I recently finished up an end table using sanding and soft wax techniques. After finishing the project I realized that awhile ago I'd painted a similar end table in the same colors using dark wax and without sanding. I thought it'd be fun to do a little side-by-side to show off the different finishes. That's really the great thing about chalk paint. Not only can you choose the colors, you can choose the finish too.
For the lighter finished table, I let the paint dry overnight then came in with 1000 grit sandpaper. You can just lightly sand the whole surface. If you want some of the original wood to show through, you can also use a heavier grit sandpaper on the edges for an antique look. Once sandpapered, I went over the piece with a damp cloth to clean off the dust. Once fully dry just go over with soft wax. You don't have to use sandpaper in this technique, but I really like the smooth finish it gives.
For the dark wax technique I chose not to sand because I was going for a more antique look. After letting the paint dry, use a cloth to work in the dark wax throughout. The dark wax goes on pretty heavy at first but will thin out as you work it into the piece. I usually let the wax dry overnight so it can sink into the grain. Next you'll go through with soft wax. Depending on how much soft wax you use, you can really take out a lot of the dark. It's almost like using an eraser. You can also choose to only use the dark wax in strategic areas- maybe just around the edges. It's totally up to you!
As you can see, both tables look completely different based on their finishes. One is more antique and worn while the other is more clean and classic. Which look do you prefer?
Try them both out and see what works in your home!