Friday, December 13, 2013

Use Glaze to Add Depth to a Chalk Paint Finish

When we last left the story of the chalk paint makeover of my set of 1970s oak tables, their tops were stripped and stained, and their bases had been painted and wet distressed.  (Post about stripping the tops is HERE, and the lesson on wet distressing is HERE.)  Now it's time to use glaze to add dimension to the color and give the painted finish that little extra 'something'.

There are plenty of tutorials out there that show you how to use dark wax to do this ... I published one myself because that's what I used to do, and it's my most popular post to date (HERE).  One day, though,  I had a revelation ... dark wax sits on top of the finish and it isn't permanent.  That's okay for some folks, but I work hard to get my painted furniture pieces looking just the way I think they should look, and I want them to stay that way.  I do this by using glaze instead of dark wax.  Here's what I use and how I do it:

There are no special supplies needed.  Squirt some brown acrylic craft paint into a disposable cup.  Add water and stir until the mix is a consistency somewhere between cream and milk.  Grab your paintbrush (I use a disposable chip brush) and a couple of paper towels, and let's get started.

Here's what the table leg looked like before any glaze was applied.

Painted table leg, wet distressed, ready for glaze.

The idea is to brush the glaze mixture onto the paint, and to work it into the turnings and crevices with your brush.  Go easy with this ... you don't want it to drip all over the place.  I apply only enough glaze to wet the surface and I scrub it in good with my brush.

I work in circles or across the grain to get the glaze into every crevice.

The glaze gets all foamy when I scrub it in with my brush.

Then I blot my brush on a paper towel ...

... and smooth the glaze until it's just a haze on the surface of the paint.  If you need to, you can use a paper towel to carefully blot any place where you have too much glaze. 

All smooth now.  Final strokes in the direction of the grain, and around the turnings.

The glaze creeps into the nooks and crannys, and it adds even more to the appearance of age and wear on this table. 

Here, you can clearly see all three colors of paint (Graphite, Olive, and Aubusson), plus some raw wood.

I usually put on two coats of glaze, just to make sure that I haven't missed any spots and to even out any blotchy spots that may have happened during the initial coat of glaze.  See the places in the turnings of this leg that got missed while I was working on the first coat with the table upside down?  When the first coat of glaze is dry, I flip the table and apply the second coat with the table right-side up to catch all of these places.

Blotchy, with spots that I missed with the first coat.  I'll fix it!

For these tables, I was aiming for a streaky, smoky look to the final finish ... not as much as those awful old-school antiquing paint kits that many of us remember from the 60s and 70s, though. 

Wet glaze.

Once the glaze was completely dry, I applied two VERY light coats of Minwax Satin Wipe-On Oil-based Polyurethane.  If done with a light hand, and carefully buffed with a sanding pad between coats, I almost dare anyone to tell the difference between this and a clear wax finish.  (If you want, you can use clear wax after the glaze instead of polyurethane ... for myself, I prefer the durability and permanent nature of varnish.)

As soon as I get some decent photos of the tables in place, which means spending the rest of today completing the reclamation of our living room, I will be thrilled to show you the final result.

sharing at Miss Mustard Seed


  1. Very pretty Connie. I have never used glaze, but you wrote a wonderful tutorial that I think I could give it a try sometime. Thanks for the info.

  2. I've really enjoyed this posts. Can't wait to start experimenting.

  3. My mother had an affection for those antiquing kits. ugh.
    Great lessons.
    Looking forward to seeing the end results.

  4. I just wanted to confirm one thing about your project which I love by the way. So you diluted Acryllic paint and used as a glaze over Chalk Paint? Then you recommend using a polyurethane over that?

    1. Exactly. I have also used a wash of diluted Chalk Paint as a glaze on some projects, but the acrylic paint glaze is easier. The idea is to get a haze of shadow of the glaze into the crevices and edges of your project.

  5. Confirming your steps.... Chalk paint, Glaze(diluted Acrylic paint) then Polyurethane? Is it still looking good?

    1. Chalk paint, glaze, then top coat (polyurethane, in this case) Can use wax, if that's your thing. It's not mine. These tables look as good now as they did the day I finished them 2+ years ago. In fact, I'm sitting here typing on my laptop with my feet propped up on the coffee table. I love it!

  6. Beautiful job! Was wondering if I can chalk paint and glaze the top of a dining room table finishing w/ a poly. Would it be durable for a table top?

    1. You can absolutely use chalk paint over a polyurethane table top! If it were mine, I would use a superfine grit sandpaper by hand and lightly go over the surface, to dull the shine to give the paint a bit of 'tooth'. That's what I do whenever I paint a piece of varnished furniture, and it holds up great. Paint, glaze, then finish with your choice of wax or poly. (I use poly, because I'm not careful with my furniture. I don't want to have to worry about white rings on a waxed tabletop because of wet glasses or hot dinner plates. That's not what the true chalk paint people are going to tell you ... I just know what works well for ME.


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