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Can You Paint Over A Waxed Finish?

The question is debatable, Here’s my take on the whole wax on, wax off topic when it comes to repainting with milk paint.

Anyone remember the Chalk Painted Table I did for the kids room a few years back? That little table gave all she could and is long over due for an update! I refinished it with Old Fashioned Milk Paint and a modern acrylic pour, topped with resin.

But first there are a few things to know before you attempt to paint over a waxed finish….

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Some Things To Consider Before You Paint Over A Waxed Finish

When using any paint, acrylic, mineral, chalk based, milk or whatever, you do need to first remove the old waxed finish with Mineral Spirits. Wax acts a resist, and sooner or later your beautiful painted finish could come off if all traces of wax are not removed, with some paints more or less than others.

Some sources online may have another opinions, Annie Sloan claims you can paint over her wax with her Chalk paint, yet even some of her distributors recommend removing the wax with Mineral Spirits in certain situations. Some Sources claim you only need a light sanding, while others call for a primer coat before repainting. It can be quite difficult to remove paint no matter what surface you’re using, even on concrete!

But think about it, Artisans have been using wax as a resist to paint and dyes for centuries. It’s one of the first techniques we learn in school. It only makes perfect sense to me to remove it.”Better safe than sorry!”

Even though this piece is on older finish, with its luster long gone, I can still scrape off wax with my fingernail from the corners and grooves. Heck I’m playing it safe and taking no chances this piece is going to have multiple types of paint and finishes, I need all that wax gone baby!

the old waxed finish

This One Failed The Test Of Time

This is one of the first pieces I painted with Chalk paint and a waxed finish, after much abuse from the kids over five years this finish has seen better days! Just look how poorly a waxed table top lasts over time with abuse I know, pretty icky right? The faux metal piece I put on the drawer front didn’t hold up to well either.

Those kids of mine are little animals when it comes to furniture wear and tear, I’m surprised there aren’t teeth marks! Oh wait that was on the old cribs.. I forgot!

removing the waxed finish safely

Prepping With Mineral Spirits

Mineral spirits is pretty caustic stuff to work with. Keep safety in mind and use a proper respirator, eye protection, and nitrile gloves! I use this stuff outside myself, for plenty of ventilation. Be sure to let your rags dry out before throwing them in the trash can.

This finish is 5 years old, with no wax finish sheen on it at all. You would think you could safely paint over it…. look at the next shot and all the dirty wax that came off, along with some paint….

waxed finish removal rag
Goin Easy With The Mineral Spirits

Use this chemical sparingly…a dampened rag with mineral spirits, going in the direction of the previous brushstrokes, lightly wiping and slightly overlapping your wipe strokes. You want to get into the grooves, but you don’t want to gouge through the painted surface. Go over the piece again with a water dampened rag to remove the chemical residue. then let that baby air dry thoroughly in a well ventilated area. When your hands glide smoothly over the piece and don’t drag your all done.

Instagram shot of OFMP

Second time around

So here she is the second time around, all cleaned and pretty with her new coat! Old Fashioned Milk Paint in Snow White mixed with equal parts Xtra Bond. and finished off with Acriglaze for a superb durable finish.

color mixing OFMP

Case In Point

Hmmm, Uh yeah I did apply wax to the inside of this drawer afterall! Case in Point…

I hardly ever wax the drawer insides anymore… this was one of my first pieces. I simply forgot I waxed it, there was no trace of wax here, so I did not clean the drawer with mineral spirits first. Low and behold even with the Extrabond added to the Milk Paint, it peeled right off in sheets!

Instgram shot of drawers in process

It’s A Do Over

Here we go,.. stripped, wiped with mineral spirits to get rid of the wax, and repainted with OFMP and Extrabond. We are good to go! If you’re planning on doing more painting than what I have done, maybe even a whole room or even your whole house, I’d recommend getting a professional in and consider the questions to ask before hiring a painting company so you’re not left disappointed! Painting walls might be a better feat as you may not have the issue I had with the wax. But alas, it is complete!

And as my little piggy friend puts it…. ” That’s All Folks! “

So in conclusion, that’s my take on preparing an older waxed piece for a repaint, at least when I use Old Fashioned Milk Paint. Even if you think that old wax has worn off…. play it safe and get that stuff off. Sometimes you want a chippy finish with milk paint, maybe you don’t – use Extrabond. But I’m sure you don’t want your fresh layer of paint peeling off in sheets!

Hold On…

Are you looking to see this little lady all redone with her snazzy new look?

Well check out this piece all finished with An Acrylic Pour Makeover .

A Little Bit About Our Sponsor

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Old Fashioned Milk Paint Co.

The original, all-natural paint with the soft chalky finish, and the original powdered formula, since 1974. Just add water and paint! Producing zero-voc Old Fashioned Milk Paint & SafePaint milk paint for walls, Antique Crackle, Extra-Bond and distributors of Daddy Van’s Beeswax, AFM Safecoat Acriglaze Matte Finish and Hope’s 100% Tung Oil.