What Are The Best Topcoats & Sealers for Painted Furniture

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Painted furniture can last a lifetime when you seal it with a topcoat, but what topcoats and sealers work the best for painted furniture?

I recently finished one of the last two DIY projects in my master bedroom makeover. It has been a while since I last shared any of the updates in the room with you. 

A question from a reader, Kim, asked Could she use wax on top of a clear coat poly product to seal painted furniture? That made me realize I had not shared how I painted the desk in the office side of the room with you yet.

Kim was unhappy with how the clear coat poly she used looked on her newly painted piece of furniture. I thought the question was very timely since for the desk I painted recently, I tried a “new-to-me” poly to seal the painted finish. I didn’t like how it looked on the top of the desk, so much so that I wasn’t going to even post the desk makeover.

Kim’s question made me realize that mistakes are part of the DIY process and I should share my painted desk sealing mistake with you.


I painted Ed’s desk with Fusion Mineral Paint in the color Liberty Blue. I used the same paint/color to stencil the walls in my guest bath which turned out amazingly well and hid lots of imperfections on the walls.

I also used it to paint faux French enameled door signs for the hallway of darkness in my house. I like this paint and will use it again. I love the color – clear, vivid, not a dull blue and it has a nice consistency.

When using Fusion Mineral Paint on furniture, they state that a topcoat is not needed, but is recommended for tabletops for added durability.

They have a few topcoats and sealers in their product line if you wish to seal your piece. I like to add a wax topcoat to provide durability and add a subtle sheen.

How to seal painted furniture with wax

What I didn’t like after painting the desk was the “Tough Coat wipe-on poly” that I used to seal and protect the top of the desk. In fact, it looked awful – streaky and uneven. :-(

I was upset with myself for not testing a “new-to-me” product out first on a piece of scrap wood before using it on a big piece of furniture. Lesson learned :-)

Notice I said “looked” as in the past tense.

The photo above shows how the top of the desk looks now… after I ended up sanding the poly off and repainting it. I then sealed the desk with my “go-to” sealing method on painted furniture which is soft wax that is buffed with a soft cloth to a subtle sheen.


To do this, I used another of the Fusion Mineral Paint waxes called, Furniture Wax.  It is soft and smooth. Easy to apply and provides a durable finish with a beautiful luster. I liked this product.

Once I had the desk waxed and buffed I was very happy with the results and promised myself to always TEST! “new-to-me” products on scrap pieces of wood first to not only see how they look, but to figure out the right application method.

Sometimes it takes a new skill that takes time to learn.

Why I Didn’t Like the Matte Tough Coat Wipe-On Poly

The Matte Tough Coat wipe-on poly was hard to apply evenly over the large flat surface which made it look streaky when dry. My mistake was not reading all the directions or watching the video about it on the Fusion Mineral Paint website before I began using the product.

What I learned too late was that they don’t recommend using the wipe-on poly over medium to dark paint colors due to water vapor being trapped which could cause streaking.  I can attest to this… it does. Note to self… read the labels!

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

For 98% of my painted furniture makeovers, I like the smooth clear finish soft/paste wax gives a painted finish, but I don’t use it for everything. When I made over this bathroom cabinet with DIY chalk paint in my previous house, I sealed it with brush-on Minwax Polycrylic in a satin finish. It came out beautifully and was easy to achieve.

I think adding wax to protect a painted finish seems scary to some people. Poly seems like the easier method, but once you get the hang of using wax – you realize it is so easy to apply and buff.

The other reason I like using clear wax to protect painted furniture is that another layer can be reapplied at any time and will blend right in.

You can’t do this with poly when you need to fix a scratch or mark that gets on the wood. You have to sand the area and then repaint and re-poly. This will create layers on top of the finish. You will see the fix. When you use wax  – the fix will blend right in.

The Right Way to Apply Furniture Wax to Painted Furniture

Another thing many think you need when you are waxing to seal a piece of painted furniture is a lot of wax to create a durable finish. This is a mistake. Less wax is better.

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

If you want more protection, simply add another light layer of wax over the 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.

My Favorite Painted Furniture Sealing Products

Painting furniture is all about adding your style to the piece. Everyone that has painted furniture will have their own preferences.

We all have a different skill set and use different brushes, rollers and rags to makeover furniture. All of these factor into how a painted piece will turn out.

When I paint furniture, I like the look of clear wax over the paint. I know that many prefer the look of colored or dark waxes over the paint to make the finish look antiqued or to add depth. Most brands of waxes make colored waxes also. I have used these on a few pieces.

Both clear soft (or paste) wax and water-based poly products like Polycrylic seal and protect the painted finish in an invisible way and do not change the color of the wax. They may deepen the color a bit and add a subtle sheen, but they don’t change the color.

I liked the Fusion Mineral Paint Furniture Wax I used on the desk, but I also like the furniture waxes pictured below. I also like and use white or waxes to give the painted finish a limed finish.

I have used and recommend all of them.  The least expensive being – Johnson’s Paste Wax to the priciest – Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Wax.

What are the best-painted-furniture-sealers-or-topcoats to use?

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 $20.

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 $25.

3. Miss Mustard Seed Clear Wax – A nice soft wax that is easy to buff. I also use her “white” colored wax on my kitchen table – which gives the unstained wood a whitewashed look. $16

4. Johnson’s Paste Wax – Is a bargain at around $7 a can and works great. The only downside is the smell as you apply it. Once dry 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.

5. 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 the sideboard I painted turquoise. 

6. Minwax Polycrylic – Is the best water-based poly to use to seal painted furniture. It is inexpensive and works great. You can’t go wrong applying it when you use a quality brush and/or a foam flocked roller with rounded ends.  Apply in light coats, letting each coat dry before applying another light coat. 2- 3 coats will create a durable finish. It is sold in 1/2 pints and quarts ranging in price from $11 – $18.

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


What Furniture Paint Topcoats and Sealers I Do Not Recommend

I am not a fan of sealers called clear coats, tough coats, wipe-on poly, soft varnish, or cream wax products.  The reason is that they are hard to rub onto large flat surfaces, like a desk top, in a uniform way. They also have to be applied with a light hand and recoated to fill in missed spots and ensure even coverage. This causes streakiness.

If not applied correctly, they tend to dry improperly and become tacky.  You need to have special skills to get it just right.

If I can’t get it right after making over dozens of pieces of furniture, then someone newer to the furniture makeover process may really find it challenging. I wouldn’t like for someone to think they are a failure at furniture painting and sealing when the problem is just a challenging product.

The problem is simply a finicky product that takes skill to master. There are so many better sealers on the market that will give great results with less effort.

When is a Sealer or Topcoat Not Needed Over Painted Furniture?

If you use gloss paint, you do not have to use a sealer.  In fact if you do, you will alter the sheen. The gloss finish is tough, wipeable and acts as a sealer all on its own.


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  1. 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. 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.

  2. 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. 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.

  3. 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. 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.

  4. 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. 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. 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

  5. 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. 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.

  6. 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. 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

  7. 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. 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.

  8. 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. 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.

  9. 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. 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.

  10. 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?

  11. 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. 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.

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

    1. 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.

  13. 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. 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.

  14. 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. 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.

  15. 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. 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. :-)

  16. 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. 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.

  17. 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. 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: [email protected]

  18. 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. 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.

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

  20. 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?

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

    1. 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.

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

    1. 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

  23. 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. 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.

  24. 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. 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.

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

  25. 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. 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.

  26. 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!

  27. 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. 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. 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.

  28. 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. 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.

  29. 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. 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

  30. 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!

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

  34. 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.

  35. 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. 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.

  36. 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. 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.

  37. 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. 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.

  38. 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. 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.

  39. 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. 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.

  40. 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. 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?

  41. 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. 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.

    1. 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. :-)