Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, January 2, 2015

Gel stained cabinets

Do It Yourself

April Sherrill

Have you looked at any of the cabinets in your home and thought about how much you despise the color of the stain on them? For nine years now the oak stained cabinets in my home have been dying for a facelift! Our home was new when we moved in and with that came the contractor’s grade oak cabinets.  If there is one thing I cannot stand to look at it is the cabinets. In the world of April, oak stain makes everything feel so outdated, even if it is new. While there is appreciation for the natural beauty of oak wood, having it in my home is not something I enjoy. 

Unfortunately, doing projects in other peoples home always seems to happen before handling our own, but gel staining our cabinets is on the top of the list. We are planning to sell our home within the next couple of years and we refuse to put it on the market with oak stained cabinetry; however, we also refuse to spend the money that is involved with re-facing or replacing. 

If you are looking for an inexpensive update, think about redoing cabinets; it will completely transform a room. Gel stain is very easy to work with and anyone will be able to accomplish amazing results with just a little know how.

Items needed:

• General Finishes gel stain

• Sanding block

• Degreaser 

• Cleaning rags

• Foam brushes

• Latex gloves

• Miniwax Polycrylic

• Cotton rags

• Painters tape

First, disassemble all the cabinet doors and hardware. Some people find it much easier to label the hardware and doors when taking them down, so the guesswork of re-hanging them is eliminated. 

Once the doors are down, clean them with the degreaser, making sure you get the crevices and inlays. If gunk has built up on the inlays, put a butter knife underneath your rag and run along all the edges. This always seems to help clean the hard to reach areas.

After the cabinets are completely cleaned, lightly sand all the surfaces. The sanding only needs to break up the gloss; it does not need to be down to the wood. This allows the stain to adhere best. After the light sanding, wipe down all the cabinetry very well to eliminate all dust and debris.

Now take the foam brushes and go to town! Apply the gel stain using the foam brush and the wipe it off using the cotton rags. Repeat this process until the first coat is completed. 

A couple of things to remember: gel stain is not actually staining the wood as with traditional stain; it is more about changing the color. It will not penetrate as deeply into the wood as traditional oil based stains do. Always do a light coat. Once again, this is not a project you want to overkill; less is best! With each coat, the color will become darker so there is no need to use a heavy coat, this will result in a ruined process.

The drying time depends on the weather. Most often, the first coat is dry in about six hours. If the stain is sticky, wait a while longer. 

Repeat the process of additional coats until reaching your desired color. Three coats is usually a great stopping point. It is very important to allow proper drying time between each coat and after the final coat.

Once everything is nice and dry, follow up with a minimum of two coats of Polycrylic, allowing 24 hours of drying time in between coats. Polycrylic is great for wear and tear, so if you have kids, no worries! 

Just to be safe allow the finish project to cure for about two days adding the hardware and hanging. This is just a personal preference. 

If you are looking for a great way to update any of the cabinetry in your home for less than $100 this is the way to go. The gel stain spreads wonderfully and goes a long way.

If you have any questions or would like to share any finished results feel free to email me!

April Sherrill is a staff writer for the Hamilton County Herald. Contact her at april@dailydata.com.