One of the most common questions that is asked on polymer clay forums and Facebook groups is about sealers, glazes, and varnishes. Newbies always want to know which is the best one and there are always a lot of answers. But one very common answer tends to cause a lot of confusion for readers. That answer is floor wax. Floor wax on polymer clay? What?? To many of us “oldies” who have been around a while, that answer makes sense. But to a newbie, it’s pretty confusing. What kind of floor wax? Why would anyone put floor wax on polymer clay? Well…you know I’m gonna tell you!
Which Floor Wax?
In the world of polymer clay, it’s very common to use materials that have other original uses. We use pasta machines to roll and condition our clay. We use cookie cutters and ceramic tiles. So it’s really not that outrageous that we would put floor wax on polymer clay as a varnish, glaze, or sealer. But which one? You see…right off the top of my head I can think of three very different products that are used on floors that are commonly used on polymer clay. So when someone says to use “floor wax”, they might mean one product. But a newbie hearing this advice will think quite another product is meant. Here are the three “floor waxes” that are used on polymer clay.
Years and years ago, in our grandparents’ time, floors needed to be coated with wax. It was a laborious job and so when vinyl sheet flooring came out in the 1950’s, it was marketed as “no-wax” flooring. Marketers, always eager to sell a new product, came out with a cleaner and polish for these floors. When I was a kid, the major brands of this were Future and Mop and Glo. In the UK, there was one called “Johnson’s Klear”. These are clear (or slightly milky), thin, acrylic liquids that you would pour onto the floor and spread around with a damp mop. It would dry to a brilliant shine.
Polymer clayers learned that this liquid made a fantastic glossy finish for their clay creations. The most commonly recommended brand among clayers is Future and Klear. But as time went on and companies re-organized, these products were re-named several times. I think the most current name of this liquid acrylic is Pledge Floor Care.
Future/Klear/Pledge is a simple, easy, and fool-proof shiny product to use. It works. But it’s not terribly durable and just as it would wear off your kitchen floor after a few weeks and need to be reapplied, it will wear off your polymer clay as well. There are more durable options. (I recommend Varathane, below.)
Paste wax is a very different kind of floor wax that also works very well on polymer clay. And the funny thing is, paste wax is the only one of these three products that actually IS a wax. Paste Wax is a creamy, oily, waxy paste that comes in a yellow can with a pry-off lid. You use a rag to rub it onto a wooden floor, let it dry to a haze, then buff to a high shine. It penetrates into the grain of the wood, deepening the color and preserving the wood by protecting it from the elements. We use paste floor wax on polymer clay in a similar way, but for different reasons. Polymer clay doesn’t have a grain to penetrate and certainly doesn’t need preserving. But we use it to enhance the shine of a smooth, buffed finish. Paste wax can also be used as part of layered surface treatments. Feel free to experiment with it! Try mixing it with inks, applying over paint, using it to deepen colors. You may have read about Renaissance Wax being a good product to use with polymer clay. Paste wax is very similar and can be used interchangeably.
Note: There’s some confusion about these waxes’ ability to actually protect polymer clay. Wax protects porous materials from moisture. But polymer clay isn’t porous and it isn’t damaged by moisture. Paste wax won’t protect polymer clay from wear.
No, Varathane isn’t a floor wax. It’s a varnish that’s often used as a finish on wood floors. But it makes for a fantastic varnish for polymer clay. Milky white in the can, the consistency of light cream, water-based Varathane dries crystal clear on polymer clay and makes an excellent sealer for surface treatments. It’s been a favorite product among polymer clayers for over 25 years. I’ve written about Varathane before, and if this is a new product to you I recommend that you head over to read that article.
Should You Use a Floor Wax on Polymer Clay?
Each of these products does have its use in working with polymer clay. I do use all three. But they’re very different in how they’re used. Make sure to recommend the correct product when helping newbies learn about our favorite hobby of polymer clay. But also make sure that a sealer, varnish, or glaze is actually needed. In many cases, it’s not! Polymer clay is durable and does not need to be sealed. What does need protecting is the surface treatments that you put on your polymer. Want to learn more about this? Check out my article on polymer clay sealers.
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24 thoughts on “Floor Wax on Polymer Clay?”
A friend told me that she uses a spray can of clear glaze. She says it looks good, but I haven’t tried that. Would that work?
Check out my article on sprays here: Spray Sealer for Polymer Clay
I remember using ‘Liquid Gumption’ as a child to get a beautiful shine to our rubber(?) tiled kitchen floor. However, the shine would wear thin with human traffic and the edges where the floor wasn’t walked upon, built up like glass after a few coats and was difficult to remove to start afresh.
This thread makes an interesting read as I too am looking for a cheap alternative sealant for polymer clay and may try this technique using the recommended Pledge or Klear products as opposed to a small volume, expensive, branded liquid clay
I’ve read the article but I’m still confused because there’s so many different types(labels maybe just changed?) of varathane. Are any of the water based ones that shouldn’t be used? The only one that I found that said floor is in a huge container. Thanks.
I show the most current label in the Varathane article. https://thebluebottletree.com/varathane-best-polymer-clay-sealer/
Yes, water-based because oil-based has linseed oil, which is visibly yellow on light projects. No, not the floor finish. Correct, the floor finish is only in gallons, which are needed for varnishing huge floors. You can buy half pints of the right stuff on Amazon. There are several types of Varathane, but if you’ll follow the links and suggestions in the article linked above, you’ll be good to go.
I have an old bottle of Future that I’m still using. I believe the way to use it to avoid “scratch” marks, etc. is to bake it at 275-300 deg. for 15-20 min. to “set it” just like we bake the clay which is also acrylic. I also haven’t noticed it washing off. The baking. I believe, causes essentially the same chemical reaction as baking the clay.
Hi Bon, It’s great that you have some old Future. It certainly is an easy and fool-proof shine for polymer clay! Future is an acrylic finish and doesn’t wash off. But it will eventually wear off, just as any finish will wear off polymer clay in time. Baking the Future doesn’t make it bond to the polymer clay, but it does make it dry faster and harden more. Polymer clay is vinyl, not acrylic, and none of the varnishes or finishes bond with the clay. But still…guard your bottle of Future and treasure it. It’s great stuff!
Thanks Ginger for the clarification. Much appreciated!
Have you done any testing on Varathane 3X or have any information on it. How does it compare to regular varathane? Thank for any info.
No, I’ve not tried it.
We don’t get any of those brands here in Australia and I would be surprised to find anything similar in a supermarket. However, I am always reminded of the furniture polish my parents used when I open a tin of Gilders Paste!
Thanks very much for an interesting and informative article
Paste wax IS the furniture polish your parents used. 🙂 Perhaps a different brand name or formulation, but a very similar product.
Hi Ginger, thank you for this article. Next project I was going to try Armorall… a silicon sealer that you spray on the dashboard of your car. Everyone uses it in Australia. Do you know if it’s good for polymer clay? Thanks for your generosity!
Armor All isn’t a sealer. It’s a silicone based protectant spray that is used to condition leather and make vinyl car interiors dust resistant and more shiny. It is wonderful when used with polymer clay, but not as a sealer. We spray it as a mold release on texture mats, stamps, and molds.
For anyone that has used future floor wax on their polymer clay want to remove it easily a quick dip in ammonia and it disappears.
Thank you, Ginger, for the very helpful article!
A warning about floor polishes like Future on clay: you can’t get it wet! Well, you can, briefly, but if you accidentally wear a piece into the shower, it’ll be ruined: the finish will turn opaque, soft, and mushy. When it dries, it’ll be a cracked mess. You know how if you have the stuff on your floor and you leave some wet boots on it and then pick up the boots, there’ll be soft, milky-white boot prints? Same thing.
I don’t happen to like the way finishes look on clay anyway (aside from PYM II when I need to protect a surface treatment), so this doesn’t bother me, but others seem to feel they need finishes, so they need to know this. Since I learned how to sand and buff properly, I’m crazy about the shiny, smooth finish sanding and buffing provides (sometimes with a little carnauba wax).
As always, terrific article!
Oh gee, they really did change the formula then! The old Future didn’t do that. Not really. You’d have to use ammonia or alcohol to get it off. I guess that’s one more reason to not recommend it then.
Hi, Ginger, Thanks for this post. I was recently told by Lowe’s that Varathane is no longer available in California. That was disappointing since I really liked it alot. A salesperson there suggested I try MinWax Water Based Polycrylic Protective Finish. I bought a can of it but haven’t used it yet. Do you have any information on it? I’m still using the last of my Varathane which is why I haven’t used the MinWax – and also because I wonder if it will have a bad effect on the clay.
Hi Robin, I have some Minwax Polycrylic (I kinda have all the glazes and waxes mentioned in this article!) It worked great on clay, and I actually like it more than Varathane, I find it easier to apply and somehow it feels a bit better on the clay in my opinion.
Thank you for your input, Krithika. I will give it a try.
That’s so funny that you like it, Krithika, I’m just the opposite! To me it feels plasticky and sticky, like a window cling, and Varathane feels smooth and dry. Isn’t that funny! But yes, Robin, Polycrylic is a perfectly good gloss for polymer. It works well.
You can purchase Varathane at Amazon.com. I could not find it at the hardware stores. It is my choice along with PYM.
Thanks, Joe. I will check it out.
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