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I'm trying to apply Minwax Polyshades espresso stain after having applied a coat of Minwax Polyshades pecan to solid pine wood. I pre-conditioned the wood and applied two coats of the pecan. I'm using an old t-shirt to apply the stain as I find it works best to prevent blotching and air bubbles.

Now, I'm trying to darken the wood tone a bit in general but especially along the edges and the knots. It doesn't seem to be working for some reason, and I'm wondering if it's because Minwax Polyshades includes the polyurethane finish and so my third coat of espresso stain is not able to adhere to the wood.

I tried sanding one edge to the bare wood, but the espresso stain still had trouble adhering for some reason: enter image description here

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Do I need to apply multiple stains of espresso? Or perhaps sand more before applying the espresso? Or is this all I can get with a product like Polyshades that includes the polyurethane finish?

Thanks for any help!

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Now, I'm trying to darken the wood tone a bit in general but especially along the edges and the knots. It doesn't seem to be working for some reason, and I'm wondering if it's because Minwax Polyshades includes the polyurethane finish

Yes that's definitely part of it.

You'd actually be in a pickle here even if you'd only "conditioned" the wood. "Wood conditioner" reduces the ability of wood to absorb stain, that's how it fixes blotching, but overall it quite significantly changes how dark it can get from any given stain colour.

After you apply poly to the wood the absorbency basically goes down to zero.

so my third coat of espresso stain is not able to adhere to the wood.

Genuine stains need to be applied to bare wood. This is something that should be clearly specified on the label.

To get the wood much darker than this the best option is to switch product, to a coloured varnish or "gel stain" (which despite its name is not stain, it's coloured varnish that has been artificially thickened to a gel consistency to aid in even application).

You could also use any of the darker shades of shellac to do the same job but applying shellac evenly over a large surface takes practice.

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