To Wax or Not To Wax?

To wax or not to wax?

Ah… The age old question: “To wax or not to wax over chalk paint?”

OK, so maybe it isn’t the question that’s been around for as long as chalk paint itself, but it is definitely a dilemma I’ve been facing more and more…

Nothing compares to the soft luster and rich glow of a freshly waxed piece of reLoved furniture!! However, applying wax over chalk paint is the most challenging, labor intensive and time consuming aspect of painting furniture with chalk and chalk-style paint.

Wax over chalk paint

Granted, not all waxes are created equal. Some waxes are downright difficult to work with and even require you to take a special class on proper application techniques.

Then there’s the durability issue.

Yes, I have an issue… Wax only offers minimal protection and wax is NOT permanent. Nor is it even semi-permanent. In fact, if it was a hair dye, it would be temporary!!

You see, wax wears off over time with use, leaving your beautiful chalk painted furniture all porous and exposed; a magnet for chocolaty little fingers and cheese puff smudges!

In order to maintain continued protection, wax needs to be reapplied every few months!

Re-apply paste wax every few months?? Ain't nobody got time for that!!

Re-apply paste wax over chalk paint every few months??


But wax isn’t THE ONLY option!

Why not go with a water-based polyurethane sealer, such as Varethane or Polycrylic over chalk paint?

These products are an excellent alternative, and offer far superior protection than a wax. A few coats of polycrylic will last YEARS beyond a few coats of wax, and can be much easier to work with.

Plus, polycrylics are more chemical resistant and are not heat sensitive like wax.

And unlike wax, if you ever chose to repaint your furniture, the polycrylic does not need to be 100% completely removed.

Waterbased polycrylic over chalk paint

Don’t get me wrong, polycrylics are not without drawbacks.

Although they can have a yellowing effect over white and light colors, I personally have had good success with Varethane staying clear. Some waxes will yellow also, so that can still be an issue if you went that route. (I have also used clear spray-on sealers for smaller projects, with no issues what-so-ever!)

With the ease of application, I am finding water-based polyurethanes to be my go-to finish of choice over chalk painted furniture.

And if you are looking for a good alternative to do-it-yourself chalk-style paint, read my post on an Not So DIY Chalk Paint Recipe.

I’d love to hear your feedback! What is your sealer of choice over chalk paint and chalk-style paint on your reLoved furniture, and what, if any, challenges do you face?


Still have questions?? I posted an update with answers to all the most commonly asked questions I’ve received.
You can read it here:  “Wax or Polycrylic Over Chalk Paint?”



  1. Jeremiah

    My wife and I just purchased that Minwax water based poly you have pictured there, hoping it won’t yellow our newly painted old-white chairs! This article comforts our thoughts of trying poly, a more permanent finish solution…so thank you! I DO have a question. Do you know if we can spray (HVLP gun connected to an air compressor) on that minxwax water based poly??

    • Sherri

      Hi Jeremiah! Yes, you can most definitely use an HVLP to spray the Polycrylic. I have a Graco HVLP and just finished spraying a set of cabinets with the Polycrylic in Satin. The finish came out very smooth, and looks gorgeous!

  2. Thank you for speaking the truth! I have tried to tell this to people for a while now. Not to mention if your piece sits where it can be warmed by the sun, you get a mess! I love the look of a waxed piece, but I glaze and seal pieces that get a lot of wear and tear!

  3. I tend to use water based poly poly a lot over chalk paint because I’m kind of lazy when it comes to waxing. It is a lot of work putting two to three coats of wax hard on the arms! I have had some problems with it yellowing over light colors…
    I have never tried varethane do you like it a lot? Traci

    • Sherri

      Yes, I love it, Traci! I have used that product for years (even back when it was Flecto Varathane Diamond Wood Finish) and in my opinion, it’s one of the best.

  4. Dawn

    I have been rethinking chalk paint lately myself. I’m still a beginner, so I don’t have a lot of experience. By the time I put several on coats of chalk paint, then wax and wax, I probably could have primed, painted & sealed the furniture. I have wondered how the wax would hold up on a piece of furniture that gets a lot of use. I am thinking my next project will be a latex with primer in it.

    • Sherri

      Hi Dawn, I agree. It is a lot of work. I often lean towards my old school ways and go straight to priming and painting with high quality latex finishes! :)

  5. I love the look of wax however, have had some experiences that have caused me to shy away from them. Luckily it was on my own pieces and not those of a customers.

    I too have even steered away from the minwax poly too. Just discovered General Finishes High Performance water based poly. Cures out to a very hard finish. If I had the space my top choice would be an oil poly. or even a lacquer. But because I paint in my house this is the best top coat that provides a durable finish thus far.
    Thank you for posting

    • Sherri

      Hi Donna, I recently read about a new acrylic-lacquer that is supposed to be a awesome product. I can’t remember who the manufacturer was… I’ll have to look in to that.

  6. Wax v. Poly the age old question. I LOVE the look and feel of wax. I use American Paint Company Clear Top Coat. I brush it or wipe it on. It dries in 20 minutes, then I buff it gently using 1000 grit paper or even brown paper bag from the grocery store. It leaves a beautiful durable finish. Oh, and the poly and waxes you pictured here are down right lethal. I’m chemical and odor sensitive. The APC products are all natural.

    • Sherri

      I ordered some of APC’s Clear Top Coat and I can’t wait to try it out. I have also heard good feedback on their Vintage Antiquing Wax / Dark Wax…

      Luckily, I’m not sensitive to odor or chemicals, but this is good information for those who are! Thanks :)

  7. Nancy

    I’d like to know if you’ve applied the wax and don’t like the end results and want to repaint the whole piece. What do you do to get wax off?

    • Sherri

      Hi Nancy, you can remove the wax with Mineral Spirits (Paint Thinner) and rags. Just make sure you get all of it off before repainting or applying another finish.

      • lsarantos

        Oh, so I have a side table that I just did. I waxed it but real should have poly’d it. You’re saying if I wipe it down with mineral spirits then I put the poly or Varathene over it? That’s wonderful if I can!!!

  8. Kelley

    I just did my first piece in CeCe’s Caldwell vintage white chalk paint…Loved how it went on…Next day distressed it and started to use CeCe’s clear wax in a little spot..turned brown…so I switched to Polycrylic clear satin finish and it turned into a tinted yellow once it dried…..but it looks antique…hoping it doesn’t keep getting more yellow as it sets….or I will be doing it all over again in a latex paint!

  9. kristi bennett


    Thanks for all the information you’ve posted on waxes vs. poly. I’ve used both and like the look of each. Question: can you poly over a waxed finish?


    • Sherri

      Hi Kristi- To answer your question, you cannot apply a poly over a wax. If you are going to be using a wax, that needs to be the final coat.
      But you can go the other way and wax over a poly.

  10. Shiloh

    Please help if you can…I am getting ready to pull the laminate off of my cupboards and paint them. The chalk paint seems great for ease of use and some are not toxic and since I am going to paint the insides as well…that is a huge plus. But part of the reason for going through all of this is because the white laminate is cold looking and I wanted to use a warmer white and then some aging around the bevels. Can I use chalk paint, a tinted glaze that I wipe most of it off and just leave in the creases and then a poly? I only heard about chalk paint yesterday and I was sold…until I learned about the waxing. I have little experience in painting but this kitchen is making me sick! Lol thanks in advance for your help.

    • Hi Shiloh,
      I am not a huge fan of Chalk Painted cabinets, but I know many who have done this with great success and are thrilled with the outcome.
      Yes, you can. The procedure you outlined will definitely work! However, I’d suggest a couple (or several) coats of the poly after. Also, I’d recommend painting a couple scraps of wood with the chalk paint to use as testers for your glaze. Make sure you have the color and technique of the glazing down before you apply to your freshly painted cabinets.
      Good luck on your project! It’s going to be a lot of work, but so worth it in the end! I’d love to hear how it turns out :)

  11. Annmarie

    Hi, I’m new to using chalk paint. There’s so much information out there I think I’m getting overwhelmed! Eventually I want to do my kitchen cabinets but I’m leary about only having the dark wax as the final finish. I want to be able to wipe the cabinets with a damp rag when needed and not have to reapply wax periodically. If I use Annie Sloan chalk paint & dark wax can I still wipe on or spray on some kind of sealer? Which sealer is the easiest to use and doesn’t require a mask? Thanks!

    • Hi Annemarie- you cannot apply anything over the wax. The wax has to be the final finish. You could achieve a similar effect by using a glaze over the chalk paint and then a poly over the glaze.

      • Marie

        I’ve been doing this for over 20 years. Poly over the paint….then glaze (paint can absorb too much glaze) and you won’t be able to fix it with wiping. If you love the finish after glaze, then put another coat of water based poly on top. Water based polys don’t typically yellow over time like oil based,,,,, but if you do not let the paint dry completely for 3 days it can yellow white or other light coloured paints.

  12. Vicky

    Can the other types of seals and finishes go directly over the chalk paint, or do they need to be waxed, then sealed?

    • Hi Vicky, yes, you can use other sealers directly over chalk paint… But if you wax, you cannot put anything over the wax. You can do the reverse however and apply a sealer and then wax over that. Just remember, if you wax, it MUST be the last step!

  13. I’ve painted hundreds of pieces of furniture over the years. Typically I use wax for pieces that won’t get tons of use, like a bedroom side table, or small surface. If it’s a kitchen table, dresser top, etc. I usually use water based poly. However, there is a product that is a sealer/clear topcoat that can be used over wax. Artisan Enhancements by Aloha Coatings has “Clear Topcoat” which is non-yellowing, and can be used over or under wax, can be buffed to a higher sheen and more. Check it out.

  14. Staci

    Hi! I have been wondering about this for a while now!!! I have furniture that is sealed with wax so can I paint a finish over the wax??

    • Hi Staci- unfortunately, you cannot apply anything over wax. The wax would need to be completely removed (you can do this with mineral spirits/paint thinner and rags) before you apply any other type of finish.

  15. Maria

    I’m new to chalk painting and I’m already over the wax finish as it’s too time consuming to apply (not using brand name chalk paint or wax). I’m going to look into water based poly clear coat as I think that will be much easier to apply.

  16. Renee

    Question.. I have painted my cabinets with annie Sloan old white… Sealed them with polycrylic clear today… As I watch them dry they are having a crackled look they did NOT have before…. Can I just paint over with latex and seal them and be done…. I don’t see me reprinting with more annie Sloan and then trying to reseal them again hoping they want crack?? Help?!?

  17. SA Royal


    I have just installed a plywood plank floor in the re-made attic space in my house. I am white-washing it white (just paint and water applied with a rag). I chose a paint that was pure white so it would not yellow but when applying the poly sealer, I noticed that the test patch yellowed some. The Artisian Enhancement top coat mentioned in your thread is not available in my town. I wonder if you can recommend another (more common?) non-yellowing water based top-coat (preferably one that could be painted over if need be, like the AE top coat)? Thank you for all of the information you broker here.

  18. Robyn

    I just learned how to use dark wax for an antique look. I’m going to be trying to out on my new kitchen buffet I found but I want to make sure it’s SEALED. I have a toddler that loves to touch. I was curious if I could either poly my work and then use dark wax or if I can dark wax and then poly. If I dark wax and then poly will it still be the same affect or will the poly not hold because of the wax?

    • lsarantos

      I was going to ask the same question! I have a piece that I want to chalk paint, then use the dark wax for details but definitely poly over the whole thing. Would that work Sherri?

  19. Emily

    I just finished a dresser with chalk paint. I usually do clear wax and then dark wax. I want to try to do a dark glaze instead of dark wax this time. What order should I do now? Should I poly, glaze, and then poly again? Can I go straight to glazing and then poly, or can I only glaze and be done? Thanks!

    • I find I have better results using a poly before the glaze, and then again after. Otherwise I don’t like the look of the glaze staining the porous chalk paint.

  20. Linda Philbin

    Hello .. I have a question on applying the Polycrylic, if I am using a glaze over my chalk paint ,can that be done straight over the paint or do I have to poly it first?

  21. WHEW! I just bought an EXPENSIVE little test pot of Annie Sloan to see what the big deal was, and was really NOT in the mood to buy an EXPENSIVE thing of wax. I’ve got the Minwax finish already at the house – yay! Thanks for the reassurance that it might be a great low-cost alternative!


  22. Hi Sherri –
    Thanks so much for the great info. We’re painting our kitchen cabinets with ASCP and wanted to go with the poly. I am concerned about the yellowing effect and wanted to see if you’d confirm I’ve got the right product that you have had good success with. The only Varathane product I can find at Lowes is the Varathane Gloss Porch and Floor Clear Water-Base Paint. Am I on the same page as you with this product?

    Thanks so much!!!

  23. Bethany Sullivan

    Hi Sherri,
    I’m doing research about available products to paint over my early 1990′s kitchen cupboards. You mention above that you’re not a fan of Chalk-Painted Cabinets. Can you please explain why. My cupboards are your basic oak with a poly applied over it. I’m looking to paint them a warm cream or white and plan to do the work myself. I’ve read to get the most professional look possible, I should spray the doors rather than brush them. I’ve reads lots of articles on latex, oil-based and chalk paint. Thanks for your insight.

  24. Hi! I am new to the Annie Sloan phenomenon and I was wondering… if I use polycrylic on top of the Annie Sloan paint instead of wax, do I need to sand it at all?

    • Hi Roxy, I usually sand lightly between clear coats. But if the finish feels smooth enough, and you are happy with it, you don’t need to do any extra sanding.

  25. Abby

    Hi There, i recently painted a few items in my home with a homemade chalk paint…behr flat latex with unsanded grout. I do want to put a glaze, or something, to antique it a little more. Is it best to do a darker wax and then cover the whole area with the clear poly? Do i need to do any sanding between coats?

    • Hi Abby,
      I personally like glazing followed by a clear polyurethane. I sand lightly between coats with a fine sandpaper.
      But you can also use a darker wax. If you decide to go this route, use a clear wax prior to the dark wax, so the dark wax does not stain the chalk paint.

  26. Lolagail

    Hello, I’ve just done a bedside cabinet with homemade chalk paint and am very pleased with it. I was trying to decide how to finish it, when I stumbled across this thread. I have some satin finish yatch varnish and some beeswax in the house. I’ve no idea if the varnish is water based, but I suspect not. Why does it have to be water based please?

  27. Amber

    Hi Sherri,

    I just finished chalk painting my son’s dresser black, which poly do you think would be best for a first timer?


    • Hi Amber,
      I would definitely try Rust-Oleum’s Varathane!! Its easy to apply, dries quickly to a durable finish and I have never had any issues with yellowing or ambering.

      • Lisa

        Dear Sherri,
        Does the Varathane by Rust Oleum come in something other then the Gallon size? I have my husband asking for it at Loewes and it is in the gallon only. I have Minwax polycrylic spray at home but do not want to use it for fear of the Yellowing of my,” Ce Ce Caldwell ” Chalk painted tables in the Young Kansas Wheat color. It’s really pretty so I want no yellowing to interfere with my hard work. Please help. Thank you Lisa

  28. Dee

    What about something to use as a final coat for a bottle( glass)? I want to maintain the chalk appearance but still want the surface protected.

  29. Rachel

    I found Varathane Diamond Wood Finish at my building store – is that what I am supposed to get? Also do you have to sand between coats with the Varathane? Or just the polycrylic?

  30. Kelly

    HELP!! I have been using two types of poly over chalk paint and they work wonderful until I paint a piece in cream or white which show tiny pices of black “hairs” or fibers. I have returned the poly and purchased a bend new brush I’m which I vacuum prior to using and make certain the cats inter that I pour into is lint and dust free! The fibers are still there and they show terribly on the finished white surface. This is extremely frustrating, I wouldn’t care so much if the piece was mine but in paint for paying customers and the perfectionist side of me can’t bear to deliver a finished piece with tiney black specs all over it! And advice or solution would be greatly appreciated!

      • What type of brush are you using? If you use a natural bristle brush with a water based coating, the bristles swell and start to break down. This is most noticeable when applying a clear finish because the tiny black hairs are not covered in paint and hidden, but are covered in clear and are visible. Also, those darker fibers really stand out against a white or lighter background. If you use a good quality synthetic bristled brush, you should not experience this issue.

    • justme

      Same here!! Making me nuts right now and has happened in the past. This dresser I’m doing is bright white…I’ve tried using Valspars craft sealant in the past, but it left the tops kind of sticky. So frustrating! Wish someone could help!

      • What type of brush are you using? If you use a natural bristle brush with a water based coating, the bristles swell and start to break down. This is most noticeable when applying a clear finish because the tiny black hairs are not covered in paint and hidden, but are covered in clear and are visible. Also, those darker fibers really stand out against a white or lighter background. If you use a good quality synthetic bristled brush, you should not experience this issue.

    • What type of brush are you using? If you use a natural bristle brush with a water based coating, the bristles swell and start to break down. This is most noticeable when applying a clear finish because the tiny black hairs are not covered in paint and hidden, but are covered in clear and are visible. Also, those darker fibers really stand out against a white or lighter background. If you use a good quality synthetic bristled brush, you should not experience this issue.

  31. sue

    I was told today, by a Annie Sloan distributor, that if you use chalk paint, you can paint over the waxed finish.

  32. Siobhan

    Thank you so much for all this great info! Just painted my kitchen cabs in Annie Sloan’s Graphite and really didn’t want to use the wax. I think I will use the varathane.

  33. Shannon

    Thanks so much for great information! I have a question about glazing. Tonight I am painting my table with homemade chalk paint. I have painted quite a few pieces with this and have been very happy with results. But I would like to try glazing on the table. Can I apply the glaze directly to the chalk painted table? I was going to use a mixture of clear glaze and walnut stain- just scared this will cause the paint to rub off when I wipe the glaze off. Any advice would be appreciated:))

    • Hi Shannon,
      My first questions are- Is the clear glaze water-based? and Is the walnut stain oil based? If so, I would not recommend mixing water and oil based products together. But to answer your question, yes, you can apply glaze directly over your homemade chalk paint. If the paint is completely dry, prior to applying the glaze, there should be no issues with the paint rubbing off, when you wipe the glaze. Good Luck with your project!

  34. Lorna

    check out Shabby Paints Vax and Revax. I use it over all brands of Chalk Paint and it is a dream come true! :)

  35. Linda

    Since I’ve started using Chalk Paint .. I’ve tried using the Minwax wax and it’s a lot of work , the end result I like but just not the application .. I recently used the Polycrylic over a large piece I did and liked it .. Just not the brush marks I got .. I put a coat of minwax over and it seemed to soften the brush marks.
    Now I’ve purchased the Annie Sloan Soft Wax and can’t wait to try it – expensive but I’m hoping it’s worth it …. Anyone else have experience with it over a homemade chalk paint?

  36. Mary Kay

    Just wondering where do you buy chalk paint. When I google it — it refers to chalkboard paint. Does it have to be at a speciality shop, hardward store or online. Anne Sloan — is it sold online. Any advice to this Canadian.

    • Hi Mary Kay, If you are looking for Annie Sloan Chalk Paint specifically, you can go to her website and then you will be able to find Canadian Retailers. You’ll be able to see which ones sell on line by the links to their websites! Hope that helps!

  37. Thanks for posting this – I recently used polycrylic on a pair of nightstands. The satin finish is lovely and durable. I’m painting a bookcase with chalk paint – and I *love* the ease of application and that I can paint inside. That said, you’ve solved my mental tussle over wax v. polycrylic. Thank you! :)

  38. joancelle Wright

    I used Annie Sloan chalk paint and then waxed with clear wax.. I love the look but fear that it will not be durable. Can I use a satin poly sealer directly over the wax or would I need to strip the wax first.

  39. Jacqueline

    Painted my kitchen cabinets yesterday with Cecelia Caldwell wheat. What have heard in the polys that won’t yellow…?… Thank u! Jackie

  40. Janet

    What a great thread. My daughter and I just painted a entryway bench in Annie Sloan chalk paint and used the Annie Sloan wax on top. It looks good now, but I’m wondering how he wax will hold up to 4 kiddos using it everyday. Sounds like painting over it with one of the poly coatings might be in our future. Thanks for sharing.

  41. Arely

    I recently painted my first piece of furniture. I went with the plaster of Paris technique. I also used polycrylic. My question is what can I use beside the polycrylic if I want to keep the chalk paint finish. I found my piece to be a little complicated since I went with the color black. I want to paint other pieces, but now I don’t know since I would like to keep the chalk paint finish without adding shine to the piece. Thanks in advance

  42. joanne

    Hi ive just completed my first piece and have used craig & rose morris blue . How do I keep the chalk effect without wax which turns it a different colour .

  43. nya

    Hi very new to chalk paint havent even done my first piece buf i am very confused lol. Im going to paint my manicuring table and need a finish that is durable and heat resistant. I would prefer something natural but i need something i can pick up at home depot or lowes even walmart tia

  44. Louise

    Do you sand before poly? Do you sand between coats of poly? How many coats did you do of poly?

  45. Michele Morris

    I want to antique the finish over chalk paint but I don’t want to use dark wax, or the clear for that matter. I plan on following your suggestion of using poly for the top coat. What should I do to put an antiquing effect over the paint before sealing?

  46. velma

    I am painting a round farm tsble that is wood. However, the top of the table is both wood with tiles inserted/imbedded on top. I painted over the tiles and varnished the wood. My question is I think I will be going over it with the water based poly. Is it ok to go over both the tiles and the wood with the poly? Thanks for all your help.

  47. We paint every day and have moved pretty much away from the wax finishes mainly because they are not as durable as a poly and when I sell something – I want it to be as maintenance free and long lasting to the customer as possible. We HVLP spray 90% of our products in latex and do the occasional homemade chalk paint (using calcium carbonate) when I have an off color or singular piece and the booth is full. It’s a good quick alternative. My choice top coats are poly (Polycrylic of General Finishes High Performance) or lacquer and I’ve not had issues with yellowing at all. I do poly over chalk paint and when I need a darker antiqued look – it’s either glaze or Danish oil and then poly / lacquer. I can get the exact same look as a chalk finish / wax in a more durable finish. I have had some folks come in and give me the heresy look when I talk about waxing not being as durable as a poly but it’s OK. :-)

    • Taunja K

      Mary, would you share what glaze you use prior to poly? I just chalk painted my “80s” oak hutch a taupe/tan with cream on the inside / open shelvins. Very happy. I distressed and waxed the tan areas and love the look. I’m not concerned about the wax holding up as I’m really the only one “handling” the hutch. Now I want to chalk paint my table and chairs cream, but need to give them a little aged color here and there along with the distressing on the edges. Hoping your suggestion of glaze before poly would be my answer! So, a good glaze produce would be ???? Thanks!

  48. Tess Favazza

    I just painted my kitchen cabinets with diy chalk paint, after the cabinets dried I applied asmall amount of past wax rubbed in followed by mini-wax stain. I plan to lightly sand and apply a couple of coats of poly (clear satin). Since these are kitchen cabinets I want them to have more protection and didn’t want the wax to soften. I rubbed both the wax and stain together with a cotton rag/cheese cloth. I just read here that I can’t apply the poly over wax… since I didn’t use that much, will this be an issue?

  49. Hi! This blog helped me so much! I was wondering…. I amusing a white chalk paint on my kitchen table but I want to use a glaze and then, per your suggestion, of 3 top coats of the Varathane Diamond Wood Finish. My question is… ” what color should I mix with the glaze to get a slightly antiqued look, and does the Varathane come in a matte finish, so the table still has the chalk paint-look?”


  50. Julia

    I just painted my coffee table with Chalk Paint and am on to the sealing step. I used a spay-on poly from Rust-Oleum just like the one in your picture. It worked great on the legs and small surfaces, leaving a glossy layer that nicely covered up the chalky/dusty look. It also made the color look richer, not to mention, gave a protective coat.

    Unfortunately, it did not go over well on the coffee table-top…it was very hard to get an even coat and seemed to absorb inconsistently. There are now glossy splotches as if I sprayed un-evenly. Which maybe I did, but I went over it several times and still can’t get it consistent and all glossy.

    I am thinking about getting the Varathane Poly from Rust-Oleum in an actual can/container and applying with a brush so I can get an even coat on the top and get rid of the spots. The spray can is just not working for the big surface areas.

    Is this the right decision??


    • Sharla Simmons

      I too am chalk painting a turquoise color and want to distress the edges but am curious to wax it on or doing the polyurethane. Which do you think would be better? And should I buy the dark wax and the clear and do them after I seal it?

  51. Stephanie

    Hi, I’m painting some chairs this weekend with DIY white chalkpaint in a Harbor Freight sprayer. For the “sealer”, I’d like to try to use the Varethene brand you recommended since it doesn’t yellow; however, there seem to be several options. Which product in particular have you tried that doesn’t yellow? Hopefully they have it available in a spray can too.

  52. Terri

    Hi Sherri, I just used pure white on a dresser and right before I started applying polycryllic I found your comments about it yellowing. Yikes! Of the alternatives you’ve mentioned, is there a good one that keeps the soft matte finish(rather than shiny/glossy?) I’m so glad I found your site!!

  53. Sandra Fisher

    Just finished painting a table with homemade chalk paint and was amazed at how the paint covered so well. Lowes sell a Valspar color sample for $3.00. I mixed 1/2 cup of baking soda with 3 Tbsp of water and mixed together well and then poured my paint in and mixed well. Now I want to keep this look but need a coat of protection on it . What is the best way to do this ? I need reply ASAP BECAUSE I AM SO EXCITED TO GET THIS DONE . Thank you so much !!

  54. Lauren

    I have a durability question….. I usually go through the trouble to strip existing finishes on furniture then use oil based paint because I like the hard, durable enamel finish. I have a dresser that I would like to not strip first then use the chalk paint and water based poly option. Will the finish with the water based poly be as hard as enamel? I have things that sit on top of that dresser and I don’t want to have any tackiness to the finish like you would get with latex

    • Hi Lauren, I don’t personally find the water-based poly’s to be as hard as enamel. However, it still is a very strong and durable finish. Once the finish is fully cured, you should have no problems with tackiness and setting / moving items around the top of your dresser. It will not be like a latex paint finish would be.

  55. Hello! First, thanks a lot for this information, it will be very useful, as I wasn’t convinced about using the wax in furniture. But what about fabric and upholstery? I am thinking of painting some chair cushions, and wax would look and feel ok (I think), but it won’t be durable, is there any other product I could use?

    Thank you very much!

    • Hello!! I have never painted fabric or upholstery. I have seen other do it with success, but I’m afraid I cannot be of any help on that subject- sorry!

  56. Haley

    Hi! I am going to venture into painting a kitchen table today… I am painting it a lighter gray. Since this will be an item that gets a lot of use and cleaning often, what kind of sealer do you reccomend? Thank you!

  57. Paige

    I apologize- haven’t read all of the comments!! But is it okay to apply a poly ON TOP of an already waxed piece??

  58. So … I didn’t wax over a chalk-painted piece … and now it has stains on it (little finger pizza grease marks to be exact). Is there a good way to clean that without ruining the paint or am I doomed? I was hoping maybe I could use white vinegar or something? Advice?

  59. Hi can somebody give me some advice on a lady wants me to paint her kitchen table antique white .. but I dont want to wax as will have hot plates etc . I want a varnish that wont yellow if anyone know s of one can u ļet e know plz

  60. Roseann

    I’m so glad I read this before my project, I’ve never used chalk paint before, and had no idea what to do. Thank you!

  61. Kim

    I am chalk painting a desk and want to dark wax some areas but want to use Spar Varthane over the chalk – can I then dark wax the accents after and still get the same results? but I can’t then sea; over the wax, correct?

  62. Renee Donovan

    I’ve just used Minwax water based poly and I can see that it’s already yellowing. Not great. I was going to wax, but then read this blog. Now I have a yellowing double vanity.

    • Unfortunately, some polycrylics can have a yellowing effect over white an light colors… As stated in my post “Don’t get me wrong, polycrylics are not without drawbacks. Although they can have a yellowing effect over white and light colors, I personally have had good success with Varethane staying clear. Some waxes will yellow also, so that can still be an issue if you went that route.

  63. angie

    Hi ive just used chalk paint then clear waxed over my dinning table, but it’s marking already. If I re paint could I put clear varnish over the top?

    • Hi Angie, I would try to remove as much wax as possible before repainting. After you repaint, you can then use a water-based polycrylic as a top coat.

  64. Adriana

    Than you!! thank you!! First time working with DIY chalk paint and very frustrated with the porous finish that attracts all the dust, I’d wax it but don’t really see the change. Before find this site I’d decide to apply the poly on the top and looks wonderful and now you confirm now what I did.
    Poly is the best finish.

  65. Carmen

    I have painted a dresser with a blue/green chalk paint and I want the distressed look. Can I use a water based stain to age it before the polycrylic? Should I mix the stain with glaze? Please help, I am totally lost! I don’t want to use the wax.

  66. Jessica

    I just used chalk paint on bunk beds and used wax as the finish but now I am worried it will not hold up over time. When I start to see wear on the ladder can I then do a ploy coat to seal it better or will I still have to use the stuff u said to get it all off. I don’t have the time right now to reduce all of that. Thank u

  67. Amanda

    Hi! I am turning a dresser into a bathroom vanity. The top will be sanded and stained a rich darker brown while the bottom and drawers will be painted with blue chalk paint and distressed. What do you suggest sealing the top with to protect it from water?


    Hello, great blog! I’m updating my marble gas fireplace hearth and mantle with a coat of chalk paint. These areas do get a little warm so I’m betting wax is out…what about the water based polyacrylic like Ben Moore Stay Clear?

  69. Katie

    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading all your information! I just chalk painted a cubby/ locker unit for kids costs, shoes, etc. A piece that will take a lot of abuse! I have decided to go the poly and glaze option for durability. I purchased a antiqued glaze by valspar in asphaltum color. It’s very dark. My piece is chateau grey. I’m concerned the glaze will be very dark and ruin it. I will use a test strip. But to be sure I have the correct steps. 1. Chalk paint, dry. 2. Poly 3. Glaze( wipe on and wipe off?) 4. Poly again. Thank you for your help!

    • Hi Ashley, there are other clear finishes available from various manufacturers. A few you might look into are American Paint Company, Shabby Paints, Safecoat, General Finishes, Paint Couture…

  70. PiantedPoly

    Have you ever experienced “hair like” particles to pop up once the poly has been applied as the seal for a chalk painted piece…if so, how did you handle that?

  71. Ben

    Hi Sherri,

    We’ve been painting the living room recently but have become stuck on what colour we should paint the skirting and the frames around the doors WITH etc. We’ve been looking for a pine or oak type of a look but no matter how hard you look or how many testers you buy, paint just does not give you that wood type of a look.

    So i tried using a pine varnish over the paint on the skirting, and whilst not perfect (does not spread evenly, tried the sponge technique but again decent but not good enough) it does end up closer to what i’m after than any of the paints i’ve tested. Anyway, long story short, if i use chalk paint over the skirting and the frames of the doors will i then be able to use a varnish with better results? Will it spread more evenly and easier? Sanding down the paint and then applying the varnish really is not an option ( way too tiring!!)

    All help would be much appreciated, I’m really tired of the boring old white skirting look.

    Look forward to your reply,


  72. Vanessa Nieves

    I just used chalk paint and don’t like the result can i apply regular paint over chalk paint.

  73. Heather Hayes

    So Glad to find your site and didn’t just spend $$$ on wax! I’m working on my first 2 chalk paint pieces although I have refinished things other than with chalk paint in the past. I read your comment about being able to spray the finishing coat… I recently purchased a spray gun for staining our fence and wondering if maybe that would be suitable? I looked up the sprayer you mentioned and they are about $300- $400 on Amazon! Anyway, I thought it would be worth asking about…

    Thanks so much, Heather

  74. Why not just skip chalk paint altogether and use good old latex…then you can completely skip the need for any topcoat. I’ve been painting with latex for 30 years…have done over a thousand pieces of furniture and cabinets. I don’t really understand why chalk paint is so popular when you can get the same, if not better finish with latex eggshell paint. It is durable, washable and so easy to work with, without extra steps and cost. The only time I use any kind of topcoat would be with cabinets, but all you need is a clear, easy to apply clear glaze that is used in many faux finishes. It is water based, so easy clean up and does not yellow like many polys. I don’t usually have to use a primer on most pieces but when I do, I will use a quality paint+primer in one. I also like the fact that many paints now have no/low voc’s. I do believe and respect the fact that all painters/artists are different and should use what works for them but latex has done well for me and my clients over the past thirty years and with the amount of custom work I have, I try to keep cost down while still providing quality workmanship to my clients.
    If you’d like to see some of my work, I will be happy to provide my business facebook page info upon request. I don’t like to just add it to someone’s page without permission as I always try to be respectful.
    Love, Light & Blessings~Patty

      • Vinet

        Hi Sherri, I think I read every post and comment. I have to say that I am amused by the repeat questions and how your repeat answer gets shorter each time. What I seemed to get out of all of this is I should have painted with latex paint! LOL too late I painted my dresser with white chalk paint. My question is can I paint over the white chalk paint with latex paint? Will the latex paint be durable for a piece that will be used a lot?
        Thank You, Vinet

        • Hello There! I try not to be short with my answers… but, yeah. Sometimes that happens :) I think you understand! LoL!!
          But to answer your question, latex is perfectly fine. If you get a good quality latex paint with a high acrylic content, it is plenty durable. You don’t even need to apply any type of clear sealer over it (as long as it’s not flat) I have pieces that I have painted several years ago and they are holding up just fine. I would just caution not to use any harsh chemicals for cleaning (like Fantastic or 409 type stuff)

  75. RoseAnn Smith

    I painted a chair with chaulk paint then applied a walnut wax which is darker than I like. Can I repaint with chaulk paint then apply a lighter wax?

  76. Hi. Love the article. I’m very new to revamping furniture & iv just discovered chalk paint. I was wondering firstly so I need to wax or poly at all? And secondly if I do how long after painting do I have to do it? Can I paint over a day or so then wax/poly it? Or must it be done straight away? Thank you. Fabulous info

    • Hi there & Thank you :) You don’t need to coat it immediately, you can wait a day or two. Just keep in mind, the chalk paint is very porous and will therefore hold on to dirt, dust, fingerprints, and will stain easily.

  77. Sherri, Thanks so much for your information and WONDERFUL website. You show a photo of the Varathane blue can in the Satin but you also mention in your narrative “matte finish” … Our local Menards here in Minnesota carries the blue can–Varathane crystal clear poly in the Satin finish…( and of course semi gloss and Gloss) AND they also have a Varathane Polyurethane “Soft-Touch” Matte Finish. The words “Soft Touch” on the lab
    eMate located where the other can has the words “Heavy Use Formula” . (photos of both available at your request) which of these do you use – or if you use both, which applications do you recommend for each. I am just starting out and plan to paint some night tables and dressers in the guest room.

    … ( By the way, this technique reminds me of the antiquing my mother used to do in the late 60′s and early 70′s — base color of paint, then rub and highlight with a glaze made – I think, of an oil based dark stain. No wax problems but I still remember the smell. It was durable though — Her furniture is STILL in pristine condition all these decades later!)

    • Hi Linda, my first choice is always the Crystal Clear formula. I use the other Varathane formula when I cannot find the Crystal Clear. And you’re right :) I often use oil-based stain for antiquing / glaze.


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