Here’s What Happens If You Don’t Wax Chalk Paint

If you ask DIY enthusiasts what type of paint they prefer when painting furniture, they might say chalk paint. And it’s with good reason. Chalk paint is easy to work with and it creates a beautiful matte finish. 

Most DIYers know that people commonly use furniture wax with chalk paint. After all, furniture wax is a great way to protect your chalk-painted furniture.

But is wax really necessary? Do you really need to apply wax after using chalk paint?

In this post, we’ll discuss what happens if you don’t wax chalk paint.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Unlike other paints, chalk paint requires a top coat. If you don’t apply wax or another top coat to chalk paint, it will be more prone to stains, scratches, scuffing, and other damage.

Applying a top coat will save you from having to regularly repaint your chalk-painted furniture.

Do You Have to Wax Chalk Paint?

Wax is the popular choice when it comes to sealing chalk paint. Many DIYers love wax because it has a soft flat finish that compliments the lovely matte finish of chalk paint.

You don’t need to apply wax to chalk paint per se, but you must apply a top coat of some sort. You can use a variety of top coats on chalk paint such as polyurethane, polycrylic, or lacquer. You can even apply varnish on chalk paint

Why Applying a Top Coat to Chalk-Painted Furniture is so Important 

Although chalk paint looks beautiful, unfortunately, it’s just not as resilient as other paints like enamel paint or milk paint. While you can leave chalk paint unsealed, you need to keep in mind that it won’t be as durable as it could be. Unsealed chalk paint is much more susceptible to scuffs, scratches, and water damage.

A top coat will protect your chalk-painted furniture from moisture, and everyday wear and tear that household furniture is prone to. Your coat of paint will last much longer as a result. 

Applying a top coat to chalk-painted furniture can also make it washable. Chalk paint is water-based, meaning that it can be easily washed off with water. Without a top coat or sealer, you wouldn’t be able to safely wash your chalk-painted furniture without inadvertently washing off some of the paint. 

Best Finishes for Chalk-Painted Furniture 

Finishing wax

As discussed, finishing wax is the most popular way to protect chalk-painted furniture. Finishing wax typically comes in the form of a paste. Most waxes are clear, but some come in a range of wood tones. Usually, waxes will leave a soft, matte sheen which is great if you want to compliment the matte look of your chalk paint.

If you do choose to use wax to seal chalk paint, it’s important to learn how to properly apply wax to chalk paint. Applying wax over chalk paint isn’t difficult, but it will require tons of patience. It’s important to take your time with wax to avoid an uneven finish and get the best results.

One great benefit of wax is it isn’t as permanent as other top coats. That said, you can remove wax relatively easily if needed. However, the downside is it can get rubbed off and requires regular maintenance. It’s important to routinely reapply wax to your chalk-painted furniture to keep it protected. High-traffic pieces will need more frequent re-waxing compared to low-traffic ones.

Additionally, wax doesn’t handle heat well, so it’s not suitable for furniture that’s frequently exposed to heat. High-traffic surfaces will need more frequent re-waxing.

Before you apply wax to your chalk-painted furniture, you must make sure that the chalk paint is dry. You can use a wax brush or a lint-free cloth to apply your wax. Apply thin coats rather than thick ones. After all, it’s very easy to create uneven coats if you lay it on too thick. 

Polyurethane

If you want to get the most durable finish, polyurethane may be the best choice for you. Due to its durability, it’s well-suited for high-traffic, water-prone surfaces. If you have a piece of furniture that you’ll be using frequently, applying a coat of polyurethane to it is a great idea.

Polyurethane isn’t lacking in finish options, unlike wax. This top coat comes in matte, satin, semi-gloss, and high-gloss sheens.

Additionally, you can choose between oil-based and water-based polyurethane. Oil-based polyurethane is more durable but is also higher in VOCs. If applying polyurethane to white paint, be sure to use water-based polyurethane since oil-based polyurethane tends to yellow light-colored paints over time.

There are three ways you can apply polyurethane to chalk paint: brush on, wipe on, or spray. Each has its pros and cons. For flat surfaces, the brush-on method works great. For contoured surfaces, you’d get better results with the wipe-on method. For even greater efficiency in applying a smooth, even coat of finish, the spray method is your best choice.

Polycrylic

Polycrylic is a water-based top coat. It is similar in many ways to polyurethane, but it has its own set of pros and cons. 

Compared to polyurethane, polycrylic is more eco-friendly. That said, it doesn’t produce a strong odor and it’s safer to use around pets and kids. And since it’s water-based, cleanup is quick and easy. You only need soap and water. 

One of Polycrylic’s biggest selling points is it dries extremely quickly. Within 30 minutes your poycrylic should be dry to the touch under most circumstances. However, even though polycrylic dries faster than polyurethane, it requires a longer curing time.

Given that polycrylic is water-based, it doesn’t yellow the same way that oil-based polyurethane does. It may also sometimes take on a slightly milky appearance, making it unsuitable for dark wood or paint. Nevertheless, it works better for white or lighter paint compared to polyurethane.

For application, you either use a brush, roller, or paint spray. Be mindful of the fact that polycrylic dries faster than polyurethane. This can make it harder to get a smooth finish when using a brush or roller.

Polycyclic comes in satin, gloss, matte, ultra-flat, and high gloss sheens. 

Glaze

Glaze is best used for decorative effect; it doesn’t provide much in terms of durability. Instead, you can use glaze to darken the color around corners, nooks, and indents in your furniture. It gives your chalk-painted furniture a charming touch that you can’t get from wax, polyurethane, or polycrylic.

Applying glaze is simple and easy. Just apply it to your chalk-paint furniture and then wipe away any excess. You can use soft rags, foam brushes, cellulose sponges, or oval glaze brushes for its application. Wipe more of it off for more of a subtle effect and wipe less of it off for a more pronounced color of the glaze. 

To fortify your furniture and make it more durable with glaze, use polycrylic for the added layer of protection. Do not use wax with glaze since the two products aren’t compatible at all. 

 

Sources:

https://www.anniesloan.com/techniques/5-things-to-know-about-chalk-paint-wax/

https://www.rockler.com/learn/understanding-oil-and-wax-finishes

https://tallesttree.com/blogs/news/what-you-need-to-know-about-polyurethane-wood-finish

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