Wax vs. Polish For Protection Your Wood Furniture

Wax vs. Polish For Protection Your Wood Furniture – Products for caring for your wood furniture abound. If you don’t believe me, just take a look in your local supermarket or discount store and you’ll see many polishes and waxes available to choose from. Whether you are trying to care for a dining room table or an ornate wooden cuckoo clock, you are confronted with so many choices it may be difficult to come to a decision.

Every product claims that they protect your wood furniture better than the next product. In reality, most of them will remove dust and clean the surface, but they won’t do much else.

Using a polish or a wax may provide a certain amount of protection against scratches and scrapes to your furniture, however they really don’t give you any lasting protection like a quality wood finish would. They really don’t improve the durability of an old finish or revive it, either. In fact, the only real difference between a polish and a wax is that polish will leave a thin liquid film on the surface when you wipe down your wood, and wax will leave a thin film of solid wax on the surface. The liquid will eventually evaporate, while the wax will not.


Wax has been used since the very beginning of written history on wood items that needed to be protected, both as a finish on bare wood and to protect a finish that has been applied to wood. Wax is solid at room temperature, but a solvent can be mixed in to help the wax dissolve and create a softer product that is easier to apply to your wood. The solvent will evaporate out eventually, leaving a nice solid layer of wax on the surface. Some people prefer to use mineral spirits as a solvent with their wax, but be sure you read the instructions on the wax you’ve chosen first. Some say you need to use turpentine or toluene instead. Turpentine will add a smell to the wax that you may find irritating, and using toluene can be tricky because it evaporates very quickly. Solvents will affect your drying time, so if you need a longer drying time, mineral spirits may be the solvent you should choose. If you want it to dry quickly, opt for the toluene.


Polishes, on the other hand, are very different from waxes. They are a liquid that may include a very small quantity of oil or wax. Polishes usually completely evaporate over a period of time, so in the long run it is less protective than wax. You can divide polish into two different categories depending on which solvents they use in their formula. First, you will find petroleum-based solvents. Petroleum or oil-based solvents evaporate much more slowly and are similar to mineral spirits. The other type of solvent used in polish is an emulsion of water and oil-based solvents. This type is excellent for cleaning, since the water will remove water-soluble dirt, while the oil removes oil-soluble dirt. In the end, you’ll need to choose the kind of polish that suits the job you want it to do.

Tags: cleaning supplies

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