MinWax PolyShades Experience

Blancas's picture

I used PolyShades in a recent armchair renovation project. It is a stain and polyurethane one-step product. My baby suffered long-term outside exposure, so I believe the original dark lacquer turned into an even darker shade. What I needed to do was to lighten up the wood and create an antique look.

What I'd like to say about using PolyShades is that it is really as hard to work with as people say in the forums, but you just need to stay patient and follow directions from the manufacturer. They have pretty good video tutorials:

Using a wood conditioner first might be a good idea – it dries up in 15 minutes, and facilitates the smooth application. I went with the proper wood preparation instead, since I needed to get rid of the dark lacquer anyways. The original dark color made a good job sitting in all the carves, I only buffed them a bit removing the gloss. The rest was sanded with 180 fine sandpaper. As I used the rotary tool the wood came out pretty polished and sleek eliminating the need for the conditioner.

So what's the trick with PolyShades? All you need to do is not to hurry. Use a natural bristle brush, and take your time applying very small amounts of product (literally on the tip of the brush) to the wood moving with medium strokes and avoiding covering the same area twice. It is all about applying one even thin layer. Also, stir the product frequently as stain and polyurethane aren't mixing very well on their own. Let it dry as directed, then sand again removing the irregularities, and add another layer. That will give you the color displayed on the packaging. At least, it worked for me - I went with Classic Oak. I added one more layer as I was aiming at a glossy surface imitating the old lacquer. It did deepen the color, but it is still the oak finish I chose. Keep in mind polyurethane gives a yellowy tint to the wood, so if you're satisfied with the tone you're getting after the first application it might be a good idea to switch to clear polyurethane for additional protective layer.

The major disadvantages of polyurethane is that it is very sticky and it smells. Use mineral spirts to clean off the brush afterwards. It wasn't a quick process, but I achieved the result I was looking for. Hope this will work for you as well. Good luck!

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