Wax or Varnish on Chalk Paint – All you need to know.

Read this first! You May Be Making Work For Yourself – Don’t make “another fine mess” with your choice of finish.

Wax or varnish over chalk paint, Laurel and Hardy mess

I wanted to write about something that has been a burning issue for some time on our Facebook group. Is it better to use varnish or wax over chalk paint?

This may be a controversial issue and many of you will have your own opinions and that’s great because I definitely want to hear them but we’re going to tackle the great debate on whether you should wax a piece of furniture or use a varnish.

What will be covered?

  • What’s the difference between using a wax or varnish over chalk paint ?
  • What actually is wax anyway?
  • What are the benefits of using either.
  • What are the downsides?
  • Can I mix the two?

Before we get going I should point out that I’m just writing this guide to be used in conjunction with Annie Sloan chalk paint decorative paint as its the only paint I currently use for any of my projects. And don’t forget that the rules also apply when painting and waxing or varnishing our beautiful mouldings. Just in case you didn’t know about those, pop over to have a look at our amazing range here.

The same principles of using varnish / wax will apply to any of the paints on the market that require some form of sealer finish coat. You each know which paint you enjoy using, I just prefer Annie Sloan Chalk Paint decorative paint. I will say though that the effect of waxing a latex paint such as Farrow and Ball Estate Eggshell will offer a completely different experience to a chalk or a milk paint. Latex paint doesn’t dry to a porous finish so any wax or varnish that you may apply over latex will effectively ‘sit’ on the surface and will not lastingly bond with the paint.

I cover many of the fantastic benefits of using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in another post which you can read here.

I know that Annie is a great advocate of using wax to finish a project, but we’re going to have a look at the pros and cons of using wax and varnish to get the best and most durable finish for our projects.

  • In order to decide whether to use wax or varnish over chalk paint there are a few things to consider.
  • Required finish look.
  • Working environment.
  • Available time.
  • Required durability.

OK! Let’s begin our comparison….

What’s the difference between the two? and why would you rub wax on a painted cupboard?

Before I started painting furniture the only thing I’ve ever expect to rub wax on as a protective finish is my car. In fact I have a great passion for car detailing, it’s one of my pastimes when I’m not painting furniture. Believe it or not the same debate rages within the car detailing industry: Should I finish with a wax or polymer sealant?
In many ways the reasons why you would use one or another are exactly the same for car as it is for a piece of furniture. You see many car enthusiasts believe that wax delivers a much warmer and deeper shine, the downside is that the finish doesn’t last more than a few weeks and needs topping up regularly.
Whereas those who prefer to use a synthetic polymer sealant like the fact that it delivers a much sharper and crisper gloss and also lasts a great deal longer as well as offering a greater level of protection than a wax as it bonds at a molecular level to create a hard-wearing invisible coating that will repel dirt for a decent amount of time.
So bringing this back to furniture, Should we be looking for the authentic vintage finish of a wax? or the crisper, less authentic but more durable finish of a varnish, or can we combine the two to get the best of both worlds?

Surely wax is too soft to be of any real protection?

What is furniture wax?

This is the nerdy bit, we’re going to have a look at what wax actually is and how it protects your lovely new painted piece of furniture. The main active ingredient in a good wax is carnauba. Carnauba in it’s raw form is actually harder that concrete and is only found on the leaves of the palm tree known as Copernicia prunifera. These plants are only found in a few northeastern Brazilian states. As carnauba is naturally so hard it has to be added to other solvents in order to make it workable. These can generally include beeswax and turpentine. As the wax is applied these solvents evaporate leaving the carnauba to set hard and seal the porous paint surface as it cures. This offers A very tough and resilient finish that should stand up to most daily wear and tear under normal circumstances. So why would we look for an alternative in varnish? Are there any benefits to using a varnish?

Sounds great! Why wouldn’t I use it?

The main issue with wax is that it can be tricky to use. Many folks still seem nervous about using it as there are many instances of waxing over a pristinely painted project has sullied the appearance of the finish and resulted in the need for re-painting. There is nothing worse that this I can tell you. I only ever want to do a job once.

Wax can be prone to marking fairly easily from items such as cups leaving water rings and will only repel a light sprinkling of water. Moisture should never be left to stand on a waxed finish.

It can also be a little unpredictable as variants such as temperature and painting technique can make a dramatic difference to the finished result. Apply your paint too thinly and you can find that you are left with a mottled finish that you are unhappy with, or you may experience differing levels of shine.

Waxing and buffing can also be rather laborious, especially if you are inexperienced and apply too much wax.

Many of these issues can be overcome with experience in painting however and there is no substitute for getting to know just how a product will react by using it regularly.

Annie Sloan doesn’t have a regular furniture varnish in her range and I know she would endorse the use of wax on just about all projects. Annie is a true artist and has the enviable ability to look at just about anything through an artists eyes. I know that Annie, given her artistic demeanor would always much rather have an authentic and charismatic finish for her projects every time and I truly respect that.

What about the projects that us ‘everyday painters’ embark upon though. The table and chairs that we know are going to be kicked to death by the kids, or the coffee table that will have hot and cold beverages stood on it and spilled on it? Oh, and that ultra fussy client that isn’t quite happy with the authentic look because it “looks different to the one in Argos!” You know what I mean, we all get them!

Can an argument be made here for offering our less discerning clientele an alternative that is more durable and predictable? I’m not going to answer that question for you, you have to make your own mind up!

So, if it’s more durable and quicker, why wouldn’t I use a varnish?

Ahh! And so the debate begins!

Many would argue that a truly fine piece of furniture should evoke an emotion based not just on the way that it looks but also on it’s character.
It should convey a warmth and be pleasant to the touch.

While many varnishes can certainly be durable, they can leave things a little plasticky and flat to the touch. Especially many of the budget brand varieties that are currently available. This is why most of us steered away from shop bought furniture in the first place, because we wanted something with more character.

So it’s probably fair to say that most folks would like the durability and ease of use of a varnish with the warmth and silky touch of a wax.

How about using both?

This may be an option depending on whose products you are using – check with them first. Here is why:

When you apply wax to Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, something of a chemical reaction occurs where the wax will penetrate the porous paint in order to create the seal coat.

If you apply a varnish first, this will inhibit the wax’s ability to be absorbed into the paint and it will effectively sit on top of the varnish. This means it will take longer to cure and may remain greasy to the touch for longer, incurring finger marks etc in the meantime.

Likewise if you apply the wax first this will almost certainly inhibit the varnishes ability to stick to the surface, unless the wax is fully cured and hardened, and this can take up to 30 days.

Does a decent compromise exist?

Well if you feel like you would rather use a varnish than a wax, the closest thing that I have found that offers all the benefits of a decent varnish with the warmth of a wax is the wax finish varnishes from Polyvine. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be waxing your furniture here, but if you are going to use a varnish on your furniture, this is the one to go for as the finished article will be much truer to the waxed look and feel than other acrylic varnishes. It is available either as a dead flat matt or a satin finish and has been formulated to emulate that silky waxed feel when it’s dry. It’s as close as you will come with a varnish.

Incidentally, if you do decide to try a varnish, make sure it’s acrylic. Don’t use a oil based varnish on your piece as will yellow in no time flat.

I will confess to using the Polyvine wax finish varnish on many of my projects as I love the user experience. It brushes on so smoothly and offers me a beautiful even finish. It can also be applied by roller for larger flatter areas. The only thing really to watch with a varnish is that if you have a stain that may be prone to bleed, a varnish will ‘pull it through the paint’ more than a wax, so a good stain blocker is a must.

Which finish is the winner?

Yo people, I lay it for Y’all to play it out! Tell me what you think by leaving a comment below. Please share your experiences, good or bad for both. That way I’m sure a winner will emerge based on your feedback. Who would have thought that using wax or varnish over chalk paint could have been such a difficult choice? If you want to do some tests with both techniques, small projects such as tissue box covers, picture frames and light switch surrounds are a great place to start. And don’t to forget to check out our range of mouldings – they are a great way to jazz up any project big or small.

Don’t forget to leave a comment. Let battle commence!


  1. I have used Annie’s floor lacquer over painted objects and that works quite well. However, I have noticed on my kitchen table which has been waxed stains are appearing and won’t shift. So thank you for the advice about varnish which I will try to get here in France. The kitchen cupboards I have waxed seem to be doing okay so far.

    • I have used both and I would have to go with varnish, the wax seem to leave markings were my cups and dish’s were.. but please note with varnish the cure time should be at least 42 hr, so you lose the mushyness..

  2. Good article and thank you for clearing up a few things in my mind. 🙂

  3. I’m a waxing girl. Love the way the chalk paint changes and becomes a Beauty Queen from a bit of an ugly duckling. The touch and feel of waxed furniture can’t be beaten IMHO. Most errors with wax are due to the temperature of the wax, it needs to be warm to go on smoothly and thinly. So if the weather is cool I decant some onto a china plate and nuke on defrost in the microwave. Or sit in same dish over bowl of hot water. Do not get water in your wax. Also for a final polish or to remove excess wax I use wire wool 0000 grade.

    Having said that I was very unsure of the wax when I first started using ASCP. With both the paint and the wax you have to practice, get things wrong and just plain learn how to use the product.

    • Could english furniiture wax be used over AMC chalk paint ?
      I have a tin of Sheradale antique wax polish….it contains beeswax. Thanks

      • Hi, To be honest I’m not familiar with the brand and have never tried a regular furniture polish over chalk paint. I think it will my project, personally given the amount of time and effort has gone into painting the piece and considering the price of the professional finishing wax I will probably opt to buy the right product for the job. If you’re feeling brave however give it a go and see how you get on you can always repaint basically all goes horribly wrong.
        Good luck


      • I use beeswax furniture polish all the time. It takes longer to dry but the finish is much tougher and silkier!

    • Maybe you can help me.. i redid mt cabinets with chalk paint and a dark wax and ib came out really nice but im seeing streaks from water around the sink and some spots from cleaner overspray and the dang dog lick marks lol it only been a couple weeks and ready had to reaply and buff.. it something the seals the wax or makes it harder? Please help

    • I just finished my first chalk paint piece, but think I used too much wax. The table top looks terrible. Any ideas on how to “fix” it? Thanks!

      • Did you use a clear wax first? You have more control over dark wax if you do so. You could try using a clear wax to remove some of the dark wax. A wax and grease remover may also help remove any bits you don’t like so you can start again. Please join our facebook group “chic moulding project show and tell chalk paint and upcycle” for advice.

    • I have used Annie’s paint for several years now and I love it, but I have just found one that I think I love more. Dixie Bell, this paint is fabulous! What I prefer over wax is Polyvine Wax Finish Varnish. This is an incredible product that does not yellow over white paint like Polycrylic does. Unfortunately it is pretty expensive and comes from England, but if you are putting effort into creating a beautiful piece of furniture isn’t it worth it.

      • Hi Christine

        Thanks so much for you input. I have noticed Dixie Bell is very big in the states, and here in the UK it seems to have made an entrance too. I agree with you about polyvine – the products I have used by them are very good.

        • Hi Becky,
          I moved back to the states a few years ago after living in England for nearly 30 years. Now I find myself ordering half the things I use from England! 🤔

  4. I’m so pleased to hear you endorsing the polyvine products. I bought both kinds a while ago, but chickened out of using them…as with the dark wax… I’ll give it a go on a few small pieces that have sat around waiting for me to make my mind up as to their finish.

    I enjoyed your article and look forward to reading the rest of your blog.

    Thanks for the info

  5. Btw, I guess you would have to distress before varnishing, or apply a coat before and after. Or is there another way to keep the chalk paint dust down?

  6. What about if you want to re paint over waxed paint? Is there any paint that will stick over wax, apart from Annie Sloane paint (and I hear that even that doesn’t stick very well over waxed paint). So how easy is it to strip it before repainting?

    Not being able to change the colour is the only reason I wouldn’t wax or varnish over chalk paint.
    No one seems to really address this point.

    • Hi, Personally I have never had any problems painting over waxed pieces with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. I’ve painted many waxed pine items and as long as the wax is fully cured I’ve never had any issues at all.
      In my early days I did also try painting a waxed pine dresser with Farrow and Ball Estate Egshell (an acrylic) that reacted terribly to the wax, separating and peeling off. I only use the ASCP now because it rarely reacts and adheres really well.

  7. Personally I would never use the Annie Sloan or Farrow & Ball paints in the first place. After working for a well known worldwide paint company for many years, I know that an oil based eggshell/satin/gloss is always, always the most hardwearing durable finish you can get. (I also know from experience!) You can get these mixed into AS or F&B colours and there is no need to put on a top coat such as wax.

    • Hi, obviously we all value your opinion. I would just like to point out a couple of issues though. Yes oil based paints are much more durable. They are also highly toxic, smell for hours/days, very difficult to clean up after and harmful to the environment, that’s why all major paint manufacturers are moving to and evolving their acrylic lines. I also worked for a major paint company for many years and the biggest single problem with oil based paints and varnishes that they could never fix is that oil based products yellow with age. No way around it. Sometimes as quickly as within a couple of months so the colour changed dramatically.
      Also they require priming and sealing on just about most surfaces and often react if the primer is not compatible etc.

      You can get these colours mixed at decorator centres, I have used a F&B colour mixed this way but the paint feels inferior. I would argue that with the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, although the chosen colours are a huge plus, it is more the characteristics and ease of use of the paint that is the major benefit in its use. This cannot be replicated in mainstream DIY store paint. The versatility cannot be matched and neither can the desired chalky finish.
      As I mention in the article, latex paint doesn’t need a finish coat, neither do oil based paints as they behave and cure in a very different way to Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Decorative Paint. However what you gain in durability you lose in the various effects that you can create and in all the prep work and priming/undercoating that you have to do with these decorators paints.

    • Transform, I agree with Steve’s reply also. I think most of us that have been painting furniture for 40 years or more have all used or started our obsession using your suggested methods when we had no other options. But as Steve mentioned and a big downer to me is “prep” work in a piece. I’m always so anxious and just want to open that paint and brush on the color. Having to prime, sand, etc. can be so boring, and tedious that I’d find myself abandoning the project completely. Once I discovered chalk paint it was a dream come true, and I can complete several projects in just a few days.

  8. Hi,
    Your article came just in time . I’m just painting an old chest of drawers & cheap & cheerful mirror .
    I was worried about the wax taking off some of the paint , as seemed to happen with my last effort . One of your replies mentions warming the wax , making it easier to apply . That sounds like a great tip , definitely going to
    try it . Personally I still prefer the softer look of wax /v / varnish . I’m hoping that my melamine chest of drawers
    without it’s hard shine will look like new .

    • Hi Barbara,
      Glad the article was helpful. Don’t forget if you’re heating the wax don’t use a naked flame. Best way is pop the can in a shallow pot of boiling water to soften it up.
      Happy waxing!

  9. Hi Sam thanks for the email have read the blog about wax or varnish i am afraid it is a little late for me though i asked for some advice on what to use over the chalk paint i used to paint our kitchen tables and chairs i was advised to use Wilkinson’s diamond hard matt varnish i followed the instructions 5% dilute for first coat the use from tin we did this and after one day it started to yellow also it did not give a nice hard wearing finish as some of the paint has come off the chairs after sitting on them for a couple of times so back to square one what to use i would welcome any advice that will help me seal the chairs so i don’t have to keep rubbing them down and re doing kind regards James

    • Hi James,
      The cheap varnishes are to be avoided if at all possible. I’m a firm believer in ‘you get what you pay for”. Whoever advised you obviously hadn’t really put it to the test. As you have already used a varnish I’d say that the wax is probably not going to work as well now as the porous paint will have been sealed and the wax will not bond as well as it should. I’d opt for a re-coat with a good quality varnish like the Polyvine wax finish range If extra durability is needed it’s really quick to apply multiple coats. For max durability use the satin first and then go over with the dead flat if that’s the finish you prefer.
      I hope this helps.

  10. I use varnish on dressing table/table in fact anywhere an alcohol, heat or perfume can stain wax.or tv stands where scratches occur on top due to movement/weight. I use wax on chairs and the other surfaces not varnished. I have used AS own floor lacquer too. If it seals paint on floors or painted vinyl, there must be good resilience? I also use non-yellowing spray sealer/varnishes too… I will be trying some Polyvine though having read this . I like the idea of durabilitywith waxy feel

  11. I love the Polyvine Dead Flat finish. It looks and feels authentic and is a dream to use. I have had problems with the first coat making the whites look patchy but have learned a couple of tricks to avoid this. I like the satin finish for smaller things but found it a very uneven finish on larger surfaces. I still use wax occasionally- I love the sheen on carved mouldings and details but must admit I am truly converted. Great article.

    • Hi Viv, We have found that by making sure you give even, light coats, it won’t go patchy! If you are covering a larger area, I find using a small radiator roller for the job is perfect! Hope this helps! Sam

    • Sue,
      Please tell me your tricks to avoiding the Polyvine finish from making the white chalk paint look patchy. I am painting a large piece that will be going into our master bath. Any help you can provide to keep the white color but also protect the piece will be deeply appreciated. Also, any yellowing with Polyvine?

  12. Very interesting I have used both just to try the finished looks and love both but didn’t know that the polyvine would give a longer and better protection so will be using the polyvine on chairs and larger pieces of furniture

  13. I was just wondering if using a polyurethane sealer would be a better option for a much-used coffee table and dining room table. I used AS chalk paint followed by a couple coats of AS clear wax on the tables. A bit of rubbing alcohol was spilled on the table and it totally LIFTED the WAX AND PAINT! We now have a nice shape of the bottle of alcohol that leaked on the table. I had no idea rubbing alcohol was that caustic! So, now I’ll have to re-paint and re-seal. Would the varnish protect from such things?

  14. Thanks for such an interesting article. I’ve waxed a couple of items with AS’s wax but both times the result was blotchy! People tell me it looks like a paint effect but it wasn’t supposed to look that way! Having just finished painting some kitchen cupboards I’m going to try the Polyvine dead flat varnish, provided (like one of the other posters) that I can find it here in France.

    • Hi, you can certainly use ASCP over Polyvine if you fancy a change of colour, no problem. The thing about varnishing over wax is that wax is slippery old stuff and it takes an age to fully cure. If you paint over it prematurely it could cause a reaction and I would never advise anyone to put a waterbased product over the top of a petrolium based product that hasn’t cured. It’s asking for trouble.
      If it were me I think I would try a test spot in a non obvious place and see if there is any reaction before I did the whole piece.
      I hope this helps a bit.

      Good luck.

  15. Thanks for a great article. I was Googling to remind me of the name of the varnish a friend recommended….found it here…Polyvine! I only use Annie Sloan paint, as I prefer the finish to other chalk paints on the market. Up until now I have been waxing…2-3 coats on everything! However waxing is hard work on the wrists and arms, especially if you use the AS waxing brush. Consequently I have now been diagnosed with Tennis Elbow, and it can be quite painful at times. For this reason, I am off to buy some Polyvine today! When viewing the finish on my friend’s varnished painted furniture, there is little difference to a wax finish when Polyvine has been used. However, I still love the ‘feel’ and light sheen of a waxed piece, but I’ll just use up my giant tin of AS wax on smaller projects from now on. Thanks again.

  16. HI! This is a wonderful article, and many thanks for your insight on the good and bad of both options. I’m still trying to figure out what to do with a kitchen table. It is extendable, so it folds upon itself, which could cause problems with one side becoming faded and scratching it when elongating it and turning it on the base, etc… I would LOVE the super shiny look of a lacquer, but I know that would be asking for trouble in the form of chips and rings. The wood is not even real wood, but some kind of sealed composite, I think. Any advice is welcome. :-\

    One last thing: I am an annoying stickler for correct usage of its and it’s, and there are a few mix-ups in the article… Can I be a total nit-picker and point them out? I know I am totally annoying, but it drives me nuts! 🙂 I’m sure some may be chalked up (ha ha! homage to the subject of the article) to spell-checker and some chalked up to just getting the article online, as most of the time you use “it’s” correctly! I know the feeling! Here they are:

    as its the only paint I currently use for any of my projects. (should be it’s)
    Carnauba in it’s raw form (should be its)
    looks but also on it’s character. (its)

    Excuse my grammar police tendencies! And thanks for the great article!

    • Why couldn’t you just say “Thank you?” I was enjoying the article and the person did a lot of research and it was veryt informative. It was tolerable hearing you say there were grammatical mistakes, it should have ended there, you did not need to go over every mistake which people probably did not even read anyways. That is boring compared to what we were learning. Maybe you cant help yourself or something but you need to know that was rude. Sorry, I needed to say that.

  17. Hi Steve and Sam!
    I’ve only ever used wax but like the idea of trying the polyvine to see how it improves durability but indefinitely want to tonsil look as if it’s been waxed and buffed, which is the best finish I’m assuming the dead flat?
    Many thanks, great blog x

    • Hi Tina! We love wax too, But sometimes, when a more durable finish is needed, Polyvine is the answer! We love the dead flat matt finish, and it is our best seller. But, If you want to give it the look of a buffed wax piece, then the satin is the best choice. It has a subtle sheen, but without the elbow grease 🙂
      Glad you enjoyed the blog!
      Take care,
      Sam xx

  18. I have just painted my kitchen cabinets (first experience with Annie Sloan Chalk paint and I LOVE it!) But when I applied the wax I applied it too thick and now I have a waxy mess. What is the best way to correct this?

    • Oh dear, Poor you! It’s horrible when that happens but be assured we have all done it!
      In the first instance I would advise patience. Wax can take a very long time to cure, sometimes a couple of months even.
      If you are convinced that the finish isn’t salvageable then you may need to strip the wax off with some white spirit or rubbing alcohol back to a nice flat finish. Try not to take off your paint if you can.
      If the finish is flat and can be re-painted then this may be your only option to get it back to how is was pre wax.
      I would then apply some Polyvine clear wax varnish instead of the wax as you will find it harder wearing for the kitchen where things need to be a bit more ‘scrubbable’.
      Sorry to hear that you have had issues, I hope you get them sorted.
      Best of luck.

  19. I chalk painted a few dining chairs and i experimented with tile sealer as a finish. I Really like how it made the chairs feel and they look so nice – not too much lustre, but it smoothed out the surface nicely, and they’re protected from water. Not sure how protected they will be from scratches etc though. Time will tell.

    • Wow! Tile sealer, that’s a new one on me! I’m glad they turned out just how you wanted them to. Let me know how hard wearing that sealer is. Maybe I’ll give it a try on a future project.
      Thanks for your comment

  20. Hi there, can I use the lacquer over the wax?? I just redid a table top for the kitchen. It was my first AS effort. I used a clear was followed by a LOT of dark wax (which was needed to create the effect. I wanted). It’s still sticky and too sensitive after aoubt 25 days.

    • Hi, personally I would advised against using Polyvine over a waxed finish. It is unlikely to bond well and may interfere with the hardening process of the wax. Dark wax can take quite a long time to harden, I personally acknowledge to take up to a month or so. I would suggest giving it some more time and see how you get on before applying anything over the top of the dark wax.
      I hope it all goes well let me know if there’s anything else I can advise you on.

  21. Hi I am a newcomer to painting furniture but have sucessfully painted and waxed my radiator covers with Annie Sloan chalk paint. My next project is to paint the kitchen cupboards in Spain. THey are heavily varnished pine and I will be rubbing them down well before I apply A.S chalk paint. I was going to wax them but now wonder if it would be better to use AS lacquer or polyvine. I have found a shop in Spain that sells Annie Sloan paint and wax but not polyvine. Would waxing be enough on kitchen cupboards – the kitchen does not get used much!!! Looking forward to your reply – really need some help here.

    • Hi, this is a subject that brings out many different opinions. Personally I feel the kitchen cabinets need extra protection and it was my project I would certainly go down the route of applying some acrylic varnish such as the Polyvine. wax is great under regular conditions but for areas that are going to be subject to heavy use I would opt for something a little more hard wearing. Given that you are in Spain and these cupboards are also going to be subjected to a lot of heat I would be hesitant to use wax in the first instance. If you can’t get Polyvine in Spain you can use other brands of acrylic varnish which I know are available in Spanish DIY stores as I live there myself for a number of years.
      Good luck with the project.

  22. Hi Steve,

    I just painted a dresser with AS and applied clear wax and then dark wax, this piece will be sitting outside on a covered porch, do you think the wax will protect it? Thanks Kimley

    • Hi Kimley,
      Just bear in mind that the wax can take up to around a month to fully cure. Until then it will be a little more vulnerable to the elements. I’m not sure if you are in the UK but if you are it will have a decent morning frost to deal with at the very least.
      You should also avoid getting the dresser wet at all as wax is only really splash proof, not designed to have any drips left on it for any time as they may leave watermarks.
      I would say just keep an eye on it and if it gets a bit wet just blot the moisture as soon as you are able.
      I hope this helps.


  23. So glad to see a great analysis of the great wax question! I am a decorative painter, own a shop and sell furniture for a living. I also sell a wonderful paint line from the American Paint Company. (Really, this is not intended to be a plug for the paint!) It is a chalk, mineral based paint, similar to Annie Sloan, but more environmentally friendly. I discovered Polyvine products by accident, after searching for a high quality alternative to waxing. My pieces go to real homes, with kids, dogs and probably no coasters! Wax just wasn’t a good choice. But I was not happy with a brush application, nor foam applicators. A furniture friend suggested using fine terry-covered foam stain application pads, which is all I use now except for around intricate details/moulding, etc. I have been using and recommending these to my painters with super results. I wash and reuse as the very fine terry surface doesn’t lint or pill.
    I’m sure they are available in lots of places, but the brand I use comes in bulk from Harbor Freight. I can’t imagine life without Polyvine!

    • Hi
      I did this but there was a colour change between the top that was waxed and the rest that had been applied with polyurethane.

      Also….i painted a dresser using rustoleum chalk paint. I was really pleased. I love the rough chalk look finish to this piece, which required this look. Unfortunately I used rustoleum wax for chalk paint and it totally changed the look of the colour and the effect that I previously had. It’s way too shiny…i don’t want this look. I have reworked this piece several times and just not happy with it, spending way too long on it and certainly won’t be making any profit on it.

      What can I use to seal it keeping it looking like it has just been painted in chalk paint without the wax smoothness and shine.

      Please help!!! ❤

  24. I have used Polyvine wax finish varnish dead flat for about two months on about five projects – it is fabulous. I have used it over Annie Sloan chalk paint, Paint du Coco natural chalk paint and my own latex with calcium carbonate (some people call this DIY chalk paint, I call it latex with additives!!!). this varnish has the look and feel of wax. The durability of a sealer. I do like the look of black or dark wax over some painted pieces, and for that I will use it and then put Polyvine over it — only varnish to date I have found that you can do this with. Easy to put on and no rotator cuff injury as with buffing wax (I know, as I am currently healing a pinched nerve from over-waxing). Love this stuff, just love it. You guys make a great product. I would become a distributor if I could.

    • Hi Linda, I just want to verify that you don’t have issues using the Polyvine over Annie Sloan Dark wax? How long did you let the wax cure before you applied the Polyvine? Did the Polyvine give you lasting protection over the wax? Thank you in advance for you answers 🙂

  25. I agree with that…I prefer to do a combination – a matte or satin poly on the top (where I often have stripped and stained the wood) and wax the rest that is painted with ASCP. Also, I have used the Annie Sloan lacquer and it is very durable, but also too shiny and shows brush marks. She may call it matte, but it is not.

  26. I recently painted a table with Benny Moore Satin Impervo. Then I used Annie Sloan dark wax sporadically on the distressed parts. It looked beautiful! THEN…I sprayed Krystal conversion varnish on just the top to give it the hard, protected finish. The table is for my daughter, who is in college in Virginia Beach, (you know, parties, beer pong, etc). Anyway, the varnish did not set up. I gave it 2 weeks and have now sanded the top completely back to the wood and repainted. How would you suggest I finish the top to make it durable? I need to add some dark wax to the distressed places to make it match the rest of the table, but it definitely needs a protective coating of something, to hold up to the wear and tear of college kids.

    • Hi,
      I see the problem, You waxed, then varnished 🙁
      The varnish won’t harden & set as it should it it has wax underneath 🙁
      I would paint it, then varnish it, giving it at least 2 coats for such an item that will be used a lot. (3 to be safe!)
      Let these coats dry for at least a day each if at all possible.
      If you then want to dark wax it, this is when to do it. When the varnish is totally dry.
      The varnish can take up to 21 days to cure & harden, so just make sure your Daughter is very careful with it for a few weeks 🙂

      Hope this helps,

  27. I just painted a chair with chalk paint which will be used as a desk chair for my 8 yr old daughter. Should I wax or varnish? Thank you.

    • Hi Lisa,
      If it were me, and I wanted it to be hard wearing, I’d go for Polyvine varnish every time!

      Kind regards,
      Sam x

  28. I love the waxed softness, yet I am about to embark on a journey of painting my kitchen cabinet uppers a white and restaining my lowers a darker shade. I was leaning away from chalk paint because of the worry of the durability with wax, but with this now in my view, I believe I will paint with Annie Sloan and use a satin finish poly. I’m worried about the color change, I will have to text it out and compare. Thanks for broadening my spectrum 🙂

    • I am a lover of polyvine wax finish , have had some wonderful results…but…l am struggling to get an even finish on black furniture (used my trusty large Wooster brush too ) it looks patchy…any advice on how to rectify ????

      • Hiya Carol. Is this the clear wax finish? I have only used the dark wax finish, and I tend to usea brush on, wipe off method rather than just a brushed coat, a I use it for aging.

        I have found the clear varnishes I have used go on pretty evenly, even when applying with a brush. Have you spoken to Polyvine about it? They are super helpful and can advise you far better than I can, I reckon. You may find spraying gives a more even result (as it always does). Have a chat with them and let us know how it went.


  29. What a great article and so so helpful, it all was a bit confusing for a novice like me in regards to the choices with protective finishes. But after reading this I’ll be able to make a choice according to each projects use and where it will be placed ( ie; high traffic area or minimal use). I do luv the look of waxed pieces, but now being better informed I think I’ll go with a coat of the satin first for durability and a top coat of matt to get the look I want for my kitchen hutch…But i definitely will be doing some waxed projects aswell.Thank you again for a very helpful read …

  30. I just got some polyvine wax varnish in satin. I actually sprayed it out of my hvlp gun, undiluted. It sprayed beautifully and my nightstands are gorgeous. I totally LOVE this stuff. I had put some polycrylic on them and it yellowed so bad I had to sand it off. Grrrr…..But the polyvine didn’t yellow and looks so smooth. Great product. And this is from a wax lover!!

  31. I have just bought the dead flat finish varnish and am excited to see a new finish to my paint work. I have always used Annie Sloan chalk paint and wax as I was trained on one of her master class courses but I am finding the other chalk paints are also very good. When texturing/distressing you can also mix different brands and we shouldnt be shy of experimenting, confidence comes with time though I find. I have found that waxing alone, over time can taint, for example on my dressing table where make up and fragrances etc are used the wax has allowed staining (maybe I use too much bronzer) but the whole basis of varnish leaves me thinking that this wouldnt happen if I had used Polyvine varnish instead of wax. I am excited to see the finish on my nwe pieces and how it weathers over time. I have just starting painting and restyling furniture and this reading has been informative and motivating so thanks for all the information and tips in your blog & allowing our feedback to be heard.

  32. i really want to paint my basement tile floors with chalk paint. Do you think that will work on tiles? and I should probably use the varnish on the floor? also I would like it to look vintage how should I achieve this look?

    -Thank you
    your blog is very helpfull im just very nervous since I’m doing this for the first time.

  33. So would you say wax to get the depth of the color, then once it cures apply the varnish? For kitchen csbinets

  34. So after painting an entire summer house of furniture I found out you can use poly instead of wax over Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. The only piece I am concerned about at this point is the table and chairs. The table had 2 coats of wax and had been buffed. The chairs have 1 cost and not buffed. Obviously I don’t want to repaint them. Can I remove the wax and apply a poly?

  35. I am super cheap when it comes to chalk painting, I used to love Annie S it still is great (my first chalk paint used) However I am a forever bright turquoise lover and I discovered cheaper brands at the local Micheal’s in Canada (CraftSmart ‘Native Turquoise’- is my obsession..) anyway I Also have the issue with wax I have now almost 4 kids under 4yrs everything gets messy/sticky including pee pee stains on their Annie – Duck egg blue change table. I used pastewax as a finish and down the size there are streams of coconut oil(diaper cream) and pee pee plus The top started peeling 🙁
    So for every roughly used item -surface especially I use Varathane in satin (water based diamond hard finish poly acrylic stuff)

    I love making stuff look old and crappy I cannot find an option to use as good as dark wax when I want to use the easy to clean Varathane…

    You were suggesting Soft Touch Varnish I just looked up –
    Americana® DuraClear – Soft Touch Varnish I wonder if this would be similar? I guess i will see if Canada even carries the stuff. (Canada sucks at inventory all the time everywhere, even for Annie S)

    I would love help in an alternative option for dark wax! I u just want PolyAcrylic it suits my life style.

  36. Will dark wax hold over polyvine or should I glaze? Thank you in advance for your answer.

  37. I have some kitchen chairs I used Annie Sloan paint on then varnished them with the Annie Sl varnish I did use a couple of coats but this is only six months and they are already badly scuffed and marked can I paint over it with a chalk paint and use a polyvine varnish ?

  38. I am painting an outside table top with ASCP. Will the AS Lacquer be strong enough for outside I have used it on floor tiles inside and is very durable and also on an inside wooden item.

  39. I just finished two end tables — can I put glass over the wax to protect them? I found out about the varnish a little too late, but they get too much use and I don’t want them to get ruined.

  40. I am interested in your polyvine flat finish, however, I live in the United States and Amazon doesn’t ship your product to the US. Can I purchase somewhere in the US or US delivery?

    • I just looked on Amazon and there’s quite a bit of Polyvine and nothing about not shipping to US addresses

  41. Painted a chest of drawers with chalk paint,grey, looked lovely.Used Rustoleum wax,ruined,all patchy,light grey dark grey,now have to re paint.

  42. Would it be a good compromise to use Polyvine on the top and sides of a chest, but wax on the decorative doors? Secondly, if a dark wax is to be used on decorative bits or crackle, must a clear wax be applied first (underneath the dark wax)? What amount would be sufficient drying time between waxes?

  43. Hello! We recently renovated our entire dining room furniture (sideboard, chairs and table) using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. When buying it, there was no wax so we opted for the Polyvine dead Matt finish…. we have a huge problem now because any little drop (oil, wine etc) STAINS the tabletop! We are so disappointed, it took us forever to paint and varnish and now we feel we cannot even use our table…. what did we do wrong?? How can we fix this?? Any suggestions are most welcome, thanks!

  44. I don’t use Annie Sloan paint anymore. I only use Everlong Chalk Paint. No need for wax or varnish. You can wipe it down it also is water resistant and very durable . I know this due to 6 children around my furniture. One coat is enough to be honest and no need to prep furniture either so I save lots of time now.

  45. I am one of the “new to chalk” users. I don’t know if I used too much, or too little wax, but it looks streaky and uneven all over my kitchen cabinets. I painted using the Annie Sloan, chocolate brown color. I like the color but HATE the finish. Also, it scratches easily. How do I get the wax off so that I can apply the poly???

  46. I have painted two dining chairs in different coloured ASCP for my grandchildren. I have ordered their names in vinyl letters to put on the backs of the chairs. Once I have affixed the letters, should I wax or varnish over the names? I intend to wax the rest of the chairs. Thanks for your help.

  47. I want to chalk paint my old laminate kitchen floor. To make it durable i was going to put several coats of matte finish of varathane over the paint. Will this work???

  48. Have noticed that if there is even the slightest pooling around mouldings, the satin wax Polyvine turns an unusual shade of green. Why and shouldn’t it be noted as not everyone wants green on their work.

  49. Hi, I have just seen this article on google..Earlier last year I chalk painted welsh dresser, table and 6 chairs with AS, then used AS clear wax, which was patchy when applied?, you can see lots of dark shadowy patches, i called supplier and they said i applied wrongly??as it is a dining room set and used a lot by children the chairs get marked and if i try and wipe them the paint rubs off too…please have you any tips of what I can do…regards

  50. I have painted a dining table with chalk paint, can I finish coat it with satin polyurethane?

  51. I am painting 2 kitchen stools with chalk paint, I have bought a small tin of ‘Chalk Finish Furniture Wax’ that is manufactured by Paint Factory of Bradford UK. Now I have read this article I am wondering if it would be difficult to use over the chalk paint. I am also thinking of putting a picture on the round seats with permanent markers; will the wax protect it or just smare it?

  52. I have chalk painted 2 kitchen stools and I am thinking of drawing a picture on the seats with permanent marker pens, I have bought a small tin of chalk wax and don’t want to waste it. Can I use this to protect the chalk paint and the permanent marker picture? I have not sealed the paint yet.

  53. Hi Ingrid, did you find out?, I also want to know if it is available over there?

  54. Has anyone ever used Minwax Wipe on Poly for chalk paint. I used it on stained wood before but never chalk paint. I like the way the chalk paint looks as is, but I put it on kitchen cabinets and want to make sure the finish doesn’t get damaged from day to day use. I don’t want to take away from the rustic look of it.

  55. Hi, which stain blocker is best please and can you use it to protect stencilling from smudging?

    Thank you

  56. Hi, I’m in the Uk and have a porch door which is somewhat protected from the rain but still is exposed to damp air. I have painted the inside of the door with chalk paint, can I paint the outside of the door with it too? Also what sealent do you recogmend for the chalk painted window frames that have to deal with drips of condensation in the winter – wax or Polyvine? Durability is more of an issue for me. Not too worried about getting a completely matt finish. Thanks.

  57. Thanks for the informative piece- I’ve Just painted an old very orange pine laminate table. I’ve used rust-oleum furniture chalk paint in Laural green on the table top and winter grey chalk floor paint on the legs.

    I’m finding the floor paint is easier to work with and much harder wearing and winter grey is a great colour. The furniture paint less hard wearing and stains and scratches very easily but available in a larger colour range.

    I had some Polyvine dead Matt finish varnish left over after another project. To rescue the table top I just lightly sanded the table top and gave it two coats of Polyvine dead Matt.

    I’ve had a Great result it has only very slightly changed the colour tone and chalky texture but hardly noticeable. Now it’s a hard wearing table top that won’t mark and scratch I’m thrilled – now onto revamping the kitchen cupboards in winter grey.

  58. I painted my kate mums chairs in Paris Grey. They were beautiful until I used AS wax, now they are all patchy 🙁

  59. Hi- I have painted my dining table with Annie Sloan Chalk paint and have put 1 coat of her wax on. I can’t get to be without some streaks. I want to lightly sand the wax down and do a few more coat of chalk paint and then do the Polyvine. Do you think that will work? Thanks!

  60. I have been chalk painting furniture for a while and am a total advocate of Polyvine – both satin and dead flat finishes. There is nothing like it on the market. Wax was fine in times past when nothing else was available but depending on the wood, the temperature and other variables, it often results in a blotsy finish. Tables, kitchen cabinets, and other furniture pieces that may experience lots of use, need a durable finish and Polyvine provides that durable finish with a look of wax. I won’t use anything else on my projects any more. However, if you have already waxed- you will need to remove the wax before applying Polyvine.

  61. After a few months of using both now I find the varnish can yellow with certain paints. It’s a little annoying as it doesn’t yellow all over. So for whites n creams I stick to wax and for deeper colours such as greys it’s the varnish all the way. I would say the varnish needs to be brushed in well. It goes a long long way so will defo be cheaper than wax.

  62. Please excuse my stupidity, after painting and dark waxing a desk this weekend, I would like to know if I can Matt varnish over the top of the wax for added protection ?

  63. I live in the US and cannot seem to find polyvine satin finish varnish here. Is there any vendor here who carries this product. I have a side table with pull outs to place drinks on so will need something more than just clear wax.

  64. My advice – don’t use chalk paint – ever. For anything.

    Having optimistically embarked on up-cycling some gorgeous dining room chairs and thinking chalk paint was just a nice matte finish paint and not being able to find anyone at B&Q who had any idea about painting furniture we set out with our tin of paint and high hopes.

    We spent 2 sanding down our chairs, applying 4 coats of chalk paint which finally gave the coverage we needed and the chairs looked brilliant.

    Only problem? The chalk literally rubs off if you so much as brush it and spend the next week constantly touching up the chairs which we haven’t even used yet as every time we so much as move them they mark.

    So naturally we buy a varnish which is the same brand as the chalk paint and says right on the front of the tin it’s to be used over rust-o-leum chalk paint. I read about how this can take the paint off so brush it on as lightly and lovingly as possible and it strips off the paint so we now have patchy chairs that look crap after all that work.

    I’m so angry that this disgusting paint even exists. What a complete waste of time, effort and money.

    Buy regular paint and hope you never cross paths with this God awful stuff!!!!!!!!!!

  65. Hi, I already painted and waxed a coffee table and now i’m thinking it will not uphold to the heavy traffic it will entail. can I put the matte polyvine over the wax ??

  66. This is my first time ever using chalk paint on furniture and I probably should have done more research first!☺️I used Behr Chalk paint. Am now thinking I need and want a more ‘polished’ and durable finish! Found your article and just have a question: can I use ANY water based varnish if that is the route I choose to go? We are in the process of refinishing some hardwood floors and are using a water based varnish and wondered if that would work or the piece of furniture

    • Hi Tracy. This is not advised. Wax is not a stable surface to apply varnish onto. If you read the blog page this comment is on, it will explain why. Thanks.

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