Anyone use MinWax Polyshades?

dixiedoAugust 23, 2005

Here's the link:

It states you can change the color of stain directly over varnish without stripping. Anyone have feedback??

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yep, done this with this product. I wanted to darken my dining room table and a couple of other pieces of oak furniture. I very lightly sanded with the super fine sandpaper (450 grit?), cleaned that up and used a really soft brush to put down the Polyshade. I had to do a couple of coats on some pieces to achieve the color I was looking for. I used a satin poly after the Polyshades was dry. All the pieces came out beautifully. My best friend thought I got a new dining room table!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2005 at 2:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

WOW, I am really getting some mixed opinions here (have it posted on Woodworking as well). I am glad to hear it worked out for you Diane!

I am thinking about giving it a shot. If it end in complete disater, I will strip and stain the wood.... could be worth the $10 to give it a shot??!!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2005 at 3:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yeah, I read that post. I took great care when I did this and started out on my least favorite piece of furniture, an entertainment center. I didn't glob it on - I thought that thin coats would be best and that turned out to be right. I also was speedy because if you work the stuff too much, you will get brush marks and streaks. Work small sections at a time. For example, when I did the table, I went all the way across the table, with the grain, without picking up the brush so that I wouldn't have any stop and start marks. I am going to do some more pieces since it worked so well.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2005 at 2:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I tested it out on our entry table, I started in the back since I wasn't sure if it was laquered or varnished. It seemed to go on well and I gave the top a shot. Wouldn't you know the top was some laminate wood. *grrr*.

So I went for it a tried a small patch of our staircase. I used a tiny brush because I didn't want the hassel of cleaning a big one if it didn't work. It ended up streaky because of my brush. I am hesitant to use it on our staircase because there is alot to do and I am afraid it will not go on evenly. But, I am glad to know about this product because I think ther are others pieces I could use it on and not cry if they didn't come out perfect.

Thanks for your input Diane!!

    Bookmark   August 24, 2005 at 3:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It can be a problem to keep a uniform color over a large area since the poly has pigment stain mixed in to provide color.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2005 at 5:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We used it once and it was kind of a disaster. We were applying it to the verticle sides of a large piece of furniture and it looks like the stain "sagged". The horizontal surfaces were OK. I then read later that it was best used on pieces that are flat and in a light color. We were applying it vertically and in a dark stain.

Never used it again. But this was about 3 or so years ago. The formula could have improved.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2005 at 11:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm using a similar product called Circa 1850 Stain 'n Varnish on my kitchen cabinets. It's stain and polyeurethane combined. Eventually I'll get them all done and it will look pretty good. But in hindsight (as I was warned by the wood worker forum) it was a mistake.

It IS VERY difficult to get an even color over large surfaces, and I have pretty good hand control and alot of patience. I'm finding that I need to thin it out alot and have found by using a roller (very fine foam roller) I can get the large areas pretty even, but it's still pretty tricky. I end up wiping it all off sometimes when I mess it up and re-doing it. It takes several coats to go from the light to the dark color I want, and it's critical to rub with steel wool between coats. This product only differs from Polyshades in that it's a gel, so it's thicker to start with.

I'm not sorry I'm refinishing the cabinets myself, because the $20,000 we're saving is how we're paying for all the rest of the kitchen re-do!

In hindsight, of course, I should not have been so stubborn (or is it lazy? :-) ). The wood worker people said it was not advisable but DH warned me just as strongly that stripping off all the old finish first would be too much work. DH won out, and I've been staining cabinets for weeks!

If I did a big project like kitchen cabinets again I'd bite the bullet and strip all the way to the wood first, stain, and then varnish. For a smaller project like an occasional table I'd use it. A large kitchen table, probably not. If you decide to use it I strongly recommend you test, test, test, on an area that won't be seen so you can get the hang of how to control it.

Good luck with your project!

    Bookmark   August 25, 2005 at 8:57AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yeah, we are so not using this product. I don't want to risk a huge mess on our staircase. I think it great for crappy furniture to get a second lease on life, but we need to do it the old fashioned way if we do it at all!

    Bookmark   August 27, 2005 at 9:01AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I used it on my kitchen cabinets to darken the orangey oak finish and it made them look completely re-done. I just finished using it on the fireplace mantel and it looks great there too. My bathroom vanity is also the same oak and the Antique Walnut polyshades worked fine on that to give it a finish a couple of shades darker than the oak. Several posters on another message board I use tried it on my recommendation and loved it. One of them even brushed multiple coats of the Bombay Mahogany (the darkest shade) on her bath vanity and completely changed the color from oak to a deep rich mahogany.
Now, my caveat is this.............I did try using a good quality stain brush with a mix of the Ant. Walnut and the Bombay mahogany on my kitchen cabinets when I first began. I found it hard to control the color and there was streaking. So I used a rag dipped in the product to do my application, rubbing it on and making sure the application was even. I found the rag method much easier and did my first coat on clean kit. cabs in about an hour. Allow a few hours dry time and do coat #2. Here is a link to kitchen cabinet pictures. Scroll down on left to see the cabinets done with Minwax.

Here is a link that might be useful: Picturetrail link

    Bookmark   August 27, 2005 at 11:45AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Wow Redbazel, those look GREAT! I bought Bombay Mahogany, that is definitely the look I want on my staircase. I was wondering if it was possible to put it on with a rag, I think it would be easier to control the amount, and I could do multiple thin coats vs globby ones. Hmmmm, do I give it another shot?????

    Bookmark   August 27, 2005 at 1:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've used either the Bombay Mahogany alone, or mixed with the Antique Walnut, on each project. When you do the application with a rag, you almost can't go wrong, because you just wipe it on and rub it off so to speak. It does take longer maybe to get more darkening. I did try brushing on the stain on my bath cupboards, then blending it and spreading it more evenly with the rag. That gave me more darkening quicker, but again, I find the brush just harder for me to get control. Some have done light sanding between coats, but I did not. And you don't need to do any poly afterwards, because it's already in the Minwax. For what it's worth, I used the satin finish, didn't want a lot of gloss.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2005 at 1:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I got the satin finish as well. Hmmmm, you are convincing me to give it another shot with a rag. In any case (if this goes horribly awry, or I decide to strip it the old fashioned way), I will just get some orange stripper stuff. I would love for this to work, and once the handrails and base are done I will paint the spindles white... I already have primer from SW that can go over varnished woodwork, so I could be all set.

Thanks for your input, I'll let you know how it goes!!!!

    Bookmark   August 27, 2005 at 2:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

polyshade is aweful. i am building a tv console and thought i would use polyshade to save a step of staining then applying a protective finish. it was impossible to get an even color and the verticle pieces ran. after 3 hours i was only half way done and it looked terrible. i'm now sanding it all back down and starting over. i won't ever use this product again.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2007 at 12:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Don't !

    Bookmark   January 30, 2007 at 6:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

As you've gathered, its kind of a hit or miss product.

It works by dissolving the exisiting finish [it wouldn't stick, otherwise], and if that finish is old, uneven, or very thick, it just makes a mess.

But in the right circumstances it can work quite well. It's definetly something you need to spot test [inside the piece, if possible]. Worst case, you'll have to strip it, leaving you pretty much where you started.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2007 at 4:15AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Another vote for not to use it. What a disaster. :~( It went on poorly and we had to redo the piece the old fashioned way.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2007 at 7:11AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I used the bombay stain on floors and steps it was so lovely we wanted to stain kitchen cabinets. The cabinets were cleaned and sanded but the foam brushed stain came out very streaky. Any ideas on how to fix?

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 12:38AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Brushworks Spectacular Finishes

Applicator error is the usual disappointment in such products.

I have used Polyshades for many, many years with great success. I've changed over entire staircases for customers and all were delighted with the amazing results.

The brush and the brusher are the most important components for a fine finish.


    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 9:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


Do you have any recommendations for a good brush and application techniques to ensure quality results? (Refinishing kitchen cabinets.) Also, do you know if Polyshades can be sprayed? I have a Wagner 770 paintcrew sprayer.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 1:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Our entire banister was redone this way and looks great. You should hire a pro if tackling something this large and complex.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 5:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I would have to say that this product is NOT a time saver. Here are a few tips if you think you want to give it a try.
1: Stirring vs Shaking...Shaking creates air bubbles, if you do shake it, give it a few minutes to settle. 2: A quality brush (3-4") the soft bristles leave fewer brush lines. 3: For best results use a paint strainer (the funnel type) this removes all the unwanted junk in the mix. 4: Sand between coats with a scotch brite style pad, this removes the dust but doesn't destroy the sharp edges of the wood. 5: A warm area, the poly needs to flow to fill the gaps made from the brush. 6: I prefer to paint and stain vertically if possible. a lot less dust settles on the wood. GOOD LUCK!!! Hope this helps

    Bookmark   October 16, 2008 at 11:04AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This is the Bombay Mahogany in my kitchen. I have used it on my bay windows and raw as well as old stained furnature with great success. Use then coats and a sponge applicator .As was said don,t shake it will make bubbles in the finish. I used it on a old dresser set 20 plus years ago and have even ironed on it. Thats why I chose it for a hard used place like the kitchen and bay window seat. It usually takes thre light coats to realy see the color uniformty I am going for. The only problem I have ever had with it was the island already had a stain with shiny surface on it and I cleaned it with steal wool then applide the polyshades like normal but it went on blothy. So if you want a good coverage over a glossy or serface you need to sand first.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2008 at 9:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We just finished 1200 feet of pine trim, a hand rail, 5 six panel doors and 3 mahogany door with satin polyshades. It's all in the application. We used foam brushes and a lot of patients. When it's applied even it's works great. It's the runs that get you.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 1:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

very relieved to read this post. I just put bombay satin polyshades on a concert bass drum I'm restoring, it's 36 inch diameter mahogany shell, about 16 inches deep, that I sanding sealed and finished at 120 grit. I thought I'd give the polyshades a try to save a step, and because it was the color I wanted and the store didn't have anything even close to that dark in a stain. terrible idea. I'm a finish carpenter and furniture maker, and I do a LOT of finishing and have excellent technique. using a 4" purdy oil brush, about as nice as they come, I could not get an even color coat. the pigment pools and streaks and will not penetrate the wood apart from the poly, leaving color streaks. I can see that to an amateur this would be acceptable, and I'm guessing 9 out of 10 of my friends that have no idea about fine woodworking would say, "that looks great!" when in fact it looks like garbage. I had to wipe the second coat off completely with a solvent rag because it had gunked up beyond repair. this was a huge mistake on my part that I won't make again.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2008 at 10:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have an entire houseful of woodwork to darken due to new wood floors. I have no cash left to pay a pro to redo everything or to replace all of the doors and trim in my home. Therefore, I am on my own.

Everyone has said something true, and I have experienced it all. I am starting to get acceptable results now. Not acceptable to a "pro", but acceptable to folks I know who are aware, picky and share honest feedback. I've tried this and "Howards Restore-a-Finish". The Restore a finish is nice, but is not affecting the color much, and getting a redder hue is what I am after. I have a door and a cabinet I will lkely re0do. But the rest is turning out quite well.

I will share what I have learned so far:

- Experiment before starting the big job. I tried rubbing the minwax and brushing. Brushing is the best for me.

- Clean your surface well (duh). I use a sponge with a ScotchBrite backing to gain surface grip for the minwax (I simply do not have the time to remove all doors and work them horizontally)

- This stuff is too thick and sets too fast.
To overcome this I work one thing at a time to "completion". Example: one cabinet door, one coat at a time.

- I use small amounts in a separate container (don't paint directly out of the minwax can as I started doing. WRONG!!!).

- Your brush will quickly become your worst enemy. Frequently clean your brush with paint thinner.

- Find a brush you are comfortable with. I have settled into 1.5" width max.

- I use thinner liberally and frequently on my brush. Keeping the brush cleared with thinner keeps the minwax flowing thinner, better, and more consistently; plus, it keeps the minwax wetter longer. I am able to easily work the surface (a vertical door jamb for example) top to bottom.

- Don't stop to chat on the phone and then come back into your section you were working on. Guaranteed problems. You must your finish your section.

- Last, but not least, take your time.

The last thing I may try is actually thinning the minwax with thinner, but I don't know if I will go there now that my results are so much improved.

Good luck!!

    Bookmark   January 4, 2009 at 3:29PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Replacing shower recessed light with vent/light
Our house has a 6" can light over the bath/shower....
1960 Ranch Remodel
We recently moved into a 1960 ranch home in Vestavia...
Red Mountain Media
Ideas on changing floorplan / budget remodel for family home.
Hello; We are a family of five. Currently our oldest...
How does a General Contractor I need one ?
I am new to remodeling anything in my house. I have...
Design and Planning a Remodel/Addition on a Budget
I bought my first home three years ago and had grand...
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™