Dark wax seems to cause a great deal of anxiety when painting furniture. Let me be clear – you DO NOT have to use it! Ah, breathe a sigh of relief. That being said, it is a very useful step in creating a more aged and storied piece and it IS worth experimenting with. I have played with it quite a bit over the years and I think I’ve found how I like to use it. Sparingly.
You really do need a small, wax brush that you will only use for dark wax. It needs to be small so you can control the wax and it needs to be just for the dark so as not to contaminate you clear wax. That would be a very messy problem and one you don’t want to deal with.
If you’ve cracked open a can, you find a very dark, gooey wax. I like to describe is as kind of a mascara texture and feel.
This is an important question. Do not use your dark wax on large, flat surfaces like a table or side of a dresser unless your piece is old and you really need to. Typically you want to start at the detailed places like key holds or any appliques. I also like using it on the edges to create a bit of contrast.
How to dark wax.
Take your small brush and dab, dab, then wipe on the lip of the can. You will want to work with a light touch. I also use a fine steel wool pad and literally go behind my brush cleaning up any patchy dark wax (refer to my YouTube Tutorials for a visual). If you use too much you will find your piece looking muddy. Lighter is always better here. You can always go back and add more later.
Note: Good News! If you’ve used too much dark wax there is a simple solution. You can scrub away with your find steel wool if it is not dry OR you can retouch these spots with your ASCP and repeat your clear wax process for color consistency.
Another Note: If you use dark wax on any of the whites it will be much more bold and create a real shabby look. To avoid this do not use any dark on your white pieces.