Polyshades... not quite what I expected

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Forum topic by megaroo612 posted 08-28-2012 07:37 PM 15383 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View megaroo612's profile


3 posts in 2338 days

08-28-2012 07:37 PM

Hi guys,

So i finally finished a desk that I had made and decided to stain it last night. I sanded the entire think with 220 sand paper, applied wood conditioner, then the stain. I used polyshades, and now kinda with I had gone with a different type. After looking at it this morning, it looks really blotchy. I applied it with a foam brush, then wiped the excess off after a few minutes. After reading reviews on this product, it seems most people don’t like this stuff. I am hoping with a second coat, things will start to look better, but here is my question for you…

Should I sand it with fine sand paper – around 320 to help even it out then just apply another coat of the polyshades?

OR, should I sand it and then switch to a regular oil based stain (no poly) to help even it out? I don’t know if adding a different stain at this point will make it even worse.

Thanks for any advise!

21 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5242 posts in 2734 days

#1 posted 08-28-2012 08:18 PM

Some years back, the moderator of a finishing forum (elsewhere) called Polyshades and insult to the can it’s put in. Having never read the label, I always thought it was a brushing varnish (no wiping required). In any case, I’m not exactly sure what the correct next steps would be…but I would: 1) toss the Polyshades, and certainly do not put another coat on the desk. 2.) if the appearance of the desk (the blotchy part) is acceptable, 2 more coats of regular varnish may give you the finish you need for durability. 3) putting more stain of the Polyshades would actually be applying a glaze…..and if the blotchiness is unacceptable, that glaze may hide some of the appearance. I think I’d try a few things on some scrap and see if any of them are suitable. One other thought, since this is a desk, you might consider stripping the top, and not the sides/legs or whatever else there is. The top would be the most noticeable, and stripping a flat surface would not be to hard to do. Then start over with some better quality products.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Surfside's profile


3389 posts in 2414 days

#2 posted 08-28-2012 08:24 PM

How about some pictures megaroo612?

-- "someone has to be wounded for others to be saved, someone has to sacrifice for others to feel happiness, someone has to die so others could live"

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5149 posts in 4201 days

#3 posted 08-28-2012 08:28 PM

Just my opinion, but I avoid MW “stuff” at all times.
Polyshades is a travesty in the finishing world. If ya want a dime store finish, use a dime store product.
Now I feel better.


View Mosquito's profile


9574 posts in 2533 days

#4 posted 08-28-2012 08:37 PM

I know I go against the normal here, but I have no issues with PolyShades. HOWEVER I only used it in an implementation that required it to be black, but still show grain, while being protective. For this, it worked great.

I wouldn’t say I’d use it as a finish for a desk, though. It’s a tinted finish, not a stain. If it’s the color you want, you’re better off going with a stain, then a finish over that.

As for what to try next, get out the scraps as Fred suggested. It might add time, but it’d be time better spent then sanding off an additional 3-4 layers of the stuff if you decide you hate it! For what it’s worth, when I used PolyShades, it took until coat 3 before it was an even color across the whole thing. I was also using black, so it was pretty easy to tell.

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View DaleM's profile


958 posts in 3625 days

#5 posted 08-28-2012 08:39 PM

I don’t like Polyshades, but I have used it in the past. I did not wipe off the excess. I believe wiping it off contributed to the blotchiness. The grain that would soak up the stain/finish did so and took on some color. The other areas that did not soak it up did not get much color. If you left it on to dry, it would have had a more even color, even though some areas would be shinier than others with the first coat of poly just laying on top of the wood. Since the first coat will seal the surface after it is dry, you could even things out by putting on another coat and not wiping it off.

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

View knotscott's profile


8183 posts in 3616 days

#6 posted 08-28-2012 08:58 PM

Polyshades is a PITA to use IME. I’ve gotten so-so results after thinning it quite a bit with mineral spirits to help it flow and slow the dry time. You have to be really careful to not rebrush freshly applied areas, which makes it darn near impossible to use.

I’m torn about how I’d approach fixing your dilemna….add more coats to see how it goes, or strip it off now before you invest anymore time. Sorry, I don’t think there’s an easy sure-fire answer….

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

View megaroo612's profile


3 posts in 2338 days

#7 posted 08-28-2012 09:27 PM

Thanks everyone, I think I am gonna try one more coat when I get home tonight and see how it goes. This time, however, I am not gonna wipe it off. I am new to this whole staining thing and I guess just assumed polyshades would act just like a regular stain and I could brush it on and wipe off the excess. But I guess not. Live and learn right? Sorry I can’t post any pictures right now as I am at work. I will let you all know how it goes tomorrow. From here on out, I am definitely gonna use regular stain though.

One more thing… I kept getting these little bubbles. when i first wipe the stain on. I am stirring the stain and not shaking it, is it because I am using a foam brush??

View Doss's profile


779 posts in 2505 days

#8 posted 08-28-2012 10:18 PM

From what I’ve seen/experienced, products like Polyshades are meant for really small projects. I used a similar product to finish a large panel on a credenza and regretted it every minute afterwards.

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

View DaleM's profile


958 posts in 3625 days

#9 posted 08-28-2012 11:55 PM

What knotscott said is exactly right with this stuff. You have to thin it some if you want the bubbles to all come out, because normally you would just brush slowly to avoid bubbles, then lightly go over the area with the tip of the brush only to remove any bubbles that do form. With this stuff, if you brush back over it, the brush marks will show even when it dries. What I did is to not worry about the bubbles, then lightly sanded and hit it with 0000 steel wool to smooth it between coats and hit it again with 0000 steel wool after the last coat (three total is what I used). This smoothed any brush marks and bubble marks, but left a very dull finish. To bring back a little shine, I lightly waxed with paste wax.

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2931 days

#10 posted 08-29-2012 01:31 AM

I have had only poor results with polyshades EXCEPT when I laid it on pine in very heavy coats and didn’t wipe. The foam brushes will increase bubbles.

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

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

8622 posts in 2569 days

#11 posted 08-29-2012 01:33 AM

lesson learned…

test any new finish on a scrap board.

-- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View megaroo612's profile


3 posts in 2338 days

#12 posted 08-30-2012 01:01 AM

Well I got the second coat on last night and it looks a lot better. Doesn’t show as much of the details in the wood as I would’ve liked, but I can live with it. It definitely worked better to brush it on like paint rather than try to wipe it like stain.
Ssnvet – the funny thing is i did try it on a piece of scrap wood and loved the results, but as I think someone on here mentioned, it seems this stuff does better on small projects, so that may be why the results of the entire desk were not as nice as the one piece of wood.

Thanks everyone for your help!

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 3164 days

#13 posted 08-30-2012 01:53 AM

I used it once. That was enough. Tossed the rest of the can. Can’t believe they still sell that stuff.

-- Life is good.

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3399 days

#14 posted 08-30-2012 03:47 AM

Yep, Polyshades isn’t a stain as much as it’s tinted film finish. You would never use something like regular poly and wipe off the excess.

As Knotscott said, it works okay if brushed on thin…not rubbed on like you would a stain.

IME, putting more finish won’t help much…just makes your stripping more difficult. It acts like regular poly finish in that newer coats just lay atop the bottom coats…so unless the color is dark enough to cover the flaws, then I’m not sure it’s worth the effort. And at that point, the wood grain is probably pretty much obscured by then.

The crime of Polyshades isn’t so much the product, it’s that people are misled as to it’s proper application. Even so, there’s probably a zillion better choices available.

-- jay,

View CharlesNeil's profile


2470 posts in 4111 days

#15 posted 08-30-2012 12:48 PM

Polyshades is proof you can package disaster in a can, Just my .02

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