Satin Finishing Wax


*How Do I Remove Wax from an Existing Finish?*

Even though there is internet chatter about removing wax with 3rd party products, mineral spirits or vinegar, none guarantee success.

There is an old saying in the industry. "Once you wax, you cannot go back". Nothing adheres well to wax and even after cleaning, the wood grain can become contaminated. Wax can penetrate the wood, making future paint or stain finishes or touch-ups difficult or impossible.

The risk of a failure in re-coating over a wax finish is very high. Your best bet is to clean, strip, and sand, but even that is problematic. Here is what we recommend if you want to go ahead.

  1. Scrub with a solvent, such as mineral spirits, to break the wax barrier. Follow with several applications of Acetone applied with gray scotch bright pads to scrub the surface.
  2. Then strip the surface. You want to remove as much wax as possible before sanding to minimize the risk of driving the wax into the grain of the wood from the friction of sanding.
  3. Strippers that contain Methylyne Chloride like Zip Strip or Savograns are aggressive strippers but harsher. Gentler strippers are citrus or soy-based such as Citrus Strip or Soy Gel.

After cleaning, test the first coat of finish for adhesion. Rub a nickel across the surface or scrape the first coat lightly after 24 hours with a moderately sharp object such as a blunt standard table knife, not a sharp or serrated knife.

If you are finishing as a professional, NEVER guarantee a finish applied over wax. Here is a suggestion for your contracts:

We cannot warrant finishes over an existing piece of furniture. If products containing silicone (such as dusting sprays), oil soaps or waxes have been previously used on the piece, they may contaminate a new finish and prevent adhesion. In these situations, it is best to strip and sand the entire piece. Occasionally, a previous wax finish or silicone may be impossible to completely remove.

________ (Initials) I acknowledge that this piece has never been waxed/polished with a silicone-based dusting spray or cleaned with oil soaps.

________ (Initial) I have no knowledge of previous cleaning products used but realize they may have been applied by previous owners.

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*Which Is Better as a Sealer? Topcoat or Wax?

It depends on whether you are looking for aesthetics or durability.

A topcoat will provide greater durability and protection than wax finishes over time.

While wax finishes are lovely, they typically show wear (fingerprints) and are not permanent, requiring semi-annual to annual maintenance.

Wax is a low durability finish. It’s fine for a decorative piece that will receive light traffic. It is absolutely not strong enough for tables, kitchen cabinets, or other surfaces that will see frequent use.

Wax takes a bit of elbow grease to apply.

Furthermore, nothing adheres well to wax, which can impact future finish changes. Even though there is internet chatter about removing wax with 3rd party products or mineral spirits, the risk of a failure in re-coating over a wax finish is very high and sometimes impossible.

If you love a wax finish, try General Finishes Satin Finishing Wax. If you want the look and feel of wax with more durability, use our General Finishes Flat Out Flat Topcoat. For even more protection, use General Finishes High Performance Topcoat.

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Should I Use Satin Wax to Seal My Kitchen Cabinets?

You can...we do we do believe that wax can be a beautiful addition to many projects. However, it is best not to use wax in high-use temperature-dependent situations like kitchens or bathrooms.

Furthermore, kitchen cabinets require long-term protection and high-quality resistance to wear. Wax provides far less protection and durability than an engineered resin based top coat like High Performance or any of our professional Enduro Spray finishes. A particular problem are range hoods and dishwasher panels - wax cannot stand up to the heat and may melt and run.

Wax finishes typically show wear (ex: fingerprints) and require semi-annual to annual maintenance. Furthermore, touch-ups or changes are impossible once wax has been added to the surface because no finish will adhere well to wax. Even though there is internet chatter about removing wax with 3rd party products or mineral spirits, the risk of a failure in re-coating over a wax finish is very high. Resin-based topcoaats can be removed or covered with a new finish without a problem if you ever decide to touch-up or refinish your cabinets in the future.

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Can Gel Stain be sealed with wax instead of top coat?

Wax can be used over Gel Stain, if you prefer. Just let the Gel Stain dry 24-48 hours before applying the wax. Note: wax is not a durable product. It needs yearly reapplication, will show daily use (finger marks and smudges) and may be very difficult to remove if a future topcoat application is desired.

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Can Glaze Effects be sealed with wax instead of top coat?

Yes, you can use Satin Wax instead of top coat if you prefer. Although GF loves the look of wax, we recommend using top coat because wax is not as durable. Wax requires annual maintenance and it must be removed if you want to apply topcoat in the future.

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*How Do I Buff Out High Performance Water Based Topcoat to a High Gloss?

There are several techniques by Jeff Jewitt of Homestead Finishing Products:


Using Mirka Royal Micro sandpaper, always start with 1500-grit sandpaper. Begin with a small area, make 2-3 passes, then evaluate results. Go to a heavier grit if surface irregularities are not fully removed. Finish with 1500-grit paper.


Start by dry sanding with Abralon 2000-grit, and then 4000-grit. Start slowly, monitor to see if buildup is occurring. A large sized table might take 5-25 sheets of paper.

If needed, lubricate by moistening with General Finishes Satin Finishing Wax, mineral spirits, or naphtha. Never use water as a lubricant.

If lubricated, one sheet of 1000-grit or 1500-grit should do the entire table.


Spray Presta polish on buffing pad stuff to lubricate the pad. Apply a quarter-sized dab of polish to sand one section. Spread with pad. Continue section by section. Mist buffing pad with Presta lubricating material when it gets too dry. You should be able to use a buffing pad on 10-20 tables before washing and reusing.
When done, mist entire surface with and buff with a micro-cloth to remove splatter

NOTE: Never wet sand a water-based finish.

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