Modified studio hours - Wed - Sat 11-4. Online available. Free shipping within Canada on orders $100+

Top Coats for Painted Furniture - What's The Difference?

April 23, 2020

Top Coats for Painted Furniture - What's The Difference?

One of the most frequent questions I get asked from customers who are thinking about painting their first piece of furniture is "what is the difference between the topcoats?"  This post should help clear some of it up for you.
*********
In our studio, we carry both Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint and Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™.  The following top coats support these products:
*********
Furniture Wax
Miss Mustard Seed Hemp Oil
Miss Mustard Seed Tough Coat
Chalk Paint™ Lacquer
********
Furniture Wax
 
 
********
Milk Paint and Chalk Paint™ are flat-finish, porous paints.  This means that they require some kind of topcoat to seal their finish.  Furniture wax can be used on either paints, but I tend to use furniture wax the most with Chalk Paint™.  It settles nicely into the porous paint finish.  We carry both the Miss Mustard Seed Furniture Wax and the Chalk Paint™ Furniture Wax.
********
Both are made from beeswax with some carnauba wax.  It is easy to apply, and provides a durable finish and has almost no odour.  Once applied, it emphasizes the depth of colour and gives a soft finish.  It can also be buffed to a high sheen.  It is water-repellent as well, so it can be used on dining room tables and kitchen cabinets (although I would likely use a tougher coating for these projects).
********
Apply a thin coat of wax over your painted surface.  You can use a lint-free cloth, but your best investment is to use a wax brush.  It makes things much quicker and easier, and helps with even distribution.  Work in small areas at a time, wiping away any excess with a clean cloth.  You are aiming for an even coverage without applying to much pressure.  Allow it to dry for 3-5 minutes.  Buff to a shine (if that is your preference).  For additional shine and durability you can apply a second coat.  Clean your brush with soap and warm water.  Furniture wax needs a full 30 days to cure.
********
Is it durable?  Yes, furniture wax does provide a durable finish, but it is very different from the finish a poly would provide.  If you scratch a small area on your piece, often a little more wax will fix the problem - or some touch up paint.  It is very hard to repair a scratched poly-coated piece.  Typically the whole area would have to be sanded down, repainted, and a new layer of poly reapplied.
********
Furniture wax does stay "soft".  What this means is that if you scrape your fingernail or slide and object across the surface, it will leave a mark that can show up in sunlight.  It is not the paint that is scratching....it is the wax.  If you are looking for a spotless, hard finish, you should likely consider a poly or varnish instead.
********
 Hemp Oil
 
********
This is hands-down my go-to top coat for almost all of my Milk Paint projects.  I like to call it "magic oil" because it really is!!  There are not many finishes out there that are natural and food safe.  Hemp oil is.  You can use it on your cutting boards, butcher blocks, cooking utensils, and leather boots.  If your dog licks it, its okay!  It does not stink, it is not sticky, and is easy to clean up.
********
Hemp oil restores tired, dried out wood.  Seriously, try it guys!  Once you wipe hemp oil over your dried piece, you will literally stand back and be amazed over the final result!  It works best on pieces that have an old finish that has mostly worn off, but it can be used over pieces that look like they are dry or have water damage.  It also works the same way over old metal or cast iron!
********
It is super easy to apply.  You can apply it with a natural bristle brush or a lint-free cloth.  Wipe off any excess oil that doesn't absorb into the surface.  If you don't it will just sit on top and get sticky and tacky.  The oil will be fully cured after 30 days.
You can apply wax over hemp oil.  Using the two together provides additional durability.  However, you can only put wax over hemp oil, not the other way around.
Hemp oil also brings out the richness of colours.  It doesn't dry to a full matte, but it isn't shiny either.
********
Tough Coat
********
Our studio sells the Miss Mustard Seed Tough Coat.  It is a water-based polyurethane that is non-yellowing.  It provides extra durability against general wear and tear and water damage.  This is what I use when I am refinishing a dining room table top, or a piece that is going to get a lot of traffic.  It lays on the surface and dries hard.
********
Wait for your piece to dry 24-36 hours before applying this product.  I usually apply two coats for additional durability, waiting 2-4 hours between coats.  If you are in a humid area, you may need to wait longer in between coats.
********
Tough coat can be applied with roller, brush, foam applicator brush, or lint-free cloth.  Application pad are another great option.  I like to dampen my application pad first with water, dip it into the tough coat, and drag evenly across the piece.  Do not over work it and always move in the same direction!  It is safe to use indoors, and has very low odour.  It is UV tested and will not yellow over time, even when applied over white paint.  If yellowing does occur, it is not the Tough Coat, but something under the surface that is being pulled out.
********
This product can look cloudy over dark colours.  I would recommend a gloss finish first, then applying a matte over top when using dark colours.  
Tough coat dries matte and takes 20-30 days to fully cure.
********
Chalk Paint Lacquer
Chalk Paint™ Lacquer is also a water-based polyacrylic varnish with built-in UV protection.  It is non-yellowing and comes is both a matte and gloss finish (which gives a light sheen - it is not super glossy).  It is also a great option for high traffic areas, skirting boards and outdoor furniture.  IT CAN BE USED FOR BOTH INDOOR AND OUTDOOR FURNITURE.
********
If using the matte finish, I would recommend using the gloss finish first before applying the matte when you are going over dark colours.  The flattening agent in the product that gives it the matte finish will show as cloudy.  You need to cover it with the gloss first.
********
Use a high quality brush or roller and dilute lacquer with 10% water when applying over chalk paint for a more even finish.  You may reapply a second coat when it is dry to the touch, about 1-2 hours, but this could take longer.  
Cure time is approximately 14 days.
********
Tip** Wood surfaces can be unpredictable at times.  The application of lacquer can draw out tannins or stains from a previous finish, causing yellowing.  Patch test before painting the entire piece.  If staining does occur, seal the whole surface of your furniture with shellac before painting.  
 
 
 
 
 



Leave a comment