Durability of Minwax Polyshades

andyskristyJuly 6, 2007

I've searched enough tonight to know that this is not a favorite product of many. I have tested it on a chair (not stripped) to darken it up. I did not find it hard to use & kind of liked the effect I got. It gives the chair character. My concern is the durability. I applied the first coat & there was one run at the bottom of the leg. I went to sand it 24 hours after applying & I felt like the entire product would have peeled off if I kept going. It reminded me of painting a water based paint over an oil based paint without priming first. Anyway, I'm very concerned that the product won't stick well to wood that hasn't been stripped. I did lightly sand, but nothing major. Is it because the product didn't have time to fully cure? Or is this product just a quick way to get a bad result? I really like the way it looks. Would it be more durable if I coated it with a varnish once I was happy with the darker color? Help! And Thanks!

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Polyshades is a polyurethane varnish that has a lot of added pigment to it. Sort of halfway between a clear varnish and an enamel paint.

Polyurethane has relatively poor adhesion characteristics. Going over an unknown finish that may not be perfectly clean will exacerbate the adhesion problems. Yes, it does take longer than overnight to fully cure, but that may not really help an adhesion problem so much as cohesion. Neither will top-coating with another product--if the bottom layer is not sticking, then you are just peeling off a thicker layer.

There are some finishes that will just not take another coat of anything over the top of them, not even itself after a specific re-coat window. No matter what you do over these finishes, they will peel.

The major issue with this product is the amount of pigment. First, it tends to obscure the wood underneath (remember you're applying a dilute paint), and second it is very difficult to brush a pigmented product and get it even (without streaks).

You may have seen some factory furniture that was colored with toners only. When the finish comes off due to abrasion or impact, so does all the color. You will have the same problem with Polyshades -- when it does get nicked, you will have a light color blemish.

If you are going to procede with this product, I'd suggest a bonding/barrier coat between what's there and the Polyshades. Dewaxed shellac, either brushed or sprayed on would be a good transition coat. Zinsser makes both an aerosol shellac and a product called "Seal Coat" that is a universal sealer / primer for clear finishes.

Before committing to an entire project that may not work, I'd suggest a trial in an inconspicuous area. Let your plan cure for a couple of weeks, then give it a nickel test. Scrape the edge of a nickel coin over the finish and see if it peels off. Another adhesion test is to make a cross-hatch with a razor blade. 5 lines each way about 1/16" inch apart. Put on some masking or duct tape, press it down and pull it off. Count the squares that peel off. Anything more than one or two indicates a potential problem.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2007 at 2:57PM
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I've used it for a few projects and found a lot of care was needed to prevent drips, runs and curtains. Rebrushing any non-horizontal surfaces every few minutes or so until the poly firms up will limit the defects. It goes on thick and I wait a couple of days before steel-wooling and applying another coat. I use a metal scraper before steel wooling to remove defects in the finish if there are any to repair.
I've only used it on new wood, but I would recommend stripping and light sanding.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2007 at 2:11PM
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Thank you so much for your replies! I've since decided to do it "right" & strip everything. That has led to another problem. There are a few areas on my tabletop where I let the Citristrip soak in to already stripped wood. The tabletop was perfect. I turned it upside down to do the apron.It bled to the already perfect raw top, sat too long, & now won't come off. I've tried sanding but it appears to be down pretty deep. Does anybody know what I can try? The wood is gray in these patches & I don't think that'll change. It's very splotchy. I tried mineral spirits with little success.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2007 at 6:34PM
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I do not have experience with citristrip, but I use a product that is very chemically similar. I rinse with acetone.

NMP strippers are notoriously slow drying. Give it a couple of days and see if it straightens out.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2007 at 11:04PM
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