What Are The Best Topcoats & Sealers for Painted Furniture

Painted furniture can last a lifetime when you seal it with a topcoat or sealant, but what types and brands of paint sealer for wood work the best for painted furniture?

The best way to paint furniture and the best paint sealer for wood.

I have painted a lot of furniture for over 30 years and have become an expert in the best way to seal and protect painted furniture so it lasts a lifetime.

I receive many emails and questions from readers who are unhappy with how a clear coat for painted wood they used came out on their furniture makeover project.

They are frustrated and want to know how to fix the sealer or know what paint sealer they should have used.

In this post, I am answering the questions I am frequently asked about how to seal painted furniture and what paint sealer products I recommend.

Not all topcoats and paint sealers work for every project, so you have to choose wisely or you can ruin the painted finish on your project.

I hope this post helps you find just the right sealer for your painted furniture makeover.

Paint sealer for wood - choices. How to seal painted furniture with water based polyurethane or wax.
Painted desk was sealed with clear soft wax.

Why Do You Need To Seal Painted Furniture?

Paint sealers are needed as a top coat to protect the paint. A sealer dries to a harder, more durable finish than paint does.

A coat or two when dry will protect the paint to withstand daily use. Sealers also make a painted surface easier to wipe clean since they keep moisture away from the paint.

I apply a sealer over almost all painted furniture, especially if the piece is going to get a lot of use – table and desk tops, cabinets and the arms on chairs.

  • It is best to always seal furniture you paint where you used a low sheen paint like flat, matte, eggshell, or chalk paint. These finishes are easy to scratch and smudge and hard to clean. Sealing them makes the surface easy to clean and will keep the piece looking nice.

When Is a Sealer Not Needed Over Painted Furniture?

If you use high gloss paint or lacquer to makeover a piece of furniture you do not have to use a sealer. In fact if you do, you will alter the sheen. A semi-gloss or gloss finish paint is tough, wipeable and acts as a sealer all on its own.

There are a few brands of latex and acrylic paints as well as furniture paint on the market now that say you don’t need to seal over them, but I have found they don’t hold up as well. I end up sealing them with one of my go-to furniture sealing products.

Painted furniture tutorial

What Sealer to Use on Painted Wood?

Now that you know why and when you should seal painted furniture, the next thing you need to do is choose what clear sealer for painted wood is best to use for your project.

Standing in the paint sealer aisle at the home improvement store looking at all the choices can be a daunting task.

Here is a break-down of paint sealer types:

Oil-Based Sealers

Oil-based sealers and many gel-formula sealers that are oil-based work well on wood stained furniture. They are durable and will last for years.

Cons: When you use an oil-based sealer over painted furniture, it will change and darken the paint color. When this happens it is called “yellowing” or “ambering” because the paint color gets an orange/yellow cast.

This is not a good thing for painted furniture, so I recommend not using any oil-based sealer on painted furniture.

Clean-up of oil-based sealers can become a chore as it has to be done with a solvent like mineral spirits.

Water-Based Sealers

Water-based sealers are the best to use over painted furniture or projects. They will not amber or change the color of the paint. They have no smell when drying as oil-based sealers do, so they are less toxic.

How to seal countertops using Minwax Polycrylic.

Most brand formulas come in all sheens from ultra-flat to gloss as well as brush-on formulas and in spray cans. They create an even smooth finish and clean up is easy with soap and water.

  • Cons: If surface is damaged, the fix is hard to hide as a new coat of paint and polyurethane will sit on top of the existing finish around it and not blend in.

Wipe-On Sealers

Wipe-On Sealers can leave streaks and a white film when applied over dark paint colors. They might seem like an easy alternative, but can be hard to achieve a smooth even finish.

  • I do not recommend using this type of paint sealer for wood or painted furniture.

Furniture Wax Sealers

Furniture wax or soft wax comes in clear and dark colors. It works well over most flat or chalk paints. When using wax to seal painted furniture, a thin coat spread out over the surface is all that is needed. When buffed with a soft, lint-free cloth it produces a protective, subtle sheen.

the best paint sealer for wood that is painted with chalk paint. It is a mid price range product.

More layers can be added at any time. The more you buff the finish, the higher the sheen becomes.

  • Pros: If a sealed painted surface gets damaged, all you need to do to fix it is lightly sand, paint and then apply a thin layer of wax over the spot and buff till the cloth slides over the surface. The fix blends right in.
  • Cons: Using wax does take some skill and practice to get an even and smooth finish. It does not work well on outdoor pieces.

What are the Best Brands of Furniture Sealers?

Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish

When choosing a sealer for painted wood, Polycrylic is the product I recommend the most. It is the best not only for the beautiful finish it creates, but it is affordable and easy to find at the home improvement store or Walmart.

Polycrylic also comes in a spray formula. I prefer using a spray on certain pieces that have a lot of detail. When I see a can of it in a store, I buy it immediately as it can be hard to find.

  • Formula: Water-based, easy clean-up, non-yellowing.
  • Available Can Sizes: 1/2 pints and quarts and a spray can.
  • Application Tool: Synthetic bristle brush.
  • Sheen & Finishes:  Ultra-Flat, Matte, Satin, Semi-Gloss, and Gloss.
  • Coverage: 2 – 3 coats recommended.
  • Recoat – After two hours.
  • Dry Time: 3 hours for light handling, 24 hours for normal use.
  • Where to Buy: Walmart and home improvement stores

Pros: Dries to a clear durable finish, easy to apply and dries quickly. It is inexpensive and easy to find at your local home improvement store or Walmart.

Cons: Need to use a high quality paint brush to prevent brushstrokes. Don’t be alarmed when you apply it that it looks white. It will dry to a clear finish.

Is it Better to Brush or Spray Polycrylic on Furniture?

You can successfully use either the brush-on or spray version of Polycrylic on any project, but if sealing something intricate or that has a rounded shape, the spray version is much easier to use. It gets into all the nooks and crannies of the piece where a brush can’t get.

Before and after metal towel bar after being spray painted and sealed with a spray sealer.
Spray painted towel bar sealed with spray Polycrylic

For rounded items like this spray painted towel bar, spraying the sealer on created a flawless finish.

The only downside of using spray Polycrylic is that it should be done outside and you have to mask off any area that you don’t want sealer to get on.

General Finishes High Performance Water Based Topcoat

Like the Minwax brand, General Finishes has a great line of sealing products.

When sealing painted furniture, their High Performance water based topcoat is easy to apply and creates a beautiful lasting finish.

  • Formula: Water-based, easy clean-up and non yellowing.
  • Application Tool: Brush, roller or sprayer.
  • Available Can Sizes – Pints, quarts, gallons and 5 gallon cans.
  • Sheen & Finishes: Flat, Satin, Semi-Gloss, and Gloss.
  • Coverage: 3 coats recommended.
  • Recoat: 2 hours
  • Dry Time: 30 minutes to touch – 7 days of light use.
  • Where to Buy: Online sellers and Amazon

Pros: This High Performance Topcoat polyurethane gets rave reviews and was voted as the hardest, most durable consumer water based polyurethane topcoat.

Cons: It is hard to find locally so you most likely will have to order it online and pay shipping costs. I have found that even though it is water based, it can look yellow over some light colors.

General Finishes Flat Out Flat

Flat Out Flat is very popular paint sealer for wood for those who want a water-based brush on topcoat that mimics the lustrous look and feel of wax.

  • Formula: Water-based, easy clean-up and non yellowing.
  • Application Tool: brush, roller or sprayer.
  • Available Can Sizes – Pints, quarts, and gallons.
  • Sheen & Finishes: Very flat, matte finish.
  • Coverage: 3 coats recommended.
  • Recoat: 2 hours.
  • Dry Time: 30 minutes to touch – 7 days of light use.
  • Where to Buy: Online retailers and Amazon.

Pros: When you want a truly flat finish that looks like a wax finish.

Cons: The increased matting agents used to create a “flat look” cause this wood finish to have less clarity, show fingerprints more and provide slightly less durability than the General Finishes High Performance performance poly. It is recommended for medium to low-use surfaces other than kitchen cabinets and table tops.

Soft Wax or Furniture Wax

When I paint wood furniture, I like the look of clear wax over the paint. The buffed finish looks like it came from a factory and not a painted finish.

What is the best wax to use over chalk painted furniture
Fiddes & Sons Supreme Wax Polish

Waxes sold for sealing furniture are available in clear, white, or dark wax colors.

Dark wax is a way to add a bit of antiquing or to bring out the details on a piece. White wax adds a limed or whitewashed finish over the paint. I used white wax over blue paint for this nightstand makeover.

Formula: Soft paste texture.
Available Can Sizes: Sizes vary by brand.
Application Tool: Soft, lint-free cloth or a wax brush.
Sheen & Finishes:  A subtle luster.
Coverage: 2 coats recommended.
Recoat – Immediately after previous coat is buffed.
Dry Time: 1 hour – 48 hours for normal use.
Pros: Dries to a clear durable finish
Cons: Does take some experimenting to get the technique down. Needs to cure for a few weeks to become durable.
Where to Buy: Amazon, Walmart and home improvement stores.

4 of the best furniture waxes to seal painted furniture.

I have used and recommend all of these furniture sealing waxes:

1. Kilz Sealing Clear Wax – I have only used this once so far on this night table. I really liked it. It was easy to buff to a sheen. It costs around $10 for a small tin.

2. Annie Sloan Clear Wax – You can’t go wrong with this wax. It goes on very smoothly and is easier to buff than any of the other waxes I have used. It runs around $30. I used in on this painted mirror makeover.

3. Fiddes and Sons Supreme Clear Wax – This is a medium priced wax. It sells for about $22 a can. I have used this brand more than any of the others. It has a slight smell, but not as bad as the Johnson’s. It buffs easily. I used in on this sideboard I painted turquoise and this sideboard that I later turned into a bathroom sink vanity. It is going on 8 years and the original wax finish is still going strong.

4. Johnson’s Paste Wax – Is a bargain at around $13 and can be found in the cleaning aisle at Lowes. It works well. The only downside is it smells intense as you apply it. Once dry though, it has no smell, but until it does, the smell can be overwhelming. I only use this when I can work outside or in my garage. I used it to seal this wood file drawer cabinet.

How to Seal Painted Furniture With a Water Based Polyurethane Product

Bathroom vanity made over using off white chalk paint and clock face cabinet door knobs

When I made over this bathroom cabinet with DIY chalk paint, I sealed it with brush-on Minwax Polycrylic in a satin finish. It came out beautifully and was easy to achieve.

Polycrylic sealer for furniture and using to seal painted shelves

When sealing a painted finish with Minwax Polycrylic or another water-based sealer, always go over the painted finish with a 220 grit sandpaper first, then clean it with a tack cloth to make sure all the dust and dirt and stray bristles from a paint brush are removed.

Then apply a light coat of the poly with a brush, foam applicator or flocked foam roller. Let dry and repeat the process for each coat. This will ensure a very smooth finish.

Stir the sealer thoroughly before using and do not shake. Shaking the closed can to mix the contents can cause air bubbles that will show up in your finish.

  • To apply, start at one side of your piece and work towards the other side as you slightly overlap long, even brush strokes across the surface.
  • Let it dry for at least 2 hours and then reapply a second coat.

Using a Spray Can Water Based Sealer – Shake the can well before using and then again for re-coating.

  • Hold the can about 8″ away from the surface and make long even sweeping motions across the surface. Keep the can upright as you spray to eliminate splattering.
  • Make sure to read the can’s label for re-coat times as it is important so the sealer won’t wrinkle as it dries.

How to Seal Painted Furniture With Wax

I think adding wax to protect a painted finish seems scary to many.

Polyurethane seems like the easier method, but once you get the hang of using wax – you realize it is so easy to apply and buff to a beautiful “from the factory” luster.

Another thing many think you need to do when you use soft wax to seal a piece of painted furniture is that a lot of wax is needed to create a durable finish. This is a mistake. Less wax is better.

With wax, one light thin coat applied with a wax brush, soft lint-free rag and then buffed with another clean towel will provide a smooth, even finish that has a subtle sheen.

  • I have tried using a brush, but find these SHOP towels work great for spreading the wax over the surface as well as buffing it to a sheen.

If you want more protection, simply add another light layer of wax over the previously buffed surface and buff again.

Buffing is simply the process of taking a clean, soft lint-free rag over the surface in a circular motion with some muscle behind it until the cloth slides across the surface.

On my kitchen table which gets a lot of use, I add a new layer of wax once a year. Applying a new layer takes 10 minutes.

For every other piece of chalk painted furniture on which I have used wax to seal the surface, I haven’t had to add new wax. Some are going on 8 years. So the fear that you will have to keep waxing the furniture every few months is not valid.

Paint Sealers I Do Not Recommend

Painting furniture is all about adding your style to the piece. Everyone that has painted furniture will have their own preferences on the type of finish they want to achieve, but no matter what these are, the one sealer you don’t want to use is an oil-based polyurethane.

How to stain a staircase

Oil-based polyurethanes are great products to use over stained wood or when you are using only transparent stains where you can see the wood grain underneath.

They are not a good sealer or topcoat for painted wood furniture because it will darken, yellow cause discoloration of the paint color the minute you apply it. It will shock you, so make sure the can of poly you choose does not say oil-based on the label.

Wipe-On Polyurethane Sealers

I do not recommend “wipe-on” polyurethane products that come in a handy- wipe style packages. They can be hard to apply evenly over a large flat surface which can make the finish look streaky when dry.

These wiping cloths are not recommended to use over medium to dark paint colors due to water vapor being trapped which could cause streaking.  I can attest to this… it happens.

I also do not recommend sealers called “soft varnish” or “cream wax products”. If not applied correctly, they tend to look streaky, dry improperly and become tacky. You need to have special skills to get these sealers just right.

I wouldn’t want someone to think they are a failure at furniture painting and sealing when the problem is just a challenging product that takes time to master. There are so many better sealers on the market that I mentioned in this post that will give great results with less effort.

Should I Use a Brush or Roller to Seal Painted Furniture?

When choosing how to apply a sealer, you have several options. You can use a paintbrush, roller, foam applicator or paint sprayer.

A sprayer is the fastest way to seal painted wood, but for the average DIY’er, a brush, foam applicator or roller are your choices.

Rollers or a foam style pad applicator are great when you have a large flat surface to seal, like a table top. They don’t work as well on table legs and arms where a brush is better to use.

When I am making over a table or dresser, I use both a roller or foam applicator and brush for the different sections of the piece.

Can You Seal Painted Furniture With Mod Podge?

Mod Podge is a craft store sealer used mostly for small projects or wood crafts, but they do sell a furniture formula. This can be used successfully to seal furniture makeovers.

I used it to seal the top of a dresser that I covered with gift wrap. It has held up perfectly for over 10 years.

The downside of using Mod Podge is that the surface can feel tacky if it is applied too heavy. Light coats are key to making this sealer work and look good.

Can You Use Paint Glaze as a Sealer?

When you hear or read the word “glaze” on a container in the paint aisle, it can be confusing as different paint brands call different products a glaze.

paint glaze

A paint glaze is often confused with being a sealer when in fact – a “paint glaze” or clear glazing liquid is not a sealing product. Paint glaze is used to mix with paint to slow the drying time so you can manipulate the paint into faux finishes that have a transparency to them. It is a white liquid that dries clear leaving the paint color the same.

When the paint and glaze mix dries it is not durable as a sealer for painted wood and needs to be sealed to protect the painted finish.

The other type of glaze is a “sealing glaze” that is sold mainly in craft stores. It is a thick glossy medium or an oil-based spray gloss glaze that is used to seal craft projects in a glossy sheen. A spray glaze is oil-based and will yellow the paint.

Sealing Furniture TIPS:

  • Always read the label on the can of sealer you are using for specifics in what temperature is best to apply the sealer along with the applicator to use as well as re-coat and dry times.
  • Apply furniture sealer using thin, even coats. More thin coats are better than one or two heavy coats. Let each coat dry before applying the next.
  • Two thin coats of sealer will provide protection, but more can be used on high traffic surfaces.
  • Once you brush on a section, do not go over it again. You want to make sure your brush doesn’t touch areas that have already begun to dry. Going over the wet sealer a second time will cause brushstrokes to show up. If using a roller, the sealer will lift and cause an orange peel texture to the surface. If you missed a spot wait for the coat to dry and then make sure to cover it when you apply the second coat.
  • To achieve an ultra smooth finish: Between dried coats of sealer, go over the surface with super-fine sandpaper to smooth any rough spots or texture and then wipe any grit away with a tack cloth. Then apply the next coat.
  • Always test the sealer you plan to use on an inside door or a hidden area of the piece. This will help you determine if you like the the way the finish looks before going over the entire piece and then not liking it. It will also help you see if yellowing occurs and will know if there is an immediate problem.

Now that you know what the best sealers to use for sealing painted wood, you can make an informed choice so that your furniture makeover turns out just as you envisioned it.

If you have any questions about a paint sealer for wood or furniture makeover questions in general don’t hesitate to leave me in the comment section of this post below.

the 5 best paint sealers for wood.

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  1. Patrice Lopresti says:

    More of a question. How soon after painting furniture can I apply sealer?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Patrice – When applying sealer to recently painted furniture – you can seal when it is dry, usually after 24. I found that waiting even longer allows the paint to dry – not just on the top to the touch, but underneath where it is adhering to the surface you painted. When painting and sealing furniture, getting the products to adhere well is what will make the finish last for a long time.

  2. I used your Minwax Polycrylic recommendation on my son’s painted wood bunkbed and have NO regrets. (The underlying paint was Rust-Oleum Milk Paint Finish in Kensington Gray). With the Polycrylic, I used high-quality brushes and applied 3-4 coats with light sanding in-between. After two years of use, the finish still looks practically perfect. Super durable, feels nice to the touch, and has a beautiful satin finish. Yes, it was a very time-consuming project, but this effort was a huge success. Thank you!!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Jenell – I am so happy to hear that the bunkbeds you painted for your son came out great!. Polycrylic is one of those wonder products in my book. :-). It is affordable, easy to find in stores, doesn’t smell like some sealers, comes in different sheens and works great to seal paint. It has been my go-to for years. If they ever change it I will be upset. I hope your son enjoys his bed for many years to come. Thanks for reading my blog.

  3. I am so very happy that i found your site. It was very informative! We have moved into a new home and instead of spending the money on new furniture I am refinishing our current set. I am painting it with Valspar cabinet and furniture paint in the color dark kettle black in a satin sheen. I guess Valspar has changed their formula since the last time I used it because it has a definite chalk finish. Unfortunately when you touch it your fingers leave white marks on the surface. After reading your information I have decided to try a sealing wax. So I have a can of Fiddes & Sons on the way. Wish me luck!!!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Paula – Sorry to hear that Valspar has changed the formula of the paint you like. :-(. Paint companies are always doing this!!!! Did you get the wax yet? Remember you only need a little bit and rub and buff in circles until the sheen you want comes up. You can repeat the process to build up the seal if needed.

  4. Great information. Thanks so much for the thorough rundown. One thing I didn’t see in here was the timing. How soon after paint dry time can you use wax or other sealer?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi David – When sealing over painted wood, it is best to let the paint dry at least 24 hours. After this time, touch the surface and see if it feels dry. If it does, then you can seal with either a poly or wax.

      If there are a lot of coats of paint or if the weather is humid or damp you may want to wait 48 hours. There is no harm in waiting longer. If you seal too soon, you can risk the paint wrinkling especially if using oil-based sealers. I don’t use these for a few reasons – they smell, they will yellow your paint color and they take forever to dry. I would use a water-based poly or wax over the surface, it will dry in 2 hour or less and you can re-apply a second coat.

  5. Wonderful information filled column. Painting an
    Outdoor sign. What Finnish do you recommend?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Betsy – I would use Rustoleum Painter’s Touch Clear Gloss. It is a clearcoat – semi-gloss that can be used for exterior projects. It is also water-based and will not yellow your paint colors. Here is a link so you can see what the can looks like: https://amzn.to/3KKywMv

  6. So disappointed. This cane up when I searched for nontoxic sealants to use with painted furniture and every suggestion above comes with a warning on the product. Bad for us, bad for the environment.

  7. Hi,
    I have a 2×0.9m long table made from black valchromat mdf, painted with black vinyl matt emulsion paint. What would you recommend i protect it with in a clear matt finish please? TIA

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Chris – I live in the US where I believe vinyl matte emulsion paint is what we call water-based latex and acrylic paints. Vinyl matte has an extra resin added that adds durability. The paint alone once cured will be very durable, but with the matte/flat finish, I would use a brand name water-based sealer. Here in the US I would recommend. Minwax Polycrylic. It comes in brush-on and spray formulas as well as different sheens from matte to high gloss. Are Minwax products sold in the UK? If not look for a water-based sealer in a matte finish and follow the directions on the can’s label. Here is a link to the brush-on formula: https://amzn.to/3ikPaXs.

      1. Hi Diane,
        Thanks for the reply. I have come across that brand in my search but as an import it’s more expensive. I’m looking for a suitable uk alternative which i think might be like Rustins or Ronseal or a polyurethane one. Thank you for your help.

  8. Diane, Thank you for your great and helpful info. I just finished painting a guest bath vanity in Fusion’s Seaside (deep Teal) and love it. The vanity is next to a toilet, so I was planning to water based Varathane as a topcoat/sealer. I have used AS’s clear wax on my chalk painted vanity and had no issue with it, so after reading your comments, I plan to stick with Annie Sloan clear wax. Let me know your thoughts, or, if you recommend using the WB varathane instead. Thanks

  9. Nicole Kirby says:

    Thanks for the detailed information you provided. I am repainting kitchen chairs I repainted about 4 years ago. At that time, I stripped them, primed, painted with a white semi-gloss latex paint and covered with Minwax polycrylic. I was happy with the result. However, we have four children and the chairs look dingy. They have ‘balls’ at the top of the chairs and have worn down to the bare furniture in some places. I didn’t know if you have any other suggestions in giving the paint a durable seal that will stand up to wear and tear and repeated wiping down to clean. Thanks for your help!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Nicole – White paint that is sealed can look dingy after time. There really isn’t any other way to protect the painted surface. You may want to try using a different water-based poly in the sheen you want to see if it holds up better, but Polycrylic is the best. Look into General Finishes HIGH PERFORMANCE WATER BASED POLYURETHANE TOPCOAT – Here is a link so you can see it. https://amzn.to/3w1hh11

      The only other fix would be to go with a distressed look for the chairs using chalk paint and wax. When the wax wears, you can simply rub and buff an area in minutes.

  10. Thank you so much. I found your information very helpful.

  11. i just painted my wooden bed in white color,with behr primer and paint all in one. can i use polycrylic protective finish on it ?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Saj – You can use Polycrylic or any water-based polyurethane over your painted bed. Water-based poly does not yellow, so it is the best to use over paint, especially light color or white paint.

      Two things to consider though before you proceed.

      1. What sheen of paint did you use? If you used a semi-gloss or gloss finish, there really is no need to add finish over it. You can, but make sure to choose the sheen of Polycrylic you want. It comes in all sheens – matte to glossy.

      2. If the paint is a flat, eggshell or satin, you should add 1 – 2 coats of Polycrylic. Again, just choose the sheen you want when buying it.

      1. Hi Diane! Great article! I have a question that I am having a hard time wording it so Google can help. I have a laminate peice that I painted. I read an article that painting it just as is was fine. Come to find out 3 coats later it was pealing. So I didn’t want all that hard work to go to waist so I sealed it with a sealer. Now 2 months later it is still sticky. Can I use a different sealer over it to get the stickiness off or am I backed into a corner and have to start over? Please oh please tell me I have an easy fix. Thank you for your time!!!

        1. Diane Henkler says:

          Hi Molly – I can understand your frustration with your painted laminated piece. You can paint laminate very successfully if you prep it correctly – sand and prime and apply the paint in thin coats, letting each coat dry before applying the next coat. The reason after 3 coats that it was peeling is the surface wasn’t prepped right or the paint was applied too thick.

          Sealing with a sealer sounds like it will take care of the problem, but what happened is that the paint under the sealer wasn’t quite dry – cured – hence the sticky feel. Did you use water-based or oil-based sealer? Oil-based takes a long time to dry.

          I know you would love to add another coat of sealer, but I don’t think that is going to change anything – it could also make it worse. Since you really don’t have anything to lose, you can try. If it becomes very tacky and never feels dry, then you will need to strip the sealer and paint and start again.

          What paint and sealer are you using?

  12. Lisa Glasgow says:

    I painted my dining table top with 4 coats of Behr eggshell paint, using a foam roller. The surface is bumpy. Should I sand with 320 grit then use polycrylic? And if so, do I need to sand again once dry and repeat 3 x’s?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Lisa – If the table is dry, then yes you should smooth the painted surface with sandpaper – 220 – 320 will be fine. Clean off the grit well and then roll or brush on a light coat of Polycrylic in the sheen you want. After the first coat is dry, you can go over it with the sandpaper again to smooth out any brush strokes or roller ridges if needed. Then apply one more light coat of the Polycrylic and let it dry for at least 24 hours before using. Two coats should be enough.

  13. I have used a water based stain manufactured by one of the chalk paint companies and ready to put on the protective coating. My project is a 39 inch circular coffee table top. Looking at the top, it resembles a pie cut into 6 slices.

    What process do you recommend to finish the top? As this is my first big project, your help is greatly appreciated.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Dory – Your table sounds unique. To protect the stained finish you added to it, I would use a water-based polyurethane to seal it. There are many on the market.

      I like Minwax Polycrylic: Scroll to the end of this page where you can read more about it. https://amzn.to/3xxHZwW

      It comes in different sheens, so you have to decide how matte or shiny you want the finish to be – ultra flat, matte, satin, semi-gloss and gloss. It also comes in a spray. You can buy it at any home improvement store or Walmart.

      If using the brush-on formula, use a quality bristle brush made to be used with polyurethane – like this one. https://amzn.to/3jxJTsi

      I would also do one pie section at a time starting the brush at the center and then moving toward and then off the edge. Repeat for each section. The go around the outer edge of the table lightly making sure not to add any poly back onto the top of the table near the edge. Apply a light coat. Once the initial coat is dry, then add another light coat. Two coats should be be enough.

      Let me know if you have any questions.

  14. Love this post Diane! I wondered if you could advise me. I painted a tall chest of drawers for my daughters nursery. It’s almost been 3 weeks since the painting part was finished but I am stuck in a rut as to which wax would be best. It was my first time using Fusion paint. It was beautiful paint to work with but dries a little matte. I know they say it doesn’t need a topcoat but I feel a little more sheen would be nice. Could you offer a suggestion as to which wax you prefer on top of mineral paint? I need to get this project completed before the baby comes, and my head hurts from over-thinking it all!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Beth – You can’t go wrong with using soft wax on the dresser. It will buff to a nice sheen. Most have to be ordered online, unless you have an antique store or boutique in your town that may sell one of the brands. With the pandemic, many sites may have slow shipping and I know you want to get the dresser done. If you can find at Lowes, Home Depot, Walmart or target a clear wax in a can – it will be good. Just don’t use a brush on wax or one that is a liquid – they streak.

      My favorite clear wax is Annie Sloan. It goes on like butter and buffs to a sheen quickly. It is only sold at a few places online. I order it here: https://bit.ly/3iyy1XU

      My second favorite is the clear wax from KILZ Magnolia Home. You can see it here: https://bit.ly/3iyybhY

      I think this one by KILZ is the same formula as Magnolia Home, just packaged for the Spruce: https://amzn.to/3Cskvgi

      When using wax, apply only a very thin coat and use a soft, lint-free cloth to buff the surface to a subtle sheen. You will know it is buffed when the cloth easily glides over the surface. If you want more sheen, add another thin coat and repeat the process. The more you buff, the higher the sheen.

    2. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Beth – I was thinking about you waxing the Fusion paint and remembered this about using waxes when pregnant: Annie Sloan advises pregnant women to ask someone else to apply Chalk Paint® Wax on their behalf. While there is nothing inherently harmful in the wax, the fumes produced as the wax dries may cause a feeling of lightheadedness, to which pregnant women may be more susceptible. There are no lasting harmful effects to using Chalk Paint® Wax, only the immediate risk of feeling lightheaded or dizzy.

      If you don’t want to wax, you can simply apply water-based Polycrylic by Minwax over the paint. It comes in Satin, Semi-gloss and gloss. You can see what the can looks like here: https://amzn.to/3jDiV2q

  15. A friend painted my wood dresser for me but used she twin Williams eggshell finish paint! I hate it! I said use satin but!!! What can I do repaint with semi gloss over it or top coat clear?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Jen – If the eggshell paint does not have a sealer over it you can go over the painted surface with 100 grit sandpaper to rough the finish a little. You do not have to remove the paint. Remove and grit with a damp rag and let dry.

      Then paint with semi-gloss. Apply the paint in light coats – 2 should do it.

    2. Wow. The gratitude you’re showing towards your friend is nothing short of magnanimous.

  16. Poodles McGee says:

    Just the information I was looking for, and well-written too. Thanks!

  17. This post was absolutely incredible. I wanted to tell you that up front. I’m a complete newbie at this, so the answer to my question may be obvious. I just truly know nothing.
    I purchased some wooden chairs recently that are painted a dark almost-black. It’s a very cool, mostly flat black, though, closer to charcoal. I’d like to “warm” this up a little bit and give a soft sheen, and I feel like a warmly tinted, well-buffed wax may be the way to go. Am I completely off base here, or do you have other suggestions? I’m afraid of turning the wood orange or red, but I get the impression that wax is not opaque enough to do that over nearly-black paint.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Alysia – From your description of the chairs and the look you want, I think dark wax would be the easiest way to get the look you want. Annie Sloan and a few other chalk paint brands sell it. It will darken the black and once buffed with a soft cloth will add a warmer color. It will not look orange or red.

      The only other thing you could do, would be to paint a wash of color over the chairs using a glaze. Glaze is a transparent medium that you mix with paint and some water. It makes the paint more transparent so you can still see the base coat. If you want to go this route, check out this post: http://bit.ly/2HlGj2C Scroll down to you see the section for 123 Glazing. This will show you how to do it.

      Glaze is sold at craft and paint stores: Here is one that use: https://amzn.to/34p4Crb

  18. Jenny Kessler says:

    I just painted a dresser using a Sherwin Williams paint sample I had. But now I’m wondering if I have to seal it? We happen to have some paraffin wax here but I’m guessing that’s not a great idea because I can’t find any posts mentioning it? (The dresser is dark blue!) I’m so eager to get this thing in USE already. Do I have to buy a new product?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Jenny – Sealing painted furniture would not be ideal. It is hard and not easy to rub in. What sheen of paint was the SW paint sample you used? This will determine if you need to seal or not.

  19. If I understand your experiences with clear painted furniture topcoats /sealers properly, it seems to say that the Minwax Polycrylic is the best to use for sealing painted furniture. My question is …. does that apply to sealing/weatherizing painted furniture for the outside? That is southwest Georgia.
    My wife has several pieces of painted furniture used on our pool deck as well as some ornamental pieces in the garden areas. Some of which I built and some purchased. All were built with treated wood which does not last forever no matter what you do …. but I would like for it to last as long as I can. Is the Minwax Polycrylic best for that application or do you have a better solution?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Jim – Minwax Polycrylic is a great product, but will not last forever outside. The best product to use another Minwax product called Helmsman. I think it comes in both oil-based and water-based formulas. You can see it here: https://amzn.to/3vWIcsZ

      I prefer using water-based sealers as they do not yellow over time.

      You could also use any marine quality varnish that is used for boats.

  20. Hi! Thanks for all the product recommendations. My bf thinks I should use his can of water based polyurethane for my ikea cube that I sanded, primed and painted orange, but I’m afraid it might look streaky, bubbly or filmy. Which of these products do you think is best for sealing painted laminate?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Mp – If I don’t use soft wax seal painted furniture, I always use Minwax Polycrylic. It comes in a few different sheens – Matte to gloss. If you apply it with a high quality brush it should not come out streaky, bubbly or filmy. It looks white in the can, but dries clear. Also when applying it, use more thin coats. Use a Finishing Pad between the coats to smooth before applying the next coat. Two coats should be fine.

  21. Thank you for your article Diane! It was very informative for a relative newbie – I’ve stained and painted furniture in the past, but long before I could Google how to do it properly! I took on a project for my Mother-in-law: a vintage magazine rack that is veneer over particle board (I think) and has a cane insert. I started with taking the pieces apart, repairing the veneer, which was peeling in spots, with wood glue, clamps and drying thoroughly. Filled in missing veneer spots and chips with wood filler. Sanded everything down and primed with B-I-N shellac spray primer, 2 thin coats each side, letting dry in between. Sanded lightly and applied a coat of solvent spray in satin finish (white). The satin finish looked too matte, so I’ve done one coat of alkyd spray lacquer in gloss. I was searching whether or not I would need a clear coat on top to protect; your article clearly points to no, but something about only using one sheen and sticking with it has me concerned. Will using the gloss lacquer over satin present a problem?

  22. Natasha Vella says:

    Hi I’m looking to avoid the last step of using a top coat on recently painted white chairs with a satin finish (money and time reasons) However do you think it’s a bad idea to skip this step?


    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Natasha – Sealing painted furniture is not necessary as paints these days are all very durable. If you are using a brand name paint, you sanded, primed and applied the primer and paint in light coats, you should be good.

  23. Could I paint a cultured marble counter top with paint then top coat with Polyacrylic or sealing was?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Dolores – Yes anything can be painted, if you prep the surface right and use the right paints and sealers. If you want to paint marble, you need to really scuff up the surface with sandpaper – 100 or 60 grit. Clean off the surface well with detergent and hot water to remove and residue of soap and dirt. Rinse well and let dry. Roll on with a small foam roller a very thin coat of Bonding primer, let dry over night. Apply another very thin coat of Bonding primer. If there are any ridges in the rolled on paint when it is dry, use 220 sandpaper to smooth. Remove sanding grit and roll on one light coat of paint – let dry. Apply a second light coat. Sand any ridges. Let dry for 48 hours, then use Polycrylic in the sheen you want to seal it. 2 light coats – letting the first dry before adding the second coat. If you use flat paint, you can use wax to seal the painted surface. If you have never used wax before, you should try it out first on a painted scrap board to get the hang of applying a thin layer and buffing it to a sheen.

  24. Hello and thank you for the great article. I have just painted a built in wall cabinet with a semi gloss latex paint and am concerned it will chip when used for books and office supplies. Would you suggest the paste wax over the semi gloss?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Pam –

      If you used semi-gloss latex paint, paste wax will not work well as it will not be able to penetrate the finish, it will just sit on top. Paste wax works great at sealing chalk painted pieces since the paint has a flat finish that is porous.

      If you want to seal your paint, you could try using a water-based polyurethane like Minwax Polycrylic, but I don’t think it will adhere well because the paint is semi-gloss. I have used this over latex paint on actual shelf surface in cabinets to stop the tacky stick that sometimes happens when you remove a heavy object from a latex painted piece, but I used satin paint.

      If you sanded, primed and used light coats of paint, the you should not get any chipping. If you just painted the cabinet, you should wait a few days to let it cure before adding items back into it. This will help it from getting chipped.

  25. Hi Diane. So happy to come upon your expert advice. Total newbie here. We just painted a bathroom wood vanity. We used two coats of eggshell followed by one coat of satin. We really like the matte finish, but after carefully reattaching the drawer fronts and new hardware, the paint is already showing signs of wear.. I am going to apply another layer of paint – not sure if the finish choice matters at this point? Also wondering how best to protect it to keep the matte finish? Thank you!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kim –

      So happy to hear that you have the DIY spirit and tackled painting your bathroom vanity to fit your style. To keep the matte finish and keep the paint looking nice, you should seal it with a matte or flat water-based polyurethane.

      Here are three options to choose from. All are good.

      Minwax Polycrylic – Matte

      Flat Out Flat

      Chalked – Flat Finish

      When painting anything, except a wall with flat, eggshell or satin paint, you should always seal it with a water-based polyurethane. They come in all different sheens from flat to super shiny and will not yellow the finish over time like an oil-based poly will.

      Another thing about when you paint an object, you only need to choose one finish. You mentioned in your comment that you used both eggshell and satin. You only should use one. Using two, you may see the difference in the sheens show up on your painted surfaces.

      I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any more questions – always happy to help.

      1. This was very helpful! Thank you so much!!

  26. Jill Saumsiegle Strzinek says:

    I have 2 very specific questions:
    1. Can you use minwax polycrylic GLOSS on top of stain?
    If yes, great. If no, then what to use to get a gloss finish?

    2. Do you have to use a top coat over Latex Gloss paint? (not high touch area) ( I will leave plenty of time to dry)
    If yes, great. If no, then what are the steps to get a gloss finish? (please don’t say sand in between…)

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Jill –

      Yes you can use Minwax Polycrylic over a stained surface. Since it is water-based it won’t yellow. If you just applied the stain, make sure it is fully dry before sealing.

      You do not have to seal gloss paint – ever. It would be redundant since the paint is gloss already. :-)

  27. Hi Lacy, Thanks for the great article. I just painted an end table eggshell sheen in black. I want to put a sealer on it but reading your article you wrote that some do not do well with dark colors. I think you might have cleared that up but I couldn’t quite figure out which would be best. I would like a satin type finish that would protect it from water marks from sweaty glasses… It will be used in doors as a family room end furniture piece. Also how long do I wait until the paint dries to apply the sealer. Thanks in advance…

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Carin –

      Once the paint is dry – 2 – 3 days, you can seal it. I would use Polycrylic in a satin finish that is not shiny. You still should not put wet glasses on the surface as the poly can get damaged also. I would always use a coaster for glasses.

  28. I really like this blog and wanted to ask a question. But I don’t want to provide my email address. So I’ve had to create a secondary email in order to do so. Would you mind explaining why it’s REQUIRED to provide an email address, instead of optional?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Lacy – I totally understand your question. The reason email is required is to make sure the comment is authentic. If no email was required – spammers could be leaving hundreds of spammy comments. If it makes you feel any better. Your email does not show up to anyone but me. I don’t do anything with them so no worries if you are afraid it will be shown or sold. If you have a question about anything on the blog and don’t want to leave a comment you can send me an email to: diane@inmyownstyle.com

  29. Kimberlee Yates says:

    Thanks for this great article on topcoats and sealers. I have built in shelves and dressers in my closet and just painted them in a flat latex paint. I love the way the flat paint looks, but I am afraid it will be scratched and not wear well so want to toughen it up a little. The cubbies and shelves have a painted wood back so lots of corners and tight spaces to buff. Would you still recommend a wax or something else for this type surface? Thanks!!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kimberlee –

      What color did you paint the shelves and dresser. I am asking because if it is white, sealing with a top coat even a water-based one may yellow the finish slightly over the years. Nothing like oil-based poly does, but in 10 years you may see a slight yellowing happen. If you painted everything in a color, it won’t matter.

      If you don’t want the flat finish to get marked up with fingerprints and scratches, I would seal it. I like buffed wax, but it will be hard to get into the corners of the cubbies. You could use brush-on a water-based flat finish poly. It would be like giving all the surfaces one more coat. All of these would are water-based and come in a clear flat finish.

      Minwax Polycrylic https://amzn.to/369mQPA

      General Finishes makes one called Flat Out Flat. https://amzn.to/3mW7eoC

      Rustoleum Ultimate Finish – https://amzn.to/343PuyG

      I would use an 3″ high quality angled paint brush to add the poly so it gets into all the angles and corners of the cubbies. Like this one: https://amzn.to/3j2rVNe

      Let me know if you have any other questions.

  30. Christy Day says:

    Hi! I’m in a bind and wondering if you have any advice. I sanded & painted (2 coats) a dresser and nightstand and all 14 drawers. To finish we used a water based polyurethane in semi-gloss and now there are white streaks on the newly painted blue wood! Ugh…. is there anything that can be done or do I have to start all over?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Christy – I don’t think you have to worry. When you see white streaks or milky looking color in the poly finish, it usually is not dry yet. I would wait a few days. With it being hot and humid, even in an AC house – there is more humidity and it can take a few days to dry even longer depending on how thick the poly was applied and how many coats. For instance, if you used more than one coat, the undercoat may not be dry and will take even longer. Perhaps even a week or more.

      1. Christy Day says:

        Oh thank you!!! I was super worried! Haha…. I will give them a couple of days to fully dry. :)

  31. Elizabeth Dowd says:

    Advice needed!!!! I just painted kitchen cabinets and my kids/husband WILL NOT be careful when using them. They are why I can’t have nice things in our “public spaces”. One wall of cabinets are matte black and I want to protect them and make sure that they are sealed, for their own protection while staying as matte as possible. Suggestions?

  32. hi
    i just painted two pine bedsides with satinwood – can i still seal it with wax

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Tracy – You can seal it with wax, but the wax won’t get into the finish as deeply. It will sit on top. I have used wax over satin paint and it works, but just not in the same way as when you seal a flat or porous surface like chalk paint with wax. The wax penetrates and protects. The best way to seal satin finish paint is with a water-based poly like Minwax Polycrylic. It comes in all sheens so you can get the sheen you want for the finished look.

  33. I used Mod Podge and napkins to redue an outdoor wood , cast iron bench, what would you use to seal/weatherproof it?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Jill –

      Since Mod Podge is a sealer, adding another sealer over it may not take. It won’t have anything to penetrate and may just sit on the top. You will need to lightly sand over the Mod Podge surface to provide some tooth for the sealer to stick. Just a light sanding, not hard.

      Clean off the sanding residue. Then spray or brush on a water-based polyurethane. If you use an oil-based formula, it will yellow. I would use Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane. It is sold in different sheens and also in a spray. You can see it here: https://bit.ly/3dSesEX

  34. I just spray painted the seat of a new dining room bench. It originally was a cherry wood and had the ‘red’ color look for the seat. I wanted the bench seat to match the black legs of the bench so I spray painted the seat of the bench with black satin spray paint. I’m ready to do some sort of top coat/ sealer to hopefully make the finish last longer because of people sitting on the bench. Which is a more durable finish when thinking of people sitting on the bench… the wax or the Polycrylic?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Lori – Is there going to be a cushion on the bench? This will help the seat wear better. You can make one easily (no-sew) like I did for an outdoor swing. You can see it here: http://bit.ly/2YJe0Vm

      Both wax and poly are durable. Both have to cure to become durable. I prefer wax, but it does take some buffing to get it to a sheen, but once you do, it looks great and will cure to a hard finish in a few weeks. You can’t go wrong with Polycrylic. Deciding which to use is more of a personal choice. The only downfall of wax is if your bench is out in the sun, the heat can break down the wax. If people will be sitting on the bench with shorts on and bare legs, poly might be better.

      If you do use Polycrylic, make sure to get the satin finish. It looks better on furniture as it is not too shiny. I waxed a chalk painted bench turquoise back in 2014. It is still going strong and I have never had to add another layer of wax. That is one nice thing about wax, you can add and buff on another layer at any time and it will all be seamless. If you have to touch up poly, they you will see the fix. You can see the bench I painted and waxed in this post: https://bit.ly/2zJCliL

      1. Thank you! There won’t be a cushion and it will be sat on in place of 2 dining chairs. It will be for indoor use.

  35. Hi there! This post has helped me better understand using wax as a top coat! I’m having a little trouble and hoping you could shine some light. My boyfriend and I used chalk paint on an old dresser to change the color. We allowed 24 hours between coats to dry. Last night we applied our first layer of clear wax, followed by the second layer this morning. Keep in mind we did buff it as much as we could! I am just very new to this as this is our first project. I guess my question is, how long should I leave the dresser out to “cure” before putting our clothes inside? Is it safe/non-toxic to do so? I have come across several blogs about it taking up to 30 days! I wasn’t expecting this. But also want to be very safe. Thank you for your expertise!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kristen – It is safe to use your dresser right after buffing the wax. You do not have to wait to place your clothes in. Curing is more about the paint/wax becoming hard and durable. Just be gentle when you close the drawers for a few weeks is all that you need to do. Curing can take up to 30 days depending on humidity in the air. I always wait about a day after buffing. Just be gentle with the surface for a week or two.

  36. Geraldine Murphy says:

    Tried to sign up, got no confirmation text

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Geraldine – Thank you for taking the time to tell me about no confirmation after signing up for my email came to your email. Can you tell me what form on my site you used to sign up? It will help me pinpoint the problem.

  37. leah morgan says:

    can I use liquid wax or polish to make my flat painted bookshelf shine

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Leah – You can use wax to polish a flat painted surface. I have only used paste waxes to do this. What product do you want to use? I am asking as some polishes may only be made for sealed finishes or raw wood and could remove the paint. When using chalk paint which is flat matte finish, soft paste wax is used to seal it. You apply a thin layer and buff it well with a soft cloth to bring out the shine. If you have the liquid wax already, you can test it out on a small inconspicuous area first to see what it does. If it looks good and doesn’t remove the paint, then it will be OK to use. When using any wax, less is more, so apply only a thin coat, buff well and then add another thin layer to build up to the sheen you want.

  38. Marlene Feinstein says:

    I am painting a glass top of a cabinet which is black topped under the glass. I am going to faux paint with Folk Art Enamel paint and do a marbleized effect. Can I use a Poly rub on sealant so it will not chip. I cannot spray paint or spray poly. Because of location of cabinet etc. Or maybe I do not have to seal this table top. Thank you in advance.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Marlene – The marbleized effect on your cabinet sounds nice. Is it going to be done just on the top under the glass? If you are going to be putting glass over the top of the area you are painting, then you don’t have to add any poly. If you are painting areas that will not be under glass then it is best to seal these. I would use Minwax Brush on Polycrylic. It will not yellow over time like oil-based polys do. It comes in a few different sheens. Satin, Semi-Gloss and Gloss. Since marble has a slight sheen to it, I would use the satin or semi.

      1. Marlene Feinstein says:

        Thanks so much looks great.

  39. This was such a fun and helpful read! I just ordered two unfinished bookcases for our living room and I plan to paint them (too many shades of wood going on already otherwise I would stain) but I feel paralyzed about the last step. I plan to sand, prime, and paint but what sort of wax should I use? I love the idea of a tinted wax that could give depth but it’s my first rodeo and I’m overwhelmed. Any tips??? Thank you!

  40. That Sassy Life coach says:

    How fab! What shade of blue did you use?

  41. Diane, thanks for an article full to the top of good information about sealers. I understand you ended up using a wax for the top but did I’m unsure what you used on the sides of the desk. I was considering using wax on a small chest and using polyacrylic on the sides because it seems “easier”. What are your thoughts and what did you do on this desk? Thanks.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kim – I used the wax. It does take some elbow grease to get the large sections buffed, but I like the subtle sheen. Of course you can wax the top of your chest and poly the sides. It will all be clear. I think I would use a satin finish poly, not a gloss though. The gloss would be shinier than the buffed wax and you may see a sheen difference.

    2. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kim –

      I used the wax. It does take some elbow grease to get the large sections buffed, but I like the subtle sheen. Of course you can wax the top of your chest and poly the sides. It will all be clear. I think I would use a satin finish poly, not a gloss though. The gloss would be shinier than the buffed wax and you may see a sheen difference.

  42. Becky in 'Bama says:

    The blue desk is stunning and looks truly professionally done. (I consider you my go-to professional.)

    I want to paint an old chest that is terribly scratched on the top. What kind of prep will I need to do? the chest has been stained and ‘varnished’ MANY years ago. Should I lightly sand all around to prepare for paint? I am really most concerned with the deep scratches on the top.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Becky –

      To prep your chest, you need to give it an overall sanding with 100 grit sandpaper. Go over the entire surface to rough it up a little. This will provide some “tooth” for the paint to grab onto.

      For the top, go over with more pressure to remove the scratches. Keep sanding until they are gone. Once you prime and paint, the scratches will be gone or at least lessened.

      If using regular latex paint. You will need to prime first with a product like KILZ Max or Glidden Gripper. Then paint. When using latex paint, the white primer you put on first will stop tannins from bleeding through the paint.

      If using chalk paint, after sanding, you can simply paint. If you are going to use a light color of paint on the chest and the wood is old, tannins may come through the paint. You can put a clear shellac over the wood first, then use chalk paint to stop this from happening.

  43. Sue Bauman says:

    Incredibly helpful instructions, as always! Thank you!

  44. Alice Morgan says:

    I am crazy over the blue color you selected can you suggest a similar color for me to. Use on my outdoor storage barn I have a window pane without glass to put on it want it to look like a doll house. Another request is there a product I can use behind the pane that will give it the look of a real window?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Alice –

      Fusion Mineral paint can be used outside so you could use the exact color I did. It is called Liberty Blue. As for window paint to look like a real window, you can paint the glass on the back of the sash a black-grey. When you hang it and look at it, it will resemble glass on a window.

      You can also use Mirror paint to make the pane look like a mirror. It is a spray paint that you can buy at the craft store. I think it is called Looking Glass. I used it on a window sash I made into a fireplace screen. You can see how I did that here: bit.ly/2WLyGaGbit

  45. Sherry Darlington says:

    I’ve never used the wax finish before. Is it a problem in highly detailed areas? Does the wax build up or how do gi ou buff the ornate details? Thanks so much!

  46. Kim Tucker says:

    Thank you Diane. I read such conflicting opinions and it makes it hard to know what to believe. I like that your opinions are experience based and you back them up with pictures to show how beautifully it works out.

    I failed to tell you in my earlier comment that your desk is BEAUTIFUL! The color and the smooth finish are perfection.

  47. I have painted quite a few pieces of furniture and my favorite and easiest top coat to apply is the polycrylic. Also, my favorite chalk paint to use is Rethunk Junk. It has its own little sheen and often doesn’t need an additional top coat.

  48. A couple years ago, I used homemade chalk paint to paint a small desk and sealed the top with Minwax Poly. Now after daily use, the poly has darkened and is starting to peel where my arm rests on the surface while using my desktop computer. Ugh. What do you recommend to remove the poly? I’ve not used wax before, but this post gives me hope that the desk can be redone. Thanks! I enjoy reading your blog and one of these days I may tackle painting the kitchen cabinets.

  49. Thank you for your answer, Diane! I have some leftover chalk paint, so I will try that first. You are a wealth of good information! Have a great weekend.

  50. I love the blue on that desk! Super pretty color. I have a question related to a waxed finish. I have painted lots of pieces with chalk paint and a wax sealer. BUT…I also love to change things up and repaint them at times. Do you know how you would go about painting a new color over a waxed finish? I would assume the wax would resist any new paint/primer. This is my main concern with a wax. I love the look, but I always ask myself if I think I may want to change this down the road. If the answer is yes, I usually poly vs. wax since I don’t know how to paint over it. Any suggestions? Thanks!!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Tracey –

      There are two ways to paint over a waxed finish. If the wax is cured and not tacky, you can simply use chalk paint over it. Chalk paint will stick to anything.

      The second way to paint over wax is to remove it first. It is not hard, just another step. To remove the wax, dip a sponge or rag into odorless mineral spirits. Go over the surface with the soaked sponge/rag and it will remove the wax. Continue over the entire piece to remove all the wax. Once you have the wax removed, clean the furniture with hot sudsy water and detergent. Wipe off excess water, let dry and then you can use any paint over the surface.

  51. Great info! I recently did a navy blue dresser for my son and like you, I usually use wax. This time I did a poly and I am so disappointed with the finish. Congrats on the new baby!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Terri – Water-based poly is a great product, one that I always used, but after making over my first piece of furniture with chalk paint and wax, it was the finish I had always tried to achieve with poly and never could. The buffed wax makes a piece look like the piece has a smooth factory finish. I love it – both for modern pieces and ones that I distress and age.

  52. Wow, I feel semi-famous and a lot less annoying now. LOL. Thank you for answering my questions in such detail. If you haven’t figured it out yet I am always full of questions so…..I have another one (just to make sure I perfectly understand something). You used Minwax Polycrylic on your light colored bathroom cabinet. Has it yellowed? I was afraid to use it on my light colored table for fear of that. And since it’s not a wax could I put a coat of the Polycrylic over the Dixie Belle clear coat? Okay, so that was 2 questions. I tell you I’m full of them. I annoy myself sometimes!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kim –

      Your question was perfectly timed. :-) Polycrylic is a water-based poly, it will not yellow over time. I have a few pieces of furniture that I used Polycrylic on before chalk paint and wax came on the scene and none of it has yellowed with age. Oil-based poly will yellow very quickly especially if it is in a dark room. I never use it on furniture.

      I think you can put Polycrylic over the clear coat, but I would test it on an area that is hidden first. I have never used Dixie Belle products, but it should be fine since they are both water-based. I would go over the clearcoat with 220 grit sandpaper to rough it up slightly – clean it off and then apply a thin coat of Polycrylic. Let the coat dry overnight to make sure it is completely dry, then apply another light coat. Two coats should be plenty.

  53. HI Diane,! I’ve been thinking of doing over the world’s ugliest triple dresser and the color you used is exactly what I had in my head! The dresser came along with my husband 46 years ago, and he is strangely attached to it!! Ugh, but it does offer a lot of storage. Two questions…how does humidity affect application? (I live in upstate S.C. and it’s very humid in my garage). And secondly, how long do you need to let the paint cure before it’s safe to move it back inside and “merchandise” the top, as Christopher Lowell used to say. Thanks for an inspiring post!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Roxanne –

      I live in Chapin, so I have the same situation – the hot humidity of living in SC. I don’t like to paint outdoors in the summer months and if I have to, I paint the pieces right in place inside my house with the AC on. I flatten a big cardboard box to make a dropcloth to place the furniture on. The cardboard protects the flooring and makes it easy to turn the piece of furniture so you can paint all sides easily. Check out this post to see it in action:http://bit.ly/2G2KOys

      Right now – spring is the best time to paint out in your garage… but wait until the pollen has stopped, here in the Midlands of SC there is a thick yellow coat on everything. Once you have the piece painted, I would wait a day or two before moving it. It doesn’t have to be totally cured to move. Once in place in your home, be gentle for a few days to a week with it. It can take up to 4 weeks to fully cure.

  54. Oooh, thanks so much, Diane! Very good information and I will always know where to come when I need to “read this again”….. I was thinking about half way through this that, if DIANE has a problem with a product, I can absolutely assume “I” will have a problem with it….thanks again! Have a great weekend.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Sharon – I am so happy that my post will be of help to you. :-) I don’t like to write negatively about any product, but I want everyone to have success so sharing my likes and dislikes makes sense. Hope you have a great weekend, too.

  55. Hi, Diane,
    Your desk looks beautiful. Color, finish, lovely work, so professional!
    I, too, use wax over poly on items that will get a lot of wear. After several coats of MinWax Satin Poly, I applied Johnson’s Paste Wax lightly with a very fine 0000 steel wool in circular motion, which eliminates little burrs caused by dust or particles drifting into the poly as it dries. Then i buff with a soft cloth and follow with a sheepskin buffing head on my drill. I did a large dining room table with 2 leaves and it turned out soft and waxy looking but it’s tough. Extra coats meant more work but I never wanted to do that big table again!
    BTW, the paint guy recommended a faster drying poly which I used and had to sand off because it dried much too quickly for a long tabletop. The quick poly had no “flow” that would allow it to settle into a smooth coat and would dry before I reached the other end of the table : (

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Sassy –

      Thanks for sharing your process. So you use wax over poly? I always remove the poly and then apply the wax? Does the wax sit on top of the poly or does the steel wool and electric buffing head on your drill really help it to get into the surface?

  56. I’m still giggling over this article, mainly because of the timing. I am, hopefully, on the downside of a furniture makeover goof project myself, and your words have helped me to lighten up over the mess I’ve made. I’ve already successfully painted two pieces with Annie Sloan’s paints and waxes. This time, I zoned out and without thinking unnecessarily primed the piece first. Big mistake. I have been sanding and painting and sanding and painting and probably will not get back to the surface I began with. But, I’m persevering and will learn to love the end result! Learn by doing, right? Or, read the directions…

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Molly –

      Good to know we are not alone. In fact, I am sure there are many others doing the same. I have made many mistakes or tried something and it didn’t turn out like I thought. On one such paint makeover mistake, I began to scrub the paint off and as I was doing it the most amazing finish began to surface. My mistake turned out to a big win – I hope your project turns into something you love.

  57. Alison Johnson says:

    Very helpful post!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Alison –

      Thanks – it is good to know that you found the post helpful :-) Since I have been writing about the topic for years and there are hundreds of other blogs and websites that post about furniture painting, it is hard to know what is helpful for readers. I have so many posts deep in my archives that I plan to re-write to update them to answer all the questions I receive.

      Hope you have a great weekend. Ed was cleared after his knee surgery to start hitting golf balls. If the weather permits he will be down at the club hitting balls at the range tomorrow. :-)

      1. I have painted over my dining room chairs to a blue color. It is not wood so I need to know what type of sealer should I put on it?

        1. Diane Henkler says:

          Hi Bev – You can use any water-based sealer over your painted chairs I would use Minwax Polycrylic. It comes in a few different sheens from matte to high gloss.