Gel Stain And Wood: What To Know

What You'll Need
Gel stain
Application cloth or brush
Wiping cloth
Denatured alcohol

A gel stain finish is an excellent choice for any woodwork project. Not only is it easy to apply, but you can also vary the color intensity while staining wood.

Step 1 – Prepare the Surface

The first stage in applying a gel stain is getting the surface ready. With some fine sandpaper, sand down the surface until you are satisfied with the feel.

Step 2 – Vacuum the Sanded Surface

Proceed to vacuum the surface to remove any sawdust.

Step 3 – Clean the Surface

Use the wiping cloth and some denatured alcohol to wipe the entire work surface thoroughly. The advantages of using denatured alcohol are such that the wood surfaces are not discolored and that the alcohol dries off quickly.

Step 4 – Apply the Gel Stain

In applying the gel stain you need to ensure that the entire wood surface gets coverage. With the help of either a brush or application cloth, apply the gel stain generously. Gel stain containers will indicate the appropriate time that you should wait before proceeding to wipe off the stain.

Your application should be done in circular motions which will ensure that the stain penetrates into the wood better.

Step 5 – Wipe Off the Gel Stain

After the gel has had time to set, take another cloth and wipe off the gel stain. This allows you to adjust the depth of color. The right time for you to start wiping is ideally before the gel stain becomes tacky. Wipe until only a very slight layer of gel stain is left on the wood.

Step 6 – Tones and Special Effects

To create customized tones on your work surface, there are two options at your disposal. You can blend together two different gel stains and apply in the manner described. Alternatively, you can use the over-staining method where the different colors are layered on top of one another. In this case you will start with lighter stain tones.

Step 7 – Gazing the Wood Surface

In this case a base stain should be applied first using either a pigment stain or a dye. After this has sufficiently dried, seal the surface with clear gel varnish. Next, use 400-grit sandpaper to sand the surface. Finally, apply the gel stain as a thin glaze.

Step 8 – Concealing sapwood

To make the lighter-toned sapwood surface even with the darker parts you can apply two coats of gel stain.

Step 9 – Getting Rid of Blotches

Some woods like pine and cherry tend to get blotched when stains are applied on them. This can be avoided by first applying a layer of either de-waxed shellac or clear gel varnish although a gel stain may be sufficient on its own.

Step 10 – Cleaning up

Most of the gel stain products in the market are oil-based. When you therefore need to clean up a mess you have to use either paint thinners or mineral spirits to dissolve the stain.

Step 11- Apply a protective topcoat

To ensure that the gel-stained surface lasts longer you can apply either varnishes or polyurethanes although these must be compatible with the color of gel stain that you had used.

Step 12 – Discard the used cloths

As a matter of safety, the used cloths should be properly disposed. Gel stains are quite flammable and the cloths may pose a fire hazard.