Minwax Vs. Varathane – Which One’s the Best for Wood Finishing?

Minwax is a deep fluid that luster any wooden surface. On the other hand, Varathane is a specific brand of polyurethane. It protects any wooden products from scratches and gives it a shiny outlook.

If you think, which one is best for any type of woody product, Minwax vs Varathane, let me explain their work briefly and then choose your desired product.

What is Minwax and Varathane?

Minwax(Check on Amazon) is one type of lush Liquid that is used on wood surfaces. It is one type of wood stain recommended for furniture, antiques, woodwork or paneling. It provides beautiful rich colour on the wooden things & exaggerates the natural wood grain.

Hence, Varathane(Check on Amazon) is a combination of wood stain and polyurethane which provide abrasion & scratch resistance to wooden products. It is generally used on wooden floors, furniture, cabinets, trim, railing or fences.

Using varathane on a wooden furniture or floor gives a clear finish & protects the product from scratch or stain.

Minwax VS Varathane

Differences Between Minwax and Varathane

The wood finishing products of both brands have many things to do. They enhance the overall look of the wood surface, protect the wood from external environment, temperature, etc. When you are going to pick one of them, it is normal to be confused.

So let’s see the comparison table and the differences between these two. It will help to make your decision easily and wisely.

Point of difference  Minwax products  Varathane products 
Polyshades Polyshades are oil-based, protecting the polyurethane color. They require 2 coats and a longer time to dry. These polyshades combine wood stains with polyurethane. They sometimes dry unevenly.
Smell Most of them have a kind of antic smell when used on the wood surface. Most of them smell oily. It is recommended to place a tin of baking soda near the smell, it will absorb the smell of stain.
Wood Stains They are available in oil-based and water-based polyurethane. There are about thirty colors you will find in the water-based version. These stains are more pigmented. They have a glossy smooth tint.
Number of Coats You need to apply at least two to three coats to get a perfect result. As they need more coating, it will be a time consuming process. You will need only one coat to get a thick and rich stain. As a result, you can easily do the job within a short period of time.
Surfaces Minwax provides a variety of products that can be used on any type of wood surfaces like unfinished, bare wood, or finished surfaces. Also, you can use it on cabinets, floors, furniture, molding, trim, doors, etc. They are not as versatile as Minwax products. They are good for the surface of interior finished wood surfaces, like furniture and cabinet.
Strength Minwax products cannot beat Varathane in this field. They cannot give maximum protection to the wood against harmful things. Varathane products are more durable than Minwax products. They will provide long-lasting protection against humidity, dents, scratches, and high temperature.
Penetration Minwax products penetrate deep into the wood surface. That’s why they can make the surface scratch-resistant. Also, it helps to prevent peeling off the stain for a longer time. Varathane products can not penetrate deep through the wood surface, so won’t protect the wood against peeling off for a longer time.
Waterproofness  Minwax products won’t provide a waterproof finish. If the wood products stay within your house and there is no possibility of entering the water through the wood surface, you can use it. They will provide you a waterproof finish, so you can place the wood outside without any doubt. Varathane products will prevent entering the water through the surface of the wood.
Dry time These products take longer to dry. It actually depends on the number of coating. Minwax products need several coats and thus it takes more time. Their dry time is much shorter than Minwax products. If you are an impatient person or do not have much time for this task, you should choose Varathane products.
Texture  Minwax products can not beat Varathane products as their finish is not that smooth. Varathane will provide you with the smoothest finish and silky texture without any brush strokes.
Price Cheaper than Varathane products, but you will need a lot of products to do the project. If there is a lot of wood you need to finish, the total cost may be similar to Varathane products. Expensive than Minwax products. But still, Varathane products are recommended as they have a lot of advantages in different categories.

These are the differences between the two well-known brands: Varathane and Minwax. Both of them are suitable for different reasons, so you need to know about the stains in detail and choose the right one wisely.

Is Minwax and Varathane the same?

No, they are not the same thing, but they have similarities among them. 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.

Can I use Minwax over Varathane?

Yes, you can. When the stain color is set, do a color-fast test. If it passes the test, you can apply Minwax. Also, you can apply a water-based stain over oil-based stains once it becomes dry or cured properly.

What precautions I need to take while dealing with stains?

Here are some precautions that you need to take while dealing with stains

  • Use gloves to avoid staining your hands.
  • Use a respirator or mask to avoid fumes.
  • Try to use this type of product in a well-ventilated area.


After reading this long discussion, most people may prefer Varathane products over Minwax products. It’s because prolonged drying time and extra coating is required for the Minwax products to gain a similar finish to Varathane.

If you are a beginner or prefer a thinner coating, you can go for Minwax products. However, both brands are well-known and have their own advantages and disadvantages. It’s you who needs to choose one of them according to your preference.

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