Gel Stain Aggravation

[This is my first trial blog post on WordPress! There is definitely a learning curve. Thus far, the spacing and fonts are giving me trouble. Plus, I'm not sure if the slider will update itself when I hit "Publish". After this beta test, I'll give you the scoop on my transfer process.]


Gel stain is old news to most people by now.  My first venture with it, however, got completed recently.


I have to say, this is the first time I actually got angry* with a project (that I can recall, anyway).  I am going to list some dos and don’ts.


Precautions – Cons


If you use a rag, use it carefully!  I’ve seen other bloggers recommend an old sock which would have been wiser.  You see, rags can have “tails” which will wisp through your precise work and make you have to go over it.  Have a chip brush ready for crevices sometimes foam brushes can’t reach.


Don’t anxiously put a trial swipe on your piece then come back to it later–the color variation will then become difficult to get blended properly.


Ventilation is important!  Everyone has a different tolerance, I suppose, but this product made me feel light headed.  I was working next to double doors that opened directly to the outside and considered running a fan as well.


Use gloves more sturdy than latex.  I wore two on each hand and the fingertips still broke through.  I switched to kitchen-style gloves.


Be extremely careful with a rag or sponge brush–staying straight with the grain.  If you are using your arm, attached to your shoulder (yes, read sarcasm here), you will get a slight arch, which will show (on longer surfaces)


If your pieces have overhangs, proceed with caution and good luck.  I never figured out how to keep everything neat and with the grain.


Every coat will make your project darker and darker (you can see examples on Pinterest).  It may be wise to do a test board first to see what your preference is, as it can get very dark quickly. Need to touch up?  Darker still.  

Gel Stained Chest

On to the finishing coat–More frustration.


I used a sponge brush and this stuff got bubbly.  It was challenging to get the bubbles smoothed out and keep the product going with the grain.  After you give it a coat, go back and double check to see if any bubbles are still lurking.  If you miss them, they dry that way.  This finishing has a high sheen, which, honestly, I think makes the pieces look on the cheap side.


Why did I choose gel stain, anyway?  I was refinishing some inexpensive bedroom furniture so it would have better selling potential for the store.  It isn’t real wood, and I wanted to give it a wood look vs. a painted look.  Overall, this was a very frustrating project and I can still see streaks and notice not everything is a uniform color.





Hold on…I’m thinking…  Still thinking…  It did get the furniture darker.  It looks really good in some spots and from a distance.  It’s a good way to go if you definitely want a wood look.  

 Gel Stained Bedroom Set

Personally, I think this would be good for something on the small side and for something you don’t mind a high-sheen finish on, e.g., table tops, kitchen cabinets, stair railings.  I don’t think I would recommend this to refinish anything that is high-end, either.  I’d rate this is a big, fat “okay”.


*I guess I got angry, because no amount of patience or finessing got me the results I was hoping for.



  1. says

    Hi Kim- Congrats on switching to Word Press. Looking good. I do find that the print is a bit small and “light” making it a bit hard to read-but that could be just me. Great product review though. xo Diana

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

(Spamcheck Enabled)