Polishing furniture with wax is a classic method of protecting it and giving it an attractive shine at the same time. It is best to use natural beeswax or a polish with a vegetable wax such as carnauba. Since the wax forms a barrier, you can apply it to treated and untreated wood. Then buff the wood until it shines. To keep the shiny look, you'll need to renew the wax layer regularly when the wood begins to look dull again.
Method 1 of 2: choose a wax
Step 1. Go for a smooth, natural finish for beeswax
If you want to use a wax without synthetic additives, buy a can of beeswax polish. This polish is easy to apply and gives your furniture an attractive shine. Keep in mind, however, that beeswax is very soft and therefore won't protect your furniture as well as other types. You also have to rub it in very well so that it doesn't stick.
You may find a product with a mixture of beeswax and carnauba wax, which makes the polish more durable
Step 2. For a long-lasting finish, you should use a product with carnauba wax
Carnauba wax is a popular vegetable wax that is added to furniture polishes because it polishes wood to a shine. Plus, it lasts longer than beeswax alone.
Did you know already?
There are also furniture oils that contain a mixture of carnauba wax and mineral oil. These oils are very easy to apply, but they don't offer as long-lasting protection as beeswax or carnauba wax.
Step 3. Use a liquid wax on carved or ornate furniture
Liquid wax doesn't contain as much real wax as wax paste, so it won't last as long. Choose liquid wax if you want to polish furniture with lots of decorative carvings that would be difficult to work a paste into.
Liquid wax is the right choice for ingeniously carved chair legs or table legs, for example
Step 4. Don't use floor wax on your furniture
Commercial floor wax tends to contain less wax to make it easier to spread over the entire floor. It's also softer, so it doesn't last as long as furniture wax.
If you're using a floor wax, you will likely need to apply it every few months instead of once or twice a year like a furniture wax
Method 2 of 2: Apply the wax
Step 1. Work in a clean environment so that you don't raise dust
Find a well-ventilated area and make sure there is no dust flying around. So go to a clean room rather than your basement workshop, where sawdust is lying around.
Open a window for good ventilation. That way, the furniture also dries faster
Step 2. Clean all surfaces with a soft, damp cloth to remove dust
Whether you are polishing treated or untreated wood, always start on the cleanest possible surface. Take a clean, damp cloth and use it to wipe the surface of your furniture to remove dust and dirt. This will prevent dust from building up in the wax layer.
Use only lint-free cloths with no loose edges. No fibers should stick to the wax
Step 3. Dip a wax brush or clean cloth into the wax
If you don't want to get your hands dirty, take a stiff, flat-bristled wax brush and rub it evenly over the wax to cover the bristles. You can put a coin-sized amount of wax on a cloth.
- Make sure the cloth doesn't have any loose threads that could peel fibers off and get stuck in the wax.
- If you don't mind getting some wax on your fingers, feel free to use a cloth.
Step 4. Rub a thin layer of wax into the furniture in a circular motion
Gently work the wax into the entire surface of the furniture. Start on one side and gradually work your way up to the opposite. Make small, circular motions so that there are no streaks. Dip the brush or cloth into the wax every now and then so that you really apply wax and don't wipe it off.
It is better to apply several thin layers of wax than one thick layer, as it would look dull and cloudy. If you see thick wax streaks on the wood, you've taken too much and need to polish it away
While you can polish wood that has been stained, varnished, or painted, wood that has been varnished with latex paint is difficult to apply wax to. This is because the latex surface is not porous and cannot absorb wax.
Step 5. Let the furniture dry as instructed by the wax manufacturer
Most of the time, the wax will dry in minutes, but you may have to wait 30 minutes. As the wax dries, it will become cloudy and dull.
- The wax may take longer to dry completely if you are working in a cool or poorly ventilated environment.
- To make sure the wax is dry, touch an inconspicuous area on the surface. If it no longer sticks, the wax is dry.
Step 6. Polish the waxed surface in a circular motion to get a nice shine
Take a clean, no-waxed cloth and rub it gently over the surface until the wax starts to shine. Work your way over the entire surface of the furniture in circular motions until you achieve the desired shine.
- You can get a shinier finish with a soft rag. Instead of a soft cotton cloth, you can also use a terry cloth, an old T-shirt or a cotton diaper, for example.
- It doesn't matter whether you polish with or against the grain of the wood.
Step 7. Wait at least four to eight hours before applying a second coat of wax
If you are treating lacquered furniture, you should not apply a second coat, as this would make the furniture extremely shiny. For untreated wood, on the other hand, you can count on three layers of wax, but you should always polish the wood thoroughly between the layers.
After waxing and polishing, wait about 30 minutes before placing objects on the furniture or using it again
Step 8. Apply a new coat of wax once or twice a year
If you dust your furniture regularly, you will see that the wax keeps it shiny again and again afterwards. If this effect wears off, it is time for a new layer of wax. Then simply repeat the application as described above.
The wax will peel off and oxidize over time, so you have to refresh the wax layer over and over again
To keep your waxed furniture looking good for a long time, you should dust it with a soft cotton cloth every week. Do not clean them with furniture polish or sprays
- If you're using wax paste that contains flammable solvents, keep the rag you used to apply it in a metal container. Dispose of leftover wax and rags according to your local recommendations for flammable materials.
- Do not use wax on tables that are used very intensively or that are frequently wet, as the wax would dissolve quickly and stain the table.