To Wax or to Poly... That is the question

Posted by Autumn Van Komen on

After painting should you finish with wax? or Poly?
We get asked this question almost every day.  What is the difference and when should you choose one over the other?  
Wax is a terrific product but it has its problems.  First, it takes about 35 days to fully cure.  Note, that wax does not dry; it cures.  So it does harden and protect your furniture very well but it takes a while to fully cure.  We recommend using wax on pieces that you dust.  Back in the days before poly acrylics and polyurethanes were invented wax was the only thing available and it did the job to an extent.  If you have kids like mine (or actually if you are the problem, like I am) I spill ALOT.  So, washing off my kitchen table legs or chairs or cabinets multiple times a week, wax just doesn't hold up.  You would need to re wax about every 6 months if you are actually washing or scrubbing your pieces.  So, waxing pieces not in the kitchen like dressers, beds, curio cabinets, armoires etc is what we recommend.  Wax also comes in multiple colors for getting that "distressed or aged" look.
Poly Acrylics on the other hand have been chemically and professionally formulated for washing and scrubbing and really holding up to those everyday life experiences.  Poly acrylic also doesn't yellow like polyurethanes which is why we created our Matte Low Luster Poly Acrylic. It is a little more time consuming to apply and you do need to put on multiple coats (we recommend at least 3) but that should create the protection you need for kitchen cabinets, chairs, tables and kid friendly pieces of furniture or cabinetry.  Because we love how easy it is to put on wax, we developed a water based gel poly acrylic.  Just put on a latex glove and a sock and dip your hand into the gel poly.  Wipe on in long strokes going in one direction and then wait for at least 2 hours before applying the next coat in a perpendicular direction.  This alleviates seeing any strokes.    If you are painting something that will be outdoors, make sure you purchase an Outdoor Poly.  The outdoor formula is UV protectant (make sure it show this on the label) and it is designed to grow and shrink according to the weather; thus protecting your items in all kinds of heat or cold.  Finally and a very important point. NEVER shake a poly. This creates air bubbles that you would wipe onto your furniture.  Then the air bubbles would dry and the only way to get out a bubble once its dried is to sand it out. Grr.  Use a stir stick and make sure you get all the goo on the bottom of the jar.  Everything settles to the bottom and unless you stir it properly you will not be a happy camper.  Hopefully this helped you understand a bit more about each product.  Feel free to contact us if you have more questions!

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