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How to seal painted wood crafts

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How to seal painted wood crafts
December 01, 2018 Family Restaurants No comments

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while.  First, because I get a lot of questions about it.  And secondly, because I think many people assume that wax is the only option for sealing chalk painted furniture.  

Some links in this post are affiliate links.  For more information, click here.

Before I get into it, I do want to say there’s nothing wrong with sealing furniture with wax.  If you’re a fan of a waxed finish, you should go with it.  Seriously, I’m all for everyone choosing whatever products work best for them.  I simply think many new painters don’t realize they have a choice when it comes to deciding what works best for them when sealing chalk paint.  I know I didn’t when I first started.  When I bought my first can of chalk paint the lady selling it said I needed wax too.  So I bought a can of wax and used it to seal every piece I painted.  I didn’t know I had options.  

After a while, I started getting really frustrated with the low durability of a waxed finish.  I was worried I was selling furniture with a subpar finish, and I certainly didn’t like how easily the pieces I painted for my own home were getting marked up.  I started testing different top coats and found a couple really great options that are much stronger than wax and they’re now my go-to choices for sealing furniture.

Here are the reasons why I rarely use wax to seal furniture  

It’s not permanent

 Honestly, I could just stop right here because this is enough for me to not use it.  Raise your hand if you want to finish a piece of furniture then have to go back every few months or even once a year to apply another coat of wax.  Anyone?  No?  Yeah, me neither.  Once I’m done with a piece I want to be DONE.  I don’t have the time or desire to re-wax it.  Not to mention the pieces we sell.  I don’t want to sell furniture to a customer who has no idea they will need to occasionally re-wax it.

It’s not strong enough  

Wax is what I would consider a low durability finish.  It’s perfectly fine for a decorative piece that will get little to no traffic.  It is absolutely not strong enough for dining tables, kitchen cabinets, or any other surface that will see frequent use.  I see so many people who sell a chalk paint and wax line say that wax is perfect for sealing kitchen cabinets and it drives me batty.  I will bet my left foot if you paint your cabinets, or anything else in your kitchen for that matter, and seal it with wax you’ll end up regretting it.  So I’m saying it again: wax is not a good choice for sealing cabinets.  Need proof?  Read this. 

It can be hard to apply  

Applying wax correctly takes practice.  And a lot of elbow grease.  And a special brush.  (Ok, technically you don’t have to have a special brush.  But it’s even harder to apply correctly without one).  Most people put it on too thick when they’re first starting out.  And until you’ve done it a few times it can be really hard to know if you’re doing it right.  

You can’t apply anything over top of it  

Did you seal a piece of furniture with wax a few years ago and now you want to repaint it?  Oh, sorry, you have to remove all the wax first.  Change your mind about the waxed finish and want to seal it with something stronger?  Sorry again.  You have to remove the wax first.  There is an exception to this rule: some chalk paint manufacturers say their paint will adhere to wax once it’s cured.  Annie Sloan is one brand who claims their chalk paint can be used over their own brand of wax, and I have done this myself with success.  Unless you’re using a brand that specifically states you can paint over their wax, you cannot apply any other product over a waxed surface and expect lasting results.  In general, wax is not a stable enough base for other paints and sealers to adhere to.

So is there anything good about a waxed finish?  

Of course!  It has a beautiful, soft matte look that’s really pretty.  It will not yellow and provides minor protection for painted furniture.  You can also use dark or colored waxes to create depth and detail on your pieces (see the update below for more info on this!).

Have I got you thinking about experimenting with other sealers?  Good!  

There are a ton of different options out there and I haven’t tried even a fraction of them.  My go-to favorite is General Finishes High Performance Water Based Top Coat .  I’ve also used Rust-Oleum Varathane Crystal Clear Water-Based Polyurethane with success.  Both are easy to use, easy cleanup, non-yellowing, and in my opinion, provide a more durable, longer lasting finish than wax.  (Update:  One top coat that’s been mentioned many times in the comments is Artisan Enhancements.  I haven’t used this product myself but it’s got a 5-star rating from everyone who’s mentioned it). 

Is there any downside to using a poly?

There is a potential downside to a poly finish that isn’t an issue with wax.  Poly topcoats can sometimes pull tannins from the wood through the porous chalk paint, creating yellowish (or sometimes pink) spots.  This doesn’t always happen, but when it does it’s almost always with white or very light paint.  There’s a short article with more info on this issue here.  To prevent this, I always use a primer under white/light paint.  Wax doesn’t react with the wood the same way a poly does, which is why this doesn’t happen with wax.

No one product is perfect, and you really just have to weigh the pros and cons and pick the products that work best for you and your project.  

Now I want to hear from you!

What are your thoughts on a waxed finish?  Do you have a favorite product for sealing chalk paint that I didn’t mention?  Leave your experience in the comment section below.  I want readers who find this article to have multiple points of view, not just mine.  Hopefully, we can all learn from each other and find new products to experiment with.  

Side note: This is not a sponsored post.  I received no compensation or incentive to write this or to mention any specific products.  I’m simply sharing my personal thoughts and some of the products I purchase and use myself.  My goal is to create a space for fellow painters to share info and experiences, and feel comfortable sharing what works for them and what doesn’t.    


UPDATE 1/11/18: I get a lot of questions about creating a look similar to what you would get with dark wax without using wax.  I use two alternate methods to create an aged look without wax.  The first is to use a glaze.  You can purchase premixed dark glaze from several different paint manufacturers.  (Here’s a link to Fusion Mineral Paint dark glaze.  There’s a video included if you’d like to get an idea what a dark glaze looks like over white paint).  Or, you can purchase a can of clear, tintable glaze at almost any hardware store.  Mix any color of paint or stain in to create your own custom glaze color.  I always poly over the glaze, and you can also opt to poly under the glaze as well to have greater control over the glaze and keep it from staining the porous chalk paint as easily.  (More articles/details on glazing furniture are coming soon!)  The second method is to do a paint wash, as explained inthis article.  Whether you decide to use one of these methods or something else entirely, I always suggest practicing on a piece of scrap wood before painting an entire piece of furniture so you know exactly how the products will work together.    

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More From Canary Street:

When To Prep Before Chalk Paint

Chalk Paint FAQ’s

How To Paint Custom Graphics On Furniture Like A Pro

We often get asked for tips on painting the MDF shapes so we hope you find them helpful!  MDF has a smooth finish and is one of the easier substrates to paint to get that lovely finish.  Whilst we prefer a satin finish paint, it is your choice although the spray cans are very easy to use and you can get them from the large major DIY stores.   They can also be used on our plain unpainted wooden boxes, after priming.   These tips can also be used on birch ply although it is not as porous as MDF and a primer will be adequate.

1) MDF is very porous and must be sealed before painting.

2) MDF Sealer is available ready to apply although a standard PVA glue mixed 2 parts PVA to 1 part water does the same job.

3) Lightly sand after allowing the sealer to dry completely.

4) Apply a second coat of sealer if required.

5) Lighly sand after allowing the second coat of sealer to dry completely.

6) Spray cans suitable for wood can be used to give a smooth finish

7) Apply light coats and gradually build up the colour to avoid drips.

8) Or: Apply acrylic paints with a brush or small roller.

9) Allow to dry completely between coats.

10) This gives a good base finish to apply further decoration.

If you would like to paint by hand on the  MDF use a spray can either in gloss or satin to prepare the base colour.  After hand painting your design with acrylic paint you will need to apply a light coat of spray lacquer over the top to seal the acrylic.  Make sure that you allow the paint to dry completely between coats before spraying with the clear lacquer or you will experience ‘crackling’.

A great gift idea for guys - rustic, hand stenciled DIY painted wood Silhouette machine, or purchase a monogram stencil from the craft store!.



I had an epic goal of hand making one gift for everyone on our list this year…I didn’t quite make it, but I did come pretty close!  These DIY Painted Wood Slice Coasters were one of my favorites, though.  I made a set for each of my not-quite-brother-in-laws (my two sisters’ significant others), which worked out perfectly, since they are both into things like camping or hunting, and they really like rustic, earthy elements. They were so much fun to make! Here’s what you’ll need to make a set of your own:


SUPPLIES: (This post contains affiliate links – click here to read my full disclosure.)


Originally, I had wanted to make the wood slices myself (er, have hubby make them for me) and we did slice up a log that I’d hoped to be able to use…but alas, most of the slices cracked as the wood dried much too quickly.  (You can see what I did with the surviving slices in this post!)  So I just bought birch wood slices from Michael’s – with a coupon of course – and went about stenciling them myself.



First, I decided I wanted to make monogrammed wood slice coasters for my middle sister’s fiance.  I created the design in Silhouette studio, and then cut it out of vinyl.




I used contact paper to transfer the vinyl design to the wood slice.




Then I dabbed on acrylic paint – two thin coats was enough.




After letting them dry for about an hour, I applied two thin coats of this varnish to help preserve the design and repel water.  It gave them a little bit of a nice shine, too.




Then I used hot glue to add thin cork board to the bottom of each coaster that I had cut to the right size and shape.  You could also use a piece of felt, or even a few sticky felt or foam dots – just something to keep the bottom of the coasters from scratching up any furniture.



I made another set for my youngest sister’s boyfriend, who is an avid hunter.



I even had my sister send me a photo of his dog, an enormous black lab named Huck – then I used photoshop to create a silhouette of his head and imported it to Silhouette Studio to make it into a stencil for a coaster!



It is normally SO difficult to buy gifts for men, let alone make them a gift that they’ll actually enjoy and use…but I think these are winners in that department!  And actually, I like them so much that I want to make a set for myself.  They’d make great gifts for anyone who likes more rustic elements…or even terrific wedding or shower favors!  The most time consuming part was designing and cutting the stencils – the painting and top coat was really quick and easy!  And even if you don’t have a Silhouette to design and cut the stencils yourself, you could easily purchase a reusable monogram stencil from a craft store.



So, be sure to file away this idea until Father’s Day, or even Christmas, for the men in your life!


If you’ve been thinking about hand making some Christmas gifts, you’ll definitely want to grab my free gift recipient planning list – start planning those Christmas gifts NOW! (Even December 26th isn’t too early to start planning for next year!)


Looking for more handmade gifts for men? Click here to see 25 great ideas!




And if you’re looking for more great store bought gift ideas for the men in your life (aren’t they always SO hard to buy for??), you’ll definitely want to check out this gift guide I put together for dads. Click here for the full list.

This post contains affiliate links – click here to read my full disclosure.

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Oil, acrylic and mixed media paints can all be painted onto wood. But you must make sure you prepare your surface before you begin.

Preparation does take a bit of patience but if you don’t prepare the oils and acids of your paint can seep into the wood and destroy it.


Preparing to paint on wood


I started to look into painting on wood because we are running a Pebeo workshop.  This time we are painting/ filling, wooden trays with an oil based paint.

The whole tray needs to look great so, we need to make sure it is usable as well. How we achieve this is by sealing the wood so that nothing can seep into it.

Sealing or sizing a piece of wood greatly reduces the chance of stains, warping and rotting wood from your paint. Yes, this can happen! You should apply two coats of sealer and let it dry thoroughly in-between each layer. Sealing also provides an easier surface to apply subsequent paint layers starting with a primer.

Sealing is important to acrylic painters to remove any chance of Support Induced Discolouration. Supports naturally contain impurities that can cause an amber yellow discolouring to any light coloured or clear acrylic layer that is applied to the wood, unless the support is sealed properly.

If you are a beginner and want to experiment with acrylic on wood then following this step may not be necessary but it is a good practice to follow.

  • When acrylic mediums are used as a size for primed cotton, linen, wood or hardboard, the water content of the paint may draw impurities out of the support as it dries.
  • A yellow or brown discolouration in the medium may occur over time. I It occurs with all acrylic mediums currently used by major fine art paint manufacturers.
  • If you wash the canvas before you use it. This can greatly decrease or eliminate SID which is why step one is dedicated to cleaning.

Painting with oils


Sealers Vs Primers

  • A sealer protects the underlying layer or material, in this case, the wood
  • A primer is a foundation layer that improves paint adhesion onto the support

The best rule to adhere to is to apply at least two coats of sealer directly onto the raw wood. This will protect the wood and create a barrier. Then apply primer to enhance adhesion, return tooth to the surface, and whiten the surface for optimising paint colours you plan to apply over it.


Wooden pallet with acrylic paint

  1. Clean your surface: dust and sawdust may affect your sealer and leave an uneven surface. Wipe with a damp cloth and let it dry completely.
  2. Apply a coat of acrylic medium to seal the wood
  3. Let it dry, if it is still tacky it will need longer
  4. You need to seal both sides
  5. If the side you wish to work on feels grainy you can sand it with 220 sandpaper
  6. Wipe the surface clean
  7. Apply second coat
  8. Let it dry completely
  9. Prime the area using gesso
  10. If painting with oil paint allows a few days before priming and painting

If you miss any of the steps then you will encounter issues. Especially if you don’t let each layer dry properly. I hope you found that helpful. You can basically paint on absolutely everything. You just need to make sure that you prepare your surfaces properly.

Now get painting

 For more information on workshops please click here

Pebeo painting on a wooden tray

The non-yellowing clear sealer dries in minutes and is for interior and exterior use. Use it on wood, metal, plastic, paper mache, glass, plastic, ceramic, paper.

How to Paint Wooden Beads

A wood sealer will be any end that makes a layer on prime of the wood that seals it from dirt, debris, moisture, and different intrusions. polyurethane could be a in style ingredient in wood sealers as a result of it’s extremely sturdy and resistant, making a strong seal that lasts for a protracted time as best wooden art[1]. If you're searching for the simplest variety of polyurethane sealer, it helps to know however it works and once it ought to be used.

When to Use Sealants?

A polyurethane coating is best used on raw or untreated wood or once sure forms of finishers square measure used on the wood itself. If the wood has been treated with associate degree oil-based end or shellac, then it's already been sealed. this can be as a result of oil-based finishes square measure made of ployurethan therefore no extra treatment ought to be necessary. Such finishing product square measure typically referred to as “self-sealing” as a result of they contain polyurethane or oil-based product.

Also, if you've got a awfully dense wood, like boxwood for instance, then you will not need a sealer as a result of the wood itself is therefore dense that it prevents intrusion from dirt, debris, and different particles. For softer woods, you'll wish to use a polyurethane sealer 1st, before employing a water-based coating or lacquer. this can be as a result of the sealer can lock within the waxes and oils and scale back the amount of coats required of the lacquer or coating.

How to realize the simplest Sealer

You’ll wish to search out a polyurethane sealer that's created for the sort of wood that you simply square measure operating with and offers the proper ingredients to properly seal it for your desires. this implies doing a bit analysis to search out the one that works best for you.

Outdoor or Indoor: several sealers square measure designed for wood that may be exposed to the weather like decks, outside furnishings, and also the like. However, if the thing goes to stay inside and guarded from actinic radiation rays, then you'll select from differing types of sealants.

Compatibility: make certain that the sealer you utilize is compatible with any lacquer or finisher that may be applied on prime. for instance, sanding sealer isn't necessary for a few forms of wood material and is incompatible with sure forms of topcoats. So, take care regarding the sort that you simply choose.

It’s Not Pore Filler: there's a distinction between sealer and pore filler, despite the fact that sanding sealer appears similar in composition. So, if you're searching for a pore filler instead, make certain to use that kind rather than a standard sealer product.



how to seal painted wood crafts

WATCH THE VIDEO ON THEME: How to get a perfect finish on painted projects

The best acrylic paint for wood crafts - what I use, why I love it and why you need it if you love wood crafts Use these in all your fun endeavors!.

how to seal painted wood crafts
Written by Faukus
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