How To Apply Wax

Applying wax to furniture is easy. Here are a few tips on How To Wax Furniture: If necessary, before applying the wax to a surface, wipe the surface clean with a damp, not wet, cloth. This will remove dust and water-soluble dirt. The thinner in the paste wax makes it an excellent cleaner for removing grease and oil-based dirt. When applying the wax, a frequent mistake is applying too much wax. Wax is tenacious about sticking to other things, but it does not stick well to itself. For instance, if you were to apply an entire can of wax to a tabletop and buff it out, you will be left with the small amount of wax that you should have put on in the first place. The only difference is that you have just wasted an entire can of wax and spent the day trying to get it off. When you apply wax, less is more, and two or more thin coats of wax are better than one thick coat of wax. So, with a soft cotton cloth, or wax brush, apply the furniture paste wax by first dipping the cloth or brush into the can of wax. If using a cloth, which is recommended for, smooth, flat surfaces, apply the wax by first rubbing in a circular motion, rubbing quickly, and then ending in a motion with the grain. Applying the wax thinly and evenly is important, but trying to achieve a perfect wax application on the first coat is not necessary. Second and subsequent coats of wax will help to even out the wax finish, and cover any "holidays" that may have been missed while applying the wax.
 
Most wax applications will require the use of a cloth and brush. As mentioned, applying wax with a cloth is recommended for smooth, flat surfaces, but all surfaces are not smooth and flat. For instance, you may have a flat surface, such as a dining table, but if the table has a rough surface, such as a rustic table, with open grain, having little or no finish, the cloth will be of no help. You will need to use a wax brush to apply the wax to the "textured" surface. Applying the wax with a wax brush, allows the bristles of the brush, to carry the wax into the grain of the wood, where a cloth cannot go. Trying to do so with a cloth, will shred the cloth, leaving cloth debris embedded in your tabletop. Don't do that! The use of a wax brush to apply wax, is also beneficial when applying wax to carvings, moldings, turnings and details.
 
The next step is to buff the wax, and when you should do so, is one of the great mysteries of waxing. But here's the secrete, you are wanting to wait for the solvent in the wax to evaporate. What determines that, is the type of solvent used in the wax, if it has a solvent. If it does, is it a fast or slow evaporating solvent? And what is the environment like that you are waxing in; hot, cold, humid…. etc. All of these factors will effect the drying time and how the wax buffs out. The point is that there is no exact time to begin buffing the wax. It could be five minutes, twenty minutes or more. Most of the time, the wax should be allowed to dry for about ten or fifteen minutes, before beginning to buff. All waxes preform a little different and some are more forgiving than others. Some waxes can be applied, allowed to dry overnight, and buff out the next day without any problems, while other waxes are nearly impossible to buff after an hour of being applied. You will know the wax is ready to buff when it looks dry or hazed over. When ready to buff the wax, take another clean cloth, perhaps something a little heavier, like a cotton diaper, or, if the piece to be waxed has light relief, fluting, shallow detail, or the wax has simply over dried, a cotton terry cloth may be just the perfect cloth. A horsehair brush, or other furniture wax brush may also be used in conjunction with a cloth, or alone, as a means to buff the wax. Buffing brushes may be used on any waxed surface, but are particularly useful for buffing rough surfaces, carvings, moldings, turnings, details, etc. They can also be used to increase a wax sheen, or reduce a wax sheen by defusing the reflectivity of the wax finish.
 
Buffing a waxed surface lightly, will produce a satin sheen, while more buffing can produce a higher sheen or even a gloss. If you try and buff the wax too soon, before the solvent in the wax has fully evaporated, you will effectively be stripping the wax from the surface. This is one reason a poorly waxed surface appears to have shiny and dull areas. If the solvent in the wax has not fully evaporated, the buffing cloth, or brush, will pick up the solvent and use it like a wax stripper, affecting and removing any dry wax as you attempt to buff the surface. If the wax is left on too long, it simply becomes harder to buff. In any case, one should not be alarmed; this can easily be corrected in either instance by simply removing the wax with a wax remover, and then applying a new coat of wax, or, reapplying over the existing coat of wax. If you are reapplying, you may want to consider applying the wax with extra fine steel wool, rather than a brush. If you applied the wax with a brush, you should reapply with a brush. The reason that you might want to consider the extra fine steel wool, rather than a cloth, is because the abrasion qualities, albeit very fine, will assist in amalgamating the new wax coat with the old wax coat. You will use the same wax application technique as with the cloth, but you will substitute a small extra fine steel wool (pad), for the cloth. 
 
Extra fine steel wool is a very versatile tool and has many uses, but as related to wax and waxing furniture, it can be used to apply wax, remove wax, adjust the sheen of wax, and, when used to apply wax over a rough or not-so-smooth surface, it will greatly improve the smoothness of that surface.
How Often Should You Apply Wax? How often you apply wax, depends greatly on how often the waxed surface is being used and cleaned. A surface used frequently gets cleaned and dusted more frequently. Every time a waxed surface is “wiped”, minute amounts of wax are removed. Eventually, there is not enough wax on the surface to buff to a shine. It is at this point that a fresh coat of wax should be applied. 
 
Maintaining a waxed surface is easy, and only needs occasional dusting with a soft cotton dust cloth, microfiber dusting cloth, or ostrich feather duster. If the waxed surface becomes dirty, a slightly moistened cloth may be helpful in removing the dirt. NEVER use a solvent base furniture cleaner or furniture polish on a paste wax finish, or you will remove the wax finish. An excellent furniture spray polish for maintaining a paste wax finish on a regular basis, is Patina Protector furniture polish, which is all-natural, has NO odor, and will not harm a wax finish, in fact, it will very gentle clean and improve the performance of all paste wax finishes.
 
Tinted Wax (Colored Wax)
Here are a few things to consider when deciding on what color of furniture wax to choose; First, if  you are only wanting to protect and add depth of sheen to a piece of furniture or object, a clear wax like Estate Wax (clear) is perfect. It is always appropriate to use a clear wax, and in most cases, it is all that is needed. You may use a clear furniture wax on any color wood surface. 
 
A tinted furniture wax may be beneficial when you are wanting to create more depth or drama to a piece overall, accentuate moldings, carvings, turnings and details. Applying a tinted wax, such as, Pate Dugay, or Harrell's Wax Polish, is also beneficial if you are wanting to disguise scratches and defects, even out wood tones or shades, or improve the appearance of faded wood or wood finishes. 
 
Wax for Painted Furniture, such as those painted with chalk paint and milk paint, are able to achieve striking effects, and aging effects when tinted waxes like, Antiquing Wax are applied. 
 
If you decide that you would like to use a tinted wax (colored wax), choose a color closest to the [overall] color of the piece. If you look closely at any wood type, you will notice that it may be made up of many colors, tints and shades, so try and choose a color that best represents the piece overall, otherwise, you will go crazy trying to "match" a wax color to the wood color. Don't do that. Seriously. Simply stand back from the piece a few feet, and the overall color will reveal itself. If you are colorblind, please seek assistance from a friend, relative, or credentialed professional ;-)

Copyright © 2004-2017 The Furniture Connoisseur, Robin Richardson. All Rights Reserved