Which Top Coat Should I Pick!?!?!
You did your homework and picked out a rockstar paint product, you went above and beyond completing your prep work, you painted that furniture up in the most gorgeous color….now it’s time to protect your work. Wise Owl Chalk Synthesis Paint (like most chalk style paints) is extremely porous. While that is awesome for adhesion purposes because it’s going to stick to most things, it also means most things are gonna stick to it...so you’ve gotta protect it! You’ve got four options with Wise Owl when it comes to clear coating your paint: salve, wax, hemp seed oil, or varnish. Which is best? What sets them apart? Which should you choose? Let’s jump in…
Furniture Salve: Gives a smooth, water resistant finish, that is strong enough to hold up to average wear and tear. Super easy to apply (brush or wipe on, lightly wipe off excess). Contains hemp seed oil, which adds to its durability, but can cause slight yellowing over white paint. Has a million additional uses beyond painted furniture. Comes in seven scents.
Wax: Comes in three options- natural hemp wax, clear wax, and colored wax. The hemp wax is a beeswax base with hemp seed oil which provides additional durability. It has a slight yellow color due to the hemp addition, so it may cause yellowing to white paints. The clear wax is actually our furniture salve formula with no hemp seed oil and no essential oils. It is clear so it will not alter your paint colors, and it is food grade so it is perfect for cutting boards, butcher blocks, and cheese boards. The colored wax has a hemp seed oil base that currently comes in black or black walnut. It can be used as a sealant over an entire piece, or as an accent color to create depth and dimension. It also works great as a stain alternative on raw wood.
Hemp Seed Oil: Comes in a liquid form that is easy to apply and provides a durable, water resistant finish that rivals many polyurethanes. Food safe formula, perfect for cutting boards and butcher blocks. Provides a true matte finish, which is perfect if you love the look of chalk style paint! Can be used to wet sand your paint to a velvety soft finish and goes beautifully over raw or stained wood.
Varnish: Comes in matte and satin options. Is water proof when fully cured, outdoor grade, and incredibly durable. Made with crystal clear resins (as opposed to most top coats that utilize amber resins) so it is chemically incapable of yellowing your paint over time. It is our only water based top coat, but provides an industrial strength finish, suitable for high traffic areas, floors, and cabinets.
Have you tried any of them? Or all four? Do you have a favorite?? In my painting classes, we primarily stick with furniture salve because it is so easy to apply and doesn’t require extended dry time, so students can take their piece home with them at the end of the class. But for my business practices, I varnish every single piece to ensure the highest level of durability possible. (Although, I typically salve as well because its just so amazing and gives a clean, soft look.)
Coming up soon, we will break down each of the four options individually, going over ingredients, application processes, and tips & tricks to getting a perfect finish. Stay tuned!!
I've got an adorable little nightstand that I picked up at a thrift shop a few months ago. My original intentions for it were simple....bring it to the store and salve half of it to show how awesome Wise Owl Furniture Salve is. So, I did just that. I salved the right side, left the other side raw, showed a good 'before and after', and sold a few cans of salve. And then??? Well, then this cute little side table came to collect dust in my garage.
It's kind of become a catch all for random junk in the garage, and its just way too cute to live out the rest of its life unappreciated. So??? Its time to paint it and let it move on to a new home!!
Juuuuuuust one problem.....that awesome salve I used to re-hydrate the wood? Yeah, that's gonna cause some MAJOR issues when it comes time to paint. Salve is made of a blend of oils and waxes, and paint does not adhere to oils or waxes. A general rule of thumb is that wax/salve is ALWAYS last. You can layer it on top of paints all day long, but nothing else can go on top of it. So, if you have a piece that has been salved, waxed, polished, etc., you'll need to get that coating off before you even think of picking up a paint brush. (Did you notice I added "polished" in there??? If your furniture has been fancied up with Pledge or any other furniture oils, you may have a hard time getting paint to stick to it! So read on and save yourself a huge headache down the road.)
To remove the salve/wax from your furniture before you can paint, you just need a couple things:
Get your furniture situated on a drop cloth to catch any splashes and then grab your Mineral Spirits. (I wear gloves for this!) You can pour some in a cup or dish, or you can pour it directly onto your steel wool. (I poured it directly onto my wool, hovering over the table so any drips just hit the furniture and didn't go to waste) Now get to scrubbing!!
Mineral Spirits is pretty powerful, so honestly, this process is a piece of cake. The chemicals do 90% of the work and you are basically just using the steal wool to move it around and break up the wax. My nightstand took about 2 minutes to complete. Not bad at all. Once I had it all scrubbed, I actually did it all over again just to be safe.
Now you've got the salve/wax/oils all scrubbed off...but you need to get any Mineral Spirits off before you can start painting. The best way to do this is to give it a good scrub with dish soap and water, followed by one more scrub with just clean water. (Mineral Spirits removes the wax, dish soap removes the mineral spirits, clean water removes the dish soap) Today, I got super lucky and we were in the mid 90's, zero humidity, and a decent breeze. So I worked outside, on a drop cloth for the Mineral Spirits portion of this project and then hauled the nightstand over to the rocks and busted out the garden hose. I sprayed it down, then gave it a quick scrub with soap, and finished with another spray of water. (Spraying furniture with a hose is a pretty big gamble! Only do this if your weather will allow it to fully dry and only spray furniture that is real wood!! If you spray fake wood pieces (think IKEA style), they are pressed cardboard and drenching them in water will cause the material to deteriorate fast!) The entire thing took ten minutes, max!! And it was so hot out that the entire piece was completely dry and ready for paint an hour later!
That's it!! Super easy and prevents a TON of adhesion problems down the road. Take the little bit of time to properly prep your piece and remove any waxes and oils and your paint will thank you!! Once your furniture has completely dried, I highly recommend painting a small test patch to see if the paint is sticking. I paint a 2" x 2" section, let it dry for about 20-30 minutes, and then lightly scratch it with my finger nail. If the paint sticks, I'm good! If it peels off, I know I need to do a little more work (you may still have residue left over, so give it another quick cleaning and try again. If it still peels off, either sand or prime and you'll be good to go!)