How to Apply Wax Over Paint

Updated November 21, 2016

A coat of wax can provide protection to a piece of furniture or nearly any painted surface. This is because the wax creates a thin barrier between the painted item and the rest of the world. Small gouges or scratches will probably not extend through this protective wax layer, so they can be quickly buffed away or filled in with a new coat of wax. While applying wax is a simple procedure, you do need to properly prepare the paint by covering it with a protective finish before you begin waxing.

Apply a coat of clear polyurethane over the paint with a paintbrush or paint roller. Let the polyurethane dry completely and add two additional coats to protect the paint, waiting for each coat to dry before you begin to apply the next.

Sand the final layer of polyurethane when it is dry with 320-grit sandpaper dampened in water. Spray the polyurethane with additional water as you sand until the surface feels smooth to the touch.

Wait for the polyurethane to cure for approximately one week. The label on the polyurethane can may indicate a longer or shorter curing time. If the information is available, follow the directions for the specific product you are using to ensure that is cured before you begin to apply wax.

Scoop up a quarter-size amount of paste wax on a non-abrasive scrubbing pad.

Spread the paste wax onto the dry painted surface with the scrubbing pad and rub it in a circular motion. Try to distribute the wax evenly to create a thin coat.

Continue to add wax to the surface in small amounts and rub it in until the entire surface is covered.

Rub the wax firmly and vigorously with a soft cloth to buff the wax. The wax will become shiny and develop a polished appearance as you work.


Buff the surface to restore the shine if the painted and waxed surface begins to appear dull over time. If buffing is no longer sufficient to shine the surface, you can apply a fresh coat of wax. You can use any soft material to buff the wax including cotton diapers or old T-shirts.


You cannot paint over a waxed surface. If you wish to repaint the object, you will need to strip away all of the wax or the paint will not adhere properly.

Things You'll Need

  • Clear polyurethane
  • Paintbrush
  • 320-grit sandpaper
  • Spray bottle
  • Water
  • Paste wax
  • Non-abrasive scrubbing pad
  • Soft cloth
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About the Author

Kittie McCoy has been a freelance writer since 2008. She is also a part-time personal trainer and licensed entertainer in Las Vegas. She enjoys sharing her love of physical fitness and experience in the entertainment industry via her writing.