barb blairbefore & after basics

before and after basics: glazed over

by Barb

I discovered glazes about ten years ago when I decided to tackle my first painting job ever: my kitchen cabinets! Yes, it was an ambitious move, but also a move that made me fall in love with paints/glazes and their transforming powers. This very project is what got everything moving toward Knack becoming what it is today! I learned so much with those first glaze applications. There were moments of total frustration when I wanted it to be smoother, and there were moments of triumph as I figured out how to work the glaze in order to get the look I was going for. Today on Before & After Basics, I will compile all of those trials and errors for you so that your next glazing project will be perfect! — Barb

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!


  • painted piece of furniture
  • glaze
  • rags (lots of them!)
  • drop cloth
  • paintbrush/foam roller
  • softening brush
  • sanding sponge
  • water-based polyurethane


1. Glazing works best on semi-gloss or low-luster acrylic or latex paint surfaces. Flat paints do not take glaze well, so avoid the flat paints! There are many different glazes available on the market that you can take advantage of, or you can mix your own glazes. I am very partial to Ralph Lauren’s Tobacco Glaze, and it is my “go to” when using glaze. There needs to be at least one coat of finish on the surface to be glazed, and you will want to have your piece sanded so that the glaze can get into those areas and add definition and age.

2. Apply the glaze with a brush, roller or rag. With my kitchen cabinets being large, flat surfaces, I chose to roll the glaze on with a foam roller, but if you are working on chairs or smaller piece of furniture with lots of detail, it would be best to use a brush/rag for application in order to get into all of the nooks and crannies. Glaze dries pretty quickly as I found out, so you have to work fast! It is recommended that you work in 2-foot sections at a time, but part of the frustration for me in working with a large surface (that had no detail of its own) was that it left lines where my sections were, and I would end up sanding everything down and trying again! So, after many tries, I ended up rolling it on the entire part of the cabinet that I was working on, and it went much smoother. I created my own detail where there was none!

3. Once you have the glaze rolled or brushed on, you have roughly 20 minutes to work that area. I found that a combination of wiping it with a damp rag and using a softening brush to blend out any hard lines worked the best. The softening brush became my best friend, and once I discovered its greatness, my project took on a whole new level of “I can do this thing!” This little brush is a secret weapon for glazing!

4. Once the first layer of glaze is dry, you can go back and repeat the application for a deeper effect; it is totally up to you as to what look you are going for. In the end, if you stand back and look at your glazing job and feel like you were a little heavy or uneven in a certain area, take a sanding sponge and lightly blend that area. You want it to be exactly as you like it before you apply the finish.

5. Apply at least two coats of water-based poly in order to protect your surface. You may or may not choose to do this depending on the piece you are glazing, but I highly recommend sealing it if it is going to get lots of wear and tear. Make sure that you use water-based polyurethane over water-based glazes and oil-based over oil glazes for consistency. I always use water-based products, but just wanted to put that out there!

Just remember that there are no “mistakes,” only opportunities to learn and master new techniques! Have fun with it, and enjoy the warmth and age that glaze adds to your painted masterpieces.

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  • I love the glaze on the cabinets, but the wall decal in the first photo really caught my attention. Do you know where that came from???

  • That saying is so great! I feel like I should write it down, stick it on my forehead, do something to remind myself to use my gifts.

  • @kiki I just googled it. It’s actually a quote from the Bible: I Tim 4:14. I was surprised, and I got my degree in Theology. With the tree I thought it might be from “The Giving Tree”–a nice little children’s book.

    • Sheri, awesome! It will really give your table a nice look!

      Thank you all for the quote love….I actually didn’t know it was in the Bible….I first saw it on a calendar that I had, but it said “author unknown”! So glad to find out where it came from….I have loved this quote for a long time and think of it often.

      Bethany, I love that book and read it to my kiddos many times when they were young!

      Christina, do it girl! It is such a great reminder for everyday!

      Kelly, the wall is actually not a decal…I stenciled it with letter stencils and chalk…and my husband drew the tree. You can find the letter stencils in all sizes at your local Michael’s or Hobby Lobby craft stores!

  • Love this, Barb! I may try this technique on our kitchen island we’ll be installing in the next few months! Unless of course you’d like to make a trip to WI to help me!! ;) Emiko

  • Assuming my nightly position on the left-hand side of the sofa to read my design blogs, I click on my first (Design Sponge). Low and behold my friend Barb Blair jumps up in front of me! Great job Barb. So proud of you!!!

  • Ah, I haven’t seen these glazes for years and had really forgotten all about them. I think they were so overdone in the 80s that we all tossed the baby out with the bathwater. What a shame – they are fabulous and I think you are onto a newly appealing theme here!

  • I painted and repainted my entire kitchen cabinets this last summer three times. THREE times..a loon for sure.
    I ended up with a turquiose with Olive green poking through. It’scool but not as cool as this. My husband will have me comitted if I start this all up again :)

  • What base color was on your cabinets when you started? Does
    the beginning color matter or does the glaze really cover it up
    anyway? I am intrigued, but have never heard of glazing before and
    I would love to see more base color before and after examples.
    Thanks for sharing:)

    • sally mae, the base color on these cabinets was a cream by Ralph Lauren and for the life of me I cannot recall the name or find the swatch! If I think of the color I will put it on here, but a basic cream was all it was for starters. The beginning color does matter , and you would want to use a lighter color as opposed to a darker one so the glaze can really show up! Glazing is a great process! I hope you enjoy!

      deirdre, if the dresser is really dark, a glaze like this one will not show up, so I would suggest that if you are wanting a look like the cabinets you sand and paint then glaze. Also, remember that a glaze dries kind of flat and it would be good to use a polyurethane finish over it if you want a really nice finished look. enjoy your project!

      tracey, it broke my heart when home depot stopped carrying RL too! you can go on the RL website and look up local carriers in your area. I have a couple local paint stores that carry it here now, and I believe you can order online as well. I hope you find a store near you!

      karen berg, I have not tried that product! I am one of those that once I find something I like I use the heck out of it! I will try this next time though because the advanced workability would be great. I’ll see what I think! :)

      nichole, thank you so much! I hope you enjoy the link!

      xo to all!

  • I am planning on repurposing a dresser, and would love to try this – the color is perfect. But right now the dresser is stained in the original dark color. Would I need to sand, repaint and then glaze? This would be my first project like this, so I appreciate the tips!

  • I have been a fan of the glazing for years, too. It just
    adds such a nice patina to things. I also use the Ralph Lauren
    tobacco glaze, but I can’t find it anymore. Home Depot phased out
    most of the RL paints. Barb, do you know where they carry it now?

  • I love your technique! Looks beautiful. I love glaze,
    thanks for the tip on the softening brush. Have you tried Modern
    Masters Furniture and Cabinetry Glaze? The open time is much longer
    and you can work it better than the Ralph Laurne one. Email me if
    you want the contact info. I order mine from someone on the West
    Coast, not sure where you are, but I am sure you could find a
    dealer near you. Thank you for sharing!

  • I’m planning on chalk painting my cabinets and using an antiquing glaze. I was wondering if I could use a water base polycrylic as a sealant over the glaze?