Tricks and Tips When Using Dark Wax for Antiquing Furniture

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Learn how to use dark wax for antiquing furniture.

I have an Eastlake dresser with the prettiest details. After months of it not selling, I decided to give it a small makeover. I wanted to make the details stand out, so I decided that the dresser needed to be distressed and antiqued. Read more about how I updated this dresser to show off those pretty details. 

tips and tricks for using dark wax on furniture

Here’s how it looked before I gave it a small makeover. The top was whitewashed. 

dresser before

How to Use Dark Wax for Antiquing Furniture



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  1. Start with a painted piece of furniture. This dresser was painted with General Finishes in Queenstown Gray, but wax works well over chalk paints as well. This AMS Southern Gentleman is very similar. I lightly distressed the dresser edges using sand paper in places where normal wear would occur, like protruding trim and edges. 
  2. Use a dime sized amount of the clear wax onto the dresser.use a small amount of wax
  3. Apply with a chip brush (I used the wrong brush – use an inexpensive chip brush instead!) Brush the wax over the entire piece. Apply more as needed, but err on the side of less wax. This wax is so nice to work with. It spreads easily.apply light wax
  4. Let dry for about 30 minutes.
  5. Apply the dark wax over the surfaces that you just waxed with light wax. (If you apply dark wax without the lighter wax first, the dark wax gets into the paint too much and is harder to work with.)apply wax
  6. Brush on in the same manner. Pay special attention to areas that would naturally look darker with age or wear on it’s own. For the drawers, I applied dark wax in the trim areas and around the edges. On the body of the dresser,  I paid attention to detailed trim and places where the trim meets.Add wax in places it would naturally look darker
  7. In some places, I pounced the brush to create a more textured look. apply dark wax
  8. Let dry for about 30 minutes. The wax should feel a bit sticky.
  9. Buff with a clean lint free rag. I like to buff in a circular motion.buff wax with rag

Tips for Working with Dark Wax for Antiquing

dark wax on furniture

  • Don’t skip the light wax as the first step. Dark wax will stain the paint and be harder to remove if you hate the results.
  • Less is more. I have the same approach to distressing. When you apply too much wax, it just looks dirty, instead of old.
  • If you apply too much wax, it can be removed by applying light wax and buffing it off. If you still hate it, use mineral spirits or furniture cleaner to thin the wax.
  • Keep your dark and light wax chip brushes separates. Label them “dark” and “light”. I like to store mine in zip lock baggies when not in use. This keeps the dust off of the wax.
  • Too subtle? Add another coat of dark wax.

Using Gel Stain on the Dresser Top

This dresser also received a coat of gel stain in Antique Walnut. Since the top had a top coat on it, I lightly sanded before I applied gel stain to the wood using a foam brush.

Check out this post about how to refinish a table top!

applying gel stain

I used a clean lint free rag to rub my stain in. This results in a lighter color that I love with the existing gray paint. I repeated this twice, allowing each coat to dry. I love how it built up the color.applying gel stain to top

The stain looks so pretty with the gray!

Dresser top with A Makers' Studio gel stain in English Walnut

After it dried, I applied 3 thin coats of polycrylic sealer.

Dark wax on Eastlake dresser

The change is subtle on a darker color, but you can see it in any cracks and crevices on the piece. I love how it turned out.

closeup of distressing and dark wax

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Learn to use dark wax for antiquing furniture.

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