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Got some minwax water based conditioner and tried some water based stain for my outdoor table but the stain is hideous. Its basically paint. Can I use an oil based stain with the water based conditioner and sealer?
 

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Have you already used the wood conditioner on the picnic table or are you testing samples now? Minwax doesn't recommend using an oil based stain with the water based conditioner. Personally I would be apprehensive using the water based conditioner for an exterior application. You can use a 50/50 mixture of linseed oil and mineral spirits as a wood conditioner in an exterior application and use an oil stain over it. The stain color would be more durable if you used a deck stain such as Sherwin Williams Deckscapes but it is a semi-transparent stain which would have the painted look you don't like. You could use Wood Classics line of oil stain. It would be more prone to fading but not as bad as Minwax woodfinish stain. Kwick Kleen makes a product you can apply over the stain which will help prevent fading. It's called Sun Block. It's advertised as sun screen for wood. I would topcoat the table with a spar varnish. If you put a thin fresh coat of the spar on annually it will last many years. A more durable finish would be a marine grade spar varnish.
 
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