Minwax finishes

I've heard some folks at the real high end wood places really bag on Minwax finishing products (stains and polyurethane). I've been using them for awhile and think they produce decent results. I have noticed some inconsistencies in colors between cans and if you don't mix the cans well. Would someone mind educating me why they feel the finishes aren't good?
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djanssen asks:

Because they're from a large company with a broad customer base and aren't mixed for use by professionals.
That said, a lot of people don't like the look of polyurethane finishes because too many coats tend to build up a plastic look.
Otherwise, my suggestion is that you try different brands, then stick with the brand that is easiest for you to use while giving you results you like.
The bit on color mixing: when you're painting a house, the first bit of advice any pro paint will give is for YOU, the person doing the painting, to mix all paints together and thoroughly, no matter how closely matched the store says the colors are, and no matter how many gallons you have to work with.
Charlie Self "I think the most un-American thing you can say is, 'You can't say that.'" Garrison Keillor
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I personally have had good luck with Minwax products but I use others too. As far a finish quality and durability goes, they are probably as good as any mass produced finish. As you noted, however, you need to expect some color variation among containers and mixing for large jobs is advisable.
We had a home built about five years ago and I let the contractor do his thing upstairs and I finshed the basement. The contractor used a three step laquer process that has one great advantage. The contractor can do a 1,700 square ft house in two days and he is gone. The 'professional' finish has not held well and the grain definition is poor. The basement was done with MinWax oil base and poly and looks better than the pro finish. I personally think their wipe on poly is a good, idiot proof product (improtant for me).
The fun part of woodworking is experimentation. Try various products and settle on the one(s) that serve you best.

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Me too. But I've picked up a can of Bartley's, General and Zar and <insert name here> to try to compare contrast. The differences are evidently too subtle for me to see. 'Side from the Gel vs. Non-Gel or Water-based arguments.
Minwhack's wipe on poly, for the stuff under DKP (Direct Kid Punishment), seems to do what I want. I do tend to stick with General Finishes Arm-R-Seal for other projects.
Would love to hear what professional finisher's think.
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Patrick, I've quit using any of the wipe on completely because I've had problems with water rings being left by glasses....speaking of kids. I've never had a problem with regular brush on. Has anyone else noticed this? Thanks, Jana
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Hmmm - I'll whip out a test piece and give this a try. If true, I'll have to either recant my entire testimony or run for office.
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Minwax stains tend to be mixtures of dyes and pigments. This means a little less control over them than if they were pigment or dye alone. They also take quite a while to dry as opposed to pigment or dye stains intended for professional use. For a professional, time is money. You also can not spray Minwax stains without fussing over them.
All the above being said, I haven't heard of a pro that did not start out without using Minwax products. Many still like the Golden Oak stain but that is because it is a dye alone. Minwax is readily available locally so there is no waiting for a shipment and there are no shipping fees, especially for a flammable, dare I say hazardous, material.
Good Luck.

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says...

Min Wax products with no ill effects.
You have to realize that, while a few people may have a ligit gripe against Min Wax a far greater number of people knock it because somehow they feel it's cool to do so.
It wasn't all that many years ago when anyone mentioning shellac here was heavy beat up on by people who had never been nearer to it then the coating on their Bon Bon's. Why? Because they heard someone say it was old hat and poly was the latest and greatest in finishing technology. It was cool to do so. Same for the never stain cherry cult.
However, thankfully and eventually, reality managed to sneak back in.
--
MikeG
Heirloom Woods
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On Fri, 23 Jul 2004 13:55:51 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

I like one Minwax stain color, Golden Oak, when used on oak. It actually looks very nice on red oak, with an ambering varnish over it. Golden Oak has no pigment in it, so it works well in this situation. Water base clear coats without an amber tint tend to make it look dead, in my opinion.
For most other stain jobs, I prefer Behlen's as I usually use a shellac washcoat. About the only wood I don't washcoat is red oak. Minwax and most other home center stains don't dry properly, if at all, over a washcoat. I also like the clarity and colorfast properties of Behlen's products. Behlen's products can also be clearcoated or washcoated in 30-60 minutes. No overnight waiting.
My usual staining method is dye stain - washcoat - pigment stain - washcoat - etc... with 320 grit scuffs on the washcoats. I apply Behlen's pigment stains by wiping them on and dry brushing until they dry. Home center stains don't work like this. The dry brush provides AWESOME control.
I prefer Waterlox polyurethanes for furniture or built-ins, if the project calls for poly. I like the clarity, consistency and working properties of this product over the Minwax version. On trim or floors, Minwax and most paint store brands have been fine in my use. I like to thin the poly about 20% to help it flow and release bubbles.
Use what your project requires, don't let brand loyalists or stain snobs get to you! <G>
Barry
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Barry, could you please explain what advantage there is to applying a washcoat between dye and pigment stains? I just finished a project with dye, then Zar pigmented stain. Tomorrow I do the sealer and top coats (Enduro).
What I do is apply the dye, let it dry, and then LIGHTLY sand with 320 or 400. Then I apply the pigment stain with a rag and immediately wipe it off. The only reason I've resorted to two step coloring is to get color into the pores that the dye refuses to color (oak). My alternative method is to use dye only, and then tint the top coats to deepen the overall color, thereby hiding any untinted pores.
dave
B a r r y wrote:

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The washcoat between accomplishes several things:
1.) It prevents the second stain from messing with the first.
2.) It prevents the pigment stain from penetrating uncontrolled.
3.) It allows me to completely wipe the pigment stain off, if I'm not happy with the results.
4.) It provides one more coat toward the final finish build.
When I use dye and pigment, the dye is often a yellow, pink, or orange color to light up the depth of the finish. I have wood toned dyes, but those usually get used without a pigment stain on top. This process usually works best for me on closed grain woods that blotch, like birch, maple, and cherry.
I also use washcoats between pigment stain colors and between the final staining and the first clear finish coat. Usually, the washcoat is Zinsser Seal Coat, from the can. If I have a small area, and I want to spray, it's Zinsser Clear Shellac, from a spray bomb. Both are dewaxed shellacs.
Barry
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What kind of dye are you using?
I prefer Behlen's Solar Lux dye stains, which penetrate nearly anything. <G>
Barry
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I've got 3 different dyes. WizardTint from J.E. Moser, some Lee Valley water solubles, and a few from Woodworker's Supply. I decided to start with water based because of what I've read about streaking and light-fast issues with alcohol based dyes. I'm sure that in capable hands, those would work too, but I wanted to start with something that I'd likely have good results with. I like the convenience of the WizardTints, especially when I want to add a little additional warmth to the top coats.
Thanks for the detailed explanation of why you use wash coats. When I get around to my kitchen remodel, I might be using one of those blotch-prone woods you mentioned, at which time I'll do some practice finishing using YOUR methods. Thanks for the tips, Barry. I too am a fan of Zinnser's Seal Coat.
Dave
B a r r y wrote:

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Can't do that, but...
I recently used Minwax Spar Urethane to finish a 3-sash sliding window built from VG hard maple (and some glass, silly!). Beautiful. I mean, the maple is pretty darn beautiful on its own, and really, a real shame to cover with anything. But this finish, brushed on, brought out a sparkle and ruggedness to the wood that makes you feel that this was exactly the right thing to do for a window that was going to be 1) subjected to Florida's brutal humidity, and 2) looked at very closely by those sitting in the patio, just outside the kitchen, peering through the window as they await their next drink, and saying, "man... is that ever a nice finish on that window... say... is that quarter sawn maple?... hey! not so much ice.... geez!"
/rick.
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Probably because it is what a huge amount of the population is using and there will be alot more complaints. Kinda like using microsoft <g>. I use minwax with satisfactory results and will continue to use it. I usually use the oil based poly mixed with watco and mineral spirits to a wipeable consistancy. Fwiw, I don't particulary like the minwax acrylic poly. There is a better acrylic poly out there that looks and works better (Hydrocote) from Highland Hardware. It's kinda spendy but worth every penny imo.
As far as their stain goes, I've used it but don't really care for it. There are better products. I like to use anniline dyes (Clearwater company) and for oil based, I use Varathane products. However, I don't do alot of staining so there is prolly better advice out there for ya. Good luck and happy finishing! SH
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Didn't I hear that Varathane, Minwax, Watco, and several other lower-end "hobbyist" finishes and paints are now under the same corporation?

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Been in and out on Watco. Current line can be viewed at http://www.minwax.com/ Think SWP was bidding on 'em.
Doubt there's a hell of a lot of difference in formulations in similar finishes. Least part of the cost is in the can.

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Kind'a like Porter Cable/Delta/DeWalt/Black n Decker? :)
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