Which is Best? Spray?Wax? Oil? Polish?

By: Ed Mayorga

I am amazed at the extremes I see in people. They either never polish their furniture or polish/wax it weekly. Both of these extremes will result in equal damage.

Furniture needs a protective polish/wax applied once or twice a year. Your goal is to protect the finish and that protects the wood. If the finish has deteriorated, establish a “plan B”. It is not practical to put a polish/wax on a piece of furniture which has a less than marginal finish and expect to love the outcome.

Polishes are typically sprays, aerosol or liquids. I have never found an aerosol polish that does not contain silicones. SILICONES ARE BAD FOR YOUR FURNITURE!! Having seen what they may do, here is how I think about them.

To the left is an example of the piece of furniture that has been stripped, sanded and sprayed by us using a lacquer sealer. On the top the customer had used Pledge, a notorious silicone culprit. Note the difference in the end result of this sealer application between the bins on the sides and the top. Notice the spotting issues on the flat top. The sides display proper flow/adhesion and looks as it should. It is extremely difficult to restore this piece to its original beautiful finish because of the damage done by the silicone spray on the top.

Liquid polishes come in two varieties. The first is either an emulsion or oil based. An emulsion is a mixture of two or more unblendable liquids. One liquid is water based and the other is wax or oil based. These clean relatively well and have good results– until the water dries. The second is an oil polish, with either a drying or non-drying oil. The non-drying oils such as lemon oils work relatively well. The drying oils are similar to linseed oil, will darken the wood and are difficult to remove.

 Furniture conservators and furniture experts use paste waxes. Liquid polishes are easy to apply and fail to last. Waxes require more effort to apply and are worth it. Quality wax has a carnauba or beeswax element and requires a lot more labor in buffing out.  This may be a no pain, no gain issue for some.

All waxes are emulsified. A carnauba wax product that claims it is 100% carnauba is a misstatement. Raw carnauba wax is as hard as rock and is unusable. Beeswax is softer than carnauba and many manufacturers add this to the carnauba formula. The beeswax  makes it easier to buff  out BEFORE it completely dries. Buffing it too late makes it difficult to get the look you want. Buffing too soon just spreads out the wax.

For example, we recommend waxing a dining room table once a year, (twice if utilized regularly). Chair legs should be waxed every 3 or 4 years. DO NOT put polishes over a wax coat.

Regardless of the product used, furniture must be cleaned first. If it is very dusty, use a slightly damp cotton cloth. Then buff out the surface using a dry cloth. If it doesn’t buff out, a new wax application may be necessary.

Most products attract dust and dust is an abrasive. Bare this in mind prior to the application of any product. That wet look can be a dust magnet which ruins your furniture.

For more information contact:
Master Craftsmen Services, Inc.
Ed Mayorga
97 Heathcliff Rd.
Wilmington, NC 28409
(910) 793-5945