Can You Apply Chalk Paint Over Wax? (How-To)

If you aren’t new to painting, then you have heard the clichè that chalk paint sticks to anything. How true is this statement concerning waxed surfaces? Can you chalk paint over wax? Here is the answer to that.

You can chalk paint over wax. Chalk paint can be applied over a waxed surface but this is usually not recommended. This is because wax prevents latex or water-based paints from adhering to the wooden surface properly.

Chalk paint here is a water-based paint. So it doesn’t bond well to the waxed surface.

So let’s dive in.

Does Chalk Paint Stick To A Waxed Surface?

Chalk paint doesn’t stick to waxed surfaces. This is because wax when cured produces an ultra-thick glossy film that penetrates materials.

This thick glossy film prevents not just chalk paint but virtually every other latex paint from bonding to the wood.

Waxed surfaces are also usually tacky indicating that the wax isn’t fully cured. For you to chalk paint over the wax, the wax has to be completely dry and this is difficult due to the sticky nature of the wax.

When it comes to painting, it’s not new to apply a coat of paint over another. In most cases, both paints will have the same base or solvent. But sometimes, both paints will have different bases.

However, you shouldn’t paint chalk or any other latex paint over wax. The paint bonding will be very poor and the entire paint will begin to peel off after a few weeks.

This is because wax is an oil-based finish which means that the waxed surface will be glossy and slick. Not just that, wax can penetrate porous surfaces like wood. For paints to bond, the undercoat or surface to be painted has to be textured. This means the existing finish must be slightly rough to allow the new paint costing to sit tightly.

When the surface is textured, the new paint will have a scuffed spot to bite into. However, waxed surfaces aren’t usually textured. Wax as explained earlier is glossy and slick.

The glossy and slick finish means that the new coat of chalk paint will not bond well to the wax. This will cause the chalk paint to peel eventually.

Your best bet to applying chalk over wax is to remove the wax finish first.

Does Clear Wax Darken Chalk Paint?

Clear wax doesn’t darken chalk paint or give the chalk paint a dark color. However, clear wax will deepen the chalk paint color and make it more vibrant.

Wax when applied on chalk paint gives the chalk paint color a deeper shade. The deeper color is caused by the multiple coats of clear sheen which enhances the chalk paint underneath, making the color appear deeper.

Also, clear wax will form an ultra-thick protective film on the chalk paint that will protect the chalk color and finish from moisture and scratches.

Chalk paint has a light texture and the paint is usually applied in thin coats. This makes the chalk color light when the paint dries.

However, the light color shade can be deepened by applying clear wax. 3 coats of clear wax on the chalk paint will make the chalk appear deeper and not black.

Many painters and DIYers call this deeper shade of chalk color “dark’ or “black” which gives the opinion that clear wax turns chalk paint black. It doesn’t.

However, you can make the chalk paint black if that’s what you want. While clear wax over the chalk paint will not blacken the chalk paint, dark paint will.

If you mix chalk paint with dark paint, the finish will turn darker but if you want a deeper and more vibrant shade, then you should apply wax over the chalk paint.

How To Apply Chalk Paint Over Wax (Made Easy)

Painting chalk over wax is not an easy task, I’ll tell you that.

In all honesty, it’s not a task you should embark on either because chalk paint doesn’t adhere to waxed surfaces regardless of how well you can paint.

However, there is a hack to painting chalk over wax.

The hack is to scuff or remove the top glossy layer of the wax. When the top layer is off, the finish underneath is exposed so the chalk can be applied to the existing finish beneath the wax.

But this task is easier said than done. Don’t fret though. This guide will provide you with all you need to know to carry out the task.

To paint chalk over wax, you need the following tools:

  • Sandpaper
  • Paint Scrapper
  • Mineral Spirit
  • Chemical-based Paint Stripper
  • Chalk Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Drop Sheet
  • Clean Rags
  • A Soft Brush
  • Dish Soap
  • Face Mask
  • A Pair of Gloves

Here is a quick rundown of how to chalk paint over wax:

  1. Sweep or Clean The Waxed Surface
  2. Apply Mineral Spirit on The Wax
  3. Scrape The Wax Off The Surface
  4. Apply Paint Stripper
  5. Sand The Surface
  6. Apply The Chalk Paint

Now, let’s get to work.

1. Sweep or Clean The Waxed Surface

Sweep or Clean The Waxed Surface

Wax even after months of application tends to remain tacky or sticky.

This tacky nature allows dust nibs, grease, and debris to stick to the waxed surface. You need to remove this debris before removing the wax.

If the debris is left on the wax, then the solvents and chemicals that would be applied to remove the wax wouldn’t work well.

If you are working on a piece of furniture, use a soft brush to dust the waxed surface first. If it’s a broader surface like a floor, you can sweep the surface.

After dusting or sweeping, the next thing is to clean. As explained earlier, wax allows different types of stains to stick. Not all of these stains will come off after sweeping or brushing.

So for the next step, mix warm water and dish soap in a bowl. Then use the warm soapy water to wash the waxed surface. This gets rid of tough stains especially oils on the wax.

2. Apply Mineral Spirit to The Waxed Surface

Apply Mineral Spirit to The Waxed Surface

When the wax is clean, apply Mineral spirit to remove wax. You can pour the mineral spirit on the wax directly but it’s best to work in sections especially while removing wax from broad surfaces.

To apply the mineral spirit, douse a rag with the solvent. Don’t squeeze!

Then use the wet rag to wipe the waxed surface. Ensure to work in sections so you can keep track of your work.

After applying the mineral spirit, use a rag to rub the mineral spirit into the waxed surface. Then leave the wax for about 10 minutes.

After a few minutes, you’ll notice that the wax is beginning to change form. The wax might have become blurry, wrinkled, discolored.

Any of these indicates that the mineral spirit is working. Then use a rag to wipe the wax and mineral spirit off.

After wiping, check the rag. If you notice a yellow tint on the rag, it means there is still wax on the surface. Don’t worry about it. The paint stripper will take care of the remaining wax.

3. Scrape The Wax

Scrape The Wax

The next step is to scrape the wax.

Wax is usually applied on wood, so use a plastic paint scraper or putty knife to prevent gouging the wood. Position the plastic paint scrapper at a 30 or 45-degree angle to the base of the wax. The gives you increased elevation to scrape the wax off.

Then gently, push the paint scraper underneath the wax and lift to remove the wax. You’ll need to do this repeatedly.

When you have scraped as much wax as you can, you should…

4. Apply Paint Stripper

Apply Paint Stripper

For waxed surfaces, it’s advised to use a chemical-based paint stripper. But why should you use a paint stripper after using a solvent?

Here is why- usually, after scraping and using mineral spirits, you wouldn’t even notice any wax on the surface. But this doesn’t mean there isn’t wax there.

Wax tends to soak into wood fibers and grain. This is why the finish is always so difficult to remove.

While scraping and using a solvent will remove the top layer of wax, the bottom layer which is usually inside the wood will still be there.

It’s this wax that has penetrated inside the wooden material that makes it very difficult for chalk paint to adhere to the wood.

The wax inside the wood has in a way sealed the wood preventing any further paint from adhering properly. So, the next thing is to remove the bottom layer of wax in the wood and the only product that will do this correctly is a chemical-based paint stripper.

Now, back to our task.

Apply the paint stripper to the waxed surface. Then leave the stripping compound to cure depending on the instructions of the manufacturer. It will take a few hours for the paint stripper to work its magic.

When the paint stripper has cured, you will be able to scrape off a hardened layer of paint stripper that is soaked with wax.

Ensure to scrape off the paint stripper from the surface. As you scrape off, you’ll notice that the wax is coming off with it.

5. Sand The Surface

Sand The Surface

The next step is to sand. This is another reason to use a paint stripper. If the bottom layer of wax is left on the surface, you are at risk of grinding the wax further into the wood fibers as you sand.

To sand, start with fine-grit sandpaper. 180 or 220-grit is good enough. What you are trying to do is to remove any grain or imperfection on the wooden surface before applying the chalk paint.

After, use very fine-grit sandpaper to sand again. What you are trying to do here is to smoothen the surface so the chalk paint can come out smooth. 320-grit will help you achieve an ultra-fine surface.

Next, you should…

Related Read: How To Sand Chalk Paint?

6. Apply The Chalk Paint

Apply The Chalk Paint

Apply two coats of chalk paint over the sanded surface. You don’t need to prime the chalk paint because it will adhere well to a sanded surface without a primer.

Also, don’t sand between coats of chalk paint. After applying the first coat, wait till it has dried. Then apply the second coat. It only takes a few minutes for chalk paint to dry enough for re-coat.

When the final coat of chalk paint has dried, you can finish it.

You can go for a distressed chalk finish by sanding the chalk paint with fine-grit sandpaper after it has cured.

You can also go for a glossy finish by applying 3 coats of polyurethane, oil-based enamel, or wax on the chalk paint after it has cured. When you have done all these, you have successfully painted chalk over wax.

Tip: Never paint chalk over wax without removing the wax first.

Related Read: Can You Use a Roller To Apply Chalk Paint?

How Long Should Chalk Paint Dry Before Waxing?

Chalk paint has to cure before it can be waxed. The chalk paint has to dry for at least an hour before the wax can be applied over it.

It takes chalk paint between one and three hours to cure depending on the number of coats applied, painting conditions, and the surface painted.

On average, chalk paint will cure in 90 minutes after application.

After the paint has cured, it can be waxed. If the wax is applied over chalk paint that hasn’t cured, then the wax will not adhere to the chalk. This is because there will still be moisture trapped inside the chalk paint.

Related Read: Can You Apply Wax Over Chalk Paint?

What Happens If You Don’t Wax Chalk Paint?

If you don’t wax chalk paint, then the chalk finish will be prone to scratches, chipping, and moisture. This is because the chalk finish is light and thin. The thin nature of the paint makes it less durable than other paint types.

This means that chalk paint can easily be dented and scratched.

The chalk paint is also water-based and to a very large extent, water-soluble. The solubility of the chalk in water makes it prone to moisture. This means the paint will easily be affected by water spills and leaks.

However, the chalk finish can be improved by sealing it with wax. When wax is applied over the chalk finish, the wax will dry to form a clear, ultra-thick, and moisture-resistant film.

This clear film over the chalk makes the chalk finish underneath less prone to moisture, scratches, and other factors that can damage the chalk. This preserves the chalk finish for an extended period.

So if you don’t apply wax over chalk, then the chalk finish will not last long.

There are also other alternatives to using wax on chalk paint. If wax isn’t your top pick, you can use polyurethane, oil-based enamel, or any other oil-based clear finish on the chalk paint.

Related Read: Can You Apply Polyurethane Over Chalk Paint?

Final Words

Overall, you can paint chalk over wax but you need to remove the wax first to allow the chalk paint to stick.

But even after removing the wax, the chalk paint will still not stick properly.

So you will need to sand and possibly, prime the surface after removing the wax to allow the chalk paint to stick.

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