May 7, 2014

How to get a Great Waxed Finish on Graphite Annie Sloan Chalk Painted Furniture

Last week I finished this huge Hamptons Style Buffet and Hutch in Graphite and Pure White Chalk Paints by Annie Sloan, and today I am giving away some of my tips on how to get a great finish on your painted furniture.
I got a lot of nice comments about this piece, one of my favourites was from my parents who said they think this is their favourite piece I have ever done. I love it too, and it hasn't sold yet, which I'm not sad about at fact I am currently plotting how to get my husband to help me carry it upstairs to the spot I have for it. I might have a bit of a furniture juggle while he is at work today and leave an empty space where he normally plonks down his wallet and keys...

Anyway, I was asked, and am asked quite often, how I get such a nice smooth and even sheen on my waxed finishes.

I'd say it is a combination of things, and a lot of them have nothing to do with the actual waxing process - good surface preparation, painting with a good quality brush, the paint being the right viscosity, the weather temperature, and sanding in between coats. The reason for this is that your waxed finish is only going to be as good as the paint finish you've applied first. If that is good, and smooth, that is half your battle. I've mentioned previously, my favourite sanding product is 3M Sanding Sponges. I hardly ever use actual sandpaper in my painting and finishing process.

I mostly use Annie Sloan wax in Clear to seal my painted furniture. I apply it with either a round natural bristled brush, or a clean lint free rag. Lint free is hugely important, you don't want bits of fluff stuck in your waxed finish (learnt the hard way!) I apply my wax in small (approx dinner plate sized) sections then wipe off the excess (which shouldn't be much, you don't want big gobs of it all over your piece, it's just a waste of wax). I use another clean lint free cloth to wipe off, and  I quite firmly, in fact I am almost buffing my piece at this point. Not to a super shine, but just until I feel no resistance from the cloth, and the furniture feels dry and smooth to touch, not sticky or 'draggy' (totally not a word lol) at all. If you've done this you will know what I mean. Just-waxed furniture with too much wax on it feels awful. If it feels like that you need to keep rubbing with a clean part of your cloth.

That is the process I use for all my painted furniture...except when I've used the colour Graphite. I've only tried this beautiful colour recently and had heard that it was very hard to wax evenly and get a nice sheen to it. I had even been advised by a Sydney retailer of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint to use Dark Wax straight on the piece, without using clear first. I had seen a piece in their shop that they'd done like this and it did look nice, but definitely took on a brown tone which I wouldn't want for all Graphite pieces.

I initially painted a couple of small projects with Graphite - a couple of lamp bases.
They turned out very nicely, and were easy to wax because they were so small, with no horizontal surfaces (it is the horizontal surfaces that tend to show up patchy wax jobs). But I did notice that the Annie Sloan Wax changed the colour of the paint, it lightened it and the wax almost gave a whitish tinge over the Graphite. Again it looked ok on the lamp bases but I certainly didn't love it for a large piece of furniture. I decided that the answer to getting the finish I was after for this Hamptons Style Cabinet was to use a different wax, more of an 'oilier' style wax, like a beeswax.
Several months ago I had been sent a sample of a scented beeswax by Monique of Dandelion Wood in Victoria. The brand is L'Essential and it smells absolutely divine. Seriously I could eat it (well not really but it is lovely). Apparently it is food safe though...
I decided to try this wax on a small section of the buffet and hutch, and loved it. The wax went on beautifully and didn't leave a whitish sheen like the AS wax. I used a cloth rather than my brush to apply the wax, and found rubbing it in was quite a workout, but well worth it for the end result. The rub in-rub off process I used to apply it was the same, except this wax won't feel as 'dry' straight away. You do need to be careful while it is drying not to get finger marks on your piece as with Graphite, they do tend to show up. 
This wax gave me the exact finish and colour I was after for this piece, and it will continue to be my wax of choice for Graphite pieces. I may even try it on other colours to see what difference it makes. A week after painting this piece, I can still smell the beautiful perfume of the L'essentials wax on nice!
Another option would be to use a polyurethane sealer instead of wax - my poly of choice is Porter's Clearcote which is water based, doesn't yellow, and is suitable for interior or exterior projects.

I hope this has been helpful to you...if you haven't tried Graphite because you've been worried about the waxing step - don't be - if you follow my tips you will be fine!

I was given the L'Essentials wax to try but was under no obligation to write about it. Any other products mentioned and recommended by me are just because I like the products - the makers have no clue I have mentioned them. Links in this post are not affiliate links.

And the Winner is...

Thanks to all that read and commented on my post reviewing Vintage Caravan Style.

The winner of a copy of the book is Robyn Nixon of Grafton. Congratulations Robyn, please email me your postal address so I can organise your book to be sent.