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Express Color with Minwax Stain

October 12, 2012 |
posted by Ana White
Express Color with Minwax Stain
Express Color with Minwax Stain
Express Color with Minwax Stain
Express Color with Minwax Stain
Express Color with Minwax Stain
Express Color with Minwax Stain
Author Notes

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!

Plans Used in Finish

What You Will Need

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

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!

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KaityJene's picture

Easy first stain to try

I saw that segment on Martha a long time ago and it encouraged me to try the stain too. Never having done any staining before I thought this was so easy and really quick to do. I'm done a few projects now with the oynx and I loved the way they turned out. Well worth it.

posted by KaityJene | on Fri, 2012-10-12 15:10

Here from Tatertots& Jello.

Here from Tatertots& Jello. So excited that you have a book out!!!

posted by Sharlene (not verified) | on Fri, 2012-10-12 15:39
Ana White's picture

Sharlene, hello, so glad to

Sharlene, hello, so glad to have you and welcome!!!

Thank you KaityJene it really is a fun stain, isn't it! Thanks for sharing your success with it! Ana

posted by Ana White | on Fri, 2012-10-12 16:12

Favorite stain color

Express color is my favorite stain! I first saw it here on your site and I have used many, many tubes of it over the last year. Walnut is my favorite of the colors so far. I received my copy of the Handbuilt Home last night, (yay!) and I was at lowes at 8:00 this morning buying wood for today's project (mirror from page 37) The paint is drying now and I'll distress and hang it up tomorrow. You did a wonderful job on the book! love it! :)

posted by JoanneS | on Fri, 2012-10-12 16:55

wow - I hadn't seen these

wow - I hadn't seen these yet. If you wanted to lighten these up would you cut it with water before using? I want a lighter gray...thanks for all the fun!

posted by swingncole (not verified) | on Fri, 2012-10-12 17:08

Wow, I didn't know stain

Wow, I didn't know stain comes in colors other than wood colors. Cool. I am slowly trying my hand and more and more DIY projects around the home. I'll have to work some fun stain colors in somewhere. Thanks!

posted by Alexandra H (not verified) | on Fri, 2012-10-12 18:47
birdsandsoap's picture

I am loving the finishes

I am loving the finishes section. I love that you are taking the time on your blog to go over these things. I spend more time in Lowes than I'd like to admit, but I have NEVER seen this product before! Thanks for introducing me. I will be on the lookout because it is definitely on my list. This blue is gorgeous. I don't know what all of the other colors are, but I know this one is already my fave.

And where did you get those cool little pyramid things to raise your project off the table? genius. I hope the guy that invented those makes a fortune.

posted by birdsandsoap | on Fri, 2012-10-12 19:29

I completely agree! Glacier

I completely agree! Glacier Blue is gorgeous! I have been swooning over your projects for a couple of years now and am finally getting close to starting on one! I can't wait.

posted by April Fontenot (not verified) | on Fri, 2012-10-12 19:39

I love the stain colors! I

I love the stain colors! I didn't know they existed but they are just great!

posted by Samantha G (not verified) | on Fri, 2012-10-12 21:01

Great project- beautiful

Great project- beautiful color! I haven't visited your blog in a while now but I did see over at TT&J that you have a book coming out- congrats!

posted by jengd (not verified) | on Fri, 2012-10-12 21:59
dmcarwin's picture

I think I am in LOVE

I had no idea that there was color stain. This blue is AMAZING! Thanks for letting me know, I will be trying this!

Mindi@ http://mylove2create.blogspot.com/

posted by dmcarwin | on Fri, 2012-10-12 22:34
Juanita_r's picture

The yellow pyramid things???

Hi Ana, what are the yellow pyramid things & where did you get them? A brand would be great so i can see what i can find over here.

posted by Juanita_r | on Sat, 2012-10-13 04:10

Hyde Painters Pyramids

Here's a link at lowes for those cool pyramids. I found mine in- store, but you can also order on line.


Here's the Home Depot link for them:


Rockler and Amazon carry them too.
Mine came in sets of 10 - I have bought a couple of packages so I could paint several things at once.

posted by JoanneS | on Sat, 2012-10-13 06:04
birdsandsoap's picture

Thank you Joanne!

Thank you Joanne!

posted by birdsandsoap | on Tue, 2012-10-16 17:54

Visiting your blog from

Visiting your blog from Tatertots & Jello-HOWEVER I am a fan of yours, have been for awhile. My husband is a bigger fan and I would LOVE to win your book for him, for his birthday. He's obsessed with your site and he's built a couple things he's seen off there already!!! Keep rocking it Ana!

posted by Kristen Beaty (not verified) | on Sat, 2012-10-13 12:53

Book Giveaway

Visiting from Tatertots & Jello ... love all your projects and dying to try at least one!

posted by Gloria (not verified) | on Sat, 2012-10-13 13:48

Express Color Minwax on finished wood?

Do you know if Express Color would work over an existing finish? I just got a great deal on a new vanity, but need to change the wood color from maple to walnut. Love your projects!

posted by Sileandal (not verified) | on Sat, 2012-10-13 18:38

Hi Ana! Just wanted to

Hi Ana!

Just wanted to congratulate you on your book! I can't wait to read it! ABFOL sent me! :o)

posted by Karyn (not verified) | on Sat, 2012-10-13 22:54

I am so excited about your

I am so excited about your book. Can't wait to get it.

posted by Melissa Lewis (not verified) | on Sun, 2012-10-14 10:38
smacneil's picture

what a time saver!

This looks like a great product especially for those smaller jobs like frames and keepsake boxes! I've seen it on the shelf but was reluctant to try it out... seeing this tutorial makes the decision easy peasy.
thanks Ana!

posted by smacneil | on Sun, 2012-10-14 13:00

Your post had provided me

Your post had provided me with another point of view on this topic. I had no idea that things can work in this manner as well. Thank you for sharing your perspective.
picture and tech

posted by ffrfirapls | on Sat, 2013-02-02 12:02

Your article is very exciting

Your article is very exciting and informational. I am trying to decide on a career move and this has helped me with one aspect. Thank you so much!

posted by mami96mbr | on Thu, 2013-04-25 11:41

This is truly helpful. I will

This is truly helpful. I will follow the steps here and apply it on my furniture at home so that it will look like a new one. - o2 Media

posted by kazey | on Thu, 2013-05-23 19:44

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