Giving furniture a makeover with paint is a popular and easy DIY project! And it is such an easy and cost-effective way to transform your old furniture into something fresh and new. But once you’ve finished painting, it’s important to properly seal your piece in order to protect the paint job. In this blog post, I’ll talk about my favorite topcoat/sealer products and how to apply them to your project pieces. So in this blog post, we’ll cover how to protect and seal painted furniture for long-lasting beautiful results!
And if you are new to painting furniture and want to learn how to flip furniture with ease, read Chalk Mineral Paint Basics for helpful tips to get started.
Benefits of Using A Topcoat To Protect And Seal Painted Furniture
The benefits of adding a topcoat to protect and seal your painted furniture pieces are numerous, including:
– Protects paint job from scratches, bumps, and dings
– Extends the lifetime of furniture
– Enhances overall look with a satin or glossy finish
– Most topcoats provide some protection against water stains and damage
Water-Based Topcoat For Painted Furniture
Most popular topcoats are water-based. These are typically a polyacrylic or resin acrylic topcoat type product.
They dry clear and have varying sheens, from matte to glossy.
These types of topcoats dry hard and provide a good protective coating on your painted furniture.
Another option for sealing painted furniture is to use a wax. But let’s talk about waxes later.
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Best Clear Topcoat For Painted Furniture
It’s hard to say what the best clear topcoat sealant is. Honestly there are several that I use most often and reach for again and again.
I’ll start by listing my most used and favorite poly topcoats:
- Dixie Belle Clear Coat-Satin and Glossy
- Dixie Belle Gator Hide
- Wise Owl Varnish in Satin and Matte
- Minwax Polycrylic Spray Protective Finish in Satin and Matte
- Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish Brush On Sealant in various sheens
Dixie Belle Clear Coat
- A reliable product that is affordable and goes on easily. Available at your local Dixie Belle Retailer or online. This topcoat goes on hazy and dries clear. Two coats minimum needed.
- I use the Dixie Belle Clear Coat in Satin most often. It is jus the right sheen. Works great over Silk Paint also for an additional protective layer.
- Glossy Clear Coat – I use this one rarely. Mainly to mix with Posh Chalk Pigment Powder to make a gold accenting paste. To learn more about how to use gold accents read: Painted Furniture With Gold Accents
How To Seal Furniture Transfers And Decoupage
Decoupage papers and furniture transfers are super popular products for adding a creative and unique design element to your painted furniture makeovers. And these products require a topcoat product to seal them.
Let’s start with decoupage papers. Dixie Belle Clear Coats are my most used decoupage medium. You apply a thin coat of clear coat and then lay down your decoupage paper. Smooth out wrinkles and then topcoat with another layer of clear coat. You can then apply additional topcoat layers as you see fit.
Next up, let’s discuss furniture transfers. Big tip: Don’t apply topcoat or sealant, including polys and waxes, until after you apply the transfer! This is important! The transfer needs to applied only to dried paint. Then once the transfer is adhered you apply a topcoat sealant. Again, my go to is Dixie Belle Clear Coat.
If you’d like to learn more about decoupage and transfers and see a few makeovers check out these posts:
- Furniture Transfers And Stencils & More
- Vintage Desk Makeover with a bird transfer and gel stain top
- Vintage Vanity Makeover with a ballerina decoupage paper and damask transfer
- Twin Headboard Makeover with a decoupage paper design
- Lastly, How To Apply Redesign With Prima Transfers, a basic tutorial
Dixie Belle Gator Hide
A few tips about Dixie Belle Gator Hide
- An excellent water barrier for painted furniture.
- Toughest protection available from Dixie Belle
- Available at your local retailer or online
- Two coats minimum, but for even more protection apply more coats.
- Has a mild satin type sheen and not available in other sheens.
Wise Owl Varnish
What to know about Wise Owl Varnish
- A very durable, tough protective sealant for painted furniture
- The label says “tough as nails and crystal clear” and it is true!
- This comes in both matte and satin finishes.
- I just love this topcoat! It’s becoming my favorite!
Minwax Polycrylic Spray
I’ll mention Minwax Polycrylic Spray Topcoat because they come in handy from time to time. Especially helpful for small projects, uneven surfaces, hard to reach areas, or even home décor items.
Also if you’ve applied any type of textured type surface a spray topcoat is good to ensure even coverage over bumps and ridges.
Spray topcoat is super easy to use too and so convenient.
Many prefer to spray the other topcoats in a paint sprayer. This for sure is an excellent way to achieve a smooth, brush-free finish. Certainly using a sprayer may take a bit of getting used to but it is an option!
Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish – Brush-On
I’ll mention this topcoat because it is another great choice. Minwax Brush-On Polycrylic is a great clear varnish that goes on nicely and dries rather quickly.
It is also readily available at most local hardware stores and often Walmart too. So It is easy to get if you don’t have other options near you. And the price is fantastic!
And like I mentioned earlier, this can be used in a paint sprayer for a flawless application.
Matte Topcoat For Painted Furniture
There are several brands available that have matte options for topcoat sheens. These include General Finishes, Wise Owl, and Dixie Belle. I’m sure there are other brands as well, but I haven’t yet tried them.
In my opinion the best of these is Wise Owl Varnish in matte. It not only provides the perfect truly matte finish, but also a very tough, hard as nails protective layer to seal your painted furniture.
Consider Using An All-In-One Paint Product To Protect And Seal Painted Furniture
Also, If you’re looking for an easy way to give your furniture a makeover, consider using an all-in-one paint product. This type of product combines primer, paint and topcoat in one convenient package.
This saves you time and money and ensures that your project piece is properly sealed and protected from scratches, bumps, and dings.
Plus it provides a beautiful eggshell sheen finish that enhances the overall look of your furniture! And it is water based so you can add additional topcoat protection if you’d prefer.
Best All-In-One Paint Products For Painted Furniture
I recently wrote a blog post all about the best all-in-one paint options.
And I’ll mention that my most-used paint product is Dixie Belle Silk, an all-in-one paint product with so many color options.
Here are links to those helpful posts if you are considering using this type of paint! I promise you won’t be disappointed:
- Best All-In-One Paint For Furniture Makeovers
- Dixie Belle Silk Paint Review & Quick Guide For Great Results
and here are a few of my makeovers completed with Dixie Belle Silk Paint:
- Silk Midnight Green Dresser Makeover
- Nightstand With Silk Paint Deep Seas
- Silk Green Painted Table
- Vintage Vanity Makeover With Silk Paint In Anchor
How To Apply A Polyacrylic Topcoat To Protect And Seal Painted Furniture
There are several options for applying topcoat. Once your furniture is dry, you can apply your sealant or topcoat using a brush, roller, or a sponge.
Start by working in small sections and go across in long lines. Keep the coats thin. Allow each coat to dry thoroughly before applying the next coat.
For best results, follow any manufacturer’s instructions that come with the product to ensure proper application and protection of your furniture makeover.
Most projects need 2-3 coats for full protection.
A Tip About Applying Topcoat to A Gel Stain
And also, if you are applying a water-based topcoat product to an oil-base finish, such as a gel stain, you need a 72 hour window between the last coat of gel stain and the water-based topcoat.
But otherwise as long as your paint is a water-based paint, then it just needs to be fully dry before the topcoat goes on.
Another important tip is to make sure you remove all dust, hairs, pet fur from your surface belote applying your gel stain or topcoat. Nothing more frustrating than seeing hair or fur stuck in your lovely topcoat or gel stain!
Tack Cloths are just so handy to pick up all those little “no see” dust and animal furs.
Best Wax For Painted Furniture
We can’t talk about sealing painted furniture without talking about wax. While most furniture painters use a polyacrylic topcoat, wax is still a good option.
In fact, the first furniture piece I painted quite a few years ago, was sealed with wax.
Annie Sloan Clear Wax and other waxes are oil-based waxes. They provide a gorgeous sheen to your furniture that enrichens the color so nicely.
Some waxes are water-based, like Dixie Belle Best Dang Wax.
Wax also comes in colors to accent and highlight painted furniture, but we’ll save that discussion for another post.
Waxing Painted Furniture
You may decide that you are going to seal your painted furniture with wax rather than a poly topcoat. And that is totally fine. It is a nice option, a great protective layer.
The downside is that it can be a bit of work and take some elbow grease so to speak!
Then once the wax is rubbed on well, remove any excess with a soft lint-free cloth and then buff with another cloth.
I still have the can of Annie Sloan Clear Wax that I bought to do my first-ever furniture makeover! That stuff lasts forever!
Best Topcoat To Protect And Seal White Painted Furniture
You may read about whites or light paint colors “yellowing” over time. This yellowing is caused by several possible factors:
- UV light & other natural factors
- tannins in the wood bleeding through and reacting with the paint and topoat
- moisture between the paint and the topcoat
And the big question is how to prevent this yellowing?
Well there are a few solutions:
- consider a primer always before painting whites and light color paints to seal in any tannins.
For more information, read this post: Primer For Painted Furniture.
- apply thin coats of topcoat and allow each coat to dry thoroughly before applying the next
- when possible match the paint brand and the topcoat brand. These are often formulated to work together and avoid yellowing
Summary – Protect and Seal Painted Furniture
To ensure your painted furniture will last for many years, it is important to properly protect and seal it. This can be done with either a wax or a poly topcoat.
Wax is not difficult to apply, but can require more elbow grease. And it is important to remove any excess and buff it to a shine. Poly topcoats are generally easier to apply and come in various sheen finishes.
Regardless of which sealant you choose, always remember to let each one dry thoroughly before adding the next! and check the manufacturer label for dry times and re-coating times.
A little bit of extra effort goes a long way when it comes to furniture makeovers and flips.
With proper care and protection, your painted furniture can stay looking beautiful for many years!