Furniture Wax Vs. Hemp Oil Vs Clear Coat
You painted it....it looks outstanding....Now what?
Let chat about top coats.
A top coat is what we put on our painted projects at the very end to add extra durability. The choice of which top coat you use really depends on what the piece will be used for or what you prefer. The 3 choices that I use:
Where to use it:
You can use beeswax anytime you want to add a topcoat to a piece with a porous surface. Anything with a satin, semi-gloss, or gloss finish wont benefit from a wax top coat because any wax applied will just sit on top of the surface, not serving a purpose or adding anything extra. (except sticky and tacky-ness that will drive you nuts) We can apply wax to any porous surface (like raw or stained wood, milk paint, chalk paint, a flat acrylic,canvas, fabric etc). Wax is absorbed into the pores of the surface, and once cured, creates a very hard and durable finish
How to apply it:
To apply beeswax, I prefer a wax brush.
These brushes are perfectly suited to the task of waxing because they have firm, natural bristles and there's a lot of them. All of which makes it ideal for spreading the wax around with ease and getting it into the details and pores of a piece properly. They also make the task of waxing a quick one. (we want to be done already), They are a bit of an investment, since they are hand made and of high quality, but they will more than likely last you your entire life. If you don’t have a brush, you can use a cloth but make sure A) it’s lint-free. No one is usually going for a fuzzy finish B) with no color that could bleed into your wax and onto your piece C) the #1 issue with cloth wax application is way too much wax was used..so be stingy!!
D) apply even pressure throughout. If not, you may not get the wax into the paint but more so frost a cake with it and end up with a sticky finish. With both types of applications, only apply a very thin layer of wax. If your wax is smeary, smudgy, hazy, sticky to the touch, etc. you overdid it and applied too much. Massage the wax into the surface as you would apply lotion to your face. This will also give you a nice and even finish. The more coats of wax you apply make for a more durable finish and the more you buff it, the shinier it will get.
Drying time, durability & care:
Wax should feel dry to the touch just after it’s applied.. It’s okay if it feels slightly waxy or a little cold, but it shouldn’t feel sticky or wet. You can do a second coat or start using the piece right away, but give it a full 30 days to cure for hard use. For cleaning, I just dry dust it (buff it) with a cloth (or whoever's sock is on the floor honestly). The thing about wax is that you can simply reapply it if a piece starts looking tired or gets dirty, stained, marred or scratched. Just apply another coat, buff it and you have a fresh finish in about 15 minutes.
The downside to wax
Wax is not heat or moisture resistant. It will be absolutely fine with some sunshine on it though a window or near a roaring fire. I don't recommend using it on your outdoor patio furniture or on a piece of indoor furniture (think: dining room table top) that gets a lot of action with hot surfaces, wet wash downs or spills and crumbs. It also is not a top coat you can just paint over..(No matter what Youtube tells you) You will need to remove the wax if you want to repaint it using a heaver sand or an easy wipe down of odorless solvent. Another (small) downside is maintenance. Wax requires some reapplication like I mentioned. When it gets marked or dull, a buff or another coat will easily restore it, but its an extra step down the road that you may not want.
Where to use it:
Hemp Oil like wax, works on porous surfaces, so it can penetrate the surface instead of just hanging out on top. If you use Hemp Oil, that is all you need. You don’t have to put something else on top of it.
I use it all the places where wax cant go....outside furniture, outdoor planter boxes or clay pots, wood floors, bathroom vanities and dining room table tops. Anywhere heat or moisture resistance is needed. It's also awesome at reviving wood that is dried out, scratched, water damaged or has just lost its luster. I love to use it inside of drawers and cupboards to condition the wood and freshen up the smell...I use it to clean beautifully aged, but dirty patina'ed vintage hardware, and since its 100% natural, food safe, I also use it on my wood cutting boards.
How to apply it:
I prefer to apply hemp oil using a cheap paint brush. It goes faster and I feel like I can get it right into the grain of the piece. You could also use a cloth and just pour some on, and rub it all over. With both applications, let it soak in (5 minutes to 30 minutes) and then wipe away the excess. Easy. Only apply what the surface will absorb. If you apply too much, or too many coats, the oil will just sit on top and that's a waste. .Hemp oil provides a matte finish, similar to wax but the level of sheen increases with each coat. I usually apply one coat on the body of the piece and two coats on the top for a little added durability where the action happens.
Drying time, durability & care:
Hemp oil dries to the touch very quickly, because it’s absorbed into the finish. While the oil is dry to the touch, it does need about 30 days to fully cure. You can use the piece during this but it might feel a little oily to the touch and look a little sweaty while it’s curing. If your wood is very dry however, it could be matte and oil free right away. Both can be expected. I care for it with just a dry cloth for dusting or a damp cloth if something is being stubborn. If the finish looks tired or marred, I rub on another coat of Hemp Oil and its stunning again
The downside to Hemp Oil..
Painting over a piece that has cured Hemp Oil on it will require some patience. You will need to wait at least the full 30 day cure time (since last application) as well as plan for some light sanding. I also wipe it down with some TSP or odorless solvent to be sure I have the oil removed. Like wax, it also has some maintenance in the way of reapplication. My own dining room table is hemp oiled as my top coat choice and every 6-ish months or so, I reapply it. It take 5 minutes, and it looks stunning and fresh, but for some people...that's important to know going in.
Where to use it:
Clear coat is the top coat of choice if you want a durable finish with no follow up maintenance. It provides extra durability against general wear and tear, heat resistance, water damage and food stains. Perfect for those high traffic surfaces such as table tops, seating, doors and floors. It can be used over any water based paint (acrylic, chalk, milk), as well as over raw porous wood or canvas. You can also use it on top of smooth, shiny surfaces.
How to Apply it:
Apply with a roller or brush onto painted or clean, non oily/greasy surfaces. For maximum durability, apply two coats waiting 2-4 hours between coats. ( I always do 3 where the action happens) Be generous with the application. Apply enough to have it "settle" into the roller or brush strokes to even itself out but not so much that its dripping down your elbows. Don't brush back into it once its applied. That creates brush strokes. Smooth each coat down between applications with fine steel wool. Dries to a luster finish.
Drying time, durability & care:
If applying to a recently painted surface, allow the surface to dry 24 hours before applying. In humid areas, (yes, that's us here on Vancouver Island) I recommend waiting 35-48 hours.
Since they are acrylic based (my favorite clear coat products that I have here at RV..Hardware store poly's and varnishes are a different story) they are extremely durable once applied correctly. Clear coats are essentially maintenance free with no need for reapplication with general use. They can be wiped, washed and used without worry. They can also be used indoors or outside.
The Downside to clear coats.
They create a sheen, no matter what the can says..compared to wax or hemp oil, clear coats have a shiner finish than both of those. They also need to have a minimum of 2 coats applied to be at their best. They are also not very forgiving in the way of seeing the imperfections of your application. Most of us want a flawless, glass-like surface when it comes to clear coats. This can be achieved with proper application, but it takes some practice. If you get a clear coat (Poly or Varnish or Shellac) from the hardware store, those will yellow overtime. With the water based clear coats that we carry here at RV, we chose those specifically because they wont yellow.
Changing your Mind.
Sometimes we choose a topcoat only later to realize we should have chosen another one. It happens. Depending on the top coat you original went with will depend on the steps and your memory when it comes to Grade 11 science class. ( I'm kidding....kinda)
If you waxed your piece but....
You want to change to a Clear Coat. The wax MUST come off.
Wax is an oil base...Clear Coat is water based and those 2 don't play nicely together...they repel each other entirely actually.
If you want to change to a hemp oil; Since wax filled the pores of the surface and hemp oil needs those pores to absorb into, the wax needs to come off. It can happen one or 2 ways
1) sand it off, but you will need to repaint or
2) wipe down your waxed piece using odorless solvent. This dissolves the wax and leaves the paint intact. (my favorite and fastest way)
If you Hemp Oiled your piece but.....
You want to wax it...go ahead. Make sure the oil is fully absorbed into your piece and go right ahead and wax it. These are 2 oil bases and so they can be layered this way only
(you cannot hemp oil over top of wax)
If you hemp oiled and you want to now Clear Coat it. This is a bit trickier...An water based clear coat wont play well with an oil base hemp (there's some Science for you) You will need to wait, at least, the full 30 day cure time from the last application of oil. Then a light sanding and a wash down using TSP or odorless solvent to neutralize any remaining oil.
If you Clear Coated your piece but.....
You want to wax it....you'll want to lightly sand the surface to break up the clear coat finish, then go ahead and apply wax, but THIN is key. Since the pores of the piece are sealed with the clear coat, the wax has no where to absorb into, making cure time lengthy. This wont add much extra protection from wear nor will it change the sheen much, so I dont recommend doing it.
If you clear coated it and now you want to hemp oil. You will need to sand off the clear coat entirely to open up the pores again. Hemp oil needs a place to absorb into.
Choosing your final top coat to finish your piece is important to ensure that it lasts a lifetime (or until you want to repaint it at least) With these 3, all projects are covered to make sure you and your piece can lively happily ever after together.
In the meantime; use mineral spirits from your local hardware store, in a well ventillated area.