Furniture Painting

Topcoat & Finishes-Furniture Painting 101 Episode 6

Welcome to Episode 6 of Furniture Painting 101! In this episode, we will be discussing topcoats and finishes.  Clearcoats, polyurethane, waxes, and salves.

Do All Paints Need Topcoats?

There are some paints where a topcoat is highly recommended, and some that have binders/topcoats built into the formula. Furniture paints,  like chalk and clay paint, almost always require an added topcoat to seal the finish, to keep it from being removed when cleaning. These paints generally have that chalky looking/feeling finish. They require sealing not because they are flat in appearance, but because they are porous.  If you were to get water, oil, and other things on them it would likely be absorbed, and affect your finish.

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Paints, that have a binder or topcoat built-in, such as wall paint like Sherwin Williams Paint, will not need a topcoat, as they have a latex binder built in that seals the paint. Dixie Belle & Silk all-in-one paints that have an acrylic base with binders and minerals that can absorb the extra topcoat, so they do nit necessarily require a topcoat, but will accept one, which will toughen the finish. These paints are still porous,  and give us the opportunity to have some fun and use decorative finishes.

Topcoats can be used to protect your paint and give it a nice finish, changing it from matte to eggshell/satin, or glossy. Topcoats aid in decorative finishes, as well, such as aged, antiqued or glazed  finishes.


There is more than one kind of wax, with furniture wax, there is a petroleum base and a water-based. To my knowledge, Dixie Belle is the only water-based furniture wax, the rest are all petroleum, beeswax, hemp oil, or other oily-type bases.

With water-based wax, you can put your wax on and let it dry anywhere from a few hours to overnight, then you can use your topcoat over it. As a general rule, though, waxes that are oil-based will resist anything you put over it. These types of waxes such as DIY  Wax,  should always be the very last thing you apply to your finish.

Brands Of Wax

  • Dixie Belle Wax– Water-based. This wax goes on white, but dries clear, which is great for knowing where you have put it, and where it still needs more. It takes a little elbow grease to work it in, but creates a great seal. Comes in clear, white, gray, brown, and black.
  • DIY Wax-Beeswax based, with carnauba, ,candelila, caresin and isophar. This is my favorite wax. It goes on just like melted butter, so smooth. The porous paint will absorb this very well. The first time you use it, it may scare you a tad, it can look streaky and blotchy. It can take a few days for it to soak in and smooth out, but trust the process, it will be beautiful. It comes in clear, dark, black, and white.
  • Jolie Top Coat Clear- Just tried this for the first time, and I liked it. Finishing wax.  Workability somewhere between Dixie Belle and DIY.
  • Dixie Belle Easy Peasy Spray Wax-For this wax you shake it until you do not hear it mixing, then spray it on the project, rub it in, it will cure in 6 hours.
  • All waxes need to be reapplied about every 6 months.

Colored Wax

  • Dixie Belle Best Dang Wax-This wax comes in 4 colors, Grunge Gray, White, Black, and Brown. Thick pudding consistency. Not as highly pigmented as some of the others.
  • DIY Wax– Comes in White, Black, Dark, Shipwreck (turquoise patina), and clear.  This wax is highly pigmented. Make sure to wear gloves to avoid staining your fingers!

Gilding Wax

  • Dixie Belle Guilding Wax– Add a touch of beauty, shimmer, and sheen to your painted projects. You can apply Gilding Wax with your finger, cloth, sponge, or brush. Let the Gilding Wax dry for 30 – 60 minutes. Lightly buff after 12 hours to produce a beautiful gilded finish
  • DIY Golden Rule is a great gilding wax that can be applied with a brush, cloth, or your finger to give a golden hi-light to your piece.

Important TIP: Before you put your colored wax, apply a coat of clear wax. The clear wax does not have to dry. (You could also use a clear topcoat, and let it dry) Either of these will help fill in some of the brush strokes, and allow the color to glide on easily, only in the areas that you want it. If you get too much dark wax, you can “erase” it by applying a little clear wax on top,  and then just wipe it off! It’s that simple!

More detail on each wax can be found in the video below.

Clear Coats

Flat Clear Coat

For my flat clear coat, I use Dixie Belle clear coat flat. This comes in 8 oz, 16 oz, 32 oz, and gallons.  General Finishes Flat out Flat, is another popular brand, which I thought was good. Banana Peel by Junk Monkey is another good flat. These are to be used when you still want it to look like chalk paint, but you want to protect the finish.  Embellishments and transfers can be added after this step.


A Satin/eggshell finish is the middle of the road finish. Dixie Belle Clear Coat Satin, or DIY Big Top After Show   are my favorites. These are best applied with a synthetic brush, which will leave fewer brush strokes.


When you are looking for a glossy finish, Dixie Belle Clear Coat Gloss is my go to. It is not very often that I use a high gloss finish, but sometimes it will be the best finish for a particular piece.


DIY Liquid Patina comes in Clear (Crystal Clear Chandelier) and Dark and Decrepit, Golden Ticket, Copper, and Old Gray Barn Wood. It can be used as a topcoat, stain, or decoupage medium.

Gator Hide is tough as a gator’s hide, and is the first choice for surfaces that may come in contact with moisture. This is the toughest of tough when it comes to topcoats. It has a satin sheen, and can be buffed to a higher shine.

Glazes and Metallics

Moonshine Metallics by Dixie Belle are translucent metallics. Multiple coats can be used for a more opaque look. Start with a base coat that matches your metallic, then add 1-3 coats to get your desired level of sheen.

Glazes go over paint and work similar to a topcoat, while adding a small amount of colored sheen. Multiple layers can be used to get more color. Dixie Belle carries Pearlescent, Sapphire, Van Dyke Brown, Black and Grunge Gray, or you can create your own by mixing the paint color of your choice 50/50 with Clear Coat Satin.

Washes are created just like glazes, but are mixed 50/50 paint to water. They are easier to maneuver and remove excess, in my opinion. They are great for cabinets and pieces that you want to tone down, or brighten up. This is great for white washing, too.

I hope you find this helpful! Please message me with any questions! Episode 8 will be calculating your retail pricing, and Q & A’s!

If you like details, there are a lot more of them in my Topcoat & Finishes video below!

Happy Painting!


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