There has been a lot of talk on whether one can wax over polyurethane. Some folks say it is possible and others say it’s not recommended. 

With such confusing information, it can be a challenge to tell the correct answer.

In this article, we’ll discuss;

  • Can You Wax Over Polyurethane?
  • Wax Over Poly or Poly Over Wax?
  • How to Apply Paste Wax Over Polyurethane
  • How long should polyurethane dry before waxing

Let’s dive in;

Can You Wax Over Polyurethane

Yes, you can wax over polyurethane. Polyurethane dries and forms a hard finish which guarantees the application of other sealants like wax. Wax will not crawl nor form any ridges as the polyurethane surface is hardened. Generally, most waxes will work well over polyurethane as long as the surface is hard and smooth.

Wax Over Poly or Poly Over Wax?

Which one should come first? 

Experts (especially flooring professionals) recommend applying wax over poly.

If you want to poly an already waxed wood, removing the paste wax is the only solution.

Do this by applying a TSP or spirit solution. Then sand the wood and poly it otherwise, the wax will repel the poly and will be more work down the road.

See Also: Disadvantages of beeswax finish

How to Apply Paste Wax Over Polyurethane

To get a perfect final finish of wax over polyurethane, follow the instructions below;

Tools for Applying Wax Over Polyurethane

These are the tools you’ll need;

  1. Duster. Use it to dust the surface before waxing
  2. Cloth diaper used to spread the wax on the surface
  3. Clean cloth for cleaning

Applying Wax Over Polyurethane Procedure

Step 1

Clear the wood surface using a dry cloth. You can use a damp cloth too depending on the surface condition. If the surface is stained, wipe it down with oil soap.

Step 2 

Apply the wax with a cloth though it requires more effort. Rub it on the surface in a circular motion till there is no more film. Use a light coat and don’t apply too much or ridges will appear. 

Quick Tip: Applying wax does not necessarily require you to apply it in the direction parallel to the wood grain. Apply it in any direction.

Step 3

Allow about 10-15 minutes for the wax to dry.

Step 4

Using a piece of cheesecloth, electric buffer, terry cloth, or a cotton diaper, buff the wax. Use a floor buffer with a lambswool buffing pad to buff your floors.

Step 5

If the final shine is not satisfactory, apply another coat and buff it up. But before applying the next coat, wait for four to eight hours.

Better finishes can be achieved by applying several light coats instead of applying one heavy coat.

How Long Should Polyurethane Dry Before Waxing

This question trickles down to the curing time of polyurethane. The curing time of polyurethane differs based on whether it is water-based or oil-based. 

Usually, water-based polyurethane takes up to 6 hours to dry while oil-based poly takes up to 24 hours. 

Overall, you will wait for one month for your polyurethane surface to cure. So don’t wax a poly surface until the poly surface is fully cured.

Polyurethane drying time depends on some factors, which include:

  • State of the surface.
  • Wood type.
  • Temperature and humidity.
  • Type of polyurethane formula.

Related read: Solving the problem of polyurethane not drying.

When to Use Paste Wax/Advantages of Using Wax

Waxing is a great way to fill scratches and bring shine to a surface that has lost its luster. It also prevents water from getting into the wood. 

Applying a thick coating of wax helps block the moisture from getting into the wood through fresh-cut boards.

When properly applied, wax can add beauty to a piece of old furniture. 

I recommend that you don’t use wax alone as the final finish instead use it over another type of wood stain finishes like polyurethane. Also, dark wax does well on darker surfaces and helps hide minor flaws.

Recommended Reading: Is polyurethane waterproof?

Advantages of Using Wax

  • Simple to apply: Throughout my life as a woodworker, I have come across different kinds of finishes, and the best and the most comfortable one to use is wax. So, if you are looking for the finish to apply on your wooden floor that will not eat you up, go for a wax.
  • Non-Toxic: Wax, both the solid and the liquid paste, contains very low-level organic compounds. This makes the wax less toxic. If you are allergic to chemical fumes then the best finish option for you is wax.
  • High penetration: With great penetration, the wax finish will get deep into your wooden floor. In return, you get the best protection for your wooden structures. The wax finish will also give your floor a low luster finish.
  • The smell: Most of the wax that I have encountered has no irritating smell, unlike most polyurethanes. If you are allergic to strong odors, wax will be the best selection for you.

Disadvantages of wax

  • Wax finish is the least durable. Its maintenance however is simple. You just rewax when the surface turns dull.
  • Wax is not suitable for high water areas.
  • Damaged by heat.

Waxing Polyurethane Finishes

Paste wax is best used as a polish over polyurethane as it gives you extra protection against scratching. 

Although modern polyurethanes are abrasion-resistant enough, paste wax is by far the best paste to maintain and regularly care for your furniture.

It is not advisable to polyurethane over wax finishes. This is so because applying wax on poly may make the floor or wood surfaces dangerously slippery.


1. Should I Wax After Polyurethane?

You should allow a polyurethane surface to fully dry and cure before applying your furniture wax. This will take up to a month. Waxing a polyurethane surface causes no harm but it just enhances the polyurethane appearance.

2. Should I Use Wax or Polyurethane?

Wax is prone to attracting stains and scratches easily making it wear off after a short time. It may also never harden as it is a semi-permanent finish. Polyurethane, on the other hand, is scratch-resistant and has a much harder finish, unlike wax.

3. How Many Coats of Polyurethane Should I Apply Before Waxing?

You need to apply 3 coats of polyurethane. More so if you are using an oil-based finish. But for the very first coat, you need to mix with mineral spirits.

4. Should I Wet Sand Polyurethane Before Applying Wax?

You can wet sand the polyurethane surface if it has brush marks or nibs to make the surface smooth. Your final coat, wax coat, will look much better.

See Also: How to clean water based polyurethane brush

Can You Wax Over Polyurethane Verdict

At this point, we have looked at the two great products that give surfaces a great finish – wax and polyurethane. You can use these products as an alternative to the other depending on what you need.

What of a case where you want to use the two in one product or surface? In this case, applying wax over polyurethane. Well, as I said earlier it is against the flooring professional’s advice.

Did you find this blog post helpful? Well, feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section.

2 thoughts on “Can You Wax Over Polyurethane”

  1. I am applying a wax coat over a polyurethane coat (red cedar bar top). Looking straight down the surface looks great but looking at an angle with light reflecting off the bar has a waxy haze look in areas. Confused and wondering what I should do next. Would appreciate any suggestions. Thanks!

  2. Thanks Goodell,
    This was very helpful. I just finished putting a 4tg coat on a kitchen table I am refinishing and wondered how long to wait before applying wax. I will wait the month for curing to happen. I have successfully used SC Johnson Paste Wax on a baby dresser and it came out extra beautiful. If you have any further recommendations, please let me know. Recently retired and this is a relatively new hobby. Thanks again!


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