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The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze

How do you answer the question, “Which product is more appropriate for my furniture painting project, wax, or a glaze? There are a few factors that I keep in mind when deciding which finish I want to use. Let’s explore the similarities and differences between furniture wax and glaze.

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Materials Mentioned:

Glaze added around mouldings to create definition : The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze

Glaze added around mouldings to create definition


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Glaze Furniture Finish:

I often use glaze applied over paint to create an aged or grungy effect. Glaze is a liquid formula, water-based, and comes in a variety of colors. Because chalk Paint and glaze are both water-based, you are able to custom tint the glaze with a bit of paint. It is important to remember that furniture glaze is not a protective coat.

A few features of glaze, and ways I like to use it on my furniture painting projects are:

  1. Apply over clear coat for more control and ability to wipe back

  2. Apply over raw paint for a more grungey look

  3. Usually applied with a brush, dug into crevices, and wiped back

  4. Can be used for detail work or over an entire piece

  5. Add a topcoat over glaze to seal it in place

How I Have Used Glaze On Painted Furniture:

Glaze with the Wood Graining Tool for faux barn wood finish. : The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze

Glaze with the Wood Graining Tool for faux barn wood finish.

Black Glaze for dimension with gold leaf : The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze

Black Glaze for dimension with gold leaf

Black Glaze over Sea Spray texture : The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze

Black Glaze over Sea Spray texture

Black Glaze for contrast against white paint : The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze
Black Glaze for contrast against white paint : The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze

Black Glaze for contrast against white paint

Van Duke Brown Glaze for crisp details  : The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze

Van Duke Brown Glaze for crisp details

Sapphire Pearl Glaze for an over all shimmer : The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze

Sapphire Pearl Glaze for an over all shimmer

Glaze overall for an aged farmhouse look : The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze

Glaze overall for an aged farmhouse look

Wax Furniture Finish:

The furniture wax I use is a paste-like. Most brands are oil-based, some of which have liquid wax formulas. Wax does act as a protective layer for furniture paint and can be buffed to a beautiful low sheen.

A few features of wax, and ways I like to use it on my painting projects are:

  1. Apply over raw paint to deepen your paint color

  2. Apply over clear coat to easily wipe back

  3. Can be applied with a brush or rag

  4. Can be used for detail work or over the entire piece

  5. No topcoat required over wax, it will cure and become its own layer of protection

  6. Comes in a variety of colors, usually black, white, brown, gray.

Here Are A Some Examples Of How I Have Used Wax Finish On Painted Furniture:

Black Wax on mauve for dramatic edges : The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze

Black Wax on mauve for dramatic edges

Black Wax for dimension around details : The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze

See what a difference Black Wax and Gold Gilding Wax add to these doors?

Black Wax for dimension around details : The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze

Black Wax for dimension around details

White Wax to soften paint colors and gather in crevices : The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze

White Wax to soften paint colors and gather in crevices

Black Wax against white for smudgy corners : The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze

Black Wax against white for smudgy corners

White Wax on black paint for a softened look : The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze

White Wax on black paint for a softened look

Clear Wax with Dixie Dirt or Artisan Powders for authentic dusty dirt : The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze

Clear Wax with Artisan Powders for authentic dusty dirt

Wax adds to a shading effect : The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze

Wax adds to a shading effect

Black Wax overall to deepen a paint color : The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze

Black Wax overall to deepen a paint color

I generally prefer glaze for fine details and wax for a more smudgy effect. Because glaze is a liquid, it does a great job of finding low points and settling in to create depth and dimension with a more concentrated look than waxes.

These products can both do double duty, often interchangeable and up to personal preference. For me, I’m 100% a wax girl. I use black wax on just about every project I do, and there is nothing like the smooth, ethereal, blending only a wax can give!

You can see glaze and wax in action in this video where I add finishing touches a headboard.

Use one or combine them together for the benefits of both. I hope these images will help see the differences between furniture glaze and wax, and the unique looks both can give.


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