I made a big mistake using white wax!
If you have been following along on my Instagram stories, you’ll know I’m currently making over a set of eight antique dining chairs. My husband found the chairs on Craigslist in November, and we immediately knew we wanted them. We ended up driving an hour away to see the chairs the same day we contacted the seller. The only information the seller could tell us about the chairs is that they were his grandmother’s. All the chairs were in great condition but had original, worn light blue fabric that needed replaced.
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Here’s what they looked like:
We purchased the set of eight chairs for $500, which breaks down to about $63 a chair. New upholstered chairs with a similar antique look usually cost upwards of $200/chair, so I am pleased with our purchase price. Side note: I did try to get the seller down in price but he wouldn’t budge. 😉
After we brought them home, we immediately started tearing off the old fabric. It was quite a nightmare actually. Each chair had about 300 decorative pins outlining the fabric, so in order to remove the fabric we had to remove each pin. We had to pry EACH PIN off individually with a slot head screwdriver. It took us several hours each day, over the course of three days, to complete the task.
You can see the pins below as well as the worn and stained fabric.
After we completed the disassembly, we sat with the unassembled chairs…for three months.
The main reason it took so long to continue the chair makeovers was because we could not decide how we wanted to make them over. For several weeks, we went back and forth on the new color of the wood and the new fabric color. We took many trips to JoAnn’s and came back with multiple fabric options, with no choice in sight.
Finally, one day on Pinterest I came across a table that had been white waxed, and I immediately fell in love with the look. Right then and there, I decided that we should white wax the chairs and luckily Jason was on board. We toyed with the idea of painting the chairs but really didn’t want to completely cover the beautiful wood. I thought lightening it up a bit and giving it an antique look would be the perfect solution.
After making that decision, we made our second decision: to reupholster the chairs with a light, cream-colored fabric.
HALLELUJAH! We were finally ready to begin our project.
During those three lag months, I got a little irritated with myself because I was incredibly indecisive about the direction to go with the chairs. Looking back now though, I’m SO glad we took our time with making a decision. I love the white wax look, and if I would have jumped eagerly into a decision just because I wanted to finish them, I don’t think I would love the look of them as much as I do now.
The next step was to purchase the white wax. I choose to purchase Miss Mustard Seed’s white wax. After having used it, I can tell you first-hand how wonderful the product is. I paid $36 for a small can of white wax, which seemed expensive to me. But guys, the product is amazing and worth every penny.
Here’s the white wax we used:
The consistency is like body butter and the odor is low. This is great for me because I have a one year old, and I try to avoid having harsh odors in my home as much as possible.
Here’s what it looks like:
This was my first time using white wax, and in true Marly fashion, I jumped right into the project. Well, I did stop to read the back label before starting. It noted that I could use either a cloth or a brush to apply the wax. I had a cloth handy, so I decided to use that to apply the wax. I quickly ‘ruffed’ up my chairs with sandpaper before applying the wax.
Here’s me lightly sanding the wood:
Then, I grabbed my cloth and started applying the wax to the chairs.
This was a BIG MISTAKE, which I didn’t quite realize at first!
Being that I had never used white wax, I didn’t know how it was supposed to look on the chairs when wet. So, I just went along and continued rubbing the white wax on my chairs using a cloth. Even though I was applying a good amount, the wax seemed a bit sparse on the chair and did not fully cover the decorative indentations on the chairs.
This is how it looked on the chairs after I used the cloth to apply it:
My dad happened to come by that day and I knew immediately he would make a remark. See, he used to own a wood working business, so he knows pretty much everything there is to know about wood. He said, “I wasn’t going to say anything, but you need to get the product into the grooves of the chairs.”
My first thought was, “yeah I know, Dad.” *eye roll* I figured the wax would cover the spots I missed during the second coat.
And then I thought a little harder and had a lightbulb moment. Maybe I should try using a brush. It would probably get into the indentations better.
I went downstairs, got out my expensive brushes, and continued the project.
After applying a second coat of white wax using a brush, I IMMEDIATELY realized that this is how it’s supposed to look! Dear lord.
With the brush, I was able to get into the intricacies of the chairs. The white wax was actually able to be applied evenly over the chair. You would think, being that I have painted so many things in my life, I would have known to use a brush from inception on this type of project. I, too, thought that I should have known better.
After thinking about it some more, I realized that because I was new to using the product, I didn’t consider the possibility that one tool would work better on my particular project; I think I just quickly read the back label and being that it said I could use either a brush or a cloth to apply the product, either would work on my project.
This is not to say that using a cloth won’t work well; it probably would work well on a one-level surface, like a table, for instance. But, because my project required the wax on a multitude of surface levels, a brush was the better option.
Fortunately, I was able to fix my error when applying the second coat of white wax. Now looking at the chairs, you’d never know I made a big mistake!
Here are some pictures of how the white wax looked right after I applied it with a brush:
Here’s how the chairs look after white wax dried:
I LOVE them. Every time I walk by them, I smile because I am so pleased with the result of the white wax.
The next step in my chair makeover process is to do the reupholstery. We have actually already started the process so make sure to follow along on my Instagram stories if you want to keep up with the progress.
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