Are MinWax Products worth using?

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Forum topic by noone posted 01-16-2013 12:36 AM 5746 views 1 time favorited 34 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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583 posts in 2474 days

01-16-2013 12:36 AM

Just wondering what the general consensus of MinWax products is here. Is this stuff comparable to Target finishes or General finishes?

I saw this PolyShades product that looked interesting. Stain and Poly in one step. Too good to be true? What are others experiences with MinWax products. They are veryaccessible which makes them very tempting.

I am debating over and over again on what to use on a cherry bath vanity I want to stain espresso.

34 replies so far

View Jorge G.'s profile

Jorge G.

1537 posts in 2677 days

#1 posted 01-16-2013 12:38 AM

Polyshades suck….some Minwax products are ok, but not the polyshades. Awful colors and it takes a century for it to dry….used once on oak, never again….

-- To surrender a dream leaves life as it is — and not as it could be.

View ajosephg's profile


1880 posts in 3763 days

#2 posted 01-16-2013 12:48 AM

The only Minwax product I like is their solvent based polyurethane

-- Joe

View DKV's profile


3940 posts in 2706 days

#3 posted 01-16-2013 12:49 AM

I love minwax water based poly. Dries very quick. I add different transtint dyes to make the color and shade I want. With the right sanding between coats I get a flawless finish.

-- This is a Troll Free zone.

View noone's profile


583 posts in 2474 days

#4 posted 01-16-2013 01:07 AM

What about MinWax Prestain conditioner, then MinWax stain, then wipe on poly. Is that any good? I want this piece to look professional. I won’t accept any less.

Or does ‘professional’ not equate to MinWax?

Whats a good finishing schedule would you recommend to get a nice espresso slightly red finish on cherry?

View DKV's profile


3940 posts in 2706 days

#5 posted 01-16-2013 01:20 AM

-- This is a Troll Free zone.

View Ross's profile


142 posts in 2175 days

#6 posted 01-16-2013 01:40 AM

The prestain conditioner is supposed to help eliminate blotching when you stain. “Yeah Right”
I sand to 120 grit then wipe the piece down and stain with minwax using a rag. Let it dry 24 hours then bronze wool it with extra fine wool. Then repeat the process. Too many folks get hung up on sanding a piece to 220 grit or even higher. It’s really not necessary.
Wipe on poly will not give you the finish that you are looking for if you desire a professional finish.
You can achieve a pro finish using a good quality poly brush.
I use a HVLP sprayer sometimes and sometimes I brush the finish. It depends on the piece of furniture that I’m finishing as well as the type of wood used.
As for staining Cherry, I have found that it’s best not to. Just apply the poly and let nature take it’s coarse. It may take several months for the cherry to deepen (depends on lighting, temperature, humidity) but the color will deepen in time

Just my 2 cents!

-- "Man Plans and God Laughs"

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 3052 days

#7 posted 01-16-2013 02:34 AM

My $.02:

Minwax Wipe On Poly will give an excellent finish but plan on 6 coats at least. It is a retail product. Yes, it is just a cut poly but can after can is the same. That can be an advantage.

Minwax colors are more color than “finish.” But there is a nice array and they are accessible and, obviously, can be blended.

My experience differs from Ross’s. Sanding to 180 gives me much less fuzz to sand back between coats of whatever the finish.

Polyshades is fine for simple, one-off projects. Wipe it on, wipe it off and there is certainly some build atop the color. I would think, however, that adding coats of the stuff would not work. Clear would have to follow that first step.

Lately I’ve been using Mnwax paste wax as a final finish and buffing it out rather quickly rather than waiting until it hazes over. The results have been spectacular.

My experience with the Minwax waterbase poly is that it is much softer, cured, than GF, which I prefer by a factor of 10 for spreadability, cure time, sandback and build.

There. That ought to prove that LJ is not just a bunch of head-nodders! Our mileage indeed does vary! And it’s interesting and beautiful!



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View noone's profile


583 posts in 2474 days

#8 posted 01-16-2013 05:37 AM

Thanks for the replies.

DKV- that’s the exact finish I’m looking for that you did on those oak cabinets. A nice dark espresso finish with a hint of merlot. I’m really hoping that finish will be possible on cherry.

I have conversion hvlp I plan on using for the top coats.

It sounds like mixing cordovan dye with a conversion varnish and spraying it on the bare cherry would work, building coats for darkness. Is this really all there is to it?

Is using steel wool ok to use between coats of conversion varnish? I think I read here that that is a no no because it leaves rust in the clear? Is that true with a dark finish? I wouldn’t think that would be a problem with a dark finish.

Lastly, if I use a water based cv, do I need to raise the grain before the first coat

View DKV's profile


3940 posts in 2706 days

#9 posted 01-16-2013 05:56 AM

Noone, the thing I like about mixing my own colors is that I can then “layer” it on. I can even leave spots that I would like to have more of the merlot to show. Fewers coats for merlot, more coats for expresso. It took awhile for me to get it, actually my wife told me that was the color she wanted. Dark with hints of the merlot. Anyway, not hard. Practice and patience.

Another nice combo I found is painting an object black and then watering down some latex purple. The watered down paint allows the black to show through with a hint of the black. In the crevices where the paint gathers a little more there will be more of a purple tint. A few people have asked me how I did it and were surprised at the simpleness of it.

Anyway, I’m just pretty much a beginner when it comes to finishing. I have found that the more you play and experiment the more reward you’ll find. Finishing is an art.

-- This is a Troll Free zone.

View noone's profile


583 posts in 2474 days

#10 posted 01-16-2013 12:27 PM

So you used both merlot and espresso transtint to achieve that color?

What did you sand with between coats? 0000 steel wool?

Thanks again.

View Marcus's profile


1163 posts in 2222 days

#11 posted 01-16-2013 01:15 PM

I’ve used the Minway wipe on poly many times w/ great results. I bought it when I needed to get something done quick and a trip to Lowes is just a few minutes away. I was pleasantly surprised by it though and have bought it again since.

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3360 days

#12 posted 01-16-2013 01:50 PM

DKV and I are very much alike (shockingly) when it comes to finishing things like this. I am a huge proponent of delivering the majority of my color by tinting the finish, not by staining, which should be avoided in most situations – I use it only if I need to “pop” the grain first, which might be necessary since using color in the finish can obscure the figure. In fact, I am more likely to use stains as a “glaze” over previously sealed wood. I love the TransTint dyes, though I will normally use them with shellac as opposed to tinting the finish (which for me is usually water-borne). I do this chiefly because of cost…I could just color the water-borne finish, but it’s twice as much as shellac.

People think all the above is difficult…it’s the easiest way of doing it and gives a great professional result.

As for MinWax, the products themselves aren’t terrible if you know what they are and how best to use them…but if you just read their marketing and their instructions on the can you will get into trouble. Even the Polyshades, as Lee said, is workable as long as you realize it’s a tinted finish as opposed to a stain – if you apply it like a film finish, you will be fine.

Their oil-based poly and stains work well. I use often use them in combination much like using the TransTint as mentioned above. The poly is easy, especially if thinned and wiped on. With the stains, there are complications which arise not necessarily from the product but rather because IT’S A STAIN. I’ve heard raves about their water-borne poly and stains, but I use GF finishes for that so I have little experience with MinWax in that regard.

I’m not a big fan of their pre-conditioner. I’d rather use a 1/2 lb. cut of dewaxed shellac.

-- jay,

View waho6o9's profile


8523 posts in 2779 days

#13 posted 01-16-2013 02:12 PM

Bronze wool Noone, leave the rust elsewhere.

View SamuraiSaw's profile


515 posts in 2166 days

#14 posted 01-16-2013 02:41 PM

I never use poly brushes for anything oil based, except maybe whisk brooms. I regularly brush oil based finishes and always use brushes made out of china bristle, ox hair, and badger. Poly is fine for water based and latex finishes.

-- Artisan Woodworks of Texas....

View jim454's profile


35 posts in 2615 days

#15 posted 01-16-2013 03:17 PM

I use MinWax products I brush it on and spray it with no problem, there PolyShade is good You need to apply more than two coats if you want to deepen the color. Some time I will use a oil-based stain and then the PolyShade to get the color I need.

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