comparing topcoats: then & now

The most pinned and visited post here is one I wrote a couple of years ago about my preference in furniture topcoats.  There has been consistent conversation on that post.  I’d like to continue that conversation over here with an update.

While the products I was using then are certainly fine products, tastes & trends change and new choices become available.  Let’s check in and compare what I was using in 2012 vs. what I’m using now and why…

2012 #1 Minwax Paste Finishing Wax – I was using paste wax primarily over stripped and stained surfaces.

hemp oil

Current #1 Hemp Oil – This is my current go-to topcoat for stained surfaces and raw wood.  Basically it can be applied to revive and treat any porous surface including flat paint leaving a rich finish.  Hemp oil is 100% natural, no VOCs and food safe.  I even use hemp oil on my cutting boards and cast iron pots.  It has no harsh odor so I use it indoors.  Hemp oil has a multitude of other DIY uses but we’re just talking about topcoats today so I will limit it to that.  Hemp oil can be applied with a cloth or brush.  I typically use a brush.  I love the addition of oil to my repertoire.

drop leaf table with hemp oil finish on raw wood and paint

2012 #2 Johnson Paste Wax – I always liked the finish this wax provided over painted surfaces but the chemical odor is just so strong that I never use it anymore.

furniture wax

Current #2 Miss Mustard Seed’s Furniture Wax – When I want a wax finish over painted furniture, I always go for this one regardless of the brand of paint.  It is made of beeswax and therefore has no odor.  It is incredibly easy to apply and leaves a nice even finish.  I apply with a wax brush.  MMS furniture wax dries very quickly, in about 5 minutes, and lightly buffs out with a lint free cotton rag.

mustard seed yellow milk paint nightstand with furniture wax

2012 #3 & #4 Annie Sloan Clear & Dark Wax – These waxes are nice and thick which is why I liked them back then.  At the time I was using a lot of chalk paint so it complemented well.  A thick wax over a full body paint made sense to me then.  However, there has been a lot of conversation around the clear wax leaving a haze and fingerprints while the dark wax was mostly just too dark and hard to work with on its own.  The dark wax is very pigmented because it is meant to be more of a stain from what I understand.  I have experienced both of those issues and pushed through until…

antiquing wax

2014 #3 & #4 Miss Mustard Seed’s Antiquing & White Wax – No surprise here but I’ve fully converted to all MMS waxes.  The antiquing wax creates such a subtle warm patina with no fear of being too dark as referenced before. The pigment is easy to spread.

lucketts green over trophy milk paint with antiquing wax #mmsmp

On the other hand, white wax creates a washed out look to the painted finish that I’ve been raving about this summer.  The white wax also has a very light scent that is pleasant and not chemically at all.

Mustard Seed Yellow + White Wax #mmsmp

I use brushes to apply these waxes as it helps gets the pigmentation to settle into the paint creating an aged look.  I reserve one wax brush exclusively for each color wax for easier clean up.  It is fun to use both antiquing and white wax on one piece to create depth and the illusion of years of wear.  I like to think of it as highlighting and low-lighting.

white wax

In 2012, I also indicated that I was using a buffer and still receive many questions about my buffer today.  Well, I can’t remember the last time I used it!  I power buffed because all of the waxes I was using were thick and it was the best way to get an even, shiny finish.  My current choice in waxes are much lighter.  When needed, a cotton rag and elbow grease buffs them out in minutes.  Although the beeswax is thinner, it gives a very solid, durable finish when cured.

Of course, this is just my opinion and perhaps, no surprise.  I wouldn’t sell a line of products that I don’t truly love.  There are many, many new topcoat choices on the market including a range of tinted waxes and ones with low or no VOCs.  It is important to find what suits your style best.  Please share in the comments what your go-to products for topcoats are.  I’d love to hear what you’ve discovered!

hemp oil 101

Last spring I posted about waxing furniture.  The post continues to be one of my most frequently visited.  It is due for an update though.  Since I wrote that post, I added another favorite wax to my stash as well as hemp oil.

Before this hemp oil came into my life, I pretty much avoided using any oil based paints and products.  Simply because of the messy clean up and the stinky chemical smell.  I only used them when it was completely necessary.

However, hemp oil is all natural with no foul odor.  It hasn’t been messy to clean up either.  I have designated a couple of cotton rags for applying it in my workshop.

Hemp Oil

You’ll get the best results when using hemp oil on dry wood.  I wouldn’t use it on varnishes or heavily waxed furniture because the oil will repel it.  If your finish is dry to the touch, hemp oil will hydrate it.

Let’s review 2 recent applications of hemp oil, shall we?

Exhibit A.

Boxwood Drop Leaf Table

This was a super dry old drop leaf table that I painted with Boxwood milk paint.  Because of the dry wood, the paint acted as a stain allowing the wood grain to show through.  Cool but it still needed a top coat so I chose hemp oil in this case.

Exhibit B.

Hemp Oiled Wooden Trunk

This old trunk lost its luster and fabric years ago.  I thought it still had some appeal though so I applied hemp oil to the raw wood – just wiped it on with a rag.  As a result it darkened the color and highlighted the knots and grain of the wood.  Plus the darker wood now contrasts more with the hardware creating a little more interest in this tattered old piece.

This is an easy, low cost option for a top coat to apply to painted furniture or raw wood.  It’s 100% natural – No VOC’s or smelly chemicals.  It is safe to use on a butcher block and other food prep areas and can be reapplied over the years.  Love that!  I sell it online and in my shop along with the milk paint line.

When you unscrew the lid of the container there is another metal lid.  It is easiest to open by puncturing with a nail or driving a screw into it.

Have you used any similar, natural top coats like hemp oil?

kitchen scale is here

We had some damp and nasty weather that kept me in the house on Sunday afternoon.  It was the perfect afternoon for a roaring fire, sweats, football and apple cider with my boys.

And paint.

I had this little half moon table stashed away for some time in the garage waiting for my shipment of Miss Mustard Seed milk paint.

I couldn’t sit still long so I started painting that thing right in the middle of the living room in front of the game.  (Eagles lost. Waa.)  Please tell me someone else does this too.  Any room at any time can become a workshop for me with a little paint and a few drop cloths.  I’m very careful and the paint does not smell.  It contains no VOC’s, is environmentally friendly and all natural.

So I mixed up Kitchen Scale by Miss Mustard Seed and went to town.

I kept the milk paint a little bit watery to achieve an uneven washed look on the table.

So many people have asked about milk paint and chalk paint differences and I want to take this opportunity to point out how the products can be very complementary.  Here I used Annie Sloan gold leaf to accent Miss Mustard Seed’s Kitchen Scale and I love the results!

The fancy gold really highlights the curves of the table while the milk paint keeps things toned down and approachable.  I waxed the entire table in the milk paint companion furniture wax.  It goes on like body lotion.  It is so smoothy and creamy.

So it’s official, the much anticipated milk paint is HERE!  Stop by the shop when we are open next weekend (Oct 20th & 21st) to pick up your own and see samples in person.  If you are not local, check out our online milk paint shop to order!

Linking to Funky Junk Interiors, Mod Vintage Life, Miss Mustard Seed, Coastal Charm, Vintage on a Dime, Primitive & Proper