I had a blast playing with Winter White Glaze Effects by General Finishes on my Antique Cabinet the other day. While I was working on the piece, I shared a video of how I apply the glaze on my Insta-stories. Like an idiot, I didn’t save that story. Oopsies. I’ll never learn! In case you missed the vid or had questions, I thought I’d write up a quick post with my best tips & tricks for applying glaze.
Next time I glaze a piece, I’ll make another video and do a whole step by step, in-depth feast but for now I offer you a snack.
I think applying glaze can be intimidating to a lot of furniture newbies, and I totally get it!
There is definitely a learning curve. I have some dining chairs I smothered in brown glaze about 8 years ago, and they make me laugh when I look at them. I was WAY too heavy handed and was obviously just winging it! The look old and dirty, which wasn’t the exact look I was going for! Just like most things, proficiency comes with trial and error. You’ve got to really get into it and play with a product or technique before it’s going to look the way you want. It’s a learning process. You’re probably going to step back from your first couple tries and want to burn it to the ground. That’s normal, y’all. Totally normal. Don’t give up! Evaluate what went right and what went wrong, then move forward from there.
*If you’ve never applied glaze before, I’d suggest first trying it out on a sample board, old cabinet door, or piece of furniture you don’t give a hoot about. If you hate it, paint over and try again until you get in your groove. When you feel like you’ve finally got the hang of things, then move on to Aunt Eileen’s prized buffet. Practice, practice, practice… just like your grumpy old piano teacher always said. I’m not kidding, you’ll be beyond glad that you did.
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Now back to the post…
Tips & Tricks:
- Seal with Shellac or a top coat BEFORE applying glaze. This keeps the glaze from muddying your paint. You don’t want the glaze to infiltrate the paint, you want it to skim across the surface and rest in the cracks. I know this feels like an extra step, but it is crucial!
- There are several ways you can apply glaze. When you are practicing, try applying with a paintbrush, sponge brush, and a rag so you can figure out what you find most comfortable. For my cabinet, I used a bristled paintbrush to apply the glaze. The bristles help get the product into all the cracks, nooks, and crannies. A paintbrush also gives movement and brush strokes that create texture for the eye. This is especially helpful when creating a weathered finish like I did on that antique cabinet. You can dry brush on glaze if you are wanting even more brush strokes.
- Work in small sections! Brush or wipe on, then immediately wipe off. Make sure that your final swipes go with the grain of the wood. You don’t want to get swirly circles in your glaze. Keep in mind that the glaze is there to age your piece and highlight the curves and details NOT to draw away attention. Don’t swim your piece in glaze, it rarely looks professional or pretty… especially if you are using a dark colored glaze. We’ve all seen the DIY projects that were murdered by glaze happy hands. Sad face.
- Speaking of not swimming, go easy at first. Use a light hand and wipe, wipe, wipe! You can always go back over and add more glaze later if it’s not dark enough for you. I have a feel for how I like my glaze, I sort of alternate between dry and damp rags to get my look. I’m not sure how to explain it other than it just takes practice. Know that the damp rag will take off a lot more of the glaze than the dry rag will. If it wipes off more than you were hoping, don’t freak out! Just go back and reapply after it dries a bit. You have complete control of where the color goes and how much you want. That’s the cool thing about using glaze!
- I have tried a lot of different glazes but I always go back to General Finishes. They have a great range of colors, are water-based, and have a longer open time. A “longer open time” means you have more time to work the product around before it dries which means less chance of that oopsie being permanent. Yay! Oh, and water-based = easy soap and water clean up. I’m all for that! *I feel like I should say here, that this post is not sponsored by General Finishes, I just genuinely love their products. Plus, they have fantastic customer service and that is something I look for in companies I buy from.
- You can thin glaze for a lighter look. If the glaze is oil based, thin with mineral spirits. If it is water based, thin with a bit of water. To do this, pour some glaze into a container and add 10-20% thinner (the mineral spirits or the water as mentioned above). Stir well with a paint stick and you are good to go.
- Applying glaze will deepen your paint color, so be prepared for that. Depending on the color of glaze you use, your paint color will feel richer. Using white glaze or a pearl glaze will lighten and soften your underlying paint color. The color of glaze you go with can completely change the feeling. A dark glaze will add drama and depth. A light glaze will add a light, airy feeling.
- Glaze works best on pieces with detail. You can use it on plain furniture, but it doesn’t give the same effect as it does on a piece with curves, carving, and movement. If you are going for a clean, modern vibe, glaze probably isn’t going to give you the look you are after.
- If you are using a water-based glaze over an oil based stain, make sure to give the stain a couple days to dry thoroughly before glazing.
- Glaze isn’t a durable finish, so you’ll need to follow up with a top coat to seal it. Allow the glaze to dry then seal your piece.
I know this isn’t an in-depth how to, but hopefully, I’ve answered some questions and given you a little more confidence to try out this type of product. Glaze is really fun to play with and can give a piece such a cool vibe.
If you have any other questions, feel free to drop me a line in the comment section below and I’ll walk you through!