Furniture Wax vs. Other Finishes: The Showdown

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When it comes to finishing and protecting wooden furniture, there are several options available, including furniture wax, varnish, oil, and paint.


Each of these finishes offers unique advantages and drawbacks, making it essential to understand their differences to choose the best option for your needs. In this blog post, we will compare furniture wax with other popular finishes, discussing their pros and cons, and recommend some top-quality products to help you make an informed decision.

Furniture Wax


Furniture wax is a versatile and popular choice for finishing and protecting wooden furniture. It is made from a combination of natural and synthetic waxes, providing a rich, lustrous finish that enhances the natural beauty of wood. Some examples of high-quality furniture wax products include Artisan Paint Finishing Wax and Artisan Paint Easy Wax from Sweet Pea Interiors.


  • Easy to apply and maintain
  • Enhances the natural beauty of wood
  • Provides a protective layer against moisture, dirt, and minor scratches
  • Available in various colors and finishes
  • Can be easily removed or reapplied as needed


  • Less durable than some other finishes
  • Requires more frequent maintenance
  • May not be suitable for outdoor furniture or high-traffic areas

Varnish and Polyurethane

Varnish and polyurethane are popular finishes that create a protective film on the surface of the wood. These finishes offer excellent durability, making them ideal for high-traffic areas and outdoor furniture.


  • Provides a durable, water-resistant finish
  • Available in various sheens, from matte to high gloss
  • Can be tinted to enhance the color of the wood
  • Requires less frequent maintenance compared to wax


  • Can be more challenging to apply
  • May alter the natural appearance of the wood
  • Difficult to remove or repair if damaged

Oil Finishes

Oil finishes, such as Danish oil, tung oil, and linseed oil, penetrate the wood's surface to provide a natural, durable finish. These finishes are popular for their ability to enhance the wood's beauty while offering protection against moisture and wear.


  • Easy to apply and maintain
  • Enhances the natural beauty of wood
  • Offers protection against moisture and wear
  • Can be applied in multiple coats for a more durable finish


  • Less protective than varnish or polyurethane
  • May require more frequent maintenance compared to other finishes
  • Can darken the wood's appearance over time


Paint is another option for finishing wooden furniture, providing a complete color transformation and a protective barrier. Paint can be an excellent choice for those looking to give their furniture a new look or to cover imperfections in the wood.


  • Provides a complete color transformation
  • Offers a durable, protective barrier against wear and moisture
  • Can be used to create a variety of finishes, from matte to high gloss


  • Can obscure the natural beauty of the wood
  • Requires proper surface preparation and application for a professional result
  • Can be challenging to remove or change the color

The Showdown: Choosing the Right Finish for Your Furniture


Now that we've compared furniture wax with other popular finishes let's discuss how to choose the right option for your needs.

  • Consider the use and location of your furniture

Think about where your furniture will be placed and how it will be used. For example, if you need to finish an outdoor piece or a heavily used tabletop, a more durable finish like varnish or polyurethane may be a better choice. On the other hand, furniture wax or oil finishes may be ideal for less-trafficked areas or indoor furniture that requires a more natural appearance.

  • Evaluate your desired appearance and finish

The finish you choose will greatly impact the final look of your furniture. If you want to maintain and enhance the wood's natural beauty, consider using furniture wax or an oil finish. If you're looking for a complete color transformation or a glossy, modern appearance, paint or varnish may be a better option.

  • Assess your level of expertise and available tools

Some finishes may require more skill and specialized tools to apply properly. For example, varnish and polyurethane can be more challenging to apply evenly, and paint may require thorough surface preparation. If you're new to furniture finishing or don't have access to specialized equipment, furniture wax or oil finishes may be more user-friendly options.

  • Maintenance and longevity

The finish you choose will also impact the level of maintenance required to keep your furniture looking its best. Furniture wax may need more frequent upkeep, while varnish, polyurethane, or paint may offer longer-lasting protection with less maintenance.

The Right Tools for the Job


No matter which finish you choose, having the right tools can greatly impact the application process and final result. For applying furniture wax, we recommend using specialty brushes like the Artisan Paint Wax Brush and Artisan Paint Blue Italian Brush from Sweet Pea Interiors. These brushes are specifically designed to hold wax effectively and provide an even, smooth finish.


In the showdown between furniture wax and other finishes, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The best choice for your furniture restoration project depends on various factors, such as the intended use of the furniture, your desired appearance, and your level of expertise. By understanding the pros and cons of each finish and considering your specific needs, you can make an informed decision and achieve beautiful, long-lasting results.