How to Refinish Wood Furniture with Gel Stain

What You'll Need
Gel stain
Denatured alcohol
Newspapers or drop cloth
Protective gloves

When you start your next furniture refinishing project, gel stain is one of the many staining options you can use. By understanding the steps involved is applying a gel stain, your can better determine if this the best choice for the furniture you are working on.

Step 1 – Preparation

There is some preparation that must be undertaken prior to the gel stain being applied to the wood furniture. If there are any cracks or defects present that need to be filled, you must ensure that the material used is able to accept stain. Where this is not done, you may end up with voids in the color that is applied. In the event that an existing finish needs to be removed or the furniture comprises some rough edges, this can be rectified with sandpaper. Use a fine grit with a light touch to avoid any mistakes and keep a close eye on your progress.

Step 2 – Clean

After you have completed the sanding process, you must ensure that the resulting dust is properly cleaned. Dampen a cloth with a little denatured alcohol, which will clean the wood without affecting it adversely. Thoroughly wipe the furniture and leave it to dry before proceeding.

Step 3 – Test

The color of gel stain deepens the longer that it is left in place so it is a good idea to decide on the shade that you want to achieve. Read the instructions to check how long it is recommended that the gel be left in place to get the desired result. It is also worthwhile doing a test as some woods are more porous than others. Find an inconspicuous section on the piece of furniture that has been sanded and cleaned like the remainder. Use a paintbrush to apply gel stain over an area of approximately 1 inch square. Leave it in place for the recommended period before wiping it away and checking the color; the time should be reduced or increased to get a lighter or darker color respectively.        

Step 4 – Apply Stain

Prepare your work area by laying down newspapers or a drop cloth beneath the piece of furniture. Further, if it is not convenient for you to work outside, make sure that the area is well ventilated to take into account the fumes that the gel can produce. The gel must be applied evenly to achieve a decent result, which is easily done with a paintbrush or flexible spatula.

Take care around joins to ensure that the gel does not gather, which will result in a darker color. A thorough job can be completed by applying large amounts of gel at once and working quickly to spread it over the entire surface of the furniture item. Allow it to sit for the allotted time before using clean cloths to wipe it away, making sure you are wearing gloves during this process.