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I recently used Minwax’s “one-step” Polyshade finishing product on a project in the Toolmonger shop. Right off the bat I was excited about the fact that it creates a progressively darker color with each coat. I was also stoked about not having to add a polyurethane coat afterwards. After four coats — and more hassle than I ever expected — I came to the conclusion that it would have been faster to use oil-based stain, then poly it and even wax the sonofabitch afterward.

Polyshades advertises a one-step process that requires no extra products. What the label doesn’t tell you is that in order to get the color you’re looking for — in our case a deep red Bombay Mahogany — you need to use four coats of the stuff, which completely negates any time saved by skipping the poly/wax aftercoat. Also since Polyshades isn’t a straight stain or poly product, it has a very odd “sticky milk” consistency that’s harder to work with than either stain or poly individually.

Our question: do any of you Toolmongers out there have a different experience? Is this stuff actually as evil as it seems, or did we just not have our head on straight? Let us know in comments.

Polyshades [Minwax]
Street Pricing [Google Products]


154 Responses to Hot or Not? Minwax Polyshades

  1. Mike says:

    I’m with you. Used it once, never will again. I like being able to use multiple coats of stain to get the color right. And if you scratch the surface accidentally, the color is gone, and you’ll never quite match it again.

  2. Joel Wires says:

    That sounds like the experience that I had. I think that that if you only plan to do one coat, this would be okay. Even with only one coat, I have found it to be very blotchy. Maybe it was just me, but I don’t like the stuff.

  3. Mel E. says:

    not a big fan of it, but is ok for repair. Just ok, not as good traditional fix

  4. elmegil says:

    Not only that but it’s runny as well. I can’t think of any Polyshades project I’ve done that I didn’t have issues with drips.

    Only reason I’ve used it very often is that I’m a novice and afraid of traditional methods :), but as projects have gotten larger, the drive to do it “right” has increased. At this point the only thing that will make me use it again is if I have to match an existing polyshades project.

    • Karen Titshaw says:

      Don’t be concerned about the traditional methods. I’m very green at this and started out with the traditional method and had to do it 3 times to get it right and that was still easier than the mess I’m in the middle of with polyshades right now

  5. Adam says:

    I just did a small project with this stuff (the exact color you mentioned, in fact) and definitely had a lot of difficulty. I’ve never done any wood staining before so I thought it was just my lack of skill. It did come out looking pretty nice, but it took a lot of effort and there are a lot of drips and a few splotches. Glad to know that my troubles were at least partially to blame on the product, and not just my ineptitude. 🙂

  6. Hank says:

    It is as evil as it seems. I am learning that shortcuts on stuff you really want to look good are bad. Using the methods the books and pros tell us to use, and learning how they do it, is the only way. Whether finishing or building.

  7. Gary Ratajczak says:

    I used it on my vanity and cabinets in the bathroom. Yup – same experience. I am locked in, so I had to use it for the beadboard as well. If you have a flat surface (beadboard) it seems fine. ANY little cove, bead, angle, edge, dip, etc. – etc. etc. – it just runs.

    My biggest recommendation is to use a foam brush. DON’T dip and wipe the edge on the can – it makes bubbles. Dip a small amount, and apply.

    Use 400 grit wet/dry paper in-between, or one of he new 400 (fine) grip foam pads from the big box stores. This will take off all the little dust nubs.

    In my dining room, I had GREAT luck with just minwax stain, followed by Zar waterbased sealer (seals oak so it doesn’t turn black with waterbased finish), and then Zar water based satin poly. Coated in the basement (no smell), and it drioes FAST!!

  8. Kevin Williamson says:

    I haven’t used this particular project, but I have never had any luck with stain/sealer combos. They just tend to have an artificial fake grain look to me and if you get a drip and try to rub it out when it dries you wind up removing stain as well for a nice little light spot. I would stick with adding stain and then sealing afterwards

  9. Aaron Baca says:

    NOT. I used this stuff on a set of shelves my dad and I fabbed up and it was a nightmare. It runs like mad and unlike paint or poly, wherever it accumulates, the shade is significantly darker. Finishing is not the stage where you want to experience inconsistencies in a product.

  10. James Brauer says:

    Warm. I just used this on some pine trim for a partial basement finish, and it works fine. A stain would have bloched the pine, and I wanted a one step process. Would I put this on fine furniture? Hell no. I’ve used Danish oil, shellac flakes, Varathane poly, bee’s wax, automotive lacquer, jell poly, alcohol based stain, water based stain, and probably some other things I can’t remember. This stuff is fine for trim and doors where it doesn’t get heavy use. I’ve sprayed it with HVLP and it works for that as well. You can put on a couple of coats till you get the right shade, then scuff it and put clear on top of that to build the finish. If it runs the brush is too wet.

  11. Greg Bennett says:

    Bad experience here too. My wife is an interior decorator. She found an unfinished table for one of her customers and we tried to finish it with Polyshades. After the first blotchy coat, we figured out that it wasn’t going to work well enough, so we actually stripped it off and finished the table with the traditional separate stain and clear finish. No more Polyshades here…

  12. Sheldon says:

    I would imagine it’s a nightmare to use . . . I took on a “tinting/toning” project where I needed to add color to some cabinets (basically, just making the cabinets darker). Usually I would just add color to some lacquer but they don’t sell it at Home Depot anymore and it’s fairly expensive anywhere else not to mention it’s toxic (so spraying it indoors on the fixed cabinets would be difficult) and spraying it is banned in some states (though not with HVLP from what I understand). Anyway, I went with some “Polycrylic” and added the color to that (I used Transtint that I got from the local woodworking store). Supposedly the Polycrylic has the same properties of lacquer one of which is that each coat blends into the next. I was using an HVLP sprayer and it was hard even with that to get the color even . . . I couldn’t imagine trying to brush on the color that way (the Polycrilic is milky white and thin too). Also, from what I understand with any “toning” you should always put a clear coat or two on top of the tone color to protect from scratches. So after three coats of color I had to spray on two clear coats. And the one major disadvantage of Polycrylic (over lacquer) is that the dry times are longer. Again, I couldn’t imagine trying to do all that with a brush or rag or foam or whatever other “by hand” method ya’ll use.

    I guess that didn’t have much to do with Polyshades, it just reminded me of toning.


  13. Joe Adamson says:

    I Agree with James. Overall it’s not hot, but if you spray it (especially in an HVLP gun) and use it more like a toner you can get OK results with it. The key here is less is more, the coats have to be really light (something really hard to do with a brush) and avoid applying to vertical surfaces if possible. Bottom line too much effort for little if any gain. Stick to Gel stains and wipe on poly for maximum durability and for the natural look danish oil and paste wax.

    • Mark Littlefair says:

      The first time I applied it on the wood that I sanded with a fine grade sand paper and it came came out super light(Bombay Mahoganey). Then I appied it to another peice of wood that I sanded with 60 grit and it came out dark just like I wanted it to. After 2 coats I then did my final sanding and coat. Turned out perfect.

  14. ben says:

    i’ll be damned… same experience as me. I used that exact can… the mahogany finish. i thought it was me who was bad but this stuff is horrible. I had issues with application… it wouldn’t go on smooth and would clump up a lot. And honestly I saw no change in applying more than 1 coat. It “felt” like after the first coat, then nothing could be done.

    my vote: NOT

  15. ptoolman says:

    ditto – tried on a very simple project (some old furniture), and had to re-strip the nightstand TWICE! Third times charm? Not with polyshades…I’m headed to Loews to get the traditional stuff. Very disappointed, and glad to find that there were so many negative concurrences with the product.

  16. Albert Navarro says:

    I guess I am the lone exception; I used the same Bombay Mahogany product on my front exterior doors. My results were excellent! However, I sprayed.

    I used an HVLP Gravity Spray gun and did have to put on 4 coats, but probably because I did not put too much on with the other coats.

    However, I did not trust the claims made by Minwax, so I sprayed on an additional 3 coats of Spar polyurethane to finish the job. The results were great, furniture quality on an exterior door.

    Too much prep work? Probably, but this was my biggest honey-do task in preperation for the sale of the house this year. I figured the front door makes a HUGE first impression, and after curb appeal, is probably the next major things people notice while waiting for someone to answer the door.


    • Mike says:

      I tryed this crap and I sprayed it as well and let it dry for 24 hrs before second coat and when I went to scuff it up the shit came off so I called Minwax and they said it is not to be sprayed you would think they would put that on the can

  17. Alex says:

    Better than warm, but not hot…..

    I’ve used PloyShades for the last three years on walking sticks that I turn for a local school (they give them to the graduates). Tiger maple sticks and cherry pommels come off the lathe sanded to 400. From there they are hung and sprayed with two coats with an automotive “touch-up” spray gun with great results on the sticks and inconsistent results on the pommels (read “drips in the details”). My HVLP gun blotched the heck out of the sticks, but I figure that’s because of the nozzle size. I’m considering an air brush for the pommels….

    It’s not quite “Spray and Pray,” but it’s close. To be fair, the finish really, really pops with a quick rub from a white scuff pad and a wipe of furniture polish. The Olde Maple (sticks) & Bombay Mahogany (pommel) look great together, so I’ll keep it.


  18. Steve says:

    Brushing it with either bristle or foam is useless. All of the above complaints will occur. However, I spray with a traditional air system and the stuff is as advertised: high build, & translucent to opaque depending on the number of coats. I set my gun to mist the stuff–so fine you can hardly see it come out of the gun, but you can see it slowly build on the piece. The first coat should look ridiculously underdone, but enough to set the wood fibers for sanding. Carefully sand this first coat when it’s fully hardened, then shoot another very thin coat, trying to even out the building finish. Let it set for 10-15 minutes and shoot a third thin coat, going for a uniform opacity. If you’re trying to cover maple or ash with the Bombay, yeah, you’ll need the four coats, maybe more. That may not be a good pairing. My best results end with a translucent finish through which you can just barely, but evenly, see the underlying wood grain. Learning when to stop the build is key, but not hard to master if you build slowly. Plus, you will not get runs. Don’t try to master a brushing technique, it’s a waste of time and money. Spray! I’ll leave the HVLP vs. air systems debate to others.

  19. sbc says:

    i have some bamboo outdoor furniture pieces, they had lost their finish and turned grey. i used the pecan color and used a hplv gun to spray on one coat taking care not to get any runs or drips, looked great one easy step and was the exact color i wanted.
    i also had some bamboo fencing i used the bombay mahogony color on it also worked great!
    no complaints here.
    however i would not use it for teally high end uses, outdoor furniture and fences etc is the limit of what i’ll use it on.

  20. Generaltzao says:

    Anyone who said they used it once and never again will give it a bad wrap. This stuff definitely has its own category in the “how-to” department. The thing is this is not a STAIN in any way. Actually it’s a “toner” much like a colored clear tinting that will darken if there is more saturation in one area. Any auto body guy will know how this stuff works as it is much like an expensive 2-color candy apple paint job. But in this case the wood is your base coat and the polyshades is the translucent clear color. Hence the reasons why many people have much more luck with spraying.

    However this is the only product in any stain category that will give you a luscious candy apple dark red glow that makes the wood look like aged, red Santos mahogany. The main thing is to use a foam applicator and cover the entire surface with each coat, maintaining a wet edge without it being too wet. All the while watching for any dark streaks as you go, if you make a darker area or streak you need to immediately go over it with a dry foam applicator several times pulling it longer with each pass almost like stretching taffy until the darkness fades and blends into its surrounding area. This would be why others suggest spraying as it is easier to feather your edges with a spray. However it will dull the depth and richness if you spray rather than using a foam brush.

    The normal reaction of new users is to add more and more to cover up the dark areas. But because it is translucent, the blemish will only show up darker each time. This results in it getting such a bad wrap. But if you experiment with it enough and you get the “feel” of how it works, you will have some of the most beautiful finishes that are not possible with a stain method. They almost glow with depth and warmth.

  21. Generaltzao says:

    It should also be noted…. This stuff is very thick and sticky! Therefore trying to apply it evenly on a glossy or very smooth surface is nearly impossible. Sand your wood with a maximum of 220 grit sand paper before your first coat. Anyone sanding with 300-600 will not achieve the proper “FLOW” required to blend your brush strokes. Also hardwoods work better than softwoods, red oak being the best since it has such deep pores. It can be used on pine but you must sand it so the surface almost feels like a fine fabric. Before the second coat you absolutely MUST use steel wool. As this will stimulate the porosity of the surface you had on the first coat. Without steel wool between coats you will get blotchiness. And knotty pine is almost impossible to work with as the different density in wood as you approach the knots with change the resulting sheen in finish, making some areas appear shinier than others in the light.

    (All references to “Candy Apple appearance” or “red Santos Mahogany” are with using the “Bombay Mahogany” color)

  22. Generaltzao says:

    To Answer the question after all my static, I say it’s HOT! I have beautifull results on my mouldings, cabinerty, and i even did my 2 expensive bay windows. all looking excelent against the Ralph Lauren haystack-tan color paint on the walls.

  23. Dan says:

    This stuff is great! it save time in the comparison to a professional 4 step finish job. but it is not the “instant” 1 step/single coat finish people expect. today people want to buy a finish product that all they need to do is pop the lid and throw it at the cabinets like a grenade and there done. Dont try to acheive the desired color on the first coat, if you do you are putting it on way too thick. put on thin as can states and get color on 3rd or 4th coat. you can also rub out with steel wool any small streaks except on the final coat ofcourse

  24. Generaltzao says:

    For the people who dont want to stress on bloctchy toner puddles I’ve found a redily available, EXACT! matching stain color to minwax’s polyshades bombay Mahogany. Instead use Varathane Premium Stain # 257 named “Caberet” available online and at Walmart and some Home Depot stores
    Step 1) Stir can to get the pigment mixed fully then apply generously.
    Step 2) Wait for 5-7 min, rub off stain and allow 30 min to 1 hour to dry.
    Step 3) Apply second coat same as in step 2 but allow more time to dry completly
    Step 4) apply any clear polyurathane, varnish, or wax of your choice.

    Note: if staining softwoods like pine you may want to apply a pre-stain conditioner before staining. this helps even absorbtion of any color stain.

  25. Melissa says:

    Used it on large pine bookcase which was first treated with a prestain. The first two coats of Honey Pine color poly were not perfect, and a little struggle, but eventually acceptable. Selected darker color on third and “final” coat (as product says you can do) and color would have been great, but product way too sticky and pooled and fought throughout. I’m finally left with stripping it off somehow or living with a new bookcase looking like crap. It will be easily three times the work than had I used gel stain and traditional polyurethane on top. I would never recommend polyshades except for use in specific limited situation.

  26. Jolyn says:

    Can someone please help me? I have a large armoire that is a finished piece. I believe it’s pine and it’s stained a honey color. I want to darken it, more like a mahogany, w/o hauling it out to the garage, stripping, sanding, etc. I thought this product would be a great solution–I could slap the stuff on right in the bedroom–will this work? Any suggestions?

  27. generaltzao says:

    Depends on how bad you want that color change jolyn. will it work? (as easy as you expect.) the quick answer is NO. you cannot just “slap it on” like paint. its a colored clear and any unevenness in the layers will show. second of all if there is any laquer, wax, oil soap, endust ect… on the existing finish that needs to be removed otherwise it will not stick or peal later. then you have to lightly sand it down first and steel wool between coats. this will be a nightmare on your carpets and bed spread. Extended answer: is it possible? absolutly! iv’e done plenty of work on furiture in place. shove some cardboard under the edge where the wood meets the floor and push it under a good 6 inches if possible so you dont stain the carpet/flooring and then use 3 to 6 mill plastic and cover everything you dont want to clean later. distance does not matter as when sanding the whole room will fill with dust. to do the min 3 coats and allow each one to dry properly (8-12 hours if you dont it will be sticky and smuge when you try to steel wool it) you will need to keep that room off limits for a good 2 or 3 days. after everything is covered and taped open up all the windows on that level and leave the door open, use a rag with mineral spirits and wipe the whole thing down good, using a fine bush is good too. then let the mineral spirits dry/flash off (5 to 10 min). then shut the door to that room and rub the whole thing down with a 220 grit sand paper untill the wood feals smooth but slightly “cottony” to the touch. then wipe down with tack cloth, re-open the door and apply the first coat with a sponge brush with smooth, slightly overlapping strokes in the same direction, (how it looks when wet is how it is going to look when dry so no streeks) and let dry. steel wool- second coat- ect ect (read entire can and see all previous posts for more info.)

  28. generaltzao says:

    hey jolyn where do you live? im in between freelance jobs right now and can use the extra cash if you really need it done nice and dont feel like doing it yourself. click on my username for contact info.

    • Bryce Taylor says:

      Hi General,
      I’m an architect in Brooklyn.
      I ran across your posts on Minwax Polyshades. I have a job in Manhattan, wenge kitchen cabinets, that have some strange dark spots that have appeared in the veneer (seem not to be just the finish) and we are pulling our hair out to figure it out. We’re considering applying stain+varnish over the existing varnish, to bring it all up to the same level of darkness. Is that something you’d be interested in? Are you anywhere near NYC? A shot in the dark, I know, but you seem to have a pretty good grasp of how this stuff works.

  29. W Howard says:

    I just finished refinishing a large cabinet. I did a test spot on the back of the door – difficult to work with and blotchy. However, applying a heavy coat of wood conditioner first and then applying the stain solved the problem. Smooth, even finish. Easy to apply.

  30. AnnK says:

    We are trying to figure out the best way to stain a hard rock maple table to a dark espresso color. I considered the minwax products – was looking at royal walnut MinWax Polyshades or even tudor minwax polyshades for the job. However, can’t find these colors locally. I have used the product with good results, but never in what I consider a “high use area” like a table. I transformed an old chair with the bombay mahogany – used lots of coats, sanded in between as well as wiping down with denatured alcohol each layer. It looked great considering the chair had been in the shed for 30 years. So any ideas on how to darken hard rock maple? What’s best?

  31. Caincando1 says:

    I’m trimming my entire house in #2 pine. I’ve made some sample pieces. I tried wood conditioner and polyshades and didn’t know what I was doing and didn’t get great results but loved the colors and looks of the different samples. I then tried wood conditioner and traditional stains and didn’t like the look it gave because of the contrast between the wood and grain. So it looks like we are stuck using polyshades because it’s giving us the color and the right contrast between the wood and grain that we are looking for. So I’ve done a few more sample. After some research, I used a heavy dose of wood conditioner and brushed the polyshades right away while the conditioner was still wet. So far the samples look great. The color was pretty darn even and we love the look. Now we just need to reproduce these results for 1200 feet of 1×4’s. Any more tips from those that use that use it regularly.

  32. Eric Sanders says:

    My wife and I just finished building our first house, and we used Olde Maple Polyshades on the kitchen cabinets. I absolutely loathe the stuff. I have spent most of my life working with wood either as a job or hobby. I have never experienced the finishing problems that I did with this product. Using the Minwax conditioner didn’t make any noticeable difference. The only hope for this stuff is possibly spraying it on. If you are planning to brush or wipe; don’t use it.

  33. Fred says:

    An idiot at Home Depot told my wife to use polyshades on our new Mahogony Front door. Unfortunately it is only indoor rated and now it seems I have to strip it off and try all over again. Does anyone have any info on stripping this stuff off? I just tried citrustripper, and while it seemed to have knocked the top layer off, it still hasn’t taken out any of the color. How far down do I need to go to be able to safely apply another product and not risk ruining my door?

  34. Zathrus says:

    @Fred: Oh no….

    You’ll need to strip the poly off first (which the citrus stripper may be fine for, but I’ve never used anything that… tame; I’ve previously used products called “Super Strip” and “Strypeeze” which worked well). Once you’re down to the actual wood then you get to use the “fun” stuff.

    Go to Woodcraft, Rockler, or a similar woodworking oriented shop. Do not go to a big box. Ask them what they recommend for bleaching out the color. I’ve used a product called “Wood Bleach” along with some wood scrapers (make sure to get a french curve-like one if you have any curves).

    Note that you will NEVER get the wood back to an unstained status. The best you can hope for is a lighter shade, which you can then stain properly (and, again, the stain won’t be quite the shade you were hoping for unless you go really dark).

    And I hope you go to the paint manager for that HD and explain just how much work his incompetent employees have caused.

    Personally, I won’t ever use Minwax or similar again. I’ll pay a smidgeon more for better quality stuff from Woodcraft/Rockler. Of course, I’m fortunate to have both nearby.

  35. Gary says:

    Not. Never again. Ran everywhere. The only way I had luck was when i used a 3-11 tip with low pressure to spray it on and held the gun way way back. The walnut color looked good but it was too much a hassle.

  36. Cynthia says:

    I used it to restore the interior woodwork (doors, trim and risers of stairs) and loved it. Used olde maple satin polyshade. Sanded off the lacquer finished with about a 150 grit and used two coats of the polyshade. Everyone that comes in to look at it says it looks like new! They have used it in their homes and have gotten similar results! My next project will be to use this to restore the floor, but first with the closet!

  37. Dabeastro says:

    Thank you so much Generaltzao. I looked everywhere for a Bombay Mahogany alternative. Varathane #257 it is!!!

  38. Bob says:

    Building a toy chest for my first granchild. Expermented with numerous oil based/water based stains and pre-conditioners on both maple and aspen. Couldn’t eliminate the ever present blotching with any comination til I used polyshade (bombay mahogany) with pre-conditioner. Bye-bye blotches! This product definitely has a niche.

  39. Mark says:

    Used it to refinish my pine kitchen cabinets. Tested a couple of different items first: Gelstain with a wipe on poly topcoat – way too much work to completely strip and refinish. Next was an oil base stain with polyurethane topcoat – the stain was very blotchy in spots. Lastly used the Honey Pine Polyshades without a complete strip, just sanding/steel wool to prep the surface. This option gave me the most consistent color without all the work of a complete strip. Added a clear polyurethane on top. I would not use polyshades on new wood, but for a quick refinish on some cheap soft pine cabinets it seems to work out well.

  40. marty says:

    i am a paint contractor and have used poly shades in both oil and water borne products, my results are fantistic! i spray the cabinets with a graco hvlp system , two coats is a very noticable differance in darking, plus u save material with hvlp sprayers. i am a pro and use this stuff a lot , drys quick , very tuff finish if preped right. i have brushed it and it took three coats , only brush with grain, must be experanced with brushing to achive maximum results. good for pros bad for cons

  41. heath says:

    i have sanded my 100 year old heart of pine floors. didn’t want to stain so i put a coat of urethane and the floor is so blotchy that i want to put a gun to my head for all the work i did. wondering if i could use a coat of polyshade on floors to even up the colors and then recoat with urethane.

  42. Frank says:

    too bad I did not read this site earlier. I stripped a small end table and thought polyshades would save me a step. it blotched, will probably have to sand it off. It smells real bad too I have to air out the garage. Never had an experience like this before but then again I always stained first and then applied the varnish.

  43. Paul says:

    I am currently using Minwax Polyshades on the the kitchen cabinets I’m building as part of my kitchen remodel. Face frames and doors are recieving Old Maple which has been discontinued as a color in Polyshades but can still be found online for purchase if you look.

    Anyway, I agree with those who lament about the patience and aggrevation associated with getting Polyshades on with a brush (foam or bristle). I found patience to be the key. Regrettably for me I have had to put on 10 coats of Old Maple to get the desired result and am astonished that most users of this product here are claiming four coats was enough. Must be doing something very wrong. Actually I noticed that the stell wool in between coats seems to remove quite a bit of the previous coat.

    I’m considering spraying with a HVLP gravity gun due to the time consuming nature of brushing which is what brought me here.

    I will say this product produces an incredibly beautiful and what seems to be durable finish but would not recommend it to those seeking fast results.

  44. Frank says:

    I wrote a comment here on July 30th. have to give another opinion about this product.

    I have an unfinshed pine ikea cd holder with 2 drawers. I figured I will experiment and used the tip of the foam brush and draw straight lines of polyshade on it, I let it dry overnight and gave another coat of lines. I let that dry and the next day I put on an uneven coat. (its difficult to paint on an even coat with this stuff) it looks like zebra wood and it looks good. I did not sand between coats. So I guess there is a niche for this stuff for use as a faux finish.

  45. Jondotcom says:

    I love this stuff but it does take skill and patience to make it perfect. This stuff really shines in situations where you want to darken wood pieces that were previously finished. You just need to make sure the surface you are going over is compatible and has been scuffed for adhesion.

    So far I’ve used it on a chinese style coffee table, approx 4 coats and then a coat of floor polyurethane on top for grins. It is pretty bulletproof.

    My current project is a bathroom where the dark cherry mirror/cabinet/over the toilet cabinet stains don’t quite match. This is the perfect solution go make them match! Great stuff.

  46. robert says:

    Ive used polyshades on a few projects over the years,mainly to darken existing finishes on cabinets,handrails and front doors.Its definetly not for someone with little or no experience in painting.Ive been painting over 22 years and have to play with this stuff to get it right sometimes when i use a brush.For new wood better to go with traditional oil stain and regular clear poly finish coat. Ive done several kitchen cabinets with this stuff spraying with hvlp with absolutely beautiful results.(you can see before and after pics on my websites photo page http://www.hydepainting.com)But those were existing cabinets with an old yellowed out golden oak finish before.New cabinets i only recommend oil stain then clear poly.

  47. Joellyn Mumcian says:

    Okay, lots of opinions here, most of them pretty harsh on PolyShades. I have 20 year old oak cabinets in a meadow oak finish in my kitchen that need to be updated and I can’t afford to replace them right now. I was hoping to be able to do a refinish using PolyShades, but sounds like I should go another route. Any suggestions? I did try the Mission Oak PolyShades on a small section of the cabinets, but that shade is too dark. I had to sand it out. It seems they only have two Oak shades, Classic and Mission, and it looks like the Classic is going to be too light, although I might be able to darken it with multiple coats, but this stuff takes forever to dry between coats. Can I use a gel stain over an existing finish as long as I sand it well enough to adhere? Then finish it off with a clear poly? I really need to do this so any help will be appreciated.

  48. Jodi says:

    Hi. I bought some of the Pecan PolyShades today and did not read the instructions fully until I had already started, not realizing that there was so much time between coats and that I needed steel wool. I was hoping to have this project finished this evening so I could move it in to my toddlers room and get him out of his crib (his crib has drawers so we had to find a dresser to replace it with). Now that I have resigned myself to the fact that it won’t be complete until tomorrow (after I buy steel wool), my biggest worry is why I was staining it to begin with. It is a nice dresser but it had a couple water stains on top from glasses sitting on top. I sanded it down and then put my first coat of the PolyShades on and I didn’t have much trouble and it looks pretty good. The water stains are still pretty evident though. Are there any tips to make these blend better? I didn’t know if more coats will help by themselves or not.

  49. Gabi says:

    Polyshades is Evil !!! I hate this stuff. I could go into great detail the frustration I have with this product but there just isnt enough space provided. I wish they would make the mission oak in just the plain stain w/ out the poly included.

  50. Robert says:

    Sets far too quickly so you never get an even finish. You can see every brush mark after drying even if you, as they say “keep the edges wet”. Will never use it again. Extremely frustrating. I have returned to stain first then laquer after.

  51. Matt says:

    I have recently gone through the process of trying to find a stain for our new maple cabinets. Being the ametuers we were, we went to Home Depot in search of a stain color we liked. We came across Bombay M. in polyshades and loved the color. After practicing with it and reading about it, decided to scrap the polyshades. We went searching high and low for a traditional stain to match that color. I saw this post about the Varathane # 247 Cabaret, and ordered it online. It is not found in any stores here because they dont make it anymore. Luckily, I only ordered one quart because it was not even close! It was notdas dark or rich. Not even remotely. At least not on raw maple. We finally took a sample to sherwin williams and had them match the BM. We came up with a formula that is really close. We love it. Its as close to BM in an traditional stain as I have seen. It is Sher Wood 
    Sher Wood 
    BAC Wiping Stain
    Deep Cherry Base
    S64 R 52
    BAC Colorant OZ 32 64 128
     L1-Blue.                         4
    Y3-Deep Gold.         52
    Y1-Yellow.                   48
    R3-Magenta.           60

    • Rusty Riegel says:

      THIS is what Ive been looking for. Love the color of bombay mahogany, just hate the poly.
      Thank you!

  52. Liz Mulroy says:

    I just used gel stain on a hardwood cabinet. After three days parts of the cabinet are still tacky to the touch and it still smells like chemicals. Are the vapors harmful at this point? I don’t want to use a polyurethane on it. Can I use Howards beeswax product to finish it/cover it? I was happy with the outcome- The cabinet already had a mahogany look to it. If I touch it though, it dulls the finish.

  53. newbie says:

    used it to reface plain pine colored cabinets in rental and loved it. great stuff just my opinion. more like a paint than stain, i never had much luck with stain and didnt feel like sanding down to bare wood. polyshades is much easier…

  54. Nate says:

    Use for refinishing is easier. I wouldn’t recommend it for new/bare wood finishing. I used it on kitchen cabinet doors. It saved me a lot of time. Progressive coats hide wood grain more with each coat. In my case, this was a good thing because wood grain/style is dated (1980s). You just have to clean the wood of grease, dirt, and dust. Apply Polyshades in thin coats until desired color is achieved. Also good for matching different woods to the same finish. If you put 3 coats of this stuff on, you can get oak, alder, maple, pine to all be the same color. Good for certain applications.

  55. ac says:

    Yeah, the secret is thin, thin layer each time, drying time is min 24 hrs in between, and only SATIN finish, then the project turns out OK. So much effort, traditional old style is better trust me.

  56. John Nielsen says:

    I have used Polyshades on both of my girls’ bedroom sets, after some testing I found the best result started with a coat of stain to get a good starting color and really pull out the grain. I used Ebony on one and Provincial on the other, then 2 coats of Bombay Mahogany polyshades. For such a different base color there is only a subtle difference in the final product, both have a very deep maroon color and I was very happy with the results.

    I will admit, though, that the polyshades built up in the corners and got a bit darker, which gave it sort of an antique/old furniture look that I was going for.

  57. Majileen says:

    I agree! I initially bought the Minwax stain but then I bought the polyshades because I thought it would be easier to just do one step rather than 2. I was wrong! Polyshades is thick an its difficult to stain evenly compared to the Wood stain. So I’m sticking to the wood stain and buying a separate polyurethane.

  58. jay says:

    Had built a beautiful lightbox…stained it and dicided on going a little different. So I see this stuff and I’m stoked as I fugure I can eliminate the final poly step as I really wanted to zip my project toghether. All the negative statements above are true…this s###s a nightmare. It took my awesomely built project and destroyed it…I swear it had me thinking some seriously violent thoughts……

  59. John Reilly says:

    I’m two coats in and not happy. Every time I sand the residue builds up. I’m fine with putting as many coats on as necessary to save my investment in the wood. Would like to still see the wood grain at the end though… can anyone suggest a path forward e.g. how to get off the residue? Steel wool (“000”) or sandpaper? can/should I put on separate poly to make it shine (satin)? Any thoughts would be helpful.

  60. David Harrod says:

    I built a 5ft portable bar of pine,plywood, and oak trim. Polyshades has been a nightmare. As was said earlier, if you mess up a small spot, it never covers correctly. I brushed it, I used an HVLP sprayer – lots of runs and splotchy coverage. I’ve put on four coats already. Rather than try to finish it out with polyshades, I plan to get some semi-gloss black poly and cover over everything. I wanted a nice wood color but its not happening with polyshades and stripping it is out of the question – too many hours on this first bar project.

  61. browndog77 says:

    Kinda like mixing candy-apple red laquer w/ clear-coat and putting it on a restored T-Bird! Bad idea, very very bad!

  62. Wendy says:

    Hot and Not. I used Polyshades Mission Oak on new birch doors with pine casings. It was the exact color I was looking for and I had ZERO experience with stain so wanted to use the best product for my non-existent skills. I was afraid of the blotching problems that I had heard so much about with regular stains. I did NOT want to screw up these doors!!! This seemed like just the stuff. I had to do 3 doors and two pairs of doors . WHAT A TON OF WORK!!! It brought me to tears at some points! I thought it was just me! But after reading these posts, I feel a lot better about my skills, the time, the results. In the end, I did “get it” and I do love the color (which as someone else mentioned, is not available in normal wood stain).

    Brushing onto the casings was a sticky mess, took four coats (one per day), the corners became very dark and showed brush marks. I hated it, but called it the look of “wood grain” and moved on. What else could I do short of recasing?

    I started on the doors, all flush/flat, no panels. I used the wood conditioner. It was extremely difficult to get the the stain on light and even with a brush on these large flat surfaces. I waited a full 24 hours between each coat. And lightly sanded with sandpaper (the recommended steel wool was a DISASTER). On the last two doors I switched to wiping on with a rag. This seemed to do the trick! I don’t see anyone recommending this method for this product, but it really worked. I was able to control the thickness and the stickiness of the product, the coats were super thin and even, not streaky at all! I did have to use four coats to get the right color. But the doors look fantastic. The only thing to beware of is using a dry cloth to wipe through the rag marks. Don’t let them sit or they are there for good! But if you are attentive to this, it works great.

    Summary: A HUGE LEARNING CURVE and a LOT OF ELAPSED TIME but not a lot of “active” time! I got the project done and went on to do three new beams in the house. I’m now trying to sand paint off my old wood floors and then run a thin coat of this stuff on top so that I don’t have to completely strip and refinish the floors. Same as people do for cabinets (which I will probably ALSO do with this stuff)

    QUESTION: Can I use the Polyshades on the floor and then achieve durability by simply topping with a poly coat for floors? Has anyone does this? I know most people are hating on it, but figured I should ask, just in case…

  63. Nate says:

    This is seriously the worst stuff ever. DO NOT BUY THIS PRODUCT. Use standard stain and then apply a poly coat as the last step. I should have known better. Combining poly and stain is just the dumbest idea ever. Looks like a 4 year old stained and then tried to paint on top of the stain. Now I have to start from square one. Ruined a nicely sanded table.

  64. ken says:

    This is the worse product on the woodworking market! Lets start with cost at 15$ a quart this is no bargan, then add in the fact that you need multiple coats and the time spent inbetween sanding its just not worth the aggravation, i purchased an antique mantle clock that i took all apart, stripped and sanded to perfection, anticipating this project would be completed in little more than a weekend its now going on 3 weeks. First coat of polyshades stuck to this thing like elmers school glue! It dries sooo fast its rediculous! So after sanding all of the bubbles and brush strokes out of it i repeated the application. Same result horrible finish. I repeated this agony 8 times in an attemp to get the exact finish perfect and it is still imperfect. I will never ever use this product ever again if you are even thinking about using it take my word for it and STAY AWAY! Once this last coat dries i will once again be sanding it down and applying regular poly to even out the shine. Product used: mission oak gloss.

  65. Chad says:

    I’m a builder of solid body guitars with experience as a woodworker and finisher spanning two decades. I recently tried Minwax Polyshades on a basswood body I was finishing with a natural finish. Basswood is terrible for a natural finish, even if you know what you’re doing (and I do). But, this body was well prepped prior to application and since this product is specifically formulated for such a job, I figured no worries. Boy was I wrong. On a scale of 1-10, I’d give Minwax Polyshades a -1. To begin with, it’s runny as hell. This leads to another problem: the stuff starts setting up way too fast. I’m talking within a minute or two of beginning application. This creates a serious problem, especially when you try to brush out all the runs which will definitely occur during application. This is not the result of applying it too thickly. Rather it has something to do with their formula. After three very light coats, I can see that I’ll be doing a lot of post finish work to even out the color. I expected to be wetsanding, of course, to remove the brush marks. But with all the sagging and splotchiness, I can see I’ll have to apply several coats before I can begin the sanding process and even then I’m not sure if it will even out the color. Overall, this is a terrible product. I’ll never buy it again and I’ll be sure to steer others away from it. Thanks for making my job more difficult to the inth degree, Minwax. I feel like you guys beta tested this crap on your users. Not a good way to conduct business.

  66. Kay Schardein says:

    I am a novice, having refinished one small oak mirror frame years ago with great success. I enjoyed that, so decided to tackle a larger frame (5 1/2 ft. square with beveled mirror intact) that is too large to lay flat. At the local big box store (HD!), we were assured that Polyshades is THE thing to use.

    My husband and I spent hours stripping, sanding and using the prescribed wood conditioner before applying Polyshades in Classic Oak.

    We were very careful to apply thin coats but it has sagged, run and looks like hell. It has ruined the look of this project. I am near tears thinking about stripping and starting over. Does anyone have a suggestion short of that drastic solution?

    We are on the third coat, using 0000 steel wool gently in between, and there are still drips but they are fewer and less noticeable. So, do we go forth with more coats of this stuff or start over and use a stain and separate polyurethane? HELP!

    • Marisa says:

      My husband and I used a small 6 gallon compressor with a spray gun and got beautiful, even results with polyshades (bombay mahogany). No runs. Took us 4 coats to get it nice and dark. We did use fine steel wool inbetween coats. My first “test” coat on an old piece of furniture proved runny as well. My husband came up with the great idea to use the spray gun and it was worth it. We worked outside with a special filtered face mask.

  67. Crystina says:

    I’m on week two of staining with Polyshades and let me tell you I am so over sanding and staining and sanding again. I have absolutely no experience staining, but did extensive research prior to beginning my project. I selected the bombay mohagany and have had to apply four coats to reach the richness and color that is advertised. Although it looks great it has been much more work than i had anticipated. I have no other alternatives to recommend, aside from purchasing store bought already stained fuss free chairs, but if you’re willing to put in the work the results can be great.

  68. Jim says:

    Same feelings as most. Wasn’t sure what to use but after assurances by the paint guy in Lowe’s (that I know) gave it a try on an oak entertainment center I built as a Christmas gift. Used mission oak satin. Terrible time with a high quality brush. Brush marks and uneven coverage. Switched to a foam roller….turns out nice and smooth on horizontal. Sags on vertical even with light coats. Color is uneven and splotchy. Ruined $150 worth of red oak and two weekends. Should have used regular stain and poly. Very disappointed with Polyshades. Don’t do it.

  69. Brandy says:

    Hard to brush on, drags the brush and cannot keep a wet line at all. Its been 3 days and it is still a sticky tacky problem. Pure shit.

  70. Butch says:

    I used it on some kitchen cabinetry and bath vanity. Chose a color slightly darker than the golden oak which was the original color (went with American Walnut). Instead of a brush, I used a staining cloth to apply it in very thin coats (just wipe it on very sparingly) and it worked very well to cover a tired finish with scuffs, graying, etc. All of it gone. Worked well. Don’t use with a brush. I found it almost impossible to get it on thin enough with a brush. It runs way too easily. Less is more!!!

  71. Joe B says:

    I just used the Polyshades Classic Oak (gloss) on about 250 linear feet of quarter round molding, new, red oak, which is to serve as the base molding for our new hardwood floors. It is fantastic; but as noted above, wiping rather than brushing is a better way to go with this product.

    I stirred the Polyshades very thoroughly, poured off about 1/4 can into a glass jar, and applied it with folded up blue “shop” paper towels. When the paper towel got fringed, I switched ends, and then threw away. Each piece of paper towel got me through 2-3 pieces of quarter round.

    The product is extremely easy to control wiping it on. You just have to watch where you’ve been, and if you get a puddle go back over it, “pulling” it out. It does dry sort of quickly, but not so fast you can’t keep a wet edge. You can re-wipe a spot in applying as long as it is all done in one continuous pass. You want to wear gloves, obviously. I used cheap “nitrite free” but latex would probably be fine.

    A 10-foot length of quarter round takes maybe two minutes to apply, max, rewetting the rag every foot and a half or two feet or so. The appearance after one coat is MAGNIFICENT. I don’t need it any darker so one coat is all it will get. I may put a coat of some clear poly over it, but since it is only molding and I am very tight for time I may not.

    FYI I had sanded once on all sides with 60 grit paper, wiped with paper towel, then with 220 grit sanding pad on the front, curved surface only, then wiped with paper towel, then with tack cloth. I covered my saw horses with heavy duty aluminum foil on top, laid painters plastic the length of the floor over which I was working, and rested the quarter round on some old pipes to dry. It is dry enough to handle after 6 hours, but I let it dry for 24 before working with it.

    I will definitely be working with Polyshades again, as long as I have a roll of blue paper towels handy.

  72. MelissaR says:

    Hmmm. I just used the Pecan Polyshades on an oak mantle and it looks wonderful. I used a natural bristle brush, dipped my brush no more than one inch and spread thinly, all as indicated on the can. Wasn’t the least bit sticky, didn’t drip because I didn’t overload my brush, and wasn’t blotchy because I spread it thin. I wonder if these new, cheap, nylon paintbrushes are dissolving in the stain?

  73. Everything said, now here about it from a professional.

    “The Stained Truth In Minwax Advertising”


  74. BOB STRACK says:


  75. Henry says:

    Hello all,

    I had cleaned and lighted sanded old cabinets that are over 30 years old and used this product (bombay mahogony)brushed on and incurred a lot blotchiness and uneven depth, but the color was beautiful. Unfortunately I stripped everything off and went with gel stain/poly combination which turned out better but didn’t like to wipe off the excess stain which I thought was a lot of work.

    I believe this product will work if sprayed from reading here. So with my next project for different cabinets I’m planning to use a HVLP sprayer with air compressor that’s made for automotive finishes with 1mm nozzle/tip. For those that have sprayed with this product, can you recommend me the mixture ratio? I’m thinking I would need to mix Polyshade with 25% to 50% of mineral spirits. Do I need to mix any other additives in? Also would I need to sand between coats? I’ve painted automotive finishes (single stage with base/clear combo) with their paints and sanding was not required but the finishes needed to be re coated within a couple of hours to avoid sanding. Could I do the same with this project? Since i’m thinning with mineral spirits it should dry a lot quicker I suppose and possibly I could apply another coat within minutes or hours to get all the coats (maybe 4-5) within a day of spray. Please help I still have 3/4 quart and faith in this product. 🙂

  76. Henry says:

    Also, I would like to add that it’s a gravity fed sprayer and I will like to add polyurethane on top of polyshade for extra protection. So I would like the recommended mixture ratio for the polyurethane as well, but i’m assuming it would be the same mixture ratio as mixing mineral spirits with Polyshades. Thanks.

  77. Brian says:

    You were to kind with your assessment. This stuff blows hard. Poor penetration with the first coat, impossible to get even application with subsequent coats. If you do succeed, it hides the grain. Save your money and do it right the first time. Never again, minwax. Not only did i waste my time and money, I know have to spend more to remove this #%@& and start over.

  78. Julie says:

    I bought this product in classic black satin prior to reading about it. I am a novice at all things home improvement, but have a dresser I wanted to change the color on. The dresser has veneer on the drawers, but real wood on top. I sanded and the grain on the top is lovely. The drawer fronts and sides of the dresser, not so much, just veneer. I had been playing with one of the smaller drawers and the minwax and came up with the color and coverage I was looking for due to one of the posts here about using a foam roller.

    I started with a good paint brush – fail. I moved to a foam brush – better. Foam roller – worked really well. I applied a thin coat, let it dry, rubbed with 000 steel wool, then second coat. The wonderful wood grain on the top came out beautifully. I was expecting more of a stain finish, but it is more like paint, but I am overall happy with how it came out.

    Not sure I would use this product on another piece, I think I would like to try a traditional stain on another piece I am thinking about….

  79. Danielle says:

    I acquired an old coffee table from the 90s and stripped it down and sanded it. I purchased Polyshades in Honey and applied a thin coat with a natural bristle brush as the instructions indicated. The first coat was OK…a little streaky despite my best efforts. The second coat was very streaky and now covers all of the grain…like paint. I have stripped parts of this table 4 times now. Does using a foam brush eliminate streaking?

  80. Danielle says:

    I should add that I tried to go the route of Minwax wood stain, then use a clear poly coat. The wood of my table is crummy…two different kinds for the legs and the table top. The wood did not absorb the stain equally and it looked awful. The topical stain/poly is really what I need for this project, but I really want the grain to show through. I really would like to make it work because the shape of the table is perfect for the mother-of-pearl tile that I am using for the table top. I’ll try the foam roller.

  81. Nora says:

    Used this product on 10×13 floor,needed to put another coat. Used what was left in original can 1/4 to start 2nd coat,small area, then finished up the whole floor with new can. The small area I did lost any poly, flat like it was just stain, the rest of floor was fine. Now I am trying to feather in flat look, no luck what a mess. Does anyone have any suggestions?

  82. Don says:

    I have been reading the comments about how bad minwax is and I have had problems. But I have done some nice work over the years. First soft wood blotches even with conditioner if not sanded uniformly. All wood must be smooth with 220 grit or higher. Second,I’ve used polyurethane, water based and laquer and I haven’t seen many problems if I take my time and do it right and if I screw up redo it. I just did a test board with oil based stain and cover it with two coats of semi gloss in Deft, Varathane WB and Minwax poly. Sanded between coats with 400 grit and they all look good. Patience is a virtue here. You’re not going strip stain ad finish in one day. Try 3 days minimum. Good luck!

  83. melissa says:

    i bought this product to redo 100 year old pine wood floors. i tried it in a small hallway first to see how it would turn out. i dont see what everyone who says this product is evil is talking about except maybe they dont read the entire label before buying. its brought out the natural beauty of my pine,i went with classic oak because its a lighter color, and had no difficulty.i am a complete novice at any kind of woodwork but will definately use this stuff again when i tackle my 75 year old china cabinet.

  84. Douglas Adam says:

    Holy cow this stuff RUINED my project! No matter what I tried it just kept getting worse. I am not a professional refinisher, and i believed the cute sales girl when she said this was what i needed for my project. i am an avid DIY guy but this stuff needs to be taken off the market. It’s gummy, gooey, sticky and my dark “mission oak” turned out like Asian black lacquer…So disappointing, and it truly ruined my Labor Day weekend…:(

    • Dana says:

      I had the same experience and a wasted Labor Day weekend, as well. I will never again use this product or listen to the advice of a novice in the paint isle at a big box store. what a mistake.

  85. Dwayne says:

    Hey I used the classic black satin no problem.one coat with a brush wait till it dried light sand with 320 grit sandpaper then wipe all dust off then apply a second coat looks awesome

  86. Jerry says:

    I used Minwax Polyshades Bombay Mahogany on some pine shelves and the first coat I used a foam brush, (Do not stir, do not shake, do not mix the can, any movement causes bubbles),and barely, I mean barely stained it. Then let it dry overnight. The next day, didn’t sand it, just wiped with a cloth. Barely stained it again. Let dry overnight. Did the same thing again. Fourth day, fourth coat was more stain and just sat there until I got it right and then let dry overnight. It looked awesome and I got a lot of compliments from them, BUT my problem is after almost two months, it still smells. I vent well and use fans and heaters at night but it still smells after this long. I finally after almost two months, took the shelves out and gave them away.

    Maybe months later it would stop smelling but I just got tired of the gross smell. Not worth it. I could have probably used shellac over it to hold the smell it but honestly I don’t think it is healthy. I don’t want it in my house. So to me, Polyshades is NOT!

    Note: I would urge any woman who is pregnant or if you have small kids, don’t use this stuff. It can’t be healthy. Go the old fashioned way. Afterall the Amish have been using stains for over a century and they are still around and healthy, I doubt they would use this stinky stuff!

  87. Roy Baird says:

    wish I had looked here first… every comment is exactly how I feel. Nightmare is the one word that says it all. If you have a mistake, you can forget about trying to fix it. For a VERY small project, like a jewelry box or plaque it would be OK. But something larger, forget it. Stain and put on a couple of coats of water based poly.

  88. Steve says:

    I used the Minwax Polyshades Bombay Mahogany on a Entertainment center and it was a nightmare!!!…it ended up taking 6 coats on Maple to achieve the color I wanted. Never again with a brush. Has anyone used the stay can in the same color?

  89. Randy Pickett says:

    I enjoy restoring/repairing antique furniture as a H
    hobby, I’m in the middle of a project where I’m on the second coat of Polyshade, I’ve followed Minwax tutorials to a tee, the conditioner and room temperature is the key. I’m patient with my ventures and so far realize a few coats are mandontory for the right shade I’m looking for. Using #0000 wool in between coats and cleaning good afterwards is also the key.

  90. Meisha says:

    I redid many things in my home with great success using first a dark walnut stain, then going over with Bombay Red. The result was a sort of dimensional Cordova color which I loved. When the sun hits it, you can see the red highlights. Unfortunately, the Bombay Red has been discontinued, and you can only get Bombay Mahogany, so the option for a multi-dimensional red stain is gone. My recommendation with Polyshades is use the Gloss finish. The Satin finish looks too opaque and dull. I learned that one the hard way. But I do love Gloss Polyshades for quick projects, however if you have fine furniture or woodwork, staining is the only way to go. It gives you more depth to the grain.

  91. Bobby says:

    Many years ago I refinised a few sets of cabinets with the oilbased version in a can but called their customer surface and they told me I could add a little universalcolorant from a paint store to darken it up or shade it. I was able to also fill one of the pull holes so knobs could be added. It looked fine but I studied art and have painted for a long time. Not sure that I would ever use it again, you can add universal colorants and even craft paints to Polycrylic or Staysclear.

  92. Chad Rutherford says:

    I’ve Benin in the business for about 15 years. Stained and painted just about everything under the sun. From what I’ve learned firsthand, a general rule of thumb is “if it’s hard and a pain in the ass it’s probably the best way.” Let’s face it. There are no “shortcuts” or “all in one” products or solutions. I personally stay away from all minwax products. I use zar only. Get it customer matched if I have to. So much better. After straight stain, I use Zara Polly for an addittional three coats. Sanding in between each coat. I start with 220 grit sandpaper to 400 grit to fine steel wool. Then after my third coat of Polly I use a finishing wax applied with ultra fine steel wool and buffed with a clean rag. Elbow grease is a must.

  93. I was excited to see this product but ended up with a really tough and frustrating project. I used it like paint instead of very thin coats. Got lots of runs and bubbles until I figured it out.
    I also experienced what I thought was grains of something that stood out when dried. I think this may have been pigment. I thought I had maybe contaminated it so I got another can, brush and cloths. Same result. I would not go thru with this product in the future. Great idea but very problematic. Finished piece was awesome however. 10 coats or more however

  94. James Marshall says:

    I am staining pine window sash (new). I applied a sealer and then a Sherman Williams stain but it came out too light.
    I tried Polyshades and was not too impressed. I was thinking, however, of mixing say 4 parts Polyshade to 1 part
    regular urethane and spraying it on with a HVLP gun.

    Any thoughts?


  95. Julie says:

    Regretting ever using it. The first coat went on beautifully, but the color was WAY too light. I used the 000 steel wool in-between coats (as recommended on the can) and did another coat and like others have said, it was really sticky and hard to work with. After 5 coats, I finally got the color I wanted, but since it was poly and stain in 1, I basically had 5 coats of poly, and the finish was more poly than wood. It looks horrible. I was staining a stripped down mid-century dresser, and the dresser drawers have lips for handles at the bottom, and I could never get an even color of stain over the curved surface. They look super blotchy. This stuff probably works great for a 1 coat job on a flat horizontal surface. I would never used it again on anything else. Now I’m off to sand the dresser down again and start from scratch. What a giant waste of time.

  96. Mike says:

    hated it. I’ve had lots of experience with stains and the Stain/polyurethane all in one was too good to be true. Would have had MUCH better results by staining – the applying wax or poly. DO NOT TRY IT

  97. Rachelle says:

    I can totally tell that some of these posts are ‘damage control’ probably made by minwax employees….but aside from that most of the reviews are very negative. I had a very negative experience with this product too, and will never use it again. I had problems with dripping, uneven tones, and did three coats. Once a drip happens, it is almost impossible to correct evenly. The bookshelf should be stripped and redone, but I doubt I will go to all that trouble. If you are considering this…pick something different!

  98. Paige says:

    TERRIBLE – HORRIBLE – NIGHTMARE. This was the worst product ever. I now have a sticky mess, and if you try to fix a spot, it literally peels off. NEVER AGAIN. Taking it back to the store and demanding a refund.

  99. Deb says:

    I purchased “MinWax Polyshades Bombay Mahogany” for the first time and like many of you I’m not going to buy this product again. It dries way too quick for the project I was doing and I found I was having to wipe it off and start again in areas, grrrrrrrrrr, frustrating. There has to be a better way. I too would prefer to stain then add a protective coating on after the stain has dried. Heading back to return this product ASAP as I don’t plan on using the rest of it. Totally not satisfied.

  100. Firefighter says:

    Not sure why you all have such problems with Polyshades. I’ve used it for years. I just completed 2 coats classic oak on a cedar log and post bed and it’s absolutely gorgeous. No runs, etc. Finish is deep and rich and perfect smooth poly gloss coat. I couldn’t ask for anything better. If I could post a photo here, I would.

  101. dornette says:

    Wish I looked here first!
    I prepared wood well, but after first coat there are lots of bubbles (did not shake). Can I just lightly sand out these bubbles?? Thanks in advance

  102. red says:

    hello….I had a can of polyshades ”classic oak”in satin that was in my shop unopened for around 3 years….bought in 2010 I think…..I started a project of refinishing my 55 year old bathroom cabinets in 2014…while using the product,,,i thought how awesome this was to work with….it flowed on like warm honey…it was dry to the touch in a few hours,,,and could be sanded for another coat in 6 hours….I started to run out so I went to osh and bought another can…when I opened it I noticed that it didn’t look quite the same as my 3 yr old can I was using…..I stired it well and applied to the surface I already painted with my old can,,,,first thing I noticed is it doesn’t flow well anymore….also it takes much longer to dry….I read the label and the drying time has been changed from 6 hours to 8 hours….so the formula has been changed,,,,and now the product is crap…..I hope it is still compatible with my original can….why would they change such a great product, and replace it with something you cant use????

  103. Bob the Builder says:

    OK, to here’s how you do it right. The darker the stain, the more coats as pointed, so Bombay Mahogany will take four coats. First, don’t use sponge or an “all finishes” brush. Go out and get a high end natural bristle brush. Second, turn up the heat. You can’t put this stuff on in a cold shop. It tends to thin out with higher heat and it has to be WAY THIN. If you’re getting drips you’re probably putting it on too thick and the temp is probably too cool. I like to put it on when the temperature is something around 80 degrees. Make sure you have a very dust free environment because this is going to take some time to dry – except when you want to keep a wet edge. The wet edge tacks up very quickly so don’t do big projects unless you have some natural sopping points for the wet edge. After the first coat dries overnight (forget the 6 hour on the can) sand it with 320 or higher grit paper and re-apply. You’ll have to do this with every coat except before your last coat and on that one use 0000 steel wool. After your last coat, steel wool again and then rub the snot out of it with your favorite wax. If after the last coat you have a lot of brush marks, use the 320 paper then steel wool then wax.

    If you go through the proper steps, it will look great. OR you could skip the brain damage and use a regular stain an top coat it with urethane.

  104. Rin Barrett says:

    I hear you – those of you who don’t like Polyshades – but I respectfully disagree (and I don’t work for Minwax). I would refer you to a really great whitepaper called “Complete Guide to Wood Finishing” by Bob Flexner. You can find it at Popular Woodworking Magazine (I don’t work for them either). Read the section on Wiping Varnish. Polyshades, out of the can, is pretty much what you all described – too thick. There’s a pretty simple solution – thin it.

    I use 10% to 20% mineral spirits depending on factors like temperature, surface tilt (vertical, horizontal, or somewhere in-between), and application method. The hotter it is, the thinner I make it, so that it stays wet while I work. The flatter the surface, he thinner I make it, because I’m not worried about drips. If I’m wiping it on with a rag, which I do when I have vertical surfaces, I make it thinner. Obviously, the opposite conditions make it thicker. The thinner you make it, the more coats you’ll need to apply to build up your color, especially if you like it dark.

    Sand after the first coat with 220 grit paper to remove the grain that’s lifted, then 400 grit after that. I like to wet sand the 400, but if you’re going to do that go easy on the water and add just a hint of Dawn dish detergent to float the dust out and away from the pores. Dry it well after that. Wait time varies with the amount of pigment in the Polyshade and the ambient temperature, but 4-6 hours between coats generally works for me.

    Polyshades is a quick and easy finish. Any beginner can do what I just outlined and get sensational results. It’s a lot more difficult to stain and varnish if you’re not fairly proficient at staining, so again, this is great for a beginner. If you’re more experienced, and really understand the nuances of staining for effect, this might not be the best for you; a more traditional stain and varnish system might give you better results.

  105. P says:

    I’m wondering if people using a rush just had scrappy brush? I used a high qulaity nylon brush and the stuff worked great. Light sand after and it’s gorgeous.

  106. Richard Hoffman says:

    HOT…as long as you’re aware of its peculiarities. I just finished building a new base for an old dining room table in a rustic style (matches the post and beam house). The Mission Oak Polyshades did a great job, a beautiful color and highlighting the softwood grain — the piece looks like an instant antique, with no pretreating of the wood. The trick was rag application — no brushing, no spraying. You have to be very careful with the thickness of each coat, and can’t overapply, but I found just 3 coats made for exactly the finish I was looking for. Also needed to wipe off any excess immediately — as a number of previous posters wrote, it drips, runs and beads, and once you get a dark patch that dries to where you can’t wipe it off or feather the edges, you’re going to have to live with that color inconsistency.

    It was one of the trickier stains I’ve used, and I’m not sure I’d use it again, especially for “fine furniture,” but for a rustic piece, it really came out perfectly, and did in fact save me time.

  107. Hadi says:

    Can I sand off a little of the poly shade and water base-poly it?

  108. Rick says:

    After everything looked fine after applying the poly shades, it dried with small whitish type spots in a few locations. I now will have to sand this down and try to patch the spots. I do not want to put any more coats on,because it is too dark already. I was also dissatisfied with how blotchy the finish became. I’m going to rub and wax at the end, but I think I will go back to a two-step process: stain and then polyurethane. Any suggestions for the white spots?

  109. I used this product with a rag to apply. I used on slats for an outdoor bench. The result, a nice finish for a beginner. No over lap issues, but darker areas with more grain/knots. I’ll be a hero to the wife. No real complaints.

  110. Gunnar says:

    I used Polyshades Tudor Brown to spruce up an antique gate leg table and found – as many have said – that it drips like crazy. Other than that, I’m pleased with the results. The table was made by my great grandfather in 1916, signed and dated. The original dark brown finish on the base/legs was crackled and had no sheen whatsoever. The finish on the top was badly worn, revealing the wood beneath. I didn’t want to strip this thing (it has a gazillion turned legs, and stripper would just turn the original varnish to goo) so I did the following: I flipped the table upside down, lightly sanded, then brushed Polyshades onto the base, flipped it right side up, did the same again, and went over it all with a dry brush to catch and smooth any lingering drips. When dry, it looked renewed, still “antique”, but not “new”. In fact, the satin finish gives it a waxed and buffed appearance.

    Not wanting to give the top countless coats in order to get the really dark brown that I wanted, I gave it one coat of Polyshades and let it dry. Then I quickly and lightly sprayed flat black paint over it, following the grain, in wide sweeps. This allowed the wood grain and color beneath to still show. When dry, I applied another coat of Polyshades. The top and base match perfectly, a Jacobean or Tudor black/brown. I later waxed the top just for “fun”, also in a dark brown. Would I use Polyshades again? Yes, I would. Using stain, then a sealer separately is still the best way to go for many projects, but in my case, Polyshades really DID save me time, and the end result is pleasing.

  111. Buck Woodward says:

    This product is the worst wood finish product I have ever used, and I have been making furniture for 40 years. Definitely stain first and then finish. This product is impossible to put on evenly, especially if there are non-flat surfaces, as in any piece of furniture. Edges, bottoms, irregular patterns..forget it. It will pool and get sticky and look like crap, very fast. Then you are screwed. No way to fix the darker patches with subsequent coats. NEVER USE THIS product, if you care about what you are finishing!!!

  112. ATB says:


    I thought it was just me & my 1st few searches did nothing to diminish that thought… Initially I thought I was buying simple stain (I even bought a clear poly top coat to finish it after)… I certainly told the Home Depot staff I just wanted a plain mahogany stain!

    Fast forward several attempts to get it to behave even slightly reasonably & having to completely restart/fully resand; I’ve now lost about a third of the original wood!!! Incidentally this stuff HATES thinners! It will separate the dyes into a strange mass that can never be reconstituted!!!

    I now need to go to buy new wood & stain, then start from the beginning again! My simple wood platform that should only have taken a day or so; now is over 2 weeks, 3 containers of polyshades (1st can was screwed from day 1, separated like w/ thinners but brand new), twice the materials, 100X the effort, uneven staining w/ loads of strange bubbles that remain unstained, unending frustration & hair pulling out…

    This product is JUNK!!!!!

    I have stained countless things & never had such a crappy, crappy stain! I don’t recommend anyone use this stuff!!! I can get better effects with anything then polyshades! Definitely the worst stain I have ever seen/used!

    MinWax!!! PULL THE STUPID STUFF BEFORE YOUR CUSTOMERS FIND ANOTHER COMPANY TO BUY FROM! Heck even the cheapest Chinese stain is better than polyshades!


    P.S. Thanks for bringing this up & giving us a chance to vent/warn…

  113. ATB says:

    Incidentally, the positive posts are all marketing bull!

    I’ve been staining for decades!

    Just do it right the 1st time & stain, then poly!


  114. Chris Beardsley says:

    I used the oak gloss. It worked awesome to update my already golden oak bathroom baseboard, and mirror base and shelves and the front of a storage cabinet. Mixture is easy to work with, no runs, no clumps, totally impressed my husband with my novice skills.

    BUT then I wanted to blend in some rick dark color – Bombay Mahogany for a 2-tone wood effect. It is very thick and hard to work with. Since some of you used a sprayer, I am thinking of thinning it down with spirits and giving it another try. Will let you know.

  115. Edward Sones says:

    I used the Bombay Mahogany to stain my porch floor and rails. I only needed two coats and it covered OK. I don’t know about using it for something that requires a perfect finish like furniture, but for that application, it works fine.

  116. Edward Sones says:

    For furniture, I have used Watco Danish oil with stain. I have used the cherry stain on a couple of pieces that I built in red oak. You have to rub the stain in and reapply it a couple of times. When you rub the stain in it makes the red oak grain pop. I then waxed it with a fine bees wax and you have a quality finish for your furniture project.

  117. DeeDee says:

    I have read every comment on here because this is my very first attempt at furniture refinishing. I have a solid oak sofa table that was a light finish. I bought the PolyShades Mission Oak Satin product. Maybe it’s luck or stupidity as I am on my second coat and so far I am pleased with the results. I will say I bought the expensive brush that everyone says to buy and I ditched that right away. I am applying it with a rag and it couldn’t be easier! I watched a youtube video where they used a rag and it turned out beautiful. When this coat dries I will rub it down again with superfine steel wool again and add a third coat. Happy with my results so far and I don’t work for Minwax!

    • DeeDee says:

      Finished my project by doing four coats and it looks great! Because it was my first time to refinish furniture there are a few “operator errors” that no one will know but me. Overall I am very pleased with it. On to the next one!

  118. Louis says:

    I have used this product on three types of projects. Soft wood cabinets ( fully sanded ), a pitted pine built in table ( sanded but deep gouges ), an engineered oak floor that was sanded and then had one coat of min wax natural and two coats of water based poly. The cabinets had no grain. I used a foam roller followed by a light brush to get rid of bubbles. This worked out great. Color pecan. The table was a built in that was in rough shape and needed to be done quickly. I used 4 or 5 coats of cherry. It filled the pits and gouges but the grain was virtually lost. The trade off was worth it because the black marks were gone. The floor I ruined by rushing the job by not applying a second coat of minwax natural before applying poly in less than 24 hours. The floor looked blotchy. Two coats of pecan overy the poly ( after light sanding ) fixed this. I may add a coat of oil based floor poly over this. Bottom line. Use this stuff like paint to cover problems. Multiple coats get the color darker. Take your time using the foam roller and brush ( light touch ). This stuff has saved me since most of my work is rehabbing forclosures.

  119. Kari says:

    Like so many others, I wish I would have read this first! Simple Ikea solid pine project I’m no expert, but have done this kind of thing many times. Ruined! Wasted my time and money I am so glad to see others had violent thoughts too I guess I see why its called PolyShades, not Polystains. I bought Antique Oak to be dark like my other Ikea pine projects (they don’t make the dark mahogany anymore in the stain) It turned out like Golden Oak WAY WAY lighter First coat looked fine, just barely any color at all. 2nd coat looks awful URGH (insert violetn thoughts here)

  120. Jim germain says:

    I’d never use this crap again. Runny, but sticky, splotchy. I’d have been better off to sand off the stain I had on the project and then go with a darker stain and varnish. This crap runs on vertical surfaces so badly, and sands off splotchy. NEVER again.

  121. GOOZIE68 says:


  122. Jered says:

    If you are going to stain raw wood, then you should condition the wood, then use the stain of your choice.
    Let the stain completely dry, then use a sand sealing coat. the sand sealer is a coat that will raise the hairs on the wood and then dry very fast. (You can use a poly-clear coat as a sand sealer but it will take a long time to dry.) Once the sand sealer is dry, feel the surface for small bumps and lightly sand these off and then apply a clear coat of your choice. HOWEVER, If you are trying to make wood darker that is already stained and cleared or finished, then Polyshades is your only hope. Unless you want to sand that piece down until it is raw wood again. Also if you have runs and drips you are putting too much on at once.

  123. Dana says:

    I actually found it to be pretty useful as a top coat. I tried it first on bare wood–after three coats, it was still only about half as dark as it should have been.

    HOWEVER, after coating my dining room table with 3 coats of golden oak stain with conditioner, I found my wood wasn’t nearly “golden” enough. I threw on a few coats of amber shellac which warmed it right up. Problem is, shellac is a terrible top coat for something that gets constant use, plus it was still a little too bright to match the chairs, so I slapped some dewaxed/sealcoat shellac and a few coats of polyshade over it and it’s finally pretty dang close to factory color.

    I realize any real woodworker doesn’t have time for 12 coats of finish, but it’s admittedly handy for newbies who don’t have enough wood to re-strip every time they get the wrong color. Polyshade is transparent enough that I can slowly layer my table to the color I need without having to start over. I’m sure it’s not terribly practical for a pro, but it worked for me!

  124. Megan says:

    I have never stained a piece of furniture in my life and just used this product. I can’t comment on wear and tear but as far as application goes it was very easy to use as long as I was neat and careful. Just have a small amount on the brush and move in a steady, gliding motion in one direction. Don’t move too fast or you will get bubbles. You don’t have much time to run the brush back over before it starts to go tacky so correct any streaks or excess product right away by running the brush gently along. Only problem I had was it didn’t turn out as dark as I wanted it – that could be from choosing the wrong colour.

  125. Elizabeth says:

    Hello, I applied Minwax Polyshades to my front door. I stirred it thoriughly before using it. I cleaned the door surface with No Sand. I did not have any problems with drips, however the product seemed tricky to work with-seemed to ‘set up’ fast. I tried to work quickly with smooth brush strokes. Now 24 hrs later the initial coat is still tacky to the touch. I probably will not use this product again. I hope I don’t have to remove this finish because I will be majorly p-o’d!!

  126. Todd says:

    I am considering spraying this w/ an HVLP on 500 sq ft of pine car siding for the walls of my family room . I plan to spray it horizontally in my garage then put it up in the basement. Any suggestions for mix ratio w/ mineral spirits? I’ve already brushed a mix of American chestnut / pecan on my trim pieces with fair success in one coat, just didn’t want to brush 500 sq.ft.
    Any suggestions are appreciated

  127. larry says:

    For some projects this is the only solution to do a job. One example is kitchen cabinets that have solid wood fronts but different wood for the cabinet sides.

    I have sprayed this on with mineral spirits and can get the desired match to the oak wood fronts.

    Yes its tricky to get the exact match and look.

    Yes its difficult to clean a brush out if you use one on certain areas.

    But the overall look and durability of the job is all in the prep and finishing steps.

    In my case i started with the wood components (oak) sanded off old surface.

    Oil stained the wood step one
    Used crystalaq 3 coats and sanded to fill the wood grain
    Sprayed 2 coats with polyshades (sanding between 1000 grit)
    Hand brushed door molding area (door fronts) making it one shade darker
    Sprayed 3 coats clear (sanding 2000 grit)
    Finish is great and has depth.

    The cabinet side wood (non oak) surface prep with special cleaner steel wool also 0000

    Sprayed 3 coats polyshades
    Sprayed 3 coats clear poly

    There were older kitchen cabinets sides are not oak

    Now they look great from golden oak to a mahogany color with great depth in grain and color.

    Takes effort to make it look great, and homework.
    Biggest issue is when you try to hand brush small areas that you cant spray and cleaning the brush later. I only found brush cleaner and soap and water would work.

    After using soap and water I used air compressor to blow dry the brush to make sure it is clean. If it is not clean enough you will find out when your drying it becomes sticky. High end bushes will be destroyed if you don’t do this. Mineral spirits or paint thinner fail for cleaning them.

  128. Sally says:

    Urgh! So frustrated with this product! I was just trying to stain a lazy Susan and used Polyshades thinking I’d take a shortcut! No way-I’ve applied 3 coats and it was so blotchy. I sanded pine down to original wood, pretreated with a conditioner and painted 4 more coats of Polyshades to get right color. Now dry, I realized that some areas have more sheen than others! I intend to strip down to bare wood again, pretreat, use 2 coats of traditional stain and 2 coats of poly. This is a gift and I want it perfect. So, I would never ever use this product again-just wish I saw these posts ahead of time. Stay away!

  129. Alan says:

    As some have already pointed out, Polyshades isn’t stain. It’s tinted polyurethane which will get darker with every extra coat. Based on my experience, 3 coats are minimum to achieve good result for brushing, and more for spraying.

    The challenge with Polyshades is that you have to tackle brush marks and colour evenness in one stroke. It is an almost impossible task for brushing if you want a perfect finish. You can even the shade by brushing on some mineral spirits soon after you brush the Polyshades but it is a tedious task, especially for large area. A better alternative is spraying which is much much easier to achieve the shade that you want with perfect evenness even on vertical surfaces. Just spray one layer, force dry the surface with a heater, then spray another layer and so on; you don’t have to wait hours between coats. If you go for the glossy finish, dust will be your biggest enemy; satin is much more forgiving. Call me crazy but I have a pair of pin sharp tweezers for picking out dust particles on the wet surfaces right after each spray. This will reduce sanding to minimum.

    One pro against traditional stain, IMO, is that Polyshades doesn’t emphasis the wood grain. It gives a more modern finish if that’s what you want. You can even spray it over other stain finish to achieve different result. The truth is, there are brush marks with clear polyurethane too, you just don’t look close enough. But with Polyshades, your brushing skill is pushed to the limit.

  130. james wray says:

    i have professionally painted since 1974.i have sprayed with conventional systems, 5 gal paint pot and compressor, airless ,with pumps larger enough to spray block filler, hvlp ,for 20 years, and binks air brushes.I spend as much for 1 quality brush that you may spend for 4. I use the finest quality roller covers and frames. The key is always in the prep,the right tool matched to the product, and patience. I have always been anal in the fact what ever i do, i always read the directions on the back of a can or a brochure. i understand terminology and ambient conditions. i always get the results that i want and product offers. i think alot of post here represents limited knowledge or minimal with expectations of professional results for first time usere on most products. I easily command $55.00/hr for my work because i can. read the friggin instructions, have the right tool, dont skip a step, and take your time. If not possible, call me and i will but you will pay for it.

  131. Davey says:

    ok, my wife has used it on 3 projects and they have all come out really good. I tested it on a couple of scraps to see what it would look like on my project and it looks awful because I didn’t do it right. turns out, the stuff needs to go on really thin and be brushed or wiped so there are no brush marks. not to be outdone I tried again, I used the pre stain conditioner and then proceeded to do the first coat while it was still a bit wet, ( on fresh pine ) making sure to brush it really thin so no marks and it is perfect. so, probably not the best product but it does work with some effort. thanks for this site.

  132. Vince Grienti. says:

    I refinished a tabletop using Minwax Polyshades. I’m not happy with the finish, it totally obliterated the grain. I should have stuck to Varathane. I’ll use a chemical stripper to take it down to bare wood, apply an oak stain and sealer. Never again will I use Minwax.

  133. Steph says:

    Oh wow. I wish I had read this (and all 2 miles of comments and replies) before I started my project. I’m a novice and was gifted an I finished wine rack (made of pine) from my fiancee for xmas. I picked the Bombay mahogany to try to come close to matching my kitchen table and cabinets and now I just want to throw it in the fire pit.. live and learn, I guess!

  134. Mark says:

    I recently built a wood bed (pine) coping Ana White Farm House Bed plans. Picked Polyshades without any research because I liked the color and it was a decent match to existing dresser. Put the first coat on and look TERRIBLE – extremely blotchy and no where near color I thought it would be. Then Googled and read tons of bad reviews. Thought about starting over, but came across a review that basically said don’t worry about first coat and color will get better with each coat. After second coat looked 90% better and the blotchy spots disappeared. Did a third coat and was exactly what I was looking for. Dont worry about the first coat and keep it thin. It will take multiple coats to get the color you want. I lightly sanded between coats and used a quality brush. No one believes I made the bed.

  135. Nan says:

    So, this is my dilemma. I love my dining room table, the color is fine, but the surface is a mess–the polyurethane is all but gone,it is full of scratches, and the stain has worn off in spots.

    I can’t strip it myself and can’t afford to professionally refinish it or replace it.

    I just want to match the existing stain, cover up the scratches and places where the finish has gone missing and then get a new coat of poly on it.

    If I’m able to get a close match on the color, will the polyshades work for that?

    • Renee says:

      I know I’m responding months after your question, but if you’re like me, you will think about refinishing your table for quite a long time before you actually start. Polyshades will work best if your table is oak. If not, proceed with caution. I completely sanded my 8’table(removing all the arts and crafts damage that my now grown children had inflicted upon it) and refinished it with Polyshades Pecan. It went amazingly well. I did three coats for extra protection. I didn’t do the legs or sides, just the top. At that point I was a Polyshades fan. Then I tried to use it to refinish the top of a night stand. Different wood. Oh my gosh, so much work. Tiny surface took 10 times the amount of effort. Honestly, I didn’t do anything differently. I applied with a natural bristle brush, thin coats, light sanding between coats with steel wool. After reading this forum, I’m convinced it’s the different wood. I ended up brushing on polyshades and then wiping it down immediately with paper towels to get it all off so that I could start over. If it gets tacky and won’t dry and you want it off, you can brush it with mineral spirits and wipe with paper towels.

  136. celicaxx says:

    I think Polyshades is quite decent for stuff that basically, you want to look better, but isn’t economically feasible (either in money or time) to totally strip down and do “right.” Basically, furniture destined for either the landfill or the bonfire. I don’t mean to say this to denigrate Polyshades in any manner, far from it. I think for bare wood and real restoration, there’s obviously better products to use, but comparing the time and labor savings of Polyshades, and that if you’re somewhat skilled, you can get results 99% of the population would find decent enough, it’s very good. It’s obviously not “restoration grade” stuff, but for making stuff go from awful to OK with fairly little effort (maybe 2-3 hours total per bookshelf, for example…) I think it’s really good and wish more people knew about it as an option. I’d take an old real wood furniture piece with Polyshades on it over Wal-Mart MDF garbage any day of the week. I think it’s very good for people who work or have other hobbies who just want stuff to be OK/good looking again. $15 and a couple hours time for a furniture piece to go from awful to at least good/acceptable again is a bargain to me.

    As far as applying it, I think I’ve gotten OK results as I’m quite used to working with oil based paint. Thinking of Polyshades as basically transparent/translucent oil based paint is the best way to think. It really likes/needs to be worked into the surface and you do need to hit out runs, basically like oil based paint. In this regard I think it’s actually easier than lots of oil based paints are, due to having pretty long open time. Also on bare wood I did find the pre-stain conditioner to work out well and everything looked quite even and nice, I think better at least comparing Minwax stain and poly without conditioner on a similar project.

    I think it’s a great product, it just depends on the context it’s used in.

  137. Susan says:

    Thanks for all the comments I had my doubts about this product, there’s no cleanup instructions on the can, and I’m not a big believer in these sorts of 2 in 1 products anyway, so,it’s going back. Thanks!

  138. lawrence ma says:

    Do not use it!!!! If you really want to try, I can send mine to you. It is super stinky. It causes healthy problem to use indoor.

  139. Ky King says:

    Did an entire oak topped L-shaped desk I built with poly shades honey. Used a stain pad and followed the instructions. Turned out great. Was simple. I’m not sure why so many people are having issues. I just used it again on a coat hanger as well.

  140. Daniel Wilson says:

    We just did all of our 1930s fir trim with Polyshade Bombay Mahagony. We used it to on trim that was previously stained and covered with varnish. We scrapped off the varnish and applied 2 coats of Polyshade over everything with a quality bristle paint brush.

    The early applications were done on baseboards hidden behind furniture and they turned out okay. As my wife skill improved so did the results. Our house trim and wood doors are striking.

    It works as advertised and was easy to use. It is all in the preparation no matter what you use. So if you are not completely happy with your results then look back at how you prepared the surface. You just can’t slap something on a project and expect it to come out perfect.

    Merry XMas

  141. John home guy says:

    Very hard to get a consistent color. It is sticky and becomes blotchy very easily. Much easier to apply an all-forgiving stain, which just wipes off, and then use a clear poly. Will not use this product again. Sounded like a great idea when I bought it, but didn’t work out so well.

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