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. Kim

    I recently painted my bathroom vanity with Rust-oleum Chalked paint in Aged Grey and used Minwax Polycrylic Clear Matte for the finish. I am very happy with the result so far. I wanted a more protective finish than wax and will probably use it more for my chalk painted projects. It leaves a nice sheen without being shiney.

  2. Carma

    Hi there. We bought a couple pieces of furniture (dresser and nightstand) that were given a protective wax finish called “minwax paste finishing wax”. However, we are planning to use these pieces as vanities for our bathrooms and would like to remove the wax finish and apply a poly coat for protection. Wondering if you have suggestions on which product to use and also how to properly remove the wax finish without damaging the paint/colour? Thank you!!

  3. after reading all the pros and cons of chalk paint – I actually blended two paints with primer in them that I found at the discounted section of paints (or oops paints as my family says) and got the look and color I wanted.

  4. I cannot get on with chalk paint at all. Tried Annie Sloan but found it did not cover very well. More shabby than chic. Then came across a small tin of Rust-oleum. Covers better and looks good when dry. However both seem to look bad when waxing as the paint seems to rub off. Is this just me? Am happier using emulsion and covering with matt water based varnish. Used Beesoft Wax which did give a beautiful finish in the table top!!

    • Carole Gernett

      The chalk paint should not rub off if it has cured. Also you have to make sure that the surface you applied the chalk paint to has been prepped properly. I have waxed many pieces I;ve finished and never had my paint rub off.


  6. Glenda

    What happens if you don’t wax or poly?? I am not
    Liking the price of those polys. Had a hardware guy tell me everything yellows

  7. Hi Sherri. This is SO helpful! Thanks for taking the time to write it up. I painted a little side table and didn’t seal it with anything. The drawer stuck like crazy. It didn’t pull the paint off, but it was very difficult to open. I read that if I used polycrylic, that would take care of the drawer sticking. After applying three coats of the Minwax Spray Crystal Clear, the drawer is still sticking. It’s been over a month, so it’s not a question of letting it dry. Any suggestions? Thank you!!

    • Take a bar of soap and rub the top edges of the drawer leaving a “coat” of waxy film from the soap. Might take a couple times to get it slicked up — and you might have to reapply every few months depending on how much you use the drawer, but it’s cheap and easy.

  8. Brixi

    So if I were making a “keep the change” jar that I found on Pinterest, can you tell me the purpose of using the wax after chalk painting the mason jar? It will be secured onto a piece of wood and hung on the wall. Thank you!

  9. Ashley B.

    I’m new to chalk paint, I purchased some from Michael’s in a GORGEOUS dark blue shade, I’m in the process of sealing it with polycrylic and I’m noticing the color getting picked up on my brush, which then taints my can of poly. I’ve started working out of a separate cup, to eliminate cross contamination. My issue is that whenever I see the color coming off on the brush, I can see the original wood color peaking through, which is a problem for me because I am not going for a distressed look. Have you ever had a similar experience, and have you found a way to prevent it?

    • Todd

      You need to put another layer of paint on so that if some gets wiped away with the wax brush is still has layers underneath.

  10. Carmen

    Can I use wax if I have already used polycrylic, don’t like the finish, too shiny, used satin poly

    • sheila

      yes, you can do polycrylic over fabric, but you want to make sure you glue the fabric down first with an adhesive spray. you will need multiple coats of polycrylic over the fabric.

  11. Katie

    I painted my first piece of furniture w/ Annie Sloan paint and used wax over the top. I wish I saw this post beforehand. The wax is not working at all and I now need to repaint and seal with the poly. Do I need to sand the wax off first or can I just add another coat of Annie Sloan over top?
    Thank you

    • Jon

      Why o why do people always use Annie Sloan there are so many other chalk paints out there that have superior finish. Try Rustins chalky finish paint as it has wax in the paint. To answer your question it depends on the finish you want but a little wire wool or sandpaper will do the trick

    • Joan

      I have stopped using wax and have found the greatest product to seal the paint. It is called POLYCRYLIC by Minwax. Home Depot and Wal Mart carry it. I use the satin finish.

  12. Jen Noguera

    I need help! I am new to all of this fun hobby of painting and refinishing. I have recently painted a wood rocking chair in Annie Sloan chalk paint and now need to seal it so I can use it outside. I have searched and searched and still do not know what to use! I would love to use something that is environmentally friendly/not as harmful. Can you help me?

    Thank you!

  13. Bobbi Jo

    I used a clear poly over wax paint and the poly was streaky when it dried for the first coat. For the second coat if poly I decided to use a small foam roller and now I have foam bubbles on my door. What to do? Sand, Repaint and then try brushing poly back on? Thanks.


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