7 Surprising Advantages (And 6 Disadvantages) Of Wax Finishes On Wood

Have you ever wanted to make a piece of furniture that has a ‘classic’ look along with the feel of bare wood?

Yet at the same time, there are so many finishing oils – such as a matte or satin finishes – that can leave wood looking dull or unnaturally glossy.

But what if I told you that there’s a centuries-old type of finish that is all natural, and is great at providing protection from wear and tear?

If you want to learn more about Matte Finishes and Satin Finishes, (and whether or not either type of finish is best for your hardwood floor), click here to find out more.

A Wax Finish looks great, feels even better to the touch, and works well on most hardwoods.

  1. The appearance of wax looks great on hardwood.
  2. Its super easy to apply
  3. It offers great protection against scratches.
  4. Wax can make timber look fresh.
  5. Its non-toxic (depending on wax type).
  6. Its environmentally friendly.
  7. Can penetrate through layers of wood (offering exceptional protection.
  1. The more modern polyurethane finish is more durable than a wax finish.
  2. It needs more maintenance (i.e. a fresh application once a year).
  3. Re-applications can start to build up an make the wood look increasingly drab and dull.
  4. Due to its ability to penetrate layers, it is difficult to remove.
  5. It is vulnerable to heat damage (i.e. those unsightly cup ring stains on wood tables).
  6. This deep penetrating finish can stain the wood.

So knowing what we know about wax finishes, is it really such a great choice for wood? And just what does wax do to the wood anyway?

Wood Wax 3

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What Does Waxing Do To Wood?

Waxing is a great way to add a much needed layer of protection on raw wood, furniture, and even hardwood floors.

But there is so much more to this durable finishing product than that.

You can use it as a standalone finish, or use it as a primary protective coat, only to then add an extra layer of another finish type on top.

So what is wax used for on wood?

Wax is typically used as a sealant, keeping out moisture and dirt, and keeping timber natural.

Does wax darken wood?

At first glance, when you start to apply a coat, wax can darken the surface of wood.

But once the wax dries, the surface will return somewhat to its original shade (although it will be a shade or two darker).

Adding more and more coats, over time, will darken the color of the wood too.

So does that mean wax changes the color of wood?

Wax does change the natural color of wood slightly.

However, if keeping the natural original color of the timber is important, then you could decide to go for a more translucent substitute; such as a Hard Wax Oil.

Related Post: What’s The Real Deal With Odie’s Oil Vs Rubio Monocoats Hard Wax Oil Finish?

Does wax seal and protect wood?

Wax, due to its ability to seep right through wood layers, is one of the best protecting finishes you can opt for.

That layered seepage is what really gets the job done when it comes to protecting floors and furniture.

But it is not the best sealant option against heavy water drenching (in other words, you wouldn’t make it your first choice for outdoor furniture).

Related Post: Should You Use A Hard Wax Oil Finish Vs Danish Oil?

So is wood wax waterproof?

Now, while wax can certainly reduce woods exposure to moisture, it is not 100% water proof.

The odd spill from a cup here and there, is unlikely to do permanent damage. But I would strongly advise against using wax as a finish on outdoor wooden fences.

Related Post: Can You Really Apply Wood Wax Over Shellac? (Best Practice Revealed!)

Why Would You Use Wax Instead Of Varnish?

Well, wax is easier to work with and plays well with others. Whilst varnish, on the other hand, can be a bit too stubborn.

Let me explain that a bit. A coat of varnish drys into an incredibly hard protective layer. Which means, that if you want to add a new refinishing coat to a varnished wood surface, you are going to have to lightly sand down the old coat of varnish.

Note: This is a task that requires a very careful and light touch, so that you don’t mess up the wood surface underneath the varnish.

Wax, on the other hand, can be wiped off the surface with a rag and a simple white vinegar solution.

Don’t believe me? Check out the video below to see just how easy it is to remove wax from furniture:

Sure, the wax itself may have seeped into the wood, but the top surface will be good to go for a new coat of finish.

Can you wax over varnished wood?

You can wax over varnished wood – in fact you can wax over almost any type of coat, whether it be varnish, paint, lacquer, etc. You can even wax raw wood too.

Related Post: How To Remove Hard Wax Oil From Wood (Without Sanding)

So, What’s The Best Wax For Wood?

For me, the obvious answer would be to get a quality paste finishing wax.

The Minwax Paste Finishing Wax, is a great choice if you want to give those wooden cabinets, doors, and even antiques some real character.

Can You Add Color To Wood By Using Wood Wax Stain Too?

It can be done… especially if you use a finish that combines hard wax with natural oils.

This type of finish is better known as a “hard wax oil finish”. And this specially blended wood wax comes available in a range of natural wood stain colors.

Now, Odie’s oil and Rubio Monocoat are two of the best hard wax oils available.

These two finishes not only seal wood, they penetrate the surface of it until there’s little visible film left. As a result, they leave behind a finish that’s water resistant, scratch resistant, and satin-smooth.

Rubio Monocoat is available to purchase in a range of pre-tinted colors. While Odie’s oil is available in two main shades; ‘natural’ and ‘dark’. However, you can also change the color of this hard wax oil using pigments.

If you’re interested in learning more, why not take a moment to explore our post here: What’s The Real Deal With Odie’s Oil Vs Rubio Monocoat?

Okay… So What’s The Best Beeswax For Wood?

When you’re looking for a durable yet natural protective wood wax, Walrus Oil is one of the best options available.

This hard wax oil combines non-drying oils such as coconut oil and mineral with beeswax and Vitamin E.

This oil is more than just a coconut-scented wood wax. Thanks to the blend of oils and beeswax, it acts like a wood butter when applied. This means that it has an ability to really fill in tiny cracks and gaps in wood grain.

To find out more about Walrus oil, pop over and check out our post here: Walrus Oil Vs Mineral Oil: Which One’s Better For Your Cutting Board?

Final Thoughts

A wax finish is a terrific option for a number of wood crafts, whether they be large or small.

So, the next time you are trying to decide on what kind of finish you should use, why not add wax to the list of choices.

Especially when, with a little bit of elbow grease, it can make your wood crafts and projects look outstanding!