The Tutorialist: Annie Sloan Clear Wax
“I Have the Clear Wax–Now What?”
There are many reasons why one could choose the Annie Sloan Clear Wax as their finish. It instantly gives pieces, a soft, subtle sheen and a workable coat of water-resistant protection. Annie Sloan speaks of her wax in her Color Recipes for Painted Furniture and More as her preferred finish because it, “can be colored and changed as you work, and stops the work chipping.” A coat of wax allows for a piece to retain its uniquely matte look, for it to be buffed to obtain more luster, and if you should change your style – to be re-waxed or repainted later on. Nevertheless because it is so versatile it’s the most seemingly complex step of using Chalk Paint (R).
So let’s walk through what happens with clear waxing.
What should you wax? Anything that won’t be outdoors or exposed directly to heat, as heat will not allow the wax to properly ever cure. Waxing is recommended for any surface that needs protection (dressers, table tops, chairs, cabinets etc).
-With a Brush-
Step 1: Allow your last coat of paint to have dried thoroughly.
The color of the paint should look consistent (without highs and lows) as well as feel dry. Not waiting a bit longer for your paint to dry could strip paint from any part of your piece that isn’t bone dry. A proper drying buffer could be a minimum of an hour to overnight after you’ve painted your last coat. But if you don’t get to it for days, weeks, or even months afterwards, that’s okay, too! You can still wax even if it isn’t entirely immediate.
Step 2: Coat the tip of your domed brush with wax.
With wax, you need to apply an even, fully covered coat, but the excess wax that doesn’t get absorbed into your paint, just goes to waste. Finding the happy medium comes easily the more waxing you do. However, coating the just domed bristles is getting enough wax because you are not waxing your entire piece all at once and then removing your wax. Think of it as a gradual process and go patch by patch when you wax.
Step 3: Evenly sweep wax onto your surface in small sections (for example, one drawer at a time.)
Less is more, but pay attention to the look of your waxed piece. The color will deepen when wax is applied to it. You’ll know the wax has applied to the entire surface if it takes on the appearance of looking wet. The nice thing about Annie Sloan’s wax brush is that it has a dome shaped tip that evens out into a smooth, saturated coat when it’s pressed against surface. Thicker bristles also get into grooves without offloading too much. But if it looks like there are lines of ‘wet’ and dry striations in your piece, then there was not enough wax. Too much wax will turn gummy and feel tacky to the touch.
Step 4: Remove wax immediately with a lint free paper towel or rag.
The longer your wax sits, the harder it will be to remove. Firmly grip your paper towel or rag (I suggest folding them into quarters) and wipe off your excess wax. You can’t hurt your piece with any of the pressure you’ll use to take off the wax so it’s okay to really press down on your cloth as you remove the wax. Change over your cloth to a new side and wipe off your wax until it feels dry, and soft to the touch. Apply medium pressure – it should be easy to remove the excess wax, not work.
Waxing is a tactile process where touch is your primary indicator of how well you’re doing so if it feels like your piece is still not dry to the touch (as if it had Crisco on the surface or run your finger over it and see if that leaves a trail), take a clean rag or towel to it and once again, firmly press down and pull off the wax. There’s no need to rub in the wax, as that starts to buff off the layer of wax that was just laid down and could make the finish uneven.
Optional Step 5:
Buff: When buffing, waiting overnight or even 24 hours is the safest bet for successfully buffing a piece without stripping the coats of wax that had been applied. Buffing can be done with anything from paper towels and rags, to synthetic or 0000 steel wool, even automotive high grade sandpaper. Anything that creates a bit of friction and heat can be used. Buffing itself is just going back and forth rapidly against a surface until it gets a bit of a glassy texture and appearance. If you use natural steel wool, it will leave behind a grey hue so if you have lighter colors, definitely go for a synthetic steel wool unless you want a slightly aged look.
-With a Rag-
The only difference between a brush and a rag is with Step 2. If you have rags or paper towels, I find it easiest to fold over my cloth over enough times to turn it into a small rectangle about the size of my palm. Firmly press your fingers together and hold down the paper towel with your thumb. Run the cloth as even as possible, with the pads of your fingers to gather wax, in the Clear Wax tin. Apply the wax to your patch by, this time, placing all the pressure on the side of your hand so that you’re creating an even surface. Continue on with the rest of the steps.
Congratulations on learning how to wax!! Once you do it a few times, it becomes second nature…as quick and easy as painting.
I will post a few short clips of this process on the website soon to show those of you who are more visual learners (like myself!) To get some Annie Sloan Clear Wax for yourself, check out our Paint Shop!