Conversion Varnish over Oil-Based Stains

Appearance and performance issues with various stain formulations under CV topcoats. February 21, 2011

Although I don't feel overly confident with this, I have sprayed Gemini CV over Minwax oil based stain on many projects with no major issues. I have learned to allow as much time as possible for the stain to dry. The waxes and oils in this type of stain make adhesion more difficult than more compatible stains. Problem is, I find this type of stain to be deeper and richer in appearance, and it applies easier and more evenly than others. Customers also seem to choose the MW colors over the others. I guess I should not offer MW as a choice. Any thoughts? Should this be an absolute no-no?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor C:
I think the Becker and MLC stains look a lot better. They also have the Minwax stains matched already.

From contributor J:
You need to lose the Minwax and start using a real industrial stain. Valspar, Becker, MLC, Sherwin Williams, etc. Easier to work with, dry faster and look better. Any dealer worth dealing with will be able to match any colour you need. If they can't, find a new dealer.

I haven't used the Valspar stains, but I like their system. Keep 10 or 12 colours in stock and they provide a recipe and color card to mix up around 80 colours from the 10 or 12. I use stains made by a local company that offers 280 standard colours and will colour match anything else needed.

From contributor E:
I take the Minwax color to Sherwin Williams and they match a bac stain which is ready to seal as soon as you are.

From contributor B:
Let's not forget that Gemini makes a fine line of industrial stains also. Furthermore, using products from different manufacturers is never a good idea.

From contributor R:
I've used all the different brands and I must agree, the Minwax colors are usually deeper and richer and more liked by the customers. Yes, I've used the pro brands, but there is something in the oil vs. the solvent based stains that allow them to keep a little more life in the stain. Sherwin Williams stain in particular looks too flat and dead to me. If you can allow for the extra dry time, keep using what works for you. I once was tutored under one of the best in the nation (a guy that would get flown across the country to finish that kitchen that they wouldn't trust anyone else with), and he still used Minwax on occasion. The Minwax haters are a great many on here... But hey, whatever works for them.

From contributor D:
The something to like in the Minwax oil stain is oil soluble dye, which is blended also with pigments. The dye is transparent and has a bright quality to it. What's not to like is oil soluble dyes will fade much quicker than water soluble dyes or metalized dyes in alcohol (aka NGR sap stain).

I'd encourage the questioner to try using a sprayed NGR dye and then follow with a pigment wiping stain. If you like the depth of Minwax, you'll love NGR dyes.

Minwax is a convenient user-friendly product, but is also very limiting if this is all you can offer. Once you get up to speed with using separate dye and pigment systems, your options to control color are near limitless.