Product review: Varathane Stain and Sealer in Tubes

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

I have to hand it to you, ya little blog you, you're a motivator.  I finally started the pantry yesterday, working on the multi-layers of white paint.  At some point Hailey snuck in there after I stepped out and got white paint all over her ear.  It's like a little ear mohawk and pretty funny.  Silly girl.

By the way, don't get cheap paint.  You can get lesser expensive paint, that's fine, but do know it may not always perform as well.  While I normally might use Behr or Sherwin Williams, I've been using the paint brands at Menards (Pittsburg, Dutch Boy) with no problems.  I save a few dollars which is helpful when you're not bringing in dollars.  But unless you want to use the cheap paint as a mixer or use it as a canvas primer or maybe borderline a wall primer, I'd recommend the few extra dollar investment.  This white stuff I got is way stinky too, whooie.

And don't get super cheap paint roller covers either.  Unless you're going for a bad paint job effect, that is.  You don't have to go hog wild and overspend -- they're all pretty much the same.  Just pay the extra dollar or two above the cheapest ones and get something that holds paint nicely, rolls more evenly, and doesn't leave gloppies, streaks, or fuzzies all over the wall.  That extra dollar or two buys you a lot more than you might suspect.

So, right, before I get too far away from the finished bathroom vanity from last week, I should go over the products I used as I said I would.

They're pretty good.

Ok, just joshing', I'll expound a bit.  As a reminder, I picked up Varathane wood stain in Golden Oak and gloss polyurethane in tubes which I hadn't seen before.

The front of the tubes suggest super fast dry times which was the big hook for me.  I was really anxious to get this vanity done as it had been soooo long and I was soooo close to finishing.

On the back of the tubes, they say the benefits of getting these specific products are minimal amounts of coats you'll need to apply, they won't drip or run giving you more control, no odor, easy water clean up, and the adjustable glue-tube like tip.

Varathane stain sealer tube

I've used every kind of stain and every kind of polyurethane out there, so I thought this would be interesting.  And it was.

The adjustable glue-tube like tip was handy indeed.  No hassles of trying to get little can lids back on.  Just twist the tip open and closed.  But much like glue, some will dry on the tip and clog it up so be sure to clean that off or you'll end up with poly on your wall, not your project.

The stain was interesting.  It's a stain that's been suspended in acrylic medium, sort of like an art supply product more than a stain you might be used to.  It's more of a gel really, which I thought was clever.  Because it is more gel than liquid, it does give you quite a lot of control.  I'd post a photo of it but um, it looks a little gross, if you know what I mean.  I didn't want a lot of color on the bowling alley wood so I put some stain on a rag first, rubbed it into the rag and carefully, and lightly, worked it into the wood.  It came out pretty even, though in spots it's a tad streaky.  You need a light hand with this stuff or it could be real splotchy.  I would not suggest squirting it on the project wood as it says on the tube.  In all, I'm happy with the color.  I have a ton of the product left.

The gloss poly was pretty good too.  It also is more of an acrylic gel medium like you'd find in an art store which is not a problem for me as I've used that stuff a million times.  Even if you haven't, it's super easy to use.  Just squirt and brush.  The part about not dripping or running?  Yeah, it still does drip and run.  Not as much as a normal poly would though, that's true.  It did take a little more effort to spread since it's thicker and doesn't move as easily as regular poly.  I also gave it a super light sand between coats as no matter what poly I use or how hard I try, I still get those little bumps.  I can never get it as smooth as the tv commercials let on.  I applied two coats and it's nice and glossy.  It says it self-levels to eliminate brush strokes and I don't see any, so they didn't lie.  We'll see how it holds up, though I suspect it'll be just fine as the vanity top won't get much wear and tear.

Both of these products did dry super speedy which was great.  And both of these products were low to no odor which was also very nice.  Clean up was super easy with water.

They're six ounce tubes and I have a ton of stain left.  While the poly says it'll cover 21 square feet with two coats, those would probably be thin coats, if you can get the product to spread that thin.  I have less than half a tube left for a 3-ish square foot project.  If you need any stain though, feel free to use mine!

I paid $6.25 per tube and it's a pretty decent value.  I came out ahead on the stain, but probably behind on the poly.

Would I use these again?  Yeah, I would.  I'd limit the poly to small projects though since it's not a huge tube.  Would I suggest testing these on spare pieces first?  Without a doubt.

There ya have it.  Product review.  Ok, I'm off to keep painting that pantry.

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