How To Wax Furniture

How To Apply Wax

Applying wax to furniture is easy. The key is to make sure you know what you are doing, keeping all the materials handy and prepped and running it step by step. The more organized you are, the better you finish will turn out.

Make sure that you are using the best possible products within your budget – scrimping on a few dollars on the cost of wax, versus the potential to ruin a good piece of furniture is what you need to think about! The stages below will guide on you on applying paste wax to your furniture.

Waxing Wood Furniture

Step 1: Make sure the surface you plan on waxing is clean. The best way to do that is to use a damp cloth to wipe it, removing any dirt or dust. Read our simple guide on cleaning wood furniture.

Step 2: Use the right type of wax. Typically called paste or finishing wax, the right wax isn’t from a bottle if you want the best finish. The other thing to consider is the color of the wax, some waxes come in several shades, and you should match the closest shade that you are aiming for.

Step 3. Using the right tools to apply the wax. The main tools of the trade are a decent soft wax application cloth (or a normal soft cloth) and if you want a great finish, consider using a wax brush. Cloths are perfect for flat surfaces, while brushes work better on rough and edgy surfaces.

Step 4. Use the right technique. Too much wax is not a good idea. Apply a small dab of wax on your applicator and apply in three motions – a slow circular motion first, rubbing faster, then complete by waxing along the wood grain. aim to get an even thin layer if possible.

Step 5. Apply a second and even a third coat if possible.

Step 6: Allow the wax to dry, but not too long! Ideally aim for 15-20 minutes.

Step 7: Start the buffer process (read below for how to buffer after waxing furniture).

For more tips on how to apply paste wax click here.

Recommended Polishes and Waxes

If its your first time waxing furniture, then it is best to work with products that others recommend. Below you will find some of the highest rated and reviewed wood polishes and wood waxes that will help you with maintaining your furniture. If you are considering using wax for finishing your wooden furniture projects, read this,

The Best Wood Polish: Howards

Majority of reviewers online voted for Howards as the best wood polish. You can see the before and after photos of a cabinet that was polished with Howards:

howards feednwax before and after use

Howard FW0016 Feed-N-Wax Wood Polish and Conditioner

The number one best seller with thousands of positive reviews, Feed-N-Wax by Howards is ideal to preserve wood finishes. The product also helps to prevent unnecessary cracking and drying of wood. Primary active ingredients are Brazilian carnauba wax and beeswax.

Best Finishing Wax for Chalk Paint Furniture: Minwax

Minwax has glowing reviews from chalk paint furniture waxers.

Minwax 78500 Regular Finishing Wax

Minwax Finishing Wax

Ideal for amateur chalk painters, rated best for use by over 170 reviewers.

Best Furniture Wax for Antiques: Renaissance

Renaissance Wax for antiques

See All Reviews
Renaissance Wax

Best Furniture Wax Polish: Old English

Old English Scratch Cover Polish For Light Woods

Old English Scratch Cover Polish For Light Woods

A must have polish to revive your scratched up light wood furniture. Old English has been a favourite for housewives all over the world for years. It really cleans up scratches that make your wood seem unsightly, and works hard to bring back the natural warmth of wood.

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Old English Scratch Cover Polish For Dark Woods

Old English Scratch Cover Polish For Dark Woods

If you have dark wooden furniture then you may need the Old English polish for Dark Woods to revive you scratched up wood surfaces.  If you are looking to rejuvenate old dark furniture then this is the polish for you.

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Clear Wax For Furniture

When you are working with furniture that you dont want to change the color of, then you are best advised to use a clear paste wax or a clear finishing wax. Below are some of the most popular brands and waxes that are clear and good for most furniture waxing.

Picture Name Of Wax Reviews Ave Review URL Average price (USD)
 Minwax Regular Finishing Wax Minwax Regular Finishing Wax 179 4.5 See Reviews $12.59
 Clear Briwax Original Formula Clear Briwax Original Formula 38 4.5 See Reviews $16.95
 Fiddes & Sons Supreme Wax Polish Fiddes & Sons Supreme Wax Polish 35 4.5 See Reviews $18.75
 Dover's Clear Chalk Paint Wax Dover’s Clear Chalk Paint Wax 5 5 See Reviews $17.97
 Trewax Paste Wax, Clear Trewax Paste Wax, Clear 85 4 See Reviews $13.99
 Johnson Fine Wood Paste Wax Johnson Fine Wood Paste Wax 179 4.5 See Reviews $11.35
 Staples 212 Carnauba Paste Wax Staples 212 Carnauba Paste Wax 6 5 See Reviews $35.76
 Real Milk Paint Carnuba Wax Paste Real Milk Paint Carnuba Wax Paste 3 5 See Reviews $14.99


Applying Furniture Wax: Less is More!

When applying the wax, a frequent mistake is applying too much wax.

Wax is tenacious about sticking to other things, but it does not stick well to itself. For instance, if you were to apply an entire can of wax to a tabletop and buff it out, you will be left with the small amount of wax that you should have put on in the first place. The only difference is that you have just wasted an entire can of wax and spent the day trying to get it off.

When you apply wax, less is more, and two or more thin coats of wax are better than one thick coat of wax. So, with a soft cotton cloth, or wax brush, apply the furniture paste wax by first dipping the cloth or brush into the can of wax.

If using a cloth, which is recommended for, smooth, flat surfaces, apply the wax by first rubbing in a circular motion, rubbing quickly, and then ending in a motion with the grain.

Applying the wax thinly and evenly is important, but trying to achieve a perfect wax application on the first coat is not necessary.

Second and subsequent coats of wax will help to even out the wax finish, and cover any areas that may have been missed while applying the wax.

 Use the Right Tools for Furniture Waxing

Most wax applications will require the use of a cloth and furniture wax brush. As mentioned, applying wax with a cloth is recommended for smooth, flat surfaces, but all surfaces are not smooth and flat. For instance, you may have a flat surface, such as a dining table, but if the table has a rough surface, such as a rustic table, with open grain, having little or no finish, the cloth will be of no help.

You will need to use a wax brush to apply the wax to the “textured” surface. Applying the wax with a wax brush, allows the bristles of the brush, to carry the wax into the grain of the wood, where a cloth cannot go. Trying to do so with a cloth, will shred the cloth, leaving cloth debris embedded in your tabletop.

Don’t do that! The use of a wax brush to apply wax, is also beneficial when applying wax to carvings, moldings, turnings and details.

Working With Tinted Wax (Colored Wax)

Here are a few things to consider when deciding on what color of furniture wax to choose; First, if  you are only wanting to protect and add depth of sheen to a piece of furniture or object, a clear wax  is perfect. It is always appropriate to use a clear wax, and in most cases, it is all that is needed. You may use a clear furniture wax on any color wood surface.

A tinted furniture wax may be beneficial when you are wanting to create more depth or drama to a piece overall, accentuate moldings, carvings, turnings and details. Applying a tinted wax, such as, Pate Dugay, or Harrell’s Wax Polish, is also beneficial if you are wanting to disguise scratches and defects (try Wax Filler Sticks), even out wood tones or shades, or improve the appearance of faded wood or wood finishes.

If you decide that you would like to use a tinted wax (colored wax), choose a color closest to the [overall] color of the piece. If you look closely at any wood type, you will notice that it may be made up of many colors, tints and shades, so try and choose a color that best represents the piece overall, otherwise, you will go crazy trying to “match” a wax color to the wood color.

Don’t do that. Seriously. Simply stand back from the piece a few feet, and the overall color will reveal itself. If you are color-blind, please seek assistance from a friend.

Waxing Painted Furniture

Wax for Painted Furniture, such as those painted with chalk paint and milk paint, are able to achieve striking effects, and aging effects when tinted waxes like, antiquing wax are applied. Try Minwax.

Buffing Furniture Wax

After you have applied your furniture wax, the next thing to do is to buff the wax.

However the trick you need to be aware off, is when to buff, how quickly after applying the wax. The secret is, you should wait for the solvent in the wax to evaporate. the rate of the solvent evaporation is determined by the the type of solvent used in the wax, if it has a solvent.

If the wax contains solvent, is it a fast or slow evaporating solvent? And what is the environment like that you are waxing in; hot, cold, humid?

All of these factors will effect the drying time and how the wax buffs out. The point is that there is no exact time to begin buffing the wax. It could be five minutes, twenty minutes or more. As a rule, to avoid any issues, the wax should ideally be allowed to dry for about ten or fifteen minutes, before beginning to buff.

All waxes preform a little different and some are more forgiving than others. Some waxes can be applied, allowed to dry overnight, and buff out the next day without any problems, while other waxes are nearly impossible to buff after an hour of being applied. You will know the wax is ready to buff when it looks dry or hazed over.

When ready to buff the wax, take another clean cloth, perhaps something a little heavier, like a cotton diaper, or, if the piece to be waxed has light relief, fluting, shallow detail, or the wax has simply over dried, a cotton terry cloth may be just the perfect cloth.

horsehair brush, or other furniture wax brush may also be used in conjunction with a cloth, or alone, as a means to buff the wax. Buffing brushes may be used on any waxed surface, but are particularly useful for buffing rough surfaces, carvings, moldings, turnings, details, etc. They can also be used to increase a wax sheen, or reduce a wax sheen by defusing the reflectivity of the wax finish.

Buffing a waxed surface lightly, will produce a satin sheen, while more buffing can produce a higher sheen or even a gloss. If you try and buff the wax too soon, before the solvent in the wax has fully evaporated, you will effectively be stripping the wax from the surface.

This is one reason a poorly waxed surface appears to have shiny and dull areas. If the solvent in the wax has not fully evaporated, the buffing cloth, or brush, will pick up the solvent and use it like a wax stripper, affecting and removing any dry wax as you attempt to buff the surface.

If the wax is left on too long, it simply becomes harder to buff. In any case, one should not be alarmed; this can easily be corrected in either instance by simply removing the wax with a wax remover, and then applying a new coat of wax, or, reapplying over the existing coat of wax.

Using Steel Wool in Furniture Waxing

If you are reapplying wax, you may want to consider applying the wax with extra fine steel wool, rather than a brush. If you applied the wax with a brush, you should reapply with a brush. The reason that you might want to consider the extra fine steel wool, rather than a cloth, is because the abrasion qualities, albeit very fine, will assist in amalgamating the new wax coat with the old wax coat.

You could use the same wax application technique as with the cloth, but you should substitute a small extra fine steel wool (pad), for the cloth.

Extra fine steel wool is a very versatile tool and has many uses, but when it comes to wax and waxing furniture, it can be used to apply wax, remove wax, adjust the sheen of wax, and, when used to apply wax over a rough or not-so-smooth surface, it will greatly improve the smoothness of that surface.

How Often Should You Apply Wax?

How often you apply wax, depends greatly on how often the waxed surface is being used and cleaned. A surface used frequently gets cleaned and dusted more frequently.

Every time a waxed surface is “wiped”, minute amounts of wax are removed. Eventually, there is not enough wax on the surface to buff to a shine. It is at this point that a fresh coat of wax should be applied. Don´t combine wood finishing oil with wax if possible.

Maintaining Waxed Furniture

Maintaining a waxed surface is easy, and only needs occasional dusting with a soft cotton dust cloth, microfiber dusting cloth, or ostrich feather duster. If the waxed surface becomes dirty, a slightly moistened cloth may be helpful in removing the dirt.

NEVER use a solvent base furniture cleaner or furniture polish on a paste wax finish, or you will remove the wax finish. An excellent furniture spray polish for maintaining a paste wax finish on a regular basis, is Howards furniture polish, which is all-natural, has NO odor, and will not harm a wax finish, in fact, it will very gentle clean and improve the performance of all paste wax finishes.

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