How to Finish Wood Furniture

Here are some tips to help you get the best looking most durable finish possible on your wood furniture projects.

How to Finish Wood Furniture

High Traffic Areas – Clear Coat

High Traffic Areas include chairs, living room end tables, kitchen cabinets, etc.
  1. For furniture in high traffic areas, a clear coat is recommended.
  2. Allow piece to dry completely before applying clear coat.
  3. Before using, stir thoroughly.  
  4. Be sure surface is free of dust.  
  5. Apply evenly with a brush, working in the direction of the grain of the wood.
  6. After it dries, sand lightly.  
  7. Remove all the sanding dust and then apply a second coat.  
  8. For added durability, a third coat can be applied.

*A clear coat may cause yellowing.  Yellowing can occur from the stain and dyes in the previous finish bleeding through.  Properly preparing the piece, priming, and/or a darker color paint most often will correct bleed through.

Low Traffic Areas – Clear Wax

Low Traffic Areas include mirror and picture frames, light-use shelves, etc.
  1. For furniture in low traffic areas, a wax can be used.
  2. Allow piece to dry completely before applying wax.
  3. Be sure surface is free of dust.  
  4. Apply a thin even coat of wax with a clean cotton cloth, sponge or brush in the direction of the wood grain where possible.  
  5. Let sit for up to 5 minutes.  
  6. Lightly remove any excess wax with a separate, clean absorbent cloth, following the direction of the grain.  
  7. Allow to dry for 3 minutes and buff with a soft cloth.

Low Traffic Areas – Dark Wax

Low Traffic Areas include mirror and picture frames, light-use shelves, etc.
  1. For furniture in low traffic areas, a wax can be used.
  2. Allow piece to dry completely before applying wax.
  3. Be sure surface is free of dust.  
  4. Apply a thin even coat of wax with a clean cotton cloth, sponge or brush in the direction of the wood grain where possible.
  5. If waxing over a light colored paint, apply a layer of clear wax first and allow to dry.  This will prevent the dark wax from staining the paint.  
  6. If going for a darker piece, apply the dark wax directly.
  7. Let sit for up to 5 minutes.  
  8. Lightly remove any excess wax with a separate, clean absorbent cloth, following the direction of the grain.  
  9. Allow to dry for 3 minutes and buff with a soft cloth.  

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