you can take clear wax and wipe it off. However, it will not totally come off and will have darkened the piece. I’ve heard of mixing the dark wax with mineral spirits to create a mixture that can be applied with a paint brush. I will try this soon and let you all know the results.
Maison Blanch Dark Wax does not need to be applied on top of clear first. However, it is not the same look at all as the Annie Sloan. It does not give the same aged look. It is more of a stain than a wax and as you apply, your piece will turn a deeper hue. It does not streak and goes on easily. Not much odor.
General Finishes just sent me a product to try – Satin Finishing Wax. As soon as I give it a try, I will tell you all about it. I hope to use it next week on a dresser.
There you have it! My go-to products and a few little tips. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I will reveal the winner of the Color Inspiration Notebook on Friday! Thanks to all who entered!
This was a most informative piece and I am excited to hear about thinning the Dark Wax from AS and also the General liquid finish. Thanks again. ….getting ready to do my first chalk finish on an armoire.
Thanks so much and good luck with the armoire!
Thanks for sharing. I sometimes use the AS dark wax by itself, i.e. skip the clear wax and directly apply the dark wax. On certain pieces, it provided the look I wanted; on other pieces – not so much. For me it is experiment as I go. I have found that using the dark wax must be done in small sections – it easier to control and maintain a consistent look this way.
Hi Donna – yes, it absolutely needs to be done in small sections. I once put it directly on a piece and it stained it and kind of ruined my finish and I never did again. I do love the look in the nooks and crannies and how it really ages a piece but it can be super tricky to apply without making your piece just look dirty. You live and you learn! Have you tried the Maison Blanche? I really like that product and recommend it.
Thank you for all your information. Have you tried Liberon Wax? I use it on all my furniture after I redo a piece and I absolutely love it! It’s like butter going on,
and has a very low, but pleasant odor. It comes in neutral (clear), medium oak (which I use the most) and a dark walnut. You don’t need to use the neutral before you use the dark wax. I’ve been doing furniture for years, and I wouldn’t use anything else. I paint all my furniture with Reclaim and Caromal Colours (texture paints). Let me know if you have any questions aboput these fantastic paints. I also do kitchen cabinets with Reclaim. I’ve tried all the chalk paints, and I find Reclaim to be smoother. less chalky and easier to use. Again, thanks for sharing all your wonderful information. You do beautiful work! Cindy
Thanks so much, Cindy! What fantastic info and I really appreciate it. I am definitely going to look and buy some of the Liberon Wax and give it a try. The Reclaim paint also sounds great. I just love learning from others. Thanks so much for reading the blog and sharing!
Hi, Suzanne. Let me know when you want to try the Reclaim and the Liberon Wax. I will send you a few samples to see if you like it. You can either order through me (I took a 3-day certification course to learn about the products) or you can go on their website to see their incredible products: Caromalcolours.com Please just use my code if you order CindyG. It’s a family owned business and they make the paints in the USA and they are endorsed by Country Living Magazine. They just came out with a new line called Botanicals. More dreamy, creamy paints and beautiful colors! As I mentioned, I’ve tried a lot of the chalk paints including the ones from the box stores. There is just no comparison. I used the Valspar line last summer because I had a rush job and wanted to try it anyway. Unfortunately, I had to throw away all my brushes when I was done because the paint ruined them. When you open the Reclaim, it literally looks like thick yogurt and it’s about as creamy as yogurt or mayonnaise. I just did an entire kitchen with 18 cabinets with one gallon of paint. It is a primer and sealer and leaves an eggshell finish, so you don’t have to wax after. I will be happy to send you a few small samples. They also have toner and glazes. I use the toner if I want a lot of antiquing. It’s a water based product (like the rest of the line). I just put it on and wipe it off really quick and then add more in areas I want darker. If you don’t like it, you just use a damp rag to take it off. I know I’m rambling, but you can see how passionate I am about their products. Like you, I love to share! Thank you for sharing your beautiful work with the rest of us! Cindy
Hi Cindy, yes, I would love to try the products. I will shoot you an email. Cheers!
Thanks for sharing Suzanne-I use AS dark wax with hemp oil at the same time and it goes on easy and fast with a brush and I can control the shade. I agree about using an old T-shirt-no need to buy an expensive brush. I also find old white socks to work well for waxing. Happy Thanksgiving!
Hi Darrielle, thanks for the tip! I need to try the hemp oil as I have heard great things about it. I love the idea of combining it with the dark wax. It seems I am not the only one that finds that product tricky. Love the old socks idea! I always have a ton of those! Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!
Very informative blog post. I have also tried sanding before and after waxing. I agree with you and much prefer sanding before waxing. I just tried mixing a the dark wax with mineral spirits and was not happy with the results. I’ll be interested to hear how it works out for you. Thanks for sharing your information.
Hi Patricia – interesting that you tried that and didn’t like it. It seems like a lot of work with smelly mineral spirits and I was thinking that it better be worth it to do on a regular basis! Thanks!
Thanks for the tips Suzanne! I’m excited to try the Fiddes & Son, I’ve heard good things about it. When I use Annie Sloan dark wax I actually mix a little of the dark on a paper plate with some clear wax. Mix it together well and apply. Eliminates the two step process and I find you can control the color better.
Oooh – I like that tip. Thanks so much! I shall give it a try!
Hi Suzanne – I’ve been painting furniture for a while now and just wanted to add my little tip. I used to put apply so much pressure when applying wax and buffing, but after much experimenting, found this often will actually remove the wax you’ve just applied and not always giving you a nice sheen. As long as your surface has been sanded smooth all over after painting, you can just apply the wax with little pressure. No need to rub so hard. I do use a waxing brush for soft waxes and I let the brush glide over lightly with little pressure, going back and forth until I see the sheen. If you apply a thin coat of wax this way, you hardly have any buffing left to do. Your sheen will appear right away with just the brush. I love Fiddes wax but after reading the label, I try not to use it too often. I, like you, do sand down all my pieces after painting and distressing and this does make such a huge difference. I just find it tough in winter when I cannot open the garage doors to control the dust that escapes from the garage to the house? I am constantly having to dust light fixtures!!!!! I try to vacuum up the dust often, but it does travel to the rest of the house.
Mary @ Orphans With Makeup
Great tips! I actually buff after it has cured for at least a day. It tends to give it some sheen. I agree on not too much pressure and should have mentioned it in my tips. I also find it tough in winter, especially since my youngest has asthma so sanding inside is definitely not an option. I have shivered quite a bit in my garage! My least favorite part of chalk paint is being covered in it when I sand but worth the super smooth finish. I do use a blower though and blow it all out the garage door. Works like a charm! Cleans off the bikes and other items as well 🙂
Loved this post as I just finished painting a cabinet with chalk paint and I haven’t started waxing yet because I’m a little intimidated. someone recommended Minwax paste wax to me as an affordable option. What do you think?
I have used it before but much prefer the other waxes out there. It is a little hard and not easily spread (and smells a bit!) however it does work. So, if it is what you have then go for it! So glad my post helped you out!
Hi Susan, What is a sanding sponge? Do you have a brand that you use? Is it finer than steel wool? Thanks!
Hi Beckie – no biggie on the name (happens all the time lol). A sanding sponge is what you find at Home Depot. I use them or wrap a fine grit sandpaper around one and use it. I typically find 250 grit does the job perfectly. Cheers!
So sorry, I got your name wrong… didn’t notice it until AFTER I sent the question :-((
Would the clear soft wax work on top of a tile? Considering painting some of my bathroom tiles and wondering if this wax will be enough to seal it?
I am really not sure. It will seal the paint for sure but you may want to go with a stronger sealer as it is in a bathroom and will be getting damp. Something like a water based poly. I suggest going on the General Finishes website and go through all of their sealers for the right one.
LOVE this article. So much information. Thank you for taking the time to write it. Did you ever try the paints from Reclaim and Liberations Wax? They sound interesting. Also, can you answer a technique question for me. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your dry brushing. I am trying to learn. It turns out very pretty but when I go to wax it, all the dry brushed paint wipes off. UGH! How do you keep yours from wiping off? HELP!