(Originally posted at Restoration House Interiors)
Applying dark wax over chalk paint is one of my favorite techniques, but it can also cause the most grief. Applied correctly, dark wax can add a subtle or dramatic antique look to painted furniture, especially on heavily embellished or textured pieces. Done incorrectly, it can streak, leave an oily residue, and be impossible to remove. With a few quick tips, though, that won’t be a problem.
Let’s start the tutorial, shall we?
Things You’ll Need
Annie Sloan clear wax
Annie Sloan dark wax (or similar product like Fiddes & Sons)
Two wax brushes
Below you’ll see two kinds of wax, two wax brushes, and a very dirty mason jar. The can labeled “soft wax” is Annie Sloan brand clear wax. The green can above it is Fiddes & Sons wax in rugger brown. (Fiddes & Sons is another British company, and I use their dark wax interchangeably with Annie Sloan’s.) The two brushes are round brushes designed specifically for Annie Sloan wax. They have stiff bristles that spread the wax easily. If you have the chance to buy one (or two), DO IT. They are worth every penny! (All $35 worth of them.)
Ideally, you’ll have two wax brushes, but in a pinch you can substitute one of them with a soft cloth.
The first and most important step in applying dark wax is applying the CLEAR wax first.
Let me repeat.
Apply a coat of clear wax anywhere and everywhere you will apply the dark wax! It acts as a barrier between the paint and the dark wax. If you apply the dark wax directly to the paint, there’s no going back. It can go on too thick or streak, among other problems. Believe me. I’ve skipped this step before and it ain’t pretty.
You can read my full tutorial on applying the clear wax here. For now, though, we’ll run through just a few quick steps.
First, scoop some clear wax into a small bowl or container. I use glass custard cups, but you can use anything that’s shallow enough for the brush. (This step will be more important later on.)
This is how the clear wax looks on your brush.
This is how it looks when you apply clear wax with your left hand and try to take a picture with your right. You get the idea. Apply the clear wax, people!
After you’ve applied the clear wax, scoop some dark wax into another bowl. You should now have one container of clear wax, one of the dark, which kinda looks like dog poo.
Ignore me. I’m a third-grader.
First dip your brush in the clear wax.
Then put it directly into the dark.
You can’t see the clear wax as well in this picture, but it’s very important that you always have clear wax on the brush in addition to the dark. It blends onto the paint so much better this way. That’s also why you need to scoop the clear wax into a separate container. You need to put clear wax on the brush every time you need more dark wax; if you dip it into the original container, the dark wax on your brush will contaminate your entire can of clear wax.
Got all that? I wish I didn’t have to use the word “wax” so many times, but there’s really no way around it. Sorry.
Apply the dark wax to the furniture just as you did the clear. Remember—a little goes a long way.
I apply it in a circular motion, as you can tell from this little stroke that I hadn’t yet blended in. Just keep going in circles until it’s blended in and you can’t see any strokes at all. If there’s a definite linear texture to the piece, I go back over it a few times in the direction of the lines, just to blend it in even more. If you’re not satisfied with the color, add more until you get the antiqued look you want. Some pieces need only a subtle hint of color; others do well with a good amount of antiquing.
**If you apply too much dark wax, dip a separate wax brush or a clean cloth into the clear wax. Brush or rub over the furniture until the dark wax comes off. Keep brushing or rubbing until you’re satisfied with the look. This “repair” technique is why having two brushes is strongly suggested. Use one to apply the dark wax; one to take it off.**
This dresser I painted in the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (ASCP) color Old White didn’t have much texture, but I did a fair amount of distressing. I wanted just a hint of color over the paint and bare wood.
This farmhouse table was, again, painted in Old White. But it warranted a good deal more dark wax. Can you see the difference? Perhaps it doesn’t show up so well in pictures, but you could definitely see it in person.
You can go as far as you want with the antiquing process. Just be careful not to cross over into making a piece look dingy, which is a lot easier to do with a white basecoat than a darker color.
The dark wax also tones down really bright colors, like ASCP in Antibes Green. It’s blindingly bright alone, but slap some dark wax over it and it completely transforms. Try it; you won’t be disappointed!
A big thanks to Kay for having me over and to all of you for taking the time to read the tutorial! I hope it helps you in your painting adventures!