Clay Paint, How To's

Wax or Poly ? The biggest dilemma of Furniture Artists

The most asked question is, what should I use to seal my furniture projects. Polycrylic, Polyurethane Or Wax?

We’re going to look at each option and give you some practical applications.


Polycrylic is a water based sealer. It comes in Matte, Satin or Gloss finishes. It drys quickly and can be easily cleans as it is a water-based product. Polycrylic creates a hard finish and leaves no odour. However, you do need a bit of expertise and patience to apply it, so you don’t end up with bubbles or brush strokes. It can be applied with Foam Brush or Standard bristle brush.

Typically polycrylic is used for anything that will have heavy traffic and requires a hard finish. For example, Tables, Chairs, Coffee Tables, Console Tables, Dresser tops, etc…


Polyurethane is a harder finish than Polycrylic. It can come with a Matte, Satin or Gloss Finish. It can be applied with a paint or foam brush, or if you’re sealing a larger area, you may prefer to use a paint roller.

Polyurethane dries quickly and may come as water-based or oil-based application. Creates a more durable finish then Polycrylic. However, it may also want to watch for Bubbles or Paint Strokes, as you do while applying polycryclic.

Some Polyurethanes can yellow over a white, cream or light paint finish. So, need to make sure when applying over a light coloured finish.

Here you can learn more about how to clay paint a furniture piece “Steps to clay paint your furniture pieces” 


Clear Wax has become a go-to topcoat for furniture artists. Why? Because clay mineral painted or milk painted, both furniture paints are porous in nature, therefore, wax easily absorbs into the surface. When the wax hardens, it seals the painted surface with a lovely natural looking soft sheen. The sheen can then be controlled by additional buffing. And some gorgeous effects can be created by using dark wax, white wax, or metallic wax finishes!

Using coloured Wax, such as Light Antiquing Wax, Dark Antiquing Wax, Black Wax or other coloured waxes, offers you an opportunity to add an “antiqued” finish to recessed areas or to the overall look of a piece. They can typically be applied with a Brush or Rag.

Furniture Wax allows for a great deal of creative options, as mentioned above. It dries quickly and gives a durable finish. However, it need to be reapplied periodically. Also, you wouldn’t want to use harsh chemicals to clean your piece, if it is finished with clear wax.

Some “Do’s and Don’ts when Painting with Clay Paint

To keep things simple, wax is used on clay painted and milk painted pieces (unless they are high traffic items!) and poly products on everything else!

If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below! We love to hear your opinions on using wax or poly?


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