Varathane vs Minwax: Best in 2023 for Wood Finishing

Varathane vs Minwax: Varathane is known for its high-quality products that provide a durable and long-lasting finish. Their finishes are water-based, which makes them environmentally friendly and easy to clean up.

Varathane offers a wide range of finishes, including matte, satin, semi-gloss, and gloss, which makes it easy to achieve the desired look for your woodwork. Their products are also known for their fast-drying time, which can be helpful if you need to finish a project quickly.

On the other hand, Minwax is also a well-known brand that offers a range of wood finishing products. Their oil-based finishes are known for their richness and depth, which can bring out the natural beauty of the wood.

Minwax also offers a range of finishes, including matte, satin, semi-gloss, and gloss. Their products are also known for their ease of use and affordability.

In the below points you will come to know which is the right product to choose from those two. Also, the reasons why it is considered as the best choice as well properly explained so you are all set to decide properly and then pick the best one without any doubt.

Differences Between Minwax and Varathane

As mentioned before, if you look at minwax products and Varathane then there are so many numbers of options that you can easily pick.

Truly, you will be allowed to see various kinds of wood styles or colors in your home also Minwas is the superlative option that you must consider for sure.

Since it is as far as pre-stain preparations go and you know Varathane is the ideal choice that you ought to pick.

If you look at the wood finishing items which will offer you massive things that will undoubtedly enhance the appearance of the wood if you have one.

You ought to understand one thing even without adding a wood finishing product to the wood it will get damaged and then the chances are high.

If you include finishing then it will safeguard the wood from scratches, humidity, dents, and spills certainly.

In case if you fail to add the finishing process then the wood can easily warp from humidity that will surely affect the way that the wood appears and you can witness some errors in the overall texture as well.

Now you ought to step into the intense discussion that will explain to you which is the right product that you want to see and which will give the superb look.

Fun fact, minwax products and varathane are both owned by the same company. Minwax and Varathane – both are types of Polyurethane. 

What Is Varathane?

Varathane is the leading wood finishing and preparation product in the market that is situated in the year 1958. If you take a look at this wood finishing and preparation products, then it will be loaded with a lot of colors such as black, blue, and brown, to grey, pink, and so on.

Even a lot more options for materials of Varathane’s finishes and preparations are available. Take a look below to know that,

  • Polyurethane oil-based
  • Polyurethane water-based
  • Soya oil-based (premium wood conditioner)

Additionally, the brand Varathane has also manufactured the wood putty for patching small holes and touch markers which means a lot to do a few corrections and uneven surfaces. In case, if the finish is not proper then you can go for this option.

At the same time, Varathane is the popular brand for is the fast dry time of their finishes. Take for instance if you choose Varathane Fast Dry Wood Stain then it will take only one hour to apply as well as for the dryness.

Minwax wood stains are available in water-based and oil-based polyurethane varieties and enhance the wood’s natural qualities. 

Thus, undoubtedly, it will let you save a lot of time and you can quickly complete the process with minwax products. So hope this have cleared all of your doubts about minwax vs varathane.

Ultimate Polyurethane Oil

If you take a look at the Ultimate Polyurethane Oil-Based finish of this brand, then you will amaze since it will offer clarity over the wood.

In case if you choose to apply two coatings then you can witness it for sure. By using this particular finish then you can able to obtain a smooth and perfect surface for the wood you have.

The notable thing in this oil is its finishes and the Ultimate Polyurethane Oil-Based finish then you can witness its long-lasting property. At the same time, it will give protection against sun damage.

In case if your choice is a water-based one then you can surely go for their Ultimate Polyurethane Water Based it is as effective as oil and it will give the main difference being the 4-coat application doubtlessly.

What Is Minwax?

Minwax products is a high-quality producer of wood preparation and finishing products. This brand is in the market around 1904 and you know if you check Minwax then you can witness a lot of choices plus you can get the same quality since it will hold the quality.

Minwax products such as sanding sealers, wood fillers, refinishers, and pre-stain wood conditioners have the best quality and it is equal to the quality of the Minwax’s finishing options.

No matter whether you are looking for water or oil-based stain plus it will offer long-lasting as well as protective features. Minwax products kept the moisture out of buildings and homes.

The most popular and effective product in this brand is Minwax’s Design Series Color Wash. The reason why Design Series Color Wash so distinct is that it will either need to add bare wood.

At the same time, the Design Series Color Wash is perfect for creating an old-style look making your wood look aged and unique.

Minwax wood stains enhances the appearance of the wood giving it a nice decorative appearance. Minwax wood stains are available in two varieties; water based and oil based and come in two types; gel wood stains and water based wood stains.

Gel wood stains are oil based and work to add an authentic touch to your wood and highlight the wood’s natural aspect. These require around two coats to achieve the desired color and take longer than the water based wood putty stains to dry. 

Minwax products can be used on all surfaces, finished, unfinished or bare wooden surfaces. However, it is not the best option for the floors and all. On the other hand, Design Series Color Wash is ideal for smaller wooden surfaces thus give it a try.

Performance Series

If you are looking for any multipurpose product then you can surely prefer Performance Series Tintable Wood Stain the reason is that there are a lot of colors are available and here comes the proof,

  • Grey elm
  • Country pine
  • Espresso
  • Shipboard
  • Willowbend

Minwax Shipboard Stain

Minwax does offer a shipboard stain color as part of their stain line. The Minwax Shipboard stain is a grayish-blue color that is inspired by the weathered appearance of driftwood found on the beach. This color is part of the Minwax Wood Finish line of oil-based stains, which are known for their rich, deep colors that enhance the natural beauty of the wood.

Before using any stain, it is important to prepare the wood surface properly by sanding it to a smooth finish and removing any dust or debris. It’s also a good idea to test the stain on a small, inconspicuous area to ensure that you achieve the desired color and finish. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application and dry time, and use appropriate safety equipment such as gloves and a respirator when applying the stain.

Likewise, a lot more color choices are accessible all because you can expect a better result and once you add it to the wood surface then will give unique look. That’s why most people go for this option for sure.

How To Choose A Finish

On the occasion of choosing a stain finish which is hard to choose and you ought to go for the best option that makes you great. If you look at Varathane and Minwax then it is very popular for its a lot of colors.

In case if you want classic, the refined wood finish looks then consider new things like Varathane’s Classic Wood Stains Espresso, or Minwax’s Dark Walnut finish. By choosing Darker finishes you can obtain a better classic style look and it will make your room the best.

For those who are looking for the best finish that will make your room open as well as brighter then you are all set to simply choose Ultimate Polyurethane Oil-Based semi-gloss or Minwax’s Natural 209 finish thru it looks like a simple one but will offer a bright appearance.

In case if you fail to pick out the right finish then it will either overtake the wood look or else will enhance it. Most importantly for the naturally dark wood that you need to stain, consider more of a glossy stain.

At the same time, if you are available with light wood that you want to darken, look for more walnut, espresso, and mocha tinted stains.

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Which Is Better: Water Based Or Oil Based Polyurethane?

Understand one thing the Water-based polyurethane stains are superior to oil-based ones because that the drying time is quick and it is difficult to coat. If you look at the water and oil-based polyurethane finishes since it is loaded with various advantages and disadvantages.

Also, the water-based finishes will surely retain the color of the stain for a longer period when compared with the oil-based ones.

But the problem with the water-based polyurethane is that the water-base does not give much fragrance and it will dry quickly. On the other hand, Oil-based polyurethane is provided with better fragrance.

Minwax vs Varathane: Oil-Based Polyurethane

Oil-based polyurethane is the one that will easily coat in an even way when compared with the water-based one. At the same time, Oil-based polyurethane is durable than a water-based one.

By this, you can get one thing that is the Oil-based polyurethane requires only a little bit of touch-ups. Of course, Varathane and Minwax produce a lot of choices for both oil and water-based stains.

At the same time, Oil-based polyurethane will offer a better finishing touch and will never fade over time. Finally, the thing you need to notice is Oil-based polyurethane is best when compared with a water-based one.

What Is The Purpose Of Wood Preparation?

Before you choose to stain and finish the product on the wood then you ought to prepare for it. As mentioned before, Varathane and minwax products preparation products such as Varathane’s Wood Conditioner or Minwax’s Sanding Sealer.

Before that, you want to sand the wood putty so then you can apply the product like Minwax’s Sanding Sealer to get the best wood with the right shape.

Minwax and Varathane both are available in oil-based and water-based forms. So, there are some common features, but they have many differences, too. 

Instructions For Wood Preparation

  • Sand the wood. You are required to use some medium sandpaper (#120 grit paper) and sand the wood. It is applicable if your choice is a water-based stain. At the same time, if you are planning to use an oil-based stain, use a slightly heftier grit paper as high as #180.
  • Condition the wood.  The second you have done sanding wood, then you are required to go for Varathane’s Wood Conditioner or Minwax’s Sanding Sealer to prepare the wood. In case if you choose right into staining without preparing the wood surface then you can witness the stain simply will not take or dry the way you expected.

Of course, failing to prepare the wood before staining will make it a mess you will get a result such as uneven, blotchy patterns.

Thus, if you prefer using Varathane’s Premium Wood Conditioner then you must apply it 30 minutes previously doing the stain according to your preference.

In case if you choose minwax stainable wood filler surface Filler let it harden, sand it down, and you can begin staining you will get a quick result.

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Precautions And Safety

  • Use gloves. Using gloves is best when you choose to apply something since it will protect your skin. In case if you are going to prefer the oil-based one then all you ought to do is wearing gloves so then you can avoid stains.
  • Wear goggles. Using goggles is best if you need to apply this to the underside of an object that you can’t pick up and flip. It means a lot since it will help keep it from getting into your eyes and damaging them.
  • Use a respirator when necessary. No need to worry about fumes make use of a respirator mask it assists you. Make use of this product in open spaces such as fan facing or use windows as well.

Varathane vs Minwax: What Did We Learn?

Minwax vs Varathane, both will give you the ultimate wood preparations and stains. At the same time, it is available with the various variables that you can find anything that you may want whether it be water or oil-based.

Understand if you choose to stain wood surface then it’s like a way of adding character to the room so you must do compare varathane vs minwax and then pick the better option.

For sure it will make it great and makes all the difference in the quality of your furniture or floors.


Ultimately, the choice between Varathane and Minwax depends on your personal preference and the specific needs of your project. If you prioritize environmental friendliness and fast-drying time, Varathane may be the better choice for you.

If you prefer a rich, deep finish and affordability, Minwax may be the better choice. It’s also worth noting that some projects may require a specific type of finish, and in those cases, it’s important to choose the product that is recommended for the job.

Home Base Project Team
Home Base Project Team
At The Home Base Project, we offer practical, real-life tips and inspiration about DIY, decorating and gardening. The Home Base Project provide the best information about home renovation and design, connecting home design enthusiasts and home professionals across the world.