Waxing with Soft Wax® by Annie Sloan

2 Waxing with Soft Wax® by Annie Sloan

2.1 Do I have to wax or can I just paint? What about for outside?

   Annie’s paint and wax are designed to work together as a two-part system.  The paint being chalky, matte, and absorbent will show burnish marks and finger prints, etc. is left unsealed.  Clear Soft Wax is designed to absorb into the layer of paint creating a finish that is cleanable, wipeable and durable.  The paint can be used outside, but the wax is not meant for exteriors.  It will get warm and sticky in the sun (think candle and heat!) and is not meant to have standing water on it for extended periods of time (think dew in the mornings, rain, etc.). 

If the exterior surface will be highly used, keep in mind that any flat paint will show wear and use more than a glossier surface.  You can burnish the paint with 400 grit sandpaper to add sheen and cleanability to the paint if you want.  Marine grade spar varnish could also be used if a glossier surface is desired but most likely isn’t necessary.


2.2 Should I sand my paint before waxing?

   You will find the wax absorbs into your paint much better if you have not sanded.  Sanding the paint burnishes it, compacts it, and makes it less absorbent making the waxing process more difficult than it needs to be.  This is an unnecessary extra step that creates more work.

2.3 Wax vs Annie Sloan Lacquer: Which should I use? Is the wax durable for cabinets and kitchen tables?

  First of all, let me say that no coating (other than a thick epoxy which is sturdy but scratches easily) is made to have standing liquid on them.  All wood surfaces, regardless of finish (stain, paint, poly, lacquer, wax, etc.) should be used in conjunction with writing pads, placemats or tablecloths, and coasters.  If you don’t want to use those things, you need to find yourself a stone, metal or plastic surface that can hold up to that kind of usage.

Annie Sloan herself recommends using wax for all indoor applications except floors.  We agree but that is up to the individual to decide for him or herself what is best for their project and lifestyle.  We’ll give you the pros and cons to help you decide.

Annie Sloan Lacquer


Water-based varnish is a very hard durable coating.

It is easy to wash down surfaces sealed with water-based varnish.


If any damage to the surface should occur, it is not easy to touch up.  That touch up place will be seen and will look repaired unless the entire surface is stripped, taking away all the clear coat and paint, making you refinish from scratch.

You must be very sure handed in applying any clear coat sealers like poly, varnish, or Annie Sloan Lacquer.  Watch out for drips and runs!  Do not over brush or the surface will look uneven and dull in areas.  Be careful to not be heavy handed or the surface will be cloudy—that is irreversible.  Be sure to stir regularly to ensure the flattening agent is evenly dispersed throughout the application.  Never shake any clear coat as that produces air bubbles that will remain in your final finish.

Clear Chalk Paint® Wax


Easy to apply.  Clear wax will not show overlap marks.

Easy to maintain and repair.  If any damage to the surface should occur, it can be easily touched up.  Remove the wax from the area where the booboo occurred with low odor mineral spirits (use the kind in the metal can, not the “safe” alternative in the plastic container).  This will not remove the paint.  Re-wax and it’s good as new again in a couple of minutes. 

Should the wax wear away in high use areas (flatware drawer front, kitchen table, etc.), it can be re-waxed quickly and easily.  How often do you need to re-wax?  If the surface looks dull or doesn’t feel as smooth as it once did, try buffing with a buffing brush.  If the sheen doesn’t return, it’s time to re-wax.  You do not need to do everything, only the areas where the wax has worn down.

Once cured, wax is food safe and non-toxic. 


Although wax dries hard, it isn’t as hard or thick as a varnish so you need be aware that there can be some on-going maintenance that you wouldn’t have with a varnish (unless damage occurs).

Dark and Black wax do not touch up easily—you will see overlap marks and where you’ve stopped and started your application.  Washing dark waxes surfaces can wear away areas of the dark wax causing the surface to look uneven.  Dark and Black wax can transfer onto your clothing as it doesn’t dry as hard as the clear and when warmed (by rubbing for example) can transfer more easily making it not the most practical choice for highly used areas like kitchen tables and cabinets. We don’t personally every recommend colored waxes for high use surfaces such as kitchen cabinets and tables.  ONLY use CLEAR WAX for HIGH USE AREAS.

2.4 How do I apply clear wax?

   You can apply the wax with a cloth or brush.  A cloth will waste up to about 30% wax because it absorbs the wax almost as much as the paint does.  This can make it difficult to know how much the cloth is absorbing vs how much your painted piece is absorbing.  Corners and detailed areas may be difficult to wax using a cloth as well. 

   For clear wax, we recommend using a Waxwell™ or Waxine™ wax brush.  This is the easiest method and there is almost no waste.  The brushes are designed to massage the wax into the paint and do much of the work for you.  You are not simply painting the wax on the surface, rather you are rubbing it into the paint with the same pressure you would use if you were rubbing lotion into your skin.  No need to work hard or apply strong pressure.  Massage it into the paint working in small sections—about one square foot at a time works well.  Don’t overwork the wax and spend an excessive amount of time rubbing it in.  When you do that, you are buffing the wax in place and leaving too much wax on the surface.  And you are working too hard!  After massaging the wax into this small area, immediately wipe off the excess using a lint-free cotton towel.  We like the Better than Cheesecloth™ towels because they are sturdy and absorbent.  The motion is similar to wiping crumbs from a table prior to washing it.  You are NOT rubbing back and forth and buffing the wax at this point in the process.  Excess wax will absorb into the cloth and/or move onto the next section of the piece to absorb into the paint there. 

2.5 How do I apply white wax?

   Because the white wax is very creamy and light, if you choose white wax you will apply it directly onto your paint instead of clear wax.  You will get the best results if you have a bit of texture and brush strokes in your paint so there is something for the white to grab onto. 

2.6 How do I apply the dark (golden brown) wax or black wax?

  You can apply the dark or black wax with a cloth or brush.  The dark or black wax will always be applied over a layer of clear wax.  This can be done right away or at any point down the road.  Some people find it easier to apply the dark/black wax over fairly fresh clear wax.  Other people find it easier to apply dark/black wax to a clear waxed surface that has been buffed to a nice sheen.  Experiment and decide which way you like it!  This is an art—not a science.  Rarely is there only one right way to do something when it comes to painting and waxing. 

Because you are working over a sealed surface, the dark/black wax is applied differently than the clear.  You are not massaging the dark/black wax into a surface.  The dark/black wax is gliding on the clear wax surface.  Our preferred method of application is a pointed Annie Sloan wax brush.  The softer looser bristles work great to glide the wax on the surface quickly and easily.  If that isn’t in the budget, use on of our furniture paint brushes.  The 1”, 2”, and 3” sizes all work beautifully!

Fleurish Pro Tip:  Add just a little bit of mineral spirits to your dark/black wax to make it easier to apply.  The dark/black wax should quickly glide across your clear waxed surface.  To give you more time to work with it, we like to get our dark/black wax just a little bit looser—making it the consistency of pudding.  Don’t overdo it! It isn’t too much that you’ve broken down the wax to the degree that it is mostly mineral spirits (not a “glaze”) and no longer providing protection, it’s only enough to loosen it up a bit.  We think you’ll love how much easier it is to control and manipulate!

2.7 What kind/ brand of wax brush should I use?

   For clear and white wax, we recommend using a Waxwell™ or Waxine™ wax brush.  This is the easiest method and there is almost no waste.  The brushes are designed to massage the wax into the paint and do much of the work for you.  Using a pointed Annie Sloan wax brush paints the wax on the surface and you will need to rub it into the paint using “plenty of clean cloths” (Annie’s words).

For dark/black wax, we recommend using an Annie Sloan pointed wax brush or one of our natural bristle flat furniture paint brushes.

2.8 How should I wash my wax brush? Can I use dish soap or mineral spirits? Or can I just store it in plastic wrap between uses?

  First of all, NEVER soak a brush!  This can cause irreparable damage and is unnecessary.  We don’t recommend grease cutting dish soaps or mineral spirits unless you are in a pinch and those are your only options.  The dish soap, in addition to cutting through the wax, also strips away the natural moisture in the hair of your brush.  Much like shampooing your hair and skipping the conditioner, your bristles will become dry and brittle leading to excessive breakage and loss.  Mineral spirits are harsh and cleaning with soap and water afterward is recommended so why do an extra step? 

We recommend Big Fat Lye™ (or the smaller sized Little White Lye) soap.  The soap is specially formulated for cleaning your brushes-- it will clean and condition your brush without leaving behind a residue that can later transfer over to your next project.  This soap will keep your brush in its best condition.  You’ve invested in good brushes—keep them in good shape! 

Run your brush under warm water and then over your bar of soap and massage the soap into the bristles to build a lather.  Rinse well.  If your brush is extra waxy you may need to lather it up twice.  Squeeze out all excess water and shake until no more water drips from the brush.  Hang or lay on a towel to dry.  A free care card containing these instructions is included with every Waxwell™ and Waxine™ purchase.  We also care for our Annie Sloan wax and paint brushes and all other natural hair brushes using this same method.

Do not store your brush in plastic between uses.  The wax will dry out near the ferrule and leave behind what looks like dandruff on your next project.  Washing your brush is so fast and easy!  You can even use your brush while it is still slightly damp without issue.

2.9 Do I just need one coat of wax or more?

   One coat of wax is probably sufficient on most pieces.  Take a look at the piece—if the sheen is uneven, you probably need a second coat of wax to even out the application.

2.10 Do I need a lot of wax to protect my cabinets?

   Wax should always be used thinly—you will never use “a lot” of wax over Chalk Paint®.  2-3 thin coats is ideal for highly used surfaces such as cabinets and kitchen table tops.

2.11 How long between coats of wax?

   It is best to wait 24 hours between coats of wax to allow the wax to dry fully. 

   Waxing Chalk Paint® is not like waxing your car.  It is not a heavy layer that is later buffed off.  It is not a topcoat sitting on the surface of the paint rather it is a thin layer that absorbs into the paint much like lotion absorbs into your skin.  Applying more than one coat of wax is not done to get a thicker coat of wax rather it is to achieve even absorption.  The wax will soak into the areas that need it and move on past the areas that have fully absorbed it already. 

2.12 My wax looks streaky—did I use too much wax?

   Not necessarily.  Most likely, the wax application is just uneven.  We recommend using a flat bottom style wax brush like the Waxine™ or Waxwell™ wax brush to apply the wax and immediately wiping off any excess with a Better than Cheesecloth™ towel to get the most even coverage.  If it looks streaky, allow to dry overnight and then apply a second thin layer of wax.  It will absorb where it needs to and move on where it is already fully absorbed into the paint. 

2.13 How much wax should I use?

   The 500mL tin of clear wax should cover approximately 3-4 quarts worth of paint.

   The 100mL mini tin of clear wax will cover less than one quart of paint.

   White wax is a bit less and the dark and black because they are used over the clear go much further. 

2.14 When should I use colored wax? Is colored wax or clear wax better?

   Clear wax is the “need it, want it, love it”!  Clear wax will give you your protection and must always be used.  Dark wax is an optional second layer of wax that will give you a warm, golden brown antiquing effect and aged patina and black wax will give you an industrial warehouse vibe. 

   The wax soaks into the absorbent layer of paint which is why you want to use clear to seal it.  If you put dark/black wax straight onto the paint, it will stain the paint turning it dark and making it blotchy.  So, it isn’t a matter of one being better.  Clear wax is your sealer.  Dark and black wax is more of a surface treatment and decorative effect.  White wax will seal and give you a decorative effect but isn’t as forgiving as clear wax.

2.15 Can I use mineral spirits in my dark and black wax?

  Yes!  If your dark wax starts to get a little thick, you can add a splash of mineral spirits to soften it again.  We caution again using a lot of mineral spirits with the dark wax to create a glaze though.  Why?  Because by rubbing this mixture over your clear wax you will remove some of it diminishing that protective layer.  On light pieces this can lead to staining of the paint as well.  Using a paint wash before waxing is a safer way to get that kind of look.  So if you choose to use this mineral spirit/dark wax “glaze”, just be aware of the potential pitfalls and be cautious.  Do not add mineral spirits to your clear or white wax.  You will only diminish the protective qualities of the wax.

2.16 Can I use the dark/black wax straight over dark colors like Graphite?

   Even over dark colors like Graphite, we still recommend clear wax first.  The dark/black wax will bite into the paint and create an uneven blotchy application and is hard to manipulate without a layer of clear on first. 

2.17 Do I have to buff my wax?


   But don’t confuse buffing with removing excess wax during the application process.  When applying wax, excess must be removed immediately.  Buffing happens later, after the wax has fully dried—at least an hour, but as long as overnight.  Buffing creates a beautiful soft sheen but if more of a matte finish is desired, you do not need to buff. 

2.18 What is the difference between buffing and polishing? What is the process?

   Buffing and polishing are the same thing—the words are synonyms.  This is the process of rubbing wax that has been allowed to dry (we recommend at least an hour, Annie likes to wait overnight although that much time is not necessary and can sometimes make the process more laborious).  Rubbing the wax vigorously helps harden the wax and creates a beautiful sheen.  This step is not a requirement but it is recommended for high use surfaces as it does increase the durability of the wax.  Buffing/polishing is NOT to be confused with removing excess wax during the application process.  That is a different motion and is necessary. 

2.19 My wax feels sticky and shows fingerprints. Can I fix it?

Yes!  The wax was just applied a bit too heavy-handed.  This is common for first time users especially.  See the next question for remedy solutions. 

2.20 How do I know if I used too much wax? What do I do if I used too much wax?

   Your piece should feel dry to touch immediately.  If it is tacky, sticky or wet, you’ve used too much wax.  If it only a little heavy, allowing extra dry time/cure time may be enough.  A little heavier, try buffing vigorously with a buffing brush.  A little heavier still?  Try a bit of fine sandpaper, 320 or 400 grit.  This will warm the wax and the excess will clog up in the sandpaper.  Really heavy wax that has remained tacky for more than a couple of days will require mineral spirits to remove the excess.  Remember to turn your cloth often and use plenty of cloths.  This will remove the wax but not the paint.  A new, thin layer of wax may be necessary when you are done. 

2.21 What if I apply the dark wax and change my mind? If it’s too dark can I remove the dark wax?

   You can do a few different things.  As long as you applied a coat of clear wax prior to applying your dark wax (as you should), you can correct it quite easily.  If it’s a bit too dark, try using a cloth with the clear wax on it to remove some of the dark wax.  The cloth is absorbent and the solvent in the clear wax will “erase” some of the dark wax without removing all the wax layers.  If you don’t want any dark wax, mineral spirits can be used to remove it.  Wipe off the wax with a cloth soaked in mineral spirits, turning the cloth often and changing cloths often.  This will remove both the dark and clear wax so you will probably need to reapply some clear wax when you are done but your paint will remain intact.