Express Color with Minwax Stain

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Color that enhances, not hides, the beautiful wood grain of your project.  That was my goal with this Craftsman Style Frame.  I wanted to add color to compliment the vintage poster I found while on our trip to Seward, but wanted the rustic wood grain of the knotty pine to show through.  After all, Alaska is a rustic place, and a refined, painted finish might not be the way to frame this poster of bears and sea planes!

I partnered up with Minwax on this tutorial, using their Express Color product to transform a bland frame into wall-worthy art!  This little frame has surprised me - almost everyone that sees it remarks at how much they love it and would love to make one too!  I tell ya, it’s all in the finish!

And I have some great news for you - this finish, the Minwax Express Color Finish - is the easiest staining project  I have ever done!  In fact, I spent about 10 minutes finishing this frame!  

Don’t believe me?  Watch Martha Stewart  and DIY expert Bruce Johnson transform a table in minutes using with Minwax Express Color!

It really is that easy,  and to make things even better, Express Color is a stain and finish in one, so no need to add a topcoat.   With 8 colors to choose from, you can get the look you want in a matter of minutes.  I choose Indigo Blue to compliment the blue artwork, and loved how it turned out.  With a single coat, the wood grain is very apparent.  

Here’s the step by step so you can start staining your wood projects  quickly and easily too!

Shopping List: 

Medium to fine grit sanding paper

Minwax Express Color - a little goes a long ways!

Clean cloth or staining rag


Step 1: 

Project Preparation

I used very rough boards for this project, so opted to sand with medium grit sandpaper.  I sanded in the direction of the wood grain.

My sanding motto?  If you like it unfinished, you’ll love it finished!  So take your time and sand well - your time is worth it in the end!

With a good sanding, you will have sanding residue on the project.  Brush it off and then gently wipe down with a damp cloth.  

Step 2 Instructions: 

Minwax Express Color Application

For this piece , I am using Minwax Express Color in Indigo Blue.  It is highly recommended to test the stain on a scrap piece of wood before staining your actual project.

I like to raise my project off the surface so I can stain underneath it as well. 


I was surprised at how far a little bit of Minwax Express Color actually goes, so be careful to not squirt too much on your project.

You’ll want to be wearing gloves and safety glasses if applying vertically or near eyes here.  With your cloth, just begin working the Express Color into the project.

Work quickly in small sections, spreading the stain evenly on the wood.  For larger projects, I recommend having someone help you apply the Express Color.  It can dry really fast!

Don’t forget the insides of your project!

Once you have finished applying and covered all areas, wipe any excess off in the direction of the wood grain, using a clean cloth.  

And put the finishing touches on it …

And let the piece dry.

For a deeper color, wait one hour and then add additional coats.  

For extra durability  wait about 3 hours and then apply a Minwax water based top coat, such a Polycrylic, Water Based Polyurethane, or Water Based Wipe On Poly.  NOTE: If you are applying Express Color to a table, it’s best to let it dry overnight before normal use. 

Have you used Express Color?  What is your favorite color?  I think this Indigo Blue is my favorite!