The Easy Way to Glaze Paint Furniture
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You can find furniture glaze recipes all over the internet, but what if you need help figuring out which one is right for your piece of furniture or simply how or why you should consider adding glaze to your paint for your furniture makeover in the first place.
In this post I will guide you through the steps in this before and after makeover of a paneled screen. I will share a few easy ways to use glaze on your furniture makeovers as well as learn about the different types of furniture glazes available to create beautiful painted furniture finishes easily with no artistic skills.
I have made over quite a few pieces of furniture using all types of paint, but the one furniture painting technique that makes a huge difference in how the painted finish on a piece of furniture will turn out is the use of clear glaze, antiquing glaze or a dark or white wax.
When people hear the words “glazes and waxes” – they get nervous and think that these mediums are hard to work with or for artist’s only.
This is the biggest misconception about using a glazing medium when making over a piece of furniture.
Recently I completed this green and antiqued wood paneled screen to place in my living room to hide the fireplace for the summer.
I am going to show you the process I used to create the antique look with craft paint, Valspar glaze and dark wax.
I still have crown molding to add to the brick wall, but will share a wide angle shot of the space once I get the wall completed.
What Does a Glaze Do to Furniture?
If you’ve never tried using a glaze and paint mixture on a piece of furniture before, you may be wondering – What exactly is furniture glaze and why would you want to use it?
Different Types of Paint Glazes
Clear Glazing Mix:
This is what I used to add the layers of green to my screen. It is a white liquid medium that you mix with a water-based paint to make paint transparent when dry. This creates a depth since you can see the under coat of paint through each added layer.
When added to paint, a glazing mix also slows down paint drying time and is what is used to create faux finishes on furniture, walls and more. Once dry it needs to be sealed with wax or water-based polyurethane.
Using a glaze mixed-into paint also is a way to accent crevices and crannies on the surface.
I have used this on many furniture makeovers and even used a paint and glaze mixture on my exterior front door and garage door to make them look like stained wood grain.
Another misconception about glazing liquid is that it is a sealer. It is not. Even though the word “glaze” sounds like it would be shiny, it is not shiny. Most clear glazing liquids have no protective quality. When dry it has a matte or satin finish depending on the brand.
This is a ready-made color of glaze. It is used in place or the same way you would use dark or colored wax over chalk painted furniture. You do not mix it into the paint as you do with clear glazing mix.
It is rubbed on after the paint is dry with a soft rag so you can get the darker color into crevices and details in the wood. Once dry, it needs to be sealed with a wax or water-based polyurethane.
Glaze or Gel Medium:
These usually are thick and used by fine artists to make the paint colors used on a canvas have a transparent quality. It can vary by brand.
When you see the words “Glaze Finish” it is the name a few brands give the polyurethane or a topcoat in their furniture paint line. It is not a medium to mix paint into or to create faux or transparent color layers.
Triple Thick Gloss Glaze:
This is a brand name for a very shiny sealer. It is not a medium to use in paint.
Glaze Painting Furniture
I wanted the finish on the decorative screen to look antiqued. You can do this with chalk paint and dark wax, but these do not create the depth of transparent paint layers and texture that you can achieve when you add clear glazing liquid to your paint.
The addition of the glaze mixed in with the paint, creates a depth of layers that make the finish look amazing and not simply like just a piece of painted furniture.
Once the paint layers are dry, then you can further accent with an antiquing glaze or dark or colored wax.
How to Make Paint Glaze?
Making a paint glaze for furniture makeovers is very easy. A mixture can be made in a few different ways depending on the level of transparency you want in the finish.
To make a mix, use plastic containers with lids. This way any extra can be sealed and used for another project.
Paint/Glaze Recipe For Furniture Makeovers:
- In a container, mix 1 part paint (water-based – acrylic craft or latex paint in any sheen)to 3 parts clear glazing liquid.
- If you want less transparency in your paint layers – you can add more paint to the mix.
- Mix the paint and glaze well. Once mixed, it is ready to use.
Glazing Furniture Techniques
One of the fun parts of using a paint glaze when making over furniture is the many different looks you can create in the layers of paint as you apply them to the surface.
Once dry the painted finish will be smooth, but will have the illusion of texture and depth.
For my screen, I used two medium-sized sea sponges, but there are many other items you can use to create different looks in the painted finish.
Paint/Glaze Applicators to Try:
The key to making any of these look nice is to create a few layers, not just do one layer or coat and call it done. The more layers and transparent the mix, the nicer the finish will look.
- Dry paint brushes can be dragged through just rolled on paint to create a striated finish.
- Bunched up rags can be used to apply as well as remove paint. It creates the look of leather.
- Sea sponges can be used to dab and overlap paint onto a surface to create an overall mottled finish.
- Plastic sheeting can be laid over a wet paint surface and then removed to create a smushed look.
- Faux finishing wood grainers or combs create the look of stained wood grain.
Furniture Glaze Colors
Clear glaze liquid or medium is clear white, but will dry to the paint color mixed with it. It can be mixed with any color of paint, even metallic colors to create modern to antique painted finishes.
Antiquing glaze comes in ready-made colors from dark brown to black. They will have a transparency of the color stated on the jar.
These are like water-based stains that bring out the dimension or details on a piece. One jar goes a long way so you do not need a lot.
How to Glaze Furniture For Antiquing?
When glaze painting furniture you can use any water-based or acrylic paint.
- Paint – I made my mix using a few colors of green to get the color. Here is a craft paint similar to the color I mixed: Spring Pasture
- Valspar Clear glazing mix
- Paint brush
- Sea sponge
- Rag or paper towels
- Plastic container with lid
- Paint stirring stick
- Measuring cup
- Optional: paint roller for base coat
Time needed: 12 hours.
Glazing Furniture Tutorial
- Sand Surface
Remove hardware on furniture. Sand over the existing finish of your piece with 80 or 100 grit sandpaper. You do not have to sand down to the bare wood – just a good going over to rough up the surface a bit.
Clean the sanding grit off the surface with a damp rag or tack cloth. Let dry.
- Prime Surface
The first coat on your piece should be a primer. I used a black primer over a previously white painted finish. I did this so the green paint layers I added on top would have a moodier depth.
- Add First Layer of Paint/Glaze
I used a sea sponge to apply the green paint layer by layer to build up the color and the depth.
Wet the sponge and wring out. Pour paint/glaze mixture into a foil pin tin and dip a section of the sponge into the mix.
Apply to the surface by pouncing the sponge up and down over the surface. Turn the sponge in your hand a few times as you dab the sponge on the surface to vary the pattern that is being applied.
Repeat the process until there is one layer of paint/glaze mixture on the surface. Let dry.
- Repeat Sponging On Paint
Add a second layer of sponge-dabbed paint over entire surface. Let dry.
REPEAT the process until you like the coverage and the way the paint color and finish looks.
- Color Intensity
When using glaze in your paint, the paint color may appear lighter when dried. The paint is not really lighter, it just has a transparency to it.
Adding more layers will bring out the intensity of the color.
If you ever apply too much, you can wipe excess glaze with a clean rag or damp paper towel.
- Add Antiquing and Sealer
For the antiqued finish. I could have used an antique glaze by itself and pushed it into the recessed panels on the screen and wiped the excess away, but I didn’t have any.
I did have Annie Sloan soft wax and dark wax in my supples so
I used these to create the antiqued finish over the green paint/glaze layers.
- How to Add Dark Wax
When applying dark wax into the raised details of a piece, first you should apply one very thin coat of clear wax over the surface using a rag or Shop Cloth.
Next apply the dark wax using a rag/cloth and push it into the surface and especially the recesses and crevices.
Then use a clean rag in a circular motion over the surface to remove any excess dark wax. If you can’t remove dark wax in an area you don’t want it, simply use a dab of clear wax over it and buff. Clear wax will remove it – it acts as an eraser of dark wax.
- Buff & Let Dry
Once you like the way the dark wax looks, use a soft lint-free cloth to buff the finish to a subtle sheen. This will seal the finish.
Allow the wax to dry overnight before handling too much. If you see any fingerprints or smudges in the wax, simply go over with a cloth and buff.
Before and After Glaze Painted Furniture Makeovers
Of all the clear glazing liquids I have used, my favorite is Valspar Clear Mixing Glaze. You can find it in the paint aisle at Lowes.
Valspar Antiquing Glaze Before and After
Lime green chalk painted cabinet that is completely dry.
To antique the color, I used Valspar antiquing glaze on top of the dried chalk paint. Antiquing glaze is not mixed into the paint, but rubbed in with a rag on the top to bring out the details and added dimension.
The glaze containers have changed over the years, but they are still the same great products.
White Antiquing Glaze
To see each piece of furniture before it was painted, use the link under each photo.
For this turquoise painted sideboard, I made a white glaze to go over the dried paint and then sealed it with clear wax.
I bought this mirror in a teal color. I added an antique white and metallic gold glaze over it to give it more interest.
Dark wax was used to antique this blue painted mirror.
Furniture Paint Glazing FAQ’s
Do You Have to Seal Glazed Furniture?
You do not have to seal glazed furniture, but if you want the painted finish to have a lasting durable surface, say for table tops and chairs, it is best to seal with wax or a water-based polyurethane.
Can You Use Wax Over Paint Glaze?
Yes – Wax – clear, colored or dark is a sealer and can be used over a dried paint and glazed furniture finish. It is what I used to seal the paint on my screen.
When using wax to seal furniture you only need to apply a very thin coat and then buff it well with a soft lint-free cloth to bring up a subtle protective sheen.
Can You Put Polyurethane Over Glaze Coat?
Since a mix of clear glazing mix and paint is not a sealer, it is best to seal the dried paint finish with wax or a water-based polyurethane. Do not use an oil-based one as it will darken and yellow the paint color.
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You did such an AWESOME job! I need to read this whole article! I had just been thinking about glazes to refinish some things. My first attempt was a fail. Not to my liking. The turquoise piece and the mirrors are my favorite, but I must add the job you did on the screen was wonderful. When I need some inspiration, your my girl!
Thanks Doris – You made my day. :-). If you have the paints and glazes – experiment with them on a piece of scrap wood mixing with different water amounts until you like what you see and then do it your piece you want to transform. It took doing this to get the process down when I first learned about glazes.
Beautiful work! May I ask what brand and color green craft paint you used for the screen? It’s gorgeous!
Thanks Sarah – To get the color green for the screen that I wanted, I mixed a few colors of green, black and yellow paint together. It is very similar to this color of paint made by Martha Stewart Crafts. You can see it here: https://amzn.to/3oEgfEG
Diane, this is the best tutorial yet. Lots of great photos, clear instructions for every step, and your use of layers, sponging on the green, added so much interest and depth to the screen.
Am working on two nightstands for my daughter and we just finished the base coat, so this gives me some ideas to show her before we proceed.
This screen makeover is fantastic!! Love that green 👍
So impressed by your screen. It’s gorgeous, and the green is amazing! Thank you so much for the detailed how-to instructions.
Great ideas and explanations, Diane!
And perfect timing for me. I am in the middle of finishing the wood for a large open shelf bathroom vanity that we are building in the ORC.
Thanks for a bit of a reminder of some of the terms and techniques I had lost track of.
Another great post Diane. Super detailed instructions–thanks for all your work! I’ve got a small piece I think I’ll try this on. It’s a dark wood finish and if I use a white primer do you think I’ll get a “whiter” finish/pinky (I want to paint it a barn red)? In other words does the paint/glaze mix allow the color beneath show through?
Thanks Mary – When adding glaze to paint – it will make the paint color be more transparent – less opaque. The more glaze added the more transparent and the more you will see the base color of the piece under the layers of glaze/paint.
If you want the piece to be Barn Red with a lighter undertone, you can paint it white first. You will see the white underneath and it may look pink at first. With each new layer of paint/glaze – the red color will deepen. After many coats you may not see the base coat color – but it helps for the overall depth of color – light or dark.
If you want to experiment paint one small part of the piece white or a scrap piece of wood, let dry and then start adding the paint and glaze layer. If you like what you see, then paint the rest of the piece white and continue. If you don’t like it, you can simply sponge over it with a darker paint. Then start again.
Your screen is stunning! Loved the green colour- and enjoyed your very interesting article. Thanks for the time and effort you spent in producing such an informative piece about glazing – I’m inspired!
Thanks Kate – :-).
You are the queen of antiquing! Great directions, very detailed, good tips. I will save them as a resource.
Love seeing your work! I would love seeing a wide angle of the room with the new screen to understand how it is used for decor!
Hi Ann – Once I get the fireplace wall done, I plan to post about the whole room and the changes I made. I will take wide angle shots where you will see how the screen looks in the room and how it fills the wall and hides the fireplace opening. :-)