Minwax vs. Briwax vs. Johnson Paste Wax – What’s a Better Option?

pros of using minwax

Paste wax, which is also referred to as paste polish, has been used since at least the 16th century to give a smooth, painless finish to woodworking projects.

For some, these finishing waxes work to protect their tools and table saws.

But for many others, it provides a lovely sheen and covering on finished woodwork.

With a range of different varieties, brands, and options to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which is best for your needs.

Minwax and Briwax are two of the most popular finishing wax brands on the market.

Johnson Paste Wax is also a common option, though it has been discontinued by the company, and they do not make the product any further.

I have used all three products for my different projects, and I can say that Minwax was the best substance that worked for me.

It was easy to use and was nearly maintenance-free.

Briwax and Johnson’s paste wax both wasn’t so impressive for me, although they got the job done.

The former one was a bit more work to maintain since it lost its shine; you will need to reapply it more often.

Johnson’s, in particular, left the surface tacky for me, and it also attracted dust quickly.

So, that’s the quick lowdown on the three most popular types of finishing waxes.

Below in this guide, I will provide a more detailed analysis of each product so that you can make an informed decision for your needs.

Also, I will discuss what to look for when you are on the market to buy a good quality finishing wax.

Minwax Paste Wax

This was the best type of paste wax that I have used. It is a synthetic polymer-based product that goes on smoothly and leaves a painless finish.

Minwax is a paste wax that is thick and simple to use. It’s a paste wax, so it’s hefty and easy to apply.

To spread this evenly on your wood surfaces, I recommend using a rag and some elbow work. It sinks deep into the grain and dries in about 15 minutes.

I discovered that buffing the surface after the wax had dried provided an exquisite, professional-looking finish that was clear.

This means if you are a fan of the natural beauty of wood without darkening it, then this is the best option for you.

Each can contain one pound of product and provides great coverage at an unbeatable price, and you’ll be able to use it for several projects before needing to buy more.

The Advantages

The benefits of using Minwax are that it is easy to use and apply. When used correctly, the wax will adhere to the wood and seal in any moisture, preventing small scratches and scuffs.

The wax’s oils naturally repel water, so your item will also be protected from liquids and dampness.

It won’t protect your wood from UV damage or extreme heat, so it’s best for furniture and other items that aren’t going to be exposed to direct sunlight.

Shiny and bright is the finish you’ll get when you take the time to rub this in with the grain.

It’s a bit slow to penetrate, so giving it some help results in a much nicer appearance.

The slightly darker surface makes the grain stand out more too. Just be careful if you’re using this on white paint- it may result in yellowing over time.

The Disadvantages

Because this finishing wax has some hazardous compounds, you must always use proper safety equipment.

At the absolute least, a respirator should be worn since you should not breathe in the vapors.

Because the scent isn’t too strong, it’s unlikely to permeate more than a modest distance.

The other downside of the product is it yellows the surface slightly, especially over white paint.

This usually happens because it cannot defend against UV radiation very well, so if you want to use this on an item that will receive direct sunlight, be aware that it may not stay as bright and white as you would like.

Briwax Original Furniture Wax

For over a century, Briwax has been the go-to brand for furniture finishing supplies. This is a thick paste wax that keeps its suppleness and makes it simple to apply.

It’s straightforward to spread out of the can and onto a towel, and it rubs in nicely.

To help it sink into your wood grain, you’ll need to apply some pressure behind it, but the end result is well worth the effort.

You only need to rub this wax onto your work, and a few minutes later, it will dry, and you can start buffing.

Another great quality about this product is that one 16-ounce can provide excellent coverage for many projects, so though it may be pricey, it will last long.

That said, the product was not so impressive for me (at least when we compared it to Minwax).

And so here are the few pros and cons to consider if you want to go with it.

The Advantages

It’s an excellent choice for rescanning older furniture since it completely covers or reduces scratches.

It includes wood conditioners in it, and because of that, the old wood appears brand new.

This is a type of finish that seems to change the color of your wood in addition to giving it a smooth, wet look.

It comes in a variety of hues, but you’ll want to choose the right one, or else you risk spoiling your project’s color as well.

It also leaves an elegant satin sheen on any surface. The hue used with this product provides for an industrial look that I find quite appealing.

The Disadvantages

It adds some moisture resistance to your projects, but it doesn’t provide the best physical protection.

It isn’t appropriate for tabletops or other surfaces that will be subjected to a lot of physical abuse.

Furthermore, the product will require some extra force to apply due to its texture.

Once you start rubbing it in, there is no turning back. You either have to keep going or scrap the whole project.

Overall, it won’t prevent your work from fading over time, but it may help keep your wood looking young if you reapply occasionally.

SC Johnson’s General-Purpose Paste Wax

Now you don’t have to worry about this product anymore- it’s no longer being manufactured. Nevertheless, if you can find it (on eBay or other places), it’s worth considering.

I already had a can of Johnson’s Paste Wax in my garage, and this was one of the first finishes I ever used for two of my projects.

For one, I used it to protect an indoor cabinet, and it did an admirable job. The other one I used was for an outdoor coffee table.

The results were not very impressive this time because the surface hadn’t withstood the elements quite well, and I had to reapply it again after two weeks.

The Advantages

Although I am not a fan of it, Johnson’s Paste Wax is still a great product that’s easy to apply and leaves a smooth, consistent finish.

Particularly if you are after an alternative to polishing your tools and equipment, this is the product you should be looking for.

It can also act as a good alternative to a rust inhibitor.

The product offers good coverage and dries very quickly, so you can apply a second coat sooner than with other wood finishes without worrying about the first coat not being completely dry.

drawbacks of using briwax

The Disadvantages

It’s not the longest-lasting product, and, as I said, it’s not very impressive when used outdoors when it comes to offering protection from UV radiation.

In addition, it can be quite difficult to buff, and you may need to put some elbow grease into it after it dries.

Many users also claimed that in extremely hot conditions, the product would simply melt and run off the surface in a liquid form, making it a bit messy to work with.

Overall, I think there are definitely better options out there when it comes to pasting waxes.

If you’re looking for something that will offer long-lasting protection and a great shine, I would recommend going with something else.

Factors to Look for When Buying Paste Wax

When it comes to choosing a finishing wax, there are a few key factors you should keep in mind.

Here are some of them…

a) Wood type

The first is the type of wood you’re working with. If you’re working with a softer wood, for example, you’ll want to make sure the wax you choose is compatible.

Some waxes can actually cause more damage to softer woods.

b) Purpose

Another factor to consider is the purpose of the wax. Are you looking for something to simply shine your wood, or are you looking for something that will also protect it?

If you’re looking for protection, you’ll want to make sure the wax you choose is durable and will last a long time.

c) Application

When it comes to applying the wax, you’ll want to make sure it’s easy to apply. The last thing you want is a wax that’s difficult to work with and will take forever to dry.

d) Price

Of course, price is always a factor when it comes to choosing any product. You’ll want to make sure you choose a wax that’s affordable but also does the job you need it to do.

Paste waxes can range in price from around $5 to $50, depending on the brand and quality.

e) Natural Finish

You’ll want to make sure the wax you choose will give your wood a natural finish. You don’t want a wax that’s going to leave a sticky residue or make your wood look artificial.

f) Compatibility

Make sure the wax you choose is compatible with the other products you’re using.

You don’t want to use a wax that’s not compatible with the paint or finish you’re using, as it could cause damage.

g) Safety

As I mentioned before, if you’re looking for a wax that will protect your wood, you’ll want to make sure it’s safe to use.

Some wood waxes contain chemicals that can be harmful, so you’ll want to make sure you choose a safe option.

h) Brand that provides protection against water

Finally, consider the brand of the wax. There are a lot of different brands out there, and they all offer different benefits.

Choose a brand that’s known for its quality and durability, as well as one that’s resistant to water and snow.

A word of caution

Remember that certain wood wax can be hazardous to food safety if you intend to apply it to cutting boards, cups, plates, or other objects that come in contact with food.

Many waxes also include VOCs, petroleum products, and unappetizing oils. On any project that comes into touch with meals or beverages, you should typically avoid these substances.

Overall, which one should you choose between Minwax, Briwax, and Johnson

I’ve tried a lot of different waxes in my lifetime, including these three.

When it comes to deciding between Minwax vs. Briwax vs. Johnson Paste Wax, you should generally decide on your purpose and budget.

Minwax is my top pick when it comes to pasting waxes. It’s easy to use and doesn’t leave a tacky surface.

It’s also a maintenance-free, affordable option, costing around $25 for a can.

Briwax and Johnson Paste Wax are also great but lack in some areas when it comes to durability.

Although the price difference isn’t much, I would recommend going with Minwax.

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