Gel Staining Cabinets

Gel stains have a gelled or creamy consistency that makes them ideal for staining vertical surfaces such as cabinets. They apply in layers, making them ideal for cabinets containing more than one type of wood. Gel stain doesn’t fully penetrate the wood because of its thick consistency, which gives you more control during application. It won’t drip or run, so gel stain rarely produces lap marks or other finish problems.

Here is how we do it: 

1. All hardware is removed, including hinges and knobs.

2. Cabinets are lawed on a flat surface, such as a workbench, and the doors, cabinet bases and drawer fronts are cleaned with soapy water.

3. Cabinets and their parts are cleaned using water and let to dry.

4. All surfaces of the cabinets, doors and drawer fronts are sanded with 100- to 180-grit sandpaper. The wood is sanded evenly, but with as low a grit of sandpaper as you can to ensure the pores remain open. This allows for better penetration of the gel stain.

5. Wipe the wood with a tack cloth to remove sanding dust.

6. Apply painter’s tape to the walls and outlet covers, and protect appliances and countertops with plastic sheeting.

7. Gel stain is mixed until it is creamy to mix the pigments thoroughly. 


8. Gel stain is applied onto doors in a thin, even coat with a brush. Stain is worked into the grooved areas first and then out toward the edges of the cabinets.

9. Apply a second coat if a darker color is desired.

10. A clear finish is applied to protect the wood after the final coat of gel stain.