Is The Minwax Stain/poly All In 1 Any Good?

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Forum topic by GMman posted 06-06-2011 03:35 AM 27829 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3902 posts in 3695 days

06-06-2011 03:35 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Some of you here must have used this product.
If so how is it working.

9 replies so far

View BobTheFish's profile


361 posts in 2549 days

#1 posted 06-06-2011 04:37 AM

I try not to but I have a sneaking suspicion that some of the minwax stains I’ve used have some sort of poly or other finish added.

I DO know of one project that required it. A former coworker of mine wanted a chair, to which she wanted to upholster and finish in a different way than our supplier normally did.

So the owners of the store talked with the company and she was able to buy a chair frame plain.

She ended up trying to stain it with the all in one and it turned out fine. It works in such a way that the coast of poly add a light amount of color, so you get a fair amount more color control from the stain straight from the can than you do just plain stain. Multiple coats darken it, and you can add regular poly at the end to add protection.

I don’t care much for using stains, rather preferring to use the actual woods with the colors I want, rather than trying to mimic them, (but staining does have its place in matching colors or in refinishing something I got for free than would simply look better in a different color). What concerns me about the poly/stain all in one is that I have a suspicion that the poly itself is what is colored, meaning instead of coloring the wood, you’re just adding color via translucent layers, like how you might look through a pair of sunglasses. The world doesn’t get darker, there’s just less light passing through the glasses (poly coating). Because of this, I’m a bit concerned about its overall aging process, or the possibility of layers separating or cracking over time, and possibly peeling, leaving “lighter” wood showing through.

It’s probably silly, but I’d rather, if using stain, use stain and poly separately.

View Alex Lane's profile

Alex Lane

508 posts in 3887 days

#2 posted 06-06-2011 05:50 AM

Good response above, but GMman if you’re talking about Minwax “Poly Shades” products, I’ve used one so far. I think it was called “honey amber” or something like that…honey something…(searching Google now…”POLYSHADES HONEY PINE” IS WHAT IT’S CALLED).

Anyway, I liked it. Last year, a friend asked me to transform a small Pine pre-manufactured end table with several storage drawers into a full built-in desk between a couple of bookcases. He had put the table/chest-of-drawers together himself and used a clear gloss poly, which had aged nicely over the pine for the past few years into a golden yellow color. I just happened to have a can of Polyshades on hand, and it just happened to sound like the right thing to use to match any newly-added pine to what was already there. I’ll get around to posting the final result as a project someday, but I basically used an old solid-core door for the desk top, veneered it with Ribbon Afromosia, and wrapped the edges in White Ash. I can’t remember whether I used this stain/poly on the Ash edging or not. Maybe one or two coats, but after that I would have switched to regular clear gloss poly.

The pre-made portion required some modification, which included cutting it down to a lower height suitable for supporting an ergonomic writing surface. One of the drawers was removed in the process, and there was a gap between the next drawer down and the desk top, so I had to fill the gap with a new piece of pine. AND HERE’S WHERE I NEEDED THE POLYSHADES PRODUCT. All I can say is that it worked wonderfully for me. I put on two or three coats (all preceded by a coat of Zinsser Seal Coat) to get the color to match the already aged poly finish on the rest of the drawers. This product allows the user to have lots of control over how dark the staining effect is, simply by adding more coats until the color is acceptable.

However, I do wonder if there is a certain point at which the darkening effect of multiple coats reaches a limit. What I mean is: Do 6 or 8 coats of Polyshades look any darker than 4 coats? I haven’t tested that yet…

I hope this helps.

-- Lane Custom Guitars and Basses

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3066 days

#3 posted 06-06-2011 06:06 AM

I’ve used Minwax Polyshades “Bombay Mahogany” on a couple of projects and really like the deep rich color you can get with 2-3 coats.

Probably not necessary, but I finish with their satin Polycrylic

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2687 days

#4 posted 06-06-2011 06:28 AM

Ive used the Polyshades on pine with good results;less blotching than stain,its more paint like and will cover some of the grain[esp with several coats]. I would use it on pine or red oak but nothing else more exotic.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3156 days

#5 posted 06-06-2011 07:07 AM

It’s a decent product IF you keep in mind that this is a “tinted finish,” not a “stain with poly.” In other words, it’s all about the application.

Follow the directions on the can (or better yet, spray it on). Otherwise, it won’t behave right…treat it like a stain (rub on, rub off) and it’ll bite you. Treat it like any other poly finish, and there will be few surprises.

Personally, I like the product from the standpoint that “staining” boards is where most people’s problems with finishing really starts. Once wood absorbs stain, then all bets are off whether or not you will produce an even result…and this is especially true when not all the boards come from the same batch (such as with buying red oak from the nearby Big Box) or when using a mix of hardwood and plywood. From this standpoint, the Polyshade, especially if sprayed on, can act more like a toner…allowing you to spray more finish in areas where you might need to balance the boards a little bit. So, yes, as with any toner it will have the tendency to conceal the grain a bit (which I seldom find all that objectionable with something like oak); however, nothing says you can’t rub on some shellac seal coat or something like BLO before you do the Polyshades. In this way, you can “pop” the grain a bit before you apply the colored finish…kind of a “best of both worlds” thing.

To me, the magic in finishing is using a toner. This gives the best balance and uniformity, regardless of the project. Thus, there is nothing that I do now where I don’t tone my work…which is as simple as mixing a little bit of dye into my first couple of coats of the finish. Even if I stain the work first, the toner will really even things out. Polyshades will act like that, if you let it.

-- jay,

View knotscott's profile


8013 posts in 3373 days

#6 posted 06-06-2011 12:41 PM

It’s not particularly easy to work with, and certainly isn’t what I’d start wtih for new pieces, but to make minor color changes to an existing finished piece without completely stripping it, it does work. I’ve found that it’s easier to work with if I thin it first. It works best if you keep a wet edge and don’t rebrush.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Ronysue's profile


3 posts in 1755 days

#7 posted 08-03-2013 07:14 PM

Min-Wax Poly Shade Espresso was THE SOLUTION for our kitchen cabinets! Wanted an even dark finish on oak without the ‘zebra stripes’ and contrast caused by the hard wood/porous grain. Looks great! Because we didn’t want it any darker, but felt a kitchen requires more than one coat of clear we finished it with a couple coats of the ‘General Finishes Satin Gel Top Coat’. (Easiest TOP COAT EVER, highly recommend it!)

-- RonySue in Sunny California

View paxorion's profile


1107 posts in 2043 days

#8 posted 08-05-2013 02:32 AM

I had an abysmal experience using the Minwax Polyshades on a coffee table I built many years back. While I would agree with my wife (who is far better at finishing than me) that it was user error (didn’t put down thin enough coats) and poor and bad environment (too hot), I think the product itself is a compromise (on multiple levels) for the sake of convenience. Some of the problems I had include: 1 – The finish dried and dragged way too quickly over a 2’ x 4’ table surface 2 – The end-grain became way too dark too quickly. The Minwax pre-stain conditioner did little to prevent this (or blotching) on pine 3 – Thinning may help, but then that may mean a need for more than 2 coats

If you have a good idea of what you are doing, the patience to put down multiple coats, and an environment which won’t lead to the finish drying too fast, it may work, but if you are trying to use this because you think it’s a good way to get started on stains and poly (like I did), do yourself a favor and try to tackle each portion of the finishing separately.

-- paxorion

View Shawn Masterson's profile

Shawn Masterson

1325 posts in 1946 days

#9 posted 08-05-2013 02:39 AM

it is very hard to get it to coat evenly without spraying. I have sprayed it and had great results.

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