How to apply Wax to Antique Furniture
Wax helps to bring life back to dull and worn furniture and is one of the most used products in furniture upcycling.
Antique furniture will lose color over time but using wax helps bring out and preserve the beauty of the wood.
Although it’s easy to apply wax to antique furniture, there are a few basic steps you should take to prevent streaking, etc.
The first thing you will want to do is give your piece of furniture a good clean using a non-abrasive cleaning solution, or even just a little vinegar in water can do the trick.
Now with a little elbow grease and time, you will begin to lift away all the old smoke and tobacco stains, any grime and dust that has built up over the years, and begin to see the color come through.
You may need to take a few runs at this process but it is definitely worth the effort.
Some experience furniture restorers will use fine steel wool for the cleaning process, but if you have little experience, it’s best to stick to a light bristled dusting brush to remove any deep staining. If this doesn’t work, a toothbrush may help but always be on the lookout in case you are scratching the wood.
To make your life easier, don’t apply too much furniture wax at one time as it can make it hard to buff and will often leave a dull finish. So always be conservative with the wax and know that you can always add more when needed.
To apply the furniture wax correctly, you’ll need a lint-free or soft cotton cloth.
Start by dipping your cloth into the wax, then in a small circular motion, begin applying it sparingly over the surface.
Keep rubbing the wax into the grain in the circular motion you started with and when you are about to finish, rub the wax in the direction of the wood grain.
Always wait at least half an hour before buffing. You want to make sure the wax has been fully absorbed by the wood. Leave a bit longer before buffing if you have any doubts.
Now you need a clean cloth, it’s time to buff and bring the wood to life.
Buff the surface in the same direction as the grain until you see the sheen come through. The more you buff, the higher the sheen you can achieve and the better your furniture will look when finished.
Doing this process in thin applications will give you the best finish possible and help to protect your furniture in the future.
Repeating this process every few months will keep your precious wooden furniture in the best condition over time and help them hold value.
What kind of wax to use on antique furniture?
Paste wax is ideal for antique furniture as it includes beeswax and carnauba wax in most instances, which help to protect the timber.
Below are some good quality furniture waxes that are reasonably priced and easy to buy.
Minwax Paste Finishing – around $30
Antiquax – about $15
Gillboys Polishing Waxes – about $40
Briwax Wax Polish – about $20
BWC Clear Paste Wax – about $30
If you are restoring a piece of furniture that has metal fixings etc, you may require metal polish. Below are some well know metal polishes that will help clean those bits of metal. But never get the metal polish on the wood as it can cause damage.
When possible, remove any metal and polish away from the wooden furniture.
Goddard’s Silver Polish – as little as $5
Goddard’s Brass & Copper Cleaner – as little as $5
Never-Dull Brass Polish – about $10
Maas Metal Polish – about $30
Products not to use on Antique Furniture
You can never be too careful when dealing with antique furniture, and this is the way to be when applying any product to the surface.
Many of the most popular polishes on the market are not safe for use on older furniture, and care should be taken applying any polish for the first time.
Test on a small corner etc, before applying to the main surface or any surface in view and wait to make sure there is no staining or visible damage.
Here are a few polishes you should never apply to wooden antiques.
Aerosol polishes – Polishes that are aerosolized tend to leave a film on the surface that only ends up attracting dust and debris.
Polishes with acidic juices or extracts – Every cleaner loves the fresh smell of lemon, but remember to avoid any polishes with acidic extracts or juices as these can leave an oily film that attracts dirty fingerprint marks, dust, and debris.
Oil polishes – When used on antique furniture, it can soak into the open grain and then oxidize, turning the wood black.
Check With an Expert
Most, if not all, antique furniture can be polished and dusted regularly, while the more intricate pieces of furniture may require more expertise and care. But if you ever feel unsure, there’s always an antique dealer close by who can answer any questions you have.
Spending ten minutes on the phone with an antique dealer can often be far less expensive than having to replace any damage caused by inexperience.