The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze

There are a few factors that I keep in mind when deciding which finish I want to use. Let's explore the similarities and differences between furniture wax and glaze.

How do you answer the question, “Which product is more appropriate for my furniture painting project, wax, or a glaze? There are a few factors that I keep in mind when deciding which finish I want to use. Let’s explore the similarities and differences between furniture wax and glaze.

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Materials Mentioned:

Glaze added around mouldings to create definition : The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze
Glaze added around mouldings to create definition

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Glaze Furniture Finish:

I often use glaze applied over paint to create an aged or grungy effect. Glaze is a liquid formula, water-based, and comes in a variety of colors. Because chalk Paint and glaze are both water-based, you are able to custom tint the glaze with a bit of paint. It is important to remember that furniture glaze is not a protective coat.

A few features of glaze, and ways I like to use it on my furniture painting projects are:

  • Apply over clear coat for more control and ability to wipe back
  • Apply over raw paint for a more grungey look
  • Usually applied with a brush, dug into crevices, and wiped back
  • Can be used for detail work or over an entire piece
  • Add a topcoat over glaze to seal it in place

How I Have Used Glaze On Painted Furniture:

Glaze with the Wood Graining Tool for faux barn wood finish. : The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze
Glaze with the Wood Graining Tool for faux barn wood finish.
Black Glaze for dimension with gold leaf : The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze
Black Glaze for dimension with gold leaf
Black Glaze over Sea Spray texture : The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze
Black Glaze over Sea Spray texture
Black Glaze for contrast against white paint : The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze
Black Glaze for contrast against white paint : The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze
Black Glaze for contrast against white paint
Van Duke Brown Glaze for crisp details  : The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze
Van Duke Brown Glaze for crisp details
Sapphire Pearl Glaze for an over all shimmer : The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze
Sapphire Pearl Glaze for an over all shimmer
Glaze overall for an aged farmhouse look : The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze
Glaze overall for an aged farmhouse look

Wax Furniture Finish:

The furniture wax I use is a paste-like. Most brands are oil-based, some of which have liquid wax formulas. Wax does act as a protective layer for furniture paint and can be buffed to a beautiful low sheen.

A few features of wax, and ways I like to use it on my painting projects are:

  • Apply over raw paint to deepen your paint color
  • Apply over clear coat to easily wipe back
  • Can be applied with a brush or rag
  • Can be used for detail work or over the entire piece
  • No topcoat required over wax, it will cure and become its own layer of protection
  • Comes in a variety of colors, usually black, white, brown, gray.

Here Are A Some Examples Of How I Have Used Wax Finish On Painted Furniture:

Black Wax on mauve for dramatic edges : The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze
Black Wax on mauve for dramatic edges
Black Wax for dimension around details : The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze
See what a difference Black Wax and Gold Gilding Wax add to these doors?
Black Wax for dimension around details : The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze
Black Wax for dimension around details
White Wax to soften paint colors and gather in crevices : The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze
White Wax to soften paint colors and gather in crevices
Black Wax against white for smudgy corners : The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze
Black Wax against white for smudgy corners
White Wax on black paint for a softened look : The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze
White Wax on black paint for a softened look
Clear Wax with Dixie Dirt or Artisan Powders for authentic dusty dirt : The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze
Clear Wax with Artisan Powders for authentic dusty dirt
Wax adds to a shading effect : The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze
Wax adds to a shading effect
Black Wax overall to deepen a paint color : The Difference Between Furniture Wax and Glaze
Black Wax overall to deepen a paint color

I generally prefer glaze for fine details and wax for a more smudgy effect. Because glaze is a liquid, it does a great job of finding low points and settling in to create depth and dimension with a more concentrated look than waxes.

These products can both do double duty, often interchangeable and up to personal preference. For me, I’m 100% a wax girl. I use black wax on just about every project I do, and there is nothing like the smooth, ethereal, blending only a wax can give!

You can see glaze and wax in action in this video where I add finishing touches a headboard.

Use one or combine them together for the benefits of both. I hope these images will help see the differences between furniture glaze and wax, and the unique looks both can give.

This Post Has 20 Comments

  1. Debra Hubbs

    Thank you. Very helpful seeing all these examples.

    1. Brandy K.

      Could have made the whole thing in just pics, easiest way to show the differences

  2. Teresa

    Thank you as always. You really are a great teacher Brandy. You take the time and have patience to describe your techniques. We all are so glad you do. I’m still learning this chalk painting..and love it! We all need ya to teach live in New York. Lol

    1. Brandy K.

      Thank you so much! Its a lot of info to take on, one piece at a time!

  3. Renea Hughes

    Thank you Brandy!!! I appreciate your info and teachings sssooooo much!!!

  4. Donna

    You inspire me with each video, my hands always start itching to get a paintbrush in them while watching you create beauty!! It is fun watching your earlier videos, to see how you have blossomed as an artist and as a teacher, amazing!

  5. Terry M Engleman

    You are such a wonderful mentor and teacher. Thank you so much for sharing what you do. It is incredibly inspiring. And I am not aware of anyone who does furniture anywhere near your level! You are truly amazing! Wish I could just follow you around and watch you work for a week or two. You are the best!

    1. Brandy K.

      Wow! Thank you for such a sweet note 💗

  6. Cheryl

    When your done with this piece how do you reapply your top coat to seal the glaze. The clear coat or top coat won’t adhere to your wax correct? When mixing the two I just wondered how you complete your piece. Or do you choose one or the other?

    1. Brandy K.

      Dixie belle best dang wax is water based, so you can clear coat over decorative waxes

  7. Nancy

    Love the bedframe! Very interesting concept. I’m working on bookcases. Gonna try out glazing! Thanks, nancyb.

  8. Charity

    I waxed something and it did not seal it. I sprayed a normal household cleaner on it and it took the wax off. Using glaze or wax, how do you clean those items without ruining them?

    1. Brandy K.

      Wax is less durable than a clear coat, bit can be reapplied with ease. Just a damp rag to clean us all you should use

  9. Brittney

    Thank you for the info and pics! I am working on a piece and wasn’t sure which technique would accomplish what I wanted and this helped me to decide.

  10. Debbie Paul Child

    This is the first time I have gotten to see one of your videos. You are truly amazing and knowledgeable. I love how down to earth you and your husband are. Thank you so much for sharing your videos.

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