polyshades minwax stain

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Forum topic by nate22 posted 04-15-2011 03:34 PM 47132 views 0 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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503 posts in 4332 days

04-15-2011 03:34 PM

I am getting ready to use one of minwax stains that is called polyshades. It has the stain and polyurithane mixed in together. My question is have you used it and if you have what are your thoughts on it. Did you like it or not. Just wondered what other people thought of it.

-- Gracie's wooden signs. Middlebury, In.

27 replies so far

View William's profile


9950 posts in 4299 days

#1 posted 04-15-2011 04:04 PM

I have used a lot of polyshades. My favorite is Minwax Gloss Pecan Poloyshades.
My only problem with polyshades is application. Most stains I brush on or wipe on and walk away. With polyshades I have a problem with it “gunking up”. The way I do polyshades is I brush it on. I leave it for a few minutes, then I wipe it with a clean, lint free cloth. It produces a nice finish.
I use the gloss pecan polyshades because I like the look of it. In the end though, my personal verdict is that it really doesn’t eliminate the need for polyurethane. After applying gloss pecan polyshades, I still apply a coat of polyurethane over that.


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3265 posts in 4132 days

#2 posted 04-15-2011 04:18 PM

I have used polyshades. It is good on some woods. To me it is more like paint. The more you apply the more color you get. I like to spray it and have my best results like this. When I get the look I want I apply clear poly over the top for more protection. It is especially good for woods that splotch when you apply stains.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5675 days

#3 posted 04-15-2011 05:12 PM

I’ve used it a few times and never really cared for the result, unless I was putting on a number of coats to achieve a very dark finish.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

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2202 posts in 4615 days

#4 posted 04-15-2011 06:17 PM

It’s okay. Better with lighter colors since it won’t have as much pigment in it. The more pigment, the more prone to problems you’ll have in terms of color uniformity. Of course, this is true of any pigmented stain.

I would still follow it with a final coat of thinned poly. Because poly takes a while to dry (particularly in high humidity areas), it’s susceptible to dust in the final coat. So, lightly remove the dust nibs with sandpaper or 0000 steel wool and then a final coat of thinned poly. The hand-rubbed poly product is already thinned, so it’ll dry faster for a final, dust free finish.

-- jay,

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2202 posts in 4615 days

#5 posted 04-15-2011 06:32 PM

I wouldn’t use it like a stain, however. For stains, you apply then wipe off excess. Polyshades is supposed to be applied in a couple of thin coats…and left to dry, sanding lightly between. The poly finish will not allow you to wipe it off…and you’ll end up gunking it up. So, in this way, it actually works like a toner (a tinted finish).

The hard part with this is getting it uniform across larger pieces…so it’s not the best choice for those applications. And the more times you apply it, the harder it becomes to get right.

This product is intended to be used simply. If your application requires multiple adjustments to get it right, then it won’t work as well. The exception is if you spray it and actually use it like a toner.

-- jay,

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Steven H

1117 posts in 4517 days

#6 posted 04-15-2011 10:27 PM

All I heard so far is that the products is crap. It will take forever to let dry with both of them mixed together.
Why do you need pigment and varnish mixed together?

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4059 posts in 4745 days

#7 posted 04-15-2011 11:27 PM

I would have to go with charlieM1958 i used it on one of my boxes and it came out good but I think it could have been better, don’t waste your money I say. Find something better to get the finish your looking for!

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop, http://[email protected]

View doug1980's profile


11 posts in 4055 days

#8 posted 04-15-2011 11:29 PM

I used it on my son’s toy box project and it worked well. I’m not sure I would use it for fine furniture, but it does have it’s uses. Very easy to work with so that’s really nice.

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2202 posts in 4615 days

#9 posted 04-15-2011 11:50 PM


My opinion…it’s not crap. It is what it is…a two-in-one product made for the home consumer who refinishes an old table on a weekend, who generally lacks the patience for a good professional-like finish.

I think the notion that it’s crap comes from guys like us who have finishing experience doing things the “right” way…and then we use this product and it doesn’t react the way we’d like when we follow the instructions on the can (brush it on). The problem is compounded when we go with more pigment in the mix (darker colors) because it becomes harder to get an even result. But, IMHO, this is less an indictment of that product and more an issue with pigment stains in general. The vast majority of finishing problems come coloring wood with stains and I think it’s sometimes hard for us to differentiate between that and using something like Polyshades.

The product is pretty simple in composition…polyurethane with a pigment-stain colorant. That, by any definition, is a “toner,” and like most toners, if this product is sprayed it works quite well. Brush it on, per the instructions, and it’s harder to work…but I’ve always found that to be true of poly anyway. Others must agree, which is why the thinned-down, wipe-on versions sell so well.

Find a table at an oak nightstand at a flea-market on Friday, and then sand it down and prep it on Saturday morning, after which you put a thin coat of classic golden oak Polyshades on it. Saturday night, you rub it down with some 0000 steel wool and put another thin coat on it. On Sunday morning, you put the nightstand by your bed and set your alarm for the next day. That’s what this product is used for.

-- jay,

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2202 posts in 4615 days

#10 posted 04-15-2011 11:54 PM

Oh, one more thing. Because it reacts like a pigment-stain “toner,” it will really conceal the grain if used in multiple-coats (more so than normal). If you don’t expect it, you’ll likely call it “crap,” since REAL crap would conceal the grain as well. Just a thought.

Toning with a dye-based toner is more transparent and won’t conceal the grain as much…but that’s neither here nor there.

-- jay,

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3265 posts in 4132 days

#11 posted 04-16-2011 12:13 AM

I used this on a doll cradle I had made for my grandaughter. The cradle was mostly maple with some 5/16 dowels on the sides. This wood just isn’t made for staining. I got the tinted varnish and shot on a couple of coats then some clear polyurethane. It looked good but there was no grain showing when this was all over. It has a place and that is probably not on a nice piece of furniture. I have used it on chair legs. The chair was upholstered with only 8 inch long wood legs showing. They had been kicked and scuffed. Poly stain was wiped on and it really dressed them up with little effort. No it wasn’t perfect but for a high traffic area where someone has paid to have a chair upholstered it really made the chair look different.

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150 posts in 4524 days

#12 posted 04-16-2011 01:20 AM

My personal opinion, the product is crap. I used it on an oak coffee table and it looks horrible. Followed the directions on the can to the letter. Stain and Poly separately, it will be worth the extra time.


-- -Director of slipshod craftsmanship and attention deficit woodworking

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958 posts in 4841 days

#13 posted 04-16-2011 01:40 AM

It works and looks good if you can get it even. I had problems getting it to smooth out on the first couple layers. I went over it with 0000 steel wool, then put on the third layer which came out okay. Because of the stain, it does show when you get it thicker in some areas than others so it is difficult to get a good finish. I don’t use it anymore. Here is a picture of the cabinet I used it on before and after. It did subdue the grain and figure a little, but as you can see, there is still plenty showing. I did like the warm tone it gave the wood. This is southern yellow pine with honey pine finish/stain.

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

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133 posts in 4381 days

#14 posted 04-20-2011 04:39 AM

I have used Polyshades on many different pieces. There are some tricks to using it. Keep it well mixed, stir don’t shake. On flat surfaces I like to use a foam pad. I found that you can’t really play with it to much. Put it on and leave it alone. Try and apply on horizontal surfaces to prevent sagging or running. Complex pieces with intricate parts and changes is direction can be difficult. I use painters tape to separate parts. For example the sides of a bookcase and the Bottom of the piece. I’ll tape off the side of one and then apply Polyshades to the one that’s not taped. Then reverse that after the first has dried. I built a Cherry Tall Clock for a MinWax Ad Ten years ago using their Natural Cherry Polyshades. Half of the clock was finished vertically with Polyshades and the other half has left natural. This was a fairly complex piece. I built the clock mostly assembled with hidden screws. I taped everything right down the middle took it apart finished the one side then reassembled. It looked great. I did the same thing with roll top type desk in Classic Oak. Sometimes I top coat the piece with Polyurathane after the Polyshades has dried.

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11310 posts in 4489 days

#15 posted 04-20-2011 06:28 AM

I’ve used it Twice now. The First time and the Last time! It DOES conceal the grain. If you don’t get it perfectly even it will show up AFTER it dries. Then what do you do? Live with it or Strip it and Start over?

What is the problem using Minwax Stain (Oil Based NOT Water Based) Brushing it on and working it in. 24 Hour Dry, 2/3 Coats of Wipe On Poly that dries in an hour, with 0000 Steel Wool in between, Vacumed off Well.

Is the purpose of Polyshades to save time? On a piece of Furniture that you’re going to looking at for Years?

A Friend finished his New Office in a room that used to be a bedroom, about 8’x10’. He’s NOT all that fussy. Asked me about using Polyshades on a Reclaimed 3/4” Oak Floor That I Helped? him lay.

NO! NO! I said. Why not he said. Faster than Stain, Poly, Sanding etc. So he did. Then he asked ME to Help him sand it all off and do it the right way. I went over and had a look. UGLY would be an Understatement!

A month later after he got the Hint that I WASN’T going to do it, he Hired a Company to do it for $1,100 Bucks. We don’t talk much anymore. Guess it was MY Mistake. Go Figure!!

-- Richard (Ontario, CANADA)

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