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So I have to furniture to stain, one is a dinning table my fiancé bought that ready to stain... We're looking to stain it an expresso finish, found miniwax polyshades in expresso.. Should I go satin or gloss???


Also a outdoor workbench... Made out of 2x4, would like to stain it a nice oak color, nothing to dark that will protect it from the elements.
 

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I don't care for the polyshades or gel stain. I prefer to use an oil stain and then clearcoat. The polyshades obscures the natural wood kind of like thinning some paint and finishing the wood with. Anyway in my opinion only woods like walnut and mahogany look good with a gloss finish. I think satin would be a better choice however you should make some samples of the finish on scrap wood or the underneath side of the table before you put anything on the top of the table. That way you can see what it's going to look like before committing yourself to the finish.
 

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A gloss will show nicks, dings, scratches and imperfections in the wood / details more, but can be much sexier and is easier to clean.

Satin (semi-gloss) is duller, almost fuzzier, hides damage better but wont really make great grain "pop". I find I use more coats of satin than of gloss, often to my own dismay.

When I am choosing a finish for useable furniture / etc. i try to take into account wear and tear...

Sanding and refinishing aren't my favorite tasks.
 

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I'm not too happy with poly shades, it's a lil thick
When wiping nd doesn't come even close to
Expresso after a fee coats.
Try a pigmented oil base stain. Wipe on...wait a few minutes and wipe off. Once dry it can be top coated with most any film finish. If you do samples, take the stained sample out to the final finish (with the topcoat), as that will change the color.







.
 

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I've found it difficult to keep the pigment suspended in polyshades, so the coats can be uneven and it obscures the grain as Steve mentioned. Satin finishes have additives that make it reflect light differently. As a result, multiple coats can also obscure grain somewhat. One way around this is to build up coats of gloss and finish off with satin. Another advantage is that if you like what you see with gloss, you're done. If you want satin, add a coat or two of satin.
 
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