Minwax Simply White Stain – Everything You Need to Know


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September 23, 2022
Zoe Hunt

If you’ve been considering using Minwax Simply White on your next DIY project, you’re in the right place. We’re sampling 3 different types of Minwax Simply White stain on 7 different types of wood that are commonly available at Home Depot and Lowe’s.

We’ll show you what they each look like and then we’ll talk about a few other common uses for Simply White. 

Minwax Simply White Stain Guide on pine, poplar, and oak

In This Post:

Before we dive into the samples, I think it’s important to offer a disclaimer. Every piece of wood is unique and therefore can stain slightly differently. 

Although we did everything in our power to provide accurate coloring, how your computer or phone displays colors might affect how the stain colors appear on your screen. The lighting of the room and what you put the wood up against can also affect how your color appears. 

Finally, how you prep your wood can greatly affect how the stain appears. For our test, we sanded each piece of wood with 180 and 220 grit sandpaper and then applied pre-stain wood conditioner to the TOP half of the sample. The bottom half does not have pre-stain. 

Usually, you’ll see more of an impact with the pre-stain, but with Simply White being so light, there was virtually no difference between the sides that had pre-stain and the sides that did not, even on pine!

Alright, with that out of the way, let’s start staining! 

Does Minwax Make a White Stain?

If you’re wondering if Minwax makes a white stain, the answer is yes! In fact, they actually offer several white stains including Simply White and Whitewash. 

If you are planning to use their water-based stains, the number of white stain options becomes virtually limitless. They have Pure White, Pickled Oak, and Marshmallow. If shopping at Lowe’s, you even have the option to tint their water-based stains to color-match anything. You could get your stain tinted to match your favorite white paint color! 

But for this post, let’s focus on Simply White. 

Minwax Simply White Overview

Simply White comes in 4 different options:

  • Traditional oil-based stain 
  • Semi-transparent water-based stain 
  • Solid water-based stain 
  • Gel stain 

Overall the oil-based version (the yellow can) of Simply White is very light and adds just a slight white to the wood.

The semi-transparent version of Simply White is similar to the oil-based version, but it stains a little more opaque than the oil-based version. 

The solid water-based stain has a subtle pink tint to it. We did not have the gel stain available for this test. 

You can see a comparison of Simply White stains on common board, select pine, poplar, and red oak below. From left to right: oil-based stain, semi-transparent water-based stain, and solid water-based stain.

Minwax Simply White Stain on common board, select pine, poplar, and red oak

How to Apply Minwax Simply White Stain

For our tests, we applied the stain following the best practices for each individual stain type

When using a white stain, I’ve noticed that you have to be more vigilant about applying it properly, or you’re more likely to have a streaky, uneven finish. This has been the case with every white stain I’ve tried, not just Simply White. 

Here’s what I will say about it: when applying Simply White it’s very important to apply it with the grain.

I would also highly recommend applying it with a brush (we use a foam brush when applying oil-based stains for easier clean-up). When applying it with a rag, it’s easy to not apply enough stain to some areas, making it appear streaky.

Minwax Simply White on Common Board 

The oil-based stain is very subtle, but does tone down some of the yellow tones in the grain of the wood. 

The effect of the pre-stain showed up most on the semi-transparent stain on common board, but it was still very subtle. You can see that the pre-stain side is just slightly lighter.

Of all the wood we sampled, the solid stain looks the pinkest on common board. 

Minwax Simply White stain on common board in oil-based, semi-transparent, and solid water-based options

Minwax Simply White on Select Pine

The results on select pine were very similar to the results on common board. 

Both the oil-based and semi-transparent versions of the stain slightly muted the wood grain.

Again, the pre-stain side of the semi-transparent stain was slightly less lighter than the side that did not have pre-stain.

Minwax Simply White stain on select pine in oil-based, semi-transparent, and solid water-based options
Free download wood sizing cheatsheet

Minwax Simply White on Poplar

Of all the woods we sampled, the oil-based stain made the least difference on poplar. From afar, you might not even notice that it was stained. 

It is important to note that this particular piece of poplar was fairly consistent in coloring. The stain color might have made more of an impact if this piece had darker green and brown streaks that are characteristic of poplar. 

Minwax Simply White stain on poplar wood in oil-based, semi-transparent, and solid water-based options

Minwax Simply White on Red Oak 

A lot of people ask: how do you make red oak look like white oak? We’re still testing out stain combos to offer you the best recommendations, but let’s see if Simply White accomplished the goal. 

Simply White definitely brings down the rednesses of the wood a bit, but it’s not covering it completely. Instead of being red, it appears to have a pink tone. 

One thing that is really neat about Simply White on red oak is that the oil-based stain actually gets into the wood grain, given it a subtle cerused finish. 

Of all the stain samples, the solid version of Simply White appeared the least pink on red oak. 

Minwax Simply White stain on red oak in oil-based, semi-transparent, and solid water-based options

Minwax Simply White on Red Oak Plywood

Of all the wood types tested, Simply White had the most subtle effect on red oak. 

You can see that out of the all the wood types tested, the solid stain had the least impact here, leaving more variation with the grain than the other wood types.

Minwax Simply White stain on red oak plywood in oil-based, semi-transparent, and solid water-based options

Minwax Simply White on Maple Plywood 

Similar to poplar, the oil-based version of Simply White was extremely subtle on maple plywood.

The water-based versions of this stain added a lot more color to the maple plywood.

Minwax Simply White stain on maple plywood in oil-based, semi-transparent, and solid water-based options

Minwax Simply White on Cedar

Of the wood we tested, Simply White stain showed up the most on cedar, likely because it was the darkest wood from the get-go. 

Minwax Simply White stain on cedar in oil-based, semi-transparent, and solid water-based options

Minwax Simply White on 2x Boards

Both the oil-based and semi-transparent versions of this stain decreased the contrast of the wood grain on 2x boards. 

Minwax Simply White stain on 2x4s in oil-based, semi-transparent, and solid water-based options

Uses for Simply White Stain

Aside from being used as a standalone color, there are two main uses for Simply White stain. 

First, it’s very popular among DIYers when staining common board or whitewood. Many DIYers will apply Simply White stain to their pine boards to cut down on some of the yellow undertones. They will then wait for it to dry and apply the actual stain color they want to use.

As we will see in just a minute, this technique will affect the overall color of your stain.

Layering Simply White Stain

The next use is very similar: intentionally layering stains for a unique color. Below are a few common layering options. 

We’ve shown each one two ways: using Simply White as the base coat (bottom) and using it as the second layer (top). The middle is the color without any Simply White layered with it. You can see that the order in which you apply the stains can affect the overall color, especially for darker colors. 

layering Minwax Simply White with golden oak, special walnut, and dark walnut stains

Minwax Simply White Compared to Pure White and Whitewash

Both Pure White and Whitewash are water-based stains. Pure White is available in both solid and semi-transparent opacities while the whitewash is part of the Minwax Colorwash series. The Colorwash series is supposed to be even more transparent than its semi-transparent opacity, making it great for layering. 

As you can see, Pure White lives up to its name and is much more of a bright white stain.

Minwax Simply White stained on select pine vs Minwax Pure White on select pine
Minwax Simply White stained on poplar vs Minwax Pure White on poplar

The Colorwash in Whitewash is extremely light. It’s a very subtle effect that very slightly mutes the natural undertones of the wood. Compared to Whitewash, Simply White provides more opaque coverage. 

Minwax Simply White stained on red oak vs Minwax Pure White on red oak
Minwax Simply White stained on poplar vs Minwax Colorwash in White Wash
Minwax Simply White stained on select pine vs Minwax Colorwash in White Wash

There you have it! That’s your comprehensive guide on Minwax Simply White stain. Overall, the transparency you get will have a large impact on the overall color you get. The oil-based version is a more subtle finish. The semi-transparent adds the most white, and the solid transparency has a slight pink hue to it. 

If you have any questions, plop them in the comments below! And if you have any recommendations on stain colors you would like to see tested on different wood types, put those in the comments below. 

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  1. Veronica Izaguirre says:

    These samples are horizontal so which side has the wood conditioner applied?

  2. Grace says:

    When layering stain over minwax simply white, did you sand between coats? I’m having trouble with the second stain absorbing into the white stain.

    • Zoe Hunt says:

      Hi! Generally you don’t want to sand between coats of stain. The white stain definitely blocks the stain from absorbing as much as it normally would, so you’ll have a much lighter color if you go the layering route. Most people who layer stains on top of Simply White will put the second color on immediately after applying the white stain rather than letting the white stain dry. You can always sand your wood down and try out a new color or technique if you aren’t loving your current results!

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