How to Use Briwax over Paint

Do you have an older piece of furniture that you like, but just don’t like the finish?

A friend was telling us about “Uncle Matt’s Piece” . . . that’s what she called it because that’s what everybody called it!  This table, pictured above had been around for a long time (and so has the photo!!) – and there wasn’t a thing wrong with it!  Except that it looked like it had been around a long time . . . perhaps a little sprucing up – a good paint job and a little Briwax to give it some depth and character?!?

After painting, “Uncle Matt’s piece” looks almost nothing like it did before.  How was our friend able to make this amazing transition?  First a coat of Kilz (just so that the paint would adhere evenly), then 2 coats of Sherwin-Williams paint in the color “Spirit in the Sky”.  After the paint cured (nice and dry), the table was lightly sanded all over and sanded more in places to scuff through the paint.  Then the entire piece was given a light application of Dark Brown and Clear Briwax.  The Clear Briwax is used to give the entire protection and a lovely sheen.  The Dark Brown Briwax is used to give character to the worn places, and to accent crevasses and carvings.

We think that even Uncle Matt would be pleased with the results!!


  1. When possible have a test board for trying out your paint and Briwax application techniques.  When a test board is not available, use the back (where it will be hidden) of the piece of furniture.
  2. Latex or oil based paints can be used under Briwax.  Just remember than oil based paints will require a longer curing (drying) time.
  3. Start with sanding with a light touch.  If you like the look and want to achieve a more distressed look, then sand more aggressively.  Sand through the paint where the piece would naturally have gotten wear.  You don’t need to sand through the paint all over.
  4. Still think that your piece needs some sprucing?  Try changing the hardware.  New drawer pulls will make a big difference.
Good luck with your makeover project!  And send us some pictures . . . we’d love to see your handiwork!!  To learn more about Briwax, visit our website
Briwax will turn into a liquid in hot weather from sitting in a hot delivery truck all day.  This in no way diminishes the quality of the product.  Simply allow the container to come to room temperature to return to a paste form.  You may hear Briwax sloshing around in the can, don’t panic – pop it into the refrigerator – like butter, it will become hard again.

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This entry was posted in antiques, Briwax how to, Briwax Paste Wax, Briwax tips, Technique, Tips, Used Furniture. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to How to Use Briwax over Paint

  1. Phyllis Dorazio says:

    I put briwax over a black painted piece and I’m not sure if I did it right or not. It was pretty sticky at first and I wasn’t sure how much to put on. After an hour or so, I buffed it out but it doesn’t look that good. It sort of looks like the paint job is bad. Do you have any suggestions?

  2. Phyllis, it appears that you have applied too much wax. We always say to use Briwax sparingly – that means just a very small amount. For example a dining table, 6 foot long by 42 inches wide would take just a TABLESPOON of wax. You can remove some of the wax by applying more — strange as that sounds, the toluene in the wax will remove the previous application. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, use mineral spirits (paint thinner) and that will remove the wax – some of it or almost all of it – you determine by how much you rub with the cloth on which the mineral spirits has been applied.

  3. Laine Brickman says:

    Sorry, I just bought a new painted white entertainment center and I assume it has a varnish or polyurathane over the paint. Can you use Briwax directly over this piece of furniture to distress it?

  4. Yes you can. You’ll need to choose one of the colors of Briwax – Light Brown would be the lightest color to try and depending upon how much antiquing or distressing you want, you can go with a darker Briwax color. Of course, Briwax will antique the piece, not distress it.

  5. Julie Hufstetler says:

    I spray painted a headboard and let it dry for days. When I apply Briwax with a rag, it takes the paint off. What am I doing wrong?

  6. We would offer that the paint is coming off using Briwax because the paint was applied to improperly prepared wood. That would be that the paint is adhering to a previously applied finish and not to the wood. You could try Toluene Free Briwax as the solvent is not as strong as with Original Briwax.

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