What Does Wax Do to Your Wood Furniture - Steps for Applying (2023)

What Does Wax Do to Your Wood Furniture - Steps for Applying (1)

Made from the formulated mix of paraffin, carnauba wax, and beeswax, wood wax includes a rich blend of wood enhancers and colors.

Wood wax works brilliantly when you think of sealing a wooden surface – like the furniture in your living room or the cabinets in the kitchen.

Not only does it prevent moisture and other hazardous chemicals from damaging the wood but also it provides your wood furniture with a long-lasting beautiful luster.

This kind of wax isn’t harmful at all to any type of wood, so antique collectors and restorers use it almost on all their products, all the time.

If you desire to know more about how to use wood wax for your furniture and the benefits offered, keep reading…

What's Here in the Article:

Wood Wax Formula

Wood wax is much like a varnish and stain but provides better safety in comparison to most wood coatings.

If you are wondering whether the same formula is used in all wood waxes, the short answer is No.

While all wood wax products use wax as their major component, the kind of wax may differ.

And the longevity of the finish will generally depend on the kind of wax used in the formula.


It is an edible compound produced by honey bees to produce honeycomb in the hive.

It has protective specs such as resistance to moisture and dirt which allows it to offer a natural help to safeguard wooden surfaces.

Beeswax, when used to formulate wood wax, is simpler to spread and yields a softer finish that is more prone to damage.

Carnauba wax

100% natural carnauba wax is sturdier than concrete.

Hence, this pure wax has the ability to secure surfaces even during extreme heat conditions, making it a special ingredient in the wood wax formulation.

It offers a long-lasting, scratch-proof finish to your surface.

Oils used in the wood wax

Several wood wax formulas also include linseed, citrus oils, and minerals to change the finishing look of the wooden surface and enhance its durability.

These oils will help to bring a sheen to the final look when you apply the wood wax to your piece of furniture.

(Video) Best Way to Refinish Wood Furniture, 60 Minutes, Polish With Wax, Steel Wool

Few other benefits of using wood wax also include:

  • You can use wood wax on paint and non-painted wood
  • It also protects the wood color for a long period
  • It yields a deep luster that is not easily obtainable from other items
  • Other than using it to treat and seal the wood, wood wax also functions as a light lubricant

Is Wood Wax and Oil the Same?

Even though the wood surface may appear the same to the naked eye when oil and wax are applied, the two products are not the same but different.

Unlike wood wax, wood oil penetrates the grain and makes a thin protective coat.

Mostly you can use a wood wax as a top coating on the wood oil as it repels moisture and dust.

Different Wood Wax Colors

There are several colors of wood wax available in the market, right from natural to clear to different shades of light brown to almost dark black.

All you need to do is choose the color closest to your wooden product so that the end result doesn’t change the look of the color below.

Remember that the wood surface you want to protect helps determine the kind of wood wax you should buy.

A light bare wood shade or a creamy white finish wood like pine, for example, will require a clear wood wax so that the end result doesn’t come out yellow.

When choosing the right colors, make sure you pick the one so that you can mix and match the wood you want to treat or add other colors to get the kind of look you want.

The good thing is most waxes are compatible with each other.

This means if you want to change the appearance of the wood furniture in the future, you can even apply a darker wax over a clear or lighter wax without a problem.

What Does Wax Do to Your Wood Furniture - Steps for Applying (2)

How to Apply Wood Wax – The Right Way

The key to getting the right protection and beauty with wood wax is applying it right with patience.

The wood wax application could be a time-consuming procedure or a simple process like mopping a floor.

It depends on the process you adopt.

Here are the different steps you should go with:

Step 1. Cleaning

The first thing to do before waxing is to clean the surface and ensure that no dust, dirt, or grease is present, or else the wax will not adhere properly.

If the wax doesn’t stick rightly, then you will have to remove it completely during the buffing procedure, which is a waste of your time, effort, and money.

Step 2. Applying the Wood Wax

Rub some paste wax on a rag made of cotton.

Wet the cloth and wring it dry as much as you can.

Put around a quarter-size amount of wax in the middle of the cloth and apply it in a round motion to one area at a time.

As you continue the process, add more wax to cover the complete product.

The surface will have a dull result when the wax dries.

(Video) How To Do A Wax Finish

Step 3. Buffing the Surface after Application

After it has fully dried, use another clean rag to wipe out the extra wax and buff the surface till it gets its luster.

You can also apply wood wax using a mop.

In this procedure, wet a tidy cloth mop head lightly with water and put some wax on it and some on the surface.

Now rub the cloth on the product to spread the wax.

Make sure it doesn’t leave bubbles. Allow the wax to dry.

Usually, liquid wood wax has a formula that yields a high sheen, while others may require buffing with a clean cloth to get maximum sheen.

Tips to Maintain Wood Wax Finish for Long

Because a wood wax finish isn’t as long-lasting as a polyurethane coating, you should spend some time on its maintenance.

Every time you clean a wax-finished wood item; it removes a bit of wax layer.

Hence you should use a feather duster to wipe the dust from it.

Plus, if you notice that the product has started to get dull or scratchy, go for another coat of wood wax application for protection.

What Does Wax Do to Your Wood Furniture - Steps for Applying (3)

What is the Best Wax for Your Wood Furniture?

A light coat of wood wax is effective enough to safeguard your antique wooden furniture surface against moisture.

However, the key to getting maximum protection lies in the kind of product you will use.

Since there are many different products and brands available, you should do proper research and choose the one that is most reliable.

Few products and brands that I believe in are:

  • Minwax Paste Wax
  • STAPLES Carnauba Paste Wax
  • Briwax Original Furniture Wax
  • Howard Citrus Shield Paste Wax
  • Watco Finishing Wax Liquid
  • Ultra-Lines 33 Floor Finish Liquid
  • Daddy Van’s All-Natural Unscented Beeswax Furniture Polish

Out of all these, I have personally tried Minwax Paste Wax and Watco Finishing Wax Liquid many times.

And all I can say is that these products really work great.

Can a Furniture Wax Be Made at Home in a DIY Way?

Yes, a homemade wood furniture wax can be a great choice for those who want to use organic additive-free products for their households.

The best thing is homemade furniture wax polish is easy to make and can be customized according to your liking by adding your favorite scent to it.

You can use these non-toxic and natural paste wax to polish the cutting boards in your kitchen or sparkle your antique furniture, bed frames, or hardwood floors.

Ingredients you will need:

  • beeswax
  • paraffin
  • lavender or other essential oil
  • oil (almond, coconut, walnut, or olive oil)

Once you have grabbed the products, you are now ready to make your furniture wax paste…

  • Collect equal parts ofbeeswax and paraffin in a double boiler
  • Slowly melt them on the stovetop and keep checking
  • Once they are liquid, add them to a cup of oil and stir them slowly
  • Allow the mixture to cool down, and add a few drops of your favorite essential oil
  • Finally, pour down the mixture into a wide-mouth glass jar or container

Keep in mind that both waxes are flammable.

So, you should not heat them directly in a microwave or on the stovetop without the double boiler.

(Video) TIPS and techniques on how to apply polyurethane EVENLY like a pro

Related Questions

Can You Wax Over Stained Wood?

Yes, wood wax is a very versatile substance, and hence applying it over other wood finishes (such as stain, paint oil, varnishes, etc.) is no problem.

You should, however, test a small area to ensure that the results you will be getting are as per your desire.

Also, keep in mind that if you want just the opposite – it’s not feasible.

This means that if you want to apply the varnish, stain, or paint on a waxed wood surface, it is not achievable.

In that case, you will need to remove the layer of wax from the surface and then apply the new finish.

For stripping the old wax layers, you can use wax removal products like white vinegar or mineral spirits with a piece of rag.

Can Wood Wax Be Applied to Other Surfaces?

Well, maybe!

There are some wood waxes that can be used on several surfaces like stone, tile, leather, fabric, concrete, marble, etc.

Just like protecting and polishing wood, they protect the other surfaces against moisture, ultraviolet rays, dents, and dirt.

But there are some wood waxes that are crafted especially for wood surfaces. You cannot use them for other surfaces.

Every brand mentions it in their product details about what material application is recommended for its wood wax product.

So, it’s good to check that prior to purchasing the one.

Can You Use Car Wax on Your Wood Table or Furniture?

Yes, you can.

If the car wax product is 100% carnauba wax, it doesn’t matter whether you use it for your car polish, wood floors, furniture, wood guitars, or just anything else made of wood.

The product will still add a layer of protection and hence can be used without any problems.

Final Thoughts

Safeguarding your wood furnishing from dents, watermarks, and getting pale may appear to be a tedious task, but with regular use of the best wood wax, you can maintain the fabulous look of your furniture all its life.

Furniture workers love the brilliant surface shine that only a wood wax can achieve.

They don’t just use wood wax on furnishing and cabinets but also on the wood handles of their equipment to make it slip-resistant and to keep them in good condition.

So, just pick any of the wood waxes you consider best for your purpose and be assured of getting the best results.

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(Video) How to apply paste wax to wooden furniture.

What Does Wax Do to Your Wood Furniture - Steps for Applying (8)

Douglas Becker (aka Painter Doug) has over twenty years of experience as a painter in Adkins, Texas. At present, he resides in Florida with his family.

(Video) Wood Wax: Benefits, Uses, and How To | Real Milk Paint Co.

From painting multi-storeyed houses, condos, and apartments to large commercial buildings and small offices, he had served various customers in areas not only in Adkins but also in Southwest Florida, Sarasota, Naples, and many more. To know more about him check here.


How long to leave furniture wax before buffing? ›

Buffing creates a shine on your furniture and is only possible once the Wax has dried. Leave your furniture overnight to allow the Wax to dry fully, and don't attempt to buff until the following day. If you don't wait 24 hours you'll find you're simply removing the wax or wiping it around.

How many coats of wax should you put on wood? ›

If you're covering unfinished furniture, plan on applying a total of 3 layers, but remember to buff the wax between each application. Once you finish waxing and buffing the furniture, wait about 30 minutes before placing things on the furniture or using it.

How long do you leave wax on wood? ›

Using an Ultra Fine Steel Wool (Grade 0000), apply a thin coat of wax on the surface in the direction of the wood grain. Allow the wax to dry for about 20 minutes and then buff to a sheen with a cotton cloth or a Liberon wax polishing brush. If the wood is new or very dry you may need to apply another coat.

How long does it take for wax to cure on furniture? ›

The Wax will be dry to the touch very quickly but take longer to harden or 'cure'. The 'curing' process can take 5 – 21 days depending on ambient temperature. If you want to achieve a really good shine, allow around 24 hours before buffing.

How do you seal wax on furniture? ›

Apply paste wax sparingly with a clean, lint-free cloth pad, rubbing the wax on with a circular motion to form a thin, even coating. Work on a small area at a time. Some manufacturers recommend that the wax be applied with a damp -- not wet -- pad. If you use water, make sure the surface is dry before you polish it.

Does furniture wax darken wood? ›

Those in the latter camp must content themselves with the fact that finishes of any type – poly, shellac, lacquer, wax – all change the wood's appearance. While they accentuate the grain and beauty of the wood, they also darken and deepen its color. This is usually a good thing. But not always.

Is wax better than polyurethane? ›

Hard-wax oil finished floors are more water resistant than polyurethane-finished floors because they more readily allow for expansion and contraction. A polyurethane-finished floor essentially creates a plastic film over the wood, which can trap moisture and damage the floor.

Is furniture wax permanent? ›

It's not permanent

Raise your hand if you want to finish a piece of furniture then have to go back every few months or even once a year to apply another coat of wax.

Should I sand furniture before waxing? ›

Sanding Before Waxing

If you sand after applying your chalk paint and before you wax – it is physically easier since you are only sanding through paint. Â If you get too carried away with distressing your piece you can easily do touch ups (or repaint the whole thing) with chalk paint.

Is it better to oil or wax wood? ›

According to our observations, many tests, experiences and hundreds of impregnated tables, hard wax oil is the best product for impregnation. It combines the best properties of oil and varnish – brings out the natural look of wood and protects the tabletop against stains.

Is it better to wax or stain wood? ›

Compared to the waxed finish for wooden furniture, the protection offered by a varnish will be more durable over time. We recommend waxing especially for decorative purposes, to embellish a wooden piece of furniture while providing it with a certain degree of protection.

Why would you use wax instead of varnish? ›

Wax provides a velvety matte finish, which means it's great at hiding imperfections and brushstrokes. While wax can be buffed to a soft sheen, it's going to remain pretty matte and is best for projects where you're looking for a more natural, hand-painted look.

Does wood wax seal wood? ›

Designed to seal and protect wood when properly applied and cured and typically formulated without volatile organic compounds (VOCs), wood wax and oil help reduce damage from stains, spills, abrasions, humidity and moisture in general.

How long should wax dry between coats? ›

If you begin buffing too soon, you may remove too much wax from your surface, creating a streaky look. The longer you wait, the more difficult the wax will be to buff. If you've waited too long, apply another coat of Clear Finishing Wax and allow to dry 1-2 hours before buffing.

Can you over wax wood? ›

"Once you wax, you cannot go back". Nothing adheres well to wax and even after cleaning, the wood grain can become contaminated. Wax can penetrate the wood, making future paint or stain finishes or touch-ups difficult or impossible. The risk of a failure in re-coating over a wax finish is very high.

How do you know when wax is finished? ›

Testing for Wax

Using the side of a coin, you can lightly scrape an inconspicuous area and you should see a waxy buildup on the side of the coin. Add a few drops of mineral spirits to the surface and cover with a shot glass. If there is wax present, it will turn cloudy and should be soft enough to wipe off.

What is the difference between soft wax and hard wax furniture? ›

The main difference between waxes and a hard wax oils is that the oils penetrate in to the surface of the wood grain giving a slightly, almost damp like appearance to the wood. Hard wax oils also enhance and draw out the natural colour of the grain more than a wax. Another alternative is clear varnishes.

How long does wax take to fully harden? ›

You'll have to wait for at least 24 hours before you can even check if your wax has settled. Ideally, a period of 2 to 3 days will be required to let the candle settle fully. One of the important factors determining the time for settling wax is the type of candle wax in question.

Does furniture wax seal? ›

Solvents are also added to make the wax harden for added hardness and protection. When we apply furniture wax over a porous paint, it provides a seal by filling those pores and potentially hardening over the surface depending on the type of wax we use.

Does wax make furniture shiny? ›

In general, furniture wax will give your finished painted surface a matte finish. If you want more shine on your paint color, you can buff your completely dry wax with a soft cloth.

When should you wax wood? ›

Today, wax is used to compliment other finishes and is applied over a primary finish to add a protective barrier and leave the wood looking both rich and natural. Or it is applied to raw wood as a bare minimum, natural finish for wood objects such as turned bowls.

What happens if you put polyurethane over wax? ›

If you've waxed your furniture and then decide you'd prefer a poly finish, remove the wax with mineral spirits (in a well ventilated area) before apply a water based poly. Otherwise, the wax tends to repel the poly and it ruins the finish or may be more work down the road.

Can you seal after wax? ›

Applying a sealant after your coat of wax has cured just increases the downtime. You could be using your car, but now you're stuck at home or will need to commute. As long as you have been meticulous about prepping and polishing your paint, the sealant can be the last step product (LSP) in your car detailing routine.

Can you oil wood after waxing? ›

You can apply wax over any other finish and it will give the surface a soft sheen and smooth feel, but don't put other finishes over wax. To apply liquid or paste wax, simply rub it on and wipe it off.

Does furniture wax protect against water? ›

It does a nice job of creating a moisture barrier, as well, eliminating the likelihood of water damage. It is also more effective at protecting wood from abrasions. As a general rule, use furniture wax infrequently; it can build up on the surface of wood furniture and start to diminish its shine.

Does furniture wax yellow over time? ›

Unlike Polyurethane, wax won't yellow or crack over time. It also leaves a soft matte finish that most furniture painters prefer especially over chalk painted furniture.

Does wax ruin wood? ›

Melted wax is not hot enough to damage your furniture, but the color can leave a stain on light-colored wood, so it's best to remove the candle wax as soon as possible. If you act carefully, you can remove the wax without scratching or gouging the table.

What are the advantages of wood wax? ›

The benefits of wax finishes: can be applied directly onto bare wood. can be used over French polish, varnish or oil to create an extra protective barrier. easy to repair and maintain, simply re-wax the affected area.

Which type of wax is best? ›

Both hard wax and soft wax remove hair and are appropriate for home use. Hard wax is gentler on your skin. It's better suited for sensitive areas, and is less painful to remove. Soft wax is better suited for large areas, like your legs or back.

Why use furniture wax? ›

Wax not only seals for protection, but it intensifies the colour of painted furniture while giving a very durable finish. It dries to a lovely velvety smooth matte finish and the more buffed it is, the more sheen you can achieve.

How often should you wax wood furniture? ›

You'll need to wax your furniture at least every six months to nourish the wood and form a lasting protective seal. It's really worth taking the time to do this as it can really help your furniture last a lifetime. Waxing protects the grain, makes the wood crack resistant, and keeps any finish in its best condition.

What breaks furniture wax? ›

A: Most petroleum distillates — a category that includes toluene, mineral spirits and naphtha — dissolve wax. Furniture wax products usually contain a combination of waxes, so there is no one best solvent. But naphtha typically works the fastest, and it has the advantage of helping you see when all of the wax is off.

What does finishing wax do? ›

Minwax Paste Finishing Wax protects and adds hand-rubbed luster to any finished wood surface. It is recommended for furniture, antiques, woodwork, cabinets, doors, paneling and accessories that do not need a hard protective coat of polyurethane.

Do you distress furniture before or after wax? ›

When you distress your furniture after you apply your initial coat of wax, you don't want to wait a day or two to do so. You will have an easier time of it if you distress immediately after you paint and wax… before the paint has had a chance to thoroughly dry and begin its curing process.

Does wax make wood smooth? ›

As a finish or topcoat, wax reduces friction to give a wonderfully silky-smooth feel, enhances the sheen on wood surfaces (especially when buffed to a rich, glossy shine), helps hide fine scratch marks and other minor imperfections, makes dusting furniture easier, and adds some protection against moisture.

Is scrubbing before waxing good? ›

Gently exfoliate your skin a day or two before waxing, but skip harsh scrubs the day of your waxing appointment. Exfoliation helps wax grab hair and not skin, but it can also leave skin more sensitive to pain, so lighter is better. A rough washcloth is perfect for gentle exfoliation, but don't scrub too hard.

How to apply wax? ›

Apply the wax to a small section of your skin with unwanted hair. For the best results, always spread the wax in the direction of hair growth. Apply the cloth strip. Once the wax is applied, place the cloth strip over the wax and press down firmly.

Should wood be sealed before waxing? ›

Wood to be finished with paste wax must be thoroughly sanded and sealed with a coat of thinned shellac. When the sealer is completely dry, rub the wood along the grain with No. 0000 steel wool; then clean the piece of furniture thoroughly with a tack cloth.

What is the first step in applying wax? ›

Wash Your Car

Either take your vehicle to a car wash or wash it yourself before applying wax. Starting with a clean car is important as any dirt and grime that is left on the surface of the car may result in the paint's clear coat becoming scratched when applying the wax.

What should you apply before waxing? ›

Aside from the hazards of powder, oil will give you better results. Using oil before waxing not only protects the skin and makes the service virtually pain free but the oil acts as a magnet for the wax to grasp the hair not the skin. Without the oil to prepare the skin, hair will be left behind after the waxing.

Does wax make wood shine? ›

Advantages of Wax for Wood

When properly applied, paste wax for wood imbues a nice sheen to furniture and furnishings, and you can use it over other finish types when you want to add extra protection to your piece.

Does waxing wood make it darker? ›

Those in the latter camp must content themselves with the fact that finishes of any type – poly, shellac, lacquer, wax – all change the wood's appearance. While they accentuate the grain and beauty of the wood, they also darken and deepen its color. This is usually a good thing. But not always.

What is the most durable wood finish? ›

What is the most durable finish for wood? If you want to prevent damage to fine furniture, cabinets, or hardwood floors, oil-based polyurethane is the most durable wood finish available. This product is also water-resistant and UV-resistant.

Do you seal after wax? ›

You will want to apply the coat of sealant first, wait the required amount of time for it to cure, and then layer the wax coat on top.

Do you seal over wax? ›

Using both sealant and wax will give you a solution better than anything right out of the box. The best practice is to apply the sealant first and then to top that base layer with wax, but now there's an even more flexible way.


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