Monday, January 20, 2014

My Favorite Brands

Although there are tons of great tips and tutorials out there on the web, I get a lot of questions about technique, supplies and preferred brands, so I thought I'd take the time to share some of my favs with you!

 1.  Why do I wax instead of using poly?

In the world I live in, things get scratched.  Period.  I have tried all the conventional finishes, and with my three boys, things get scratched.  Life happens.  So, in my opinion, it's less about what won't scratch, and more about which scratched surface is easiest to repair.  With wax, most scratches buff right out with a cloth or fine steel wool.  If the paint underneath has been scratched, you can just take sandpaper and make a new distressed spot, and slap some new wax on it!  If it's in a bad location to do so, (Like the middle of the top), then call me and I can spot repair it. 

2.  What kind of clear wax do I use?

My favorite is Cece Caldwell:
 What's the big deal?  I used Annie Sloan for over half a year before calling it quits.  I just don't feel like it goes as far, or on as evenly. It doesn't sink into the paint as well.  By a long shot.  Even being vigilant I felt like it was still patchy.  With Annie Sloan, you have to wait 24 hours to buff; Cece Caldwell about 5 minutes.  Annie Sloan also smells stronger.  Cece Caldwell is all natural, or pretty darn close.  Because this is my business, I am working with chemicals all the time.  I don't want to work with something that causes cancer and/or requires a mask and gives me a headache.  The more natural, the better.  This smells like essential oils.   In general, I prefer a cream wax that I can apply with a brush instead of two fingers and a soft cloth, and these are both soft.  I ain't got time for that.   Cost: Annie Sloan $25
CeCe Caldwell $36
The only 2 things I don't like about CC wax - the price (!) and the availability.  My closest available store is in New Braunfels, and they are frequently out.  Honest to goodness I am going to experiment with making my own wax so maybe, maybe I won't be at the mercy of stockists...

 Other contenders:

Fiddes and Sons: What I like: Very soft, went on easily, buffed hard immediately.  Cost was $18 on amazon.  Cons: Doesn't go as far as CC wax, smells so strong I literally got light headed and sunk to my knees in the workshop today (the first time I've used it).  Should have worn a mask, but I couldn't find it at the moment. 

If you are only going to attempt one project ever and be done, get this one.  It's $10 and fool proof.  The only catch is that it is a harder wax, so you have to use a cloth or pad.  It would really slow me down.  But, I love the soft sheen and the hard finish.  Available at Home Depot.

Briwax - do not use!  Has Toulene in it, a carcinogen, which incidentally works as a paint stripper, ruining your project.

I have also heard to only use Annie Sloan wax on Annie Sloan Paint -this is what the stockists are taught and they are always a little taken aback that I would try anything else!  Plenty of waxes perform well on it!

3. What dark wax do I like?

Just to be contrary, I prefer Annie Sloan Dark wax over Cece Caldwell!  Both go on easily, in this case it is about tone.  I have both, but 19 times out of 20 I reach for Annie Sloan because it is cool toned.  The CC dark wax is so warm it almost has a pink tone to it.  Not noticeable over a red, but can really change the look on a blue. 

CC on left, AS on right:

 I also really like Miss Mustard Seed's Antiquing wax, but it is too expensive to use all the time.  I use it when I want to highlight the cracks, "alligatoring", and textures of a piece without darkening it too much.  I love the way it settles into cracks, and it smells so good you could just stuff it up your nose!  Smells like fresh lavendar.  Although expensive, the tiney 2 oz. jar was plenty to do a king sized headboard - making this one the winner for going the furthest!
4. What brushes do I use to wax?

I use Annie Sloan Paint brushes to apply wax with.  One is always used for clear, one for dark.  Very thick brushes make spreading the wax easy, and they are soft enough to reach up into nooks and crannies.  Would I buy these for one piece of furniture I was redoing?  No, I would use old paint brushes.
 5.  What paint brush do I use?

The Clear winner is the Wooster Shorty.  $5.  Rubber, bendy handle keeps my wrist from getting sore, which is a serious issue!  Before I started using this, even with nice Purdy brushes, my nerves would tingle on my hands after awhile.  I can reuse these babies for a long time and then not feel guilty when I forget to clean one and ruin it (like the one pictured!).  By the way, like my old kitchen table, aka work bench?

6.  How do I make my glazes?

Don't ever buy a store bought glaze, it is a waste of money!!  There is no need to measure, with this recipe, either, although the very idea makes some of you twitchy.  The basic ingredient is Floetrol, a latex paint extender.  This bottle runs about $6 and is available in any home improvement store.  Pour some into an empty container with a lid.  If you use around a cup you'll have plenty for at least 2 projects.  Then add your color - you can use brown or black paint, or any stain.  For the paint, pour in about a Tbsp at a time until it looks right - keep a sample board for testing.  For stains, pour in a teaspoon at a time.  I regularly mix stains, too.  For example, I made a big batch to do my kitchen cabinets with, about 2 cups of Floetrol and both Dark Walnut and Jacobean stains.  I wanted to make sure I had enough that I wouldn't have to make more.  I needn't have worried - it did my kitchen, a friend's entire kitchen, and I got enough back to use on several pieces.  I use glaze instead of dark wax when I want to see all the brush/wipe strokes.  

7.  What paint do I use?

Annie Sloan chalk paint.  Environmentally friendly, extremely low odor, goes on any surface - even on top of old wax!  I love the look of it and how easy it is to sand.  I have tried homemade recipes with some success, but they just don't behave the same when I am working with them.  I much prefer this.

Other contenders:

Cece caldwell chalk and clay paint:  I have used it, and I like it.  I just generally like Annie Sloan's pallette better.  I do really like the Smoky Mountain Blue and the Virginia Chestnut.  It is thinner than Annie Sloan's.

Miss Mustard Seed: Milk Paint.  Smells bad, not gonna lie.  This is a tricky review, because the milk paint is good for it's intended purpose - making things look authentically old, and chippy with the paint not adhering to some parts.  I have used it on a couple of pieces for the store that basically had no top coat on them and they did well.  They were smaller pieces, too.  I also used them for a set of four chairs for someone, and they all turned out different colors.  That was with one batch of paint that I stirred constantly and gave them 2 coats each.  I eventually had to give up and create a chalk paint color that matched and paint with that.  I used it on a 70's lacquered piece and used and bonding agent to help it adhere and it came right off anyway.  I put more bonding agent and repainted, and it stuch so hard I could barely sand through it to distress it.  I usually have clients who want a certain, specific look.  This paint is better if you are willing to just see what happens.  I don't plan on using it again.

Any questions?  I'll be glad to answer them in the comments!