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In the past, we’ve received a lot of questions and feedback about Minwax vs DuraSeal stains. Many homeowners tell us that they (and their handyman/contractor) use Minwax.

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Minwax, Ebony 70013444 Wood Finish Penetrating Stain, 1 Quarts (Pack of 1), 32 Fl Oz
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Minwax, Ebony 70013444 Wood Finish Penetrating Stain, 1 Quarts (Pack of 1), 32 Fl Oz
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Dura Seal Quick Coat Penetrating Finish - True Black - Quart
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Minwax is also mentioned in a lot of DIY forums. This has been a topic of debate because there are also a lot of people who use DuraSeal, especially professional flooring contractors who work with DuraSeal exclusively instead of Minwax.

Why do so many DIYers rely on Minwax? At the same time, why do the majority of flooring contractors work with DuraSeal? And, if you had to choose, which would you go for?

Differences Between Minwax vs DuraSeal

Both Minwax and DuraSeal are high-quality stains manufactured by the same Minwax company. DuraSeal was started in 1898, while Minwax came out in 1904.

DuraSeal was acquired by Minwax several years ago. Their promotional strategy is to market Mixwax to DIYers and DuraSeal to professional contractors.

Minwax is used by professional contractors mostly when they are trying to be consistent on an existing floor where the product has been applied before.

Minwax is also used if the homeowner needs a particular stain color that is only available from Minwax.

Stain Colors

The more common stains like golden oak, provincial, gunstock, dark walnut, special walnut, ebony, and Jacobean are available from both brands. However, there is a broader range of DursaSeal colors.

When it comes to the same color, such as Minwax vs DuraSeal Ebony, DuraSeal appears to be darker than Minwax stains. 

True Black is one of the latest offerings from DuraSeal that is very dark. It is more opaque compared to Jacobean and other dark shades.

Gray Hardwood Floors

DuraSeal or Minwax (any premixed gray) is not generally recommended for staining the floor gray. These stains aren’t thick enough and get watery. You can use Duraseal ebony and white (preferably Bona) instead.

However, DuraSeal came out with six gray stain mixtures. Some are just gray, while others are beige/gray (or greige) blends, as well as some dark brown/gray combinations.

Minwax vs DuraSeal Application

DuraSeal produced by Minwax is a better product and shows better results on the floors. It results in an even coat and causes fewer curing/drying issues. DuraSeal is preferred by many professional floor refinishers, who have used both brands.

Minwax stain is more pigmented. On the other hand, DuraSeal can be dissolved to penetrate the wood more deeply, sealing it better.

While most colors are available for both DuraSeal and Minwax, DuraSeal colors are slightly darker. There is also a broader range of DuraSeal colors, including the contemporary True Black stain.

The drying time is the most significant difference between Minwax vs DuraSeal. DuraSeal dries a lot faster than other stains.

Before being able to put on the first coat of DuraSeal polyurethane, it takes about 2 hours for the stain to penetrate and around 8 hours for it to cure. To be safe, it’s usually a good idea to wait for 24 hours. Also, apply the coat when there is light outside.

According to the manufacturer, the Minwax stain drying time is 8 hours. But it usually takes 2 to 3 days for it to cure enough to apply the first coat of polyurethane. It can take much longer if it’s quite humid or if you are using a deep color.

In fact, it could take as long as 5 to 7 days for very dark colors like dark walnut, red mahogany, ebony, or jacobean, and if it is a very humid period.

Drying And Curing Time

For starters, it’s more suitable for homeowners to get their floors to dry quickly. This way, they can walk on them and move through the house sooner.

You must not be using the floors during the process because it makes it easier for the contractor to manage them. But the real benefit is for the homeowner in terms of the finished product.

Additionally, you’ll have fewer problems related to the finish peeling or reacting with the stain. You’ll have a more uniform color if the stains dry quickly. DIYers and handymen are much more likely to encounter these problems than professional hardwood floor contractors.

Professional flooring contractors are well-versed in their craft and can “scan” a floor to determine if it is adequately dry to add polyurethane. They will come back the next day if it isn’t dry enough because they understand the expense of adding polyurethane too soon.

If done incorrectly, you would need to start all over again by sanding the floors. It’s also ironic that those who tend to apply polyurethane too quickly also use products that have a longer drying time. Hence, they are more likely to face the problem.

VOC Levels

According to Minwax’s technical department, there are no particular differences in the VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) levels. The two are compliant with federal and state laws. But DuraSeal smells for a shorter period of time because it dries quickly.

Minwax vs DuraSeal Price

There isn’t much of a price gap between Minwax and DuraSeal. DuraSeal will typically cost a little more, which shows the product’s quality and explains why professional contractors favor this product.

They normally look for cost-effective solutions, but in this case, they don’t mind spending more because of the end result.

Besides, while DuraSeal is more expensive when you account for the labor (or the rent of the equipment) and the price of polyurethane, the difference is negligible. And it’s well worth it because it’ll result in a smoother, more consistent application.

Other Brands Of Stains

Bona

They produce a line of high-quality stains. For hardwood floors that need to be stained gray, Bona White is a good choice.

Sherwin Williams

They’re lacquer-based stains and use different varnishes. They are not as long-lasting compared to the more durable ones found in an oil-based stain. Even though it’s a leading paint brand, it is not generally recommended for hardwood as it could seep between the planks.

Final Thoughts

So why do DIY enthusiasts prefer Minwax and flooring professionals go for DuraSeal? This has to do with availability and familiarity.

Homeowners are more well-versed with Minwax (due to years of television commercials and the ease of finding it in stores). Minwax is available in Lowes, Home Depot, and other hardware stores.

On the other hand, DuraSeal is usually bought from flooring stores (and these days from Amazon).

These two stains are very similar in terms of durability. Some contractors say that DuraSeal stays longer because it gets deeper into the wood.

However, the reality is that the consistency of the sanding job, as well as the brand, type, and number of polyurethane coats, have a greater impact on the durability.

By Robin M


Robin remains an active participant in the skilled trades community. His hands-on involvement in projects, coupled with a genuine enthusiasm for helping others succeed in their home improvement pursuits, reflects his commitment to empowering readers with the knowledge they need to tackle projects confidently.

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