How to Gel Stain Over Stain the Easy Way

Never use furniture stripper again! With this easy stain over stain technique, I share how to stain any surface and even how to gel stain over paint!

Imagine yourself walking down the aisle of a thrift store and seeing a piece with serious potential!  It’s in great shape and you even have the perfect spot picked out.  There’s one problem…  You know that dated, orange stain would be a beast to get off with furniture stripper!

However, you don’t have to strip a piece of furniture to refinish it.  Instead, you can easily gel stain wood with this stain over paint technique to make old furniture look new again!

“Paint Remover” is not in my DIY vocabulary.

I can think of few activities more miserable than applying a noxious chemical onto a piece of furniture in an effort to scrape off every bit of old paint or stain.  Fortunately,  you don’t have to!


  • Update any painted furniture piece with a stain
  • “Stain” laminate, metal and even plastic
  • Gel stain over existing stained surfaces
  • Apply gel stain easily to any surface
gel stain over paint

(As an Amazon affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please see my full disclosure HERE).

What is Gel Stain?

Gel stain is an oil-based stain that is very thick and goey, almost the consistency of jelly.  But don’t let that deter you!   That gel consistency takes a little extra time to dry and that’s a GOOD THING because it allows you to get the look you want before it dries.

Gel Stain vs. Oil Stain

Unlike a regular oil stain that is thin and watery, the gel stain gives you time to work with it to get the exact finish you want before you let it dry.  Another advantage of gel stain vs. oil stain is that traditional stain will penetrates the pores in the wood.  This is great if you have a nice piece of wood or don’t have any wood filler in holes.  However, with gel stain you can save money by using a lower grade of wood because it’s depth of color will cover any imperfections.

Another nice aspect of gel stain’s consistency is the effect when a brush is dragged through it in one direction.  The bristles automatically give the look of wood grain showing some of the warm tones of your base coat underneath.

So when you open that can of gel stain to reveal a jelly like substance, no worries!  It’s supposed to be like that and hasn’t gone bad.  Also, a little goes a long way!

The Absolute Best Gel Stain for Furniture

After a lot of experimenting, I love the color and texture of Old Master’s Gel Stain in Walnut (check the current price here).  It goes on beautifully every time!

Applying Gel Stain: Can You Stain Over Paint?

This “gel stain over stain or paint technique” allows you to re-cover almost any painted surface (even laminate and metal!) without stripping or sanding off the original surface.  It’s easy to get the look of a dark, rich stain on a painted piece of furniture as long as you know how to use gel stain as a faux finish. 

In this process, I’ll show you not only how to apply gel stain to finished wood, but more importantly how to give a faux wood finish to any surface.

GEL STAIN IS NOT JUST FOR DIYERS – This is actually the same process many high-end furniture retailers use because different cuts of hardwood can have different shades.  Once, they assemble the furniture, the furniture doesn’t match exactly.  Therefore, to have continuity in their final product, a gel-stain is used.


How to Gel Stain Over Paint or Stain – Supplies:

Click HERE for Current Price. Click HERE for the best sanders for wood furniture.

I eyed these two “beauties” on a Facebook page and thought they would be perfect for this “gel stain over stain technique”.   Realizing they were solid wood and in good shape, I knew they would look like new by using gel stain to refinish the surface.

stain over stain

You can see a funky inlay pattern and also some deep-set water stains. I decided to do my favorite combination of a dark stained top and white apron and legs.

gel stain over paint

Tips for Applying Gel Stain Over Stained Wood: Can You Add Gel Stain to Existing Finishes?

A reader recently asked is she could apply Minwax Gel Stain over an existing finish.  The process described below involves painting on a base coat before the gel stain layer.  If your existing surface is in rough shape, that’s the best way to go, especially as you’ll have the opportunity to fill in any holes, or sand out any scratches before the base coat goes on.

However, if your existing stain is in pretty good shape, even if the shade isn’t your favorite, you can add the gel stain over the existing stain.  For example, if these two side tables didn’t have the big scratches or knot holes, I would have put the gel stain over the stained wood.  It doesn’t matter if it is an orangey-stain as only a little will show through and the orange that does show through will give the new finish some warmth.

How to Apply Gel Stain to Finished Wood:

To apply the gel stain over wood, follow the instructions below.  You will still sand lightly in the direction of the wood.  Wipe off any sanding dust and skip the base coat.  Directly apply the gel stain in the same direction of the wood grain.

Applying Gel Stain Over Paint?  How to Use “Gel Paint” for Wood

Some people refer to gel stain as “gel paint” because of its thick jelly-like consistency.  Also, it acts more like a thick paint than a stain because of how well it covers.  Also, you can be sure of how the stain will turn out because with normal stain, a lot depends on the shade of the wood you start with.

If you are wanting to apply gel stain over a painted furniture piece, you will use the same process as below for applying gel stain over stain.

If you need some ideas on what shade of stain, click here: Stained Furniture Ideas.

1. Prep Work Before Using Gel Stain on Furniture

Stop! Before you do anything…take a before pic.  When you are done, post the before and after pics here, so I can see the amazing work you’ve done! ❤️

Before learning how to gel stain wood, the first step of any project is to make sure your piece is structurally sound. I tightened all the bolts underneath and would have added wood glue or wood epoxy if needed.  Nobody likes wobbly furniture.

2. Lightly Sand Before Using this Stain Over Paint Technique

Next, I sanded with my electric sander and a rougher sanding pad.  Don’t sand to remove the old stain, you are just going over the surface to degloss it so it accepts the paint.  You can see my post and video on how to sand furniture with an electric sander here.

I wanted to get rid of any trace of the water damage and inlay design. I then wiped the table with a slightly damp rag to remove the sanding dust.

3.  Prime with the Gel Paint Base

To prime, I used Zinsser Bullseye 123 and painted on a THICK coat onto the tables.  I’m a big fan of this product.  It settles very well for a primer, leaving very few brush strokes, and it dries fast with little odor.

Although it is water-based, it still blocks out the old stain and makes a good foundation for the gel stain to look like stained wood.

stain over stain


4.  Paint the Legs and Apron Before You Gel Stain Table Top

I like to get the most difficult painting tasks out of the way first, so I decided to work on the legs next.  Milled furniture legs are notoriously difficult to paint but I found some short cuts I share here: How to Paint Furniture Legs the Easy Way

I added Floetrol to my paint (according to the directions on the back) which makes the paint settle better, leaving fewer brush strokes. Normally, this isn’t a big deal because you can sand out obvious brush strokes but any kind of woodwork with spindles is not easy to sand.

Because Floetrol also thins the paint some, it took me 2 coats of paint on the legs. If you aren’t a stickler about brush strokes, the Floetrol is not a must.  Now that the rest of the painting is out of the way, I can focus my efforts on gel staining the tabletop.


5.  Add the Base Coat of Latex Paint

At this point, I have primed the entire piece and painted the apron and legs white.   Since I’m ready to refinish the top, I decided to tape off the bottom with trash bags so I won’t get any base paint or gel stain on the bottom portion of the tables. (This is the point that you would fill holes on the top. Always prime first before filling holes because you can see them better.)

stain over stain

Now you can apply a layer of your peanut butter-colored paintbrush in long strokes from one side to the other in the same direction.   I used Behr Glazed Pecan in Latex Satin. This shade, although hideous, will serve as the base for your stain.

Where part of the brush strokes in the gel stain is slightly translucent (like the grain pattern in stained wood), you will see a little of this shade peek through. It took one thick coat of this.

 Notice I didn’t cover it very well but that’s ok; the surface will take on a completely different look, regardless.

 Can You Use Gel Stain Over White Paint?

Some readers have asked me if I can put gel stain directly over white paint or primer instead of the base coat.  I’ve found that the base coat gives the final finish a more realistic look but if you want to do some experimenting to see if you can skip the step, you can.  To see how your gel stain will look over white paint, simply prime the piece as normal in additional some area on the underside.  When the primer is dry, paint some gel stain over that spot and let it dry.  That will give you a good idea of how it will look to paint gel stain over white paint instead of the orange-y base coat.  This can also come in handle if you are trying to get a stained look on a white piece of furniture!

Where to Buy Gel Stain for Furniture

You have several colors and brands to choose from and below are links of where to buy gel stain in different sizes depending on your project.  I personally like the consistency of the Old Master’s brand and used the color American Walnut that you can find here.

Old Masters Gel Stain Colors – CLICK HERE

General Finishes Gel Stain Colors – CLICK HERE

Varathane Gel Stain Colors – CLICK HERE

Minwax Gel Stain Colors – CLICK HERE


6.  Applying Gel Stain Over Paint

Now is the fun part – applying the gel stain over paint!  Brush on the gel stain in the same direction as the base coat in long strokes. Your goal at this point is to cover every bit of the top with a good coat of gel stain. It doesn’t dry very fast so you have a few minutes to work with it.

stain over stain

Now that the top is covered in gel stain, wipe some of the excess gel stain OFF your brush with paper towels and apply long even strokes in the same direction. You cannot screw up this “gel stain over stain” technique! (Again, you are wiping some of the gel stain off your brush, not the surface of the table.)


If you want your stain darker, add some more gel stain. The key is to work in the same direction to resemble wood grain.

Once your gel stain starts to dry, you can see the final product.  What do you think???


Now that you are done, I’d love to see how it turned out!  Post your before and after photos here!


gel stain over paint


How Long Does it Take Gel Stain to Dry?

Give your gel stain 24-72 hours to dry depending on how humid it is.  The rule of thumb is that it needs to not feel tacky, but I would not touch it until after 48 hours. 

Here is how one thick coat of gel stain looks.  If I would have wiped more off my brush, you would be able to see the “grain” a little more.  It’s all personal preference and the gel stain gives you plenty of time to get the finish just how you want it!

You can also do a second coat of gel stain after the first has dried for a darker look.

gel stain over paint

Painting A Door to Look Like Wood

Did you know you can use latex paint or gel stain on a metal or fiberglass door to make it look like it’s made out of real hardwood? To see how I painted my metal back door, click here: How To Paint Exterior Doors to Look Like Wood

Can you Polyurethane Over Gel Stain?

I get this question a lot and it depends on the amount of use that your piece of furniture will get.

Gel stain has a lot of the same properties as a clear coat like polyurethane so if it won’t get heavy use with LOTS of cold drinks sitting on it, I wouldn’t worry about a topcoat.

For furniture that is heavily used, I would apply a couple of layers of Varathane’s Water-Based Polyurethane.

gel stain over paint


How to Apply a Clear Coat to Gel Stain

Sand the surface very lightly with a paper bag or very high grit sandpaper (400) and then wipe off any sanding dust with a damp rag.  Then, brush on a water-based polyurethane with a foam brush.  Let it dry and then lightly sand again.  For a really durable finish, I like to add three coats of a clear coat.  For a full description and a video on how to apply clear coat click here:Best Tips for Applying Top Coat to Furniture

Examples of Furniture Makeovers with a Gel Stain Finish:

I used this same process in my post about how to refinish a roll top desk.


stain over stain

I love that finish!  You could even use this process to gel stain kitchen cabinets but make sure you use the right primer for kitchen cabinets beforehand.

These tables underwent a major transformation and I’m happy with the results!

gel stain over paint

RENOVATE YOUR FAITH:  Our Restoration Process

I love my “project time” as it is restful and recharging in so many ways. As a time for me to zone out from the chaos that life brings.

As I brushed the gel stain onto each table, I noticed how effortlessly the new stain covered, making a new surface instantaneously. The thick stain seeped into every nook and cranny embracing and covering every bit of the old raw surface. I watched as it restored the dated, worn-out wood to something fresh and new.

I often fine myself reflecting on how God has transformed me just like whatever furniture piece I am working on. 

This is a beautiful picture of how God restores us to become who He always meant for us to be. When we come to accept Christ as our Savior, He wraps us in a robe of righteousness so we will no longer see the old stain of sin.

Looking at the new surface, I no longer saw water stains and scuff marks, I saw a pristine reflection of myself in the surface. God is always faithful to make us into something beautiful, transformed and useful for His purposes when we seek Him. We often long to fix our broken places but in reality His grace fully covers them, like they never existed in the first place.

Every DIY or Home Decor post with spiritual encouragement has a Renovated Thinking section.  You can see more of those posts by clicking here.

  • www-renovatedfaith-com-16

 ☑️ My All-Time Best Furniture Painting Tips & Tricks (FREE PRINTABLE)

Don’t forget to download your FREE step-by-step printable checklist that shows you the exact process I’ve used on dozens of furniture pieces while saving you time and money!


FAQ’s on How to Apply Gel Stain Over Stain or Paint:

Can you gel stain without sanding?

Several have asked me if they can apply gel stain without sanding furniture.  As long as the furniture surface is smooth enough, you can get away without sanding.  Gel stain is oil based and adheres really well with long-term durability.

Does gel stain cover wood putty?

This this paint over stain technique, gel stain will cover over wood putty and you won’t be able to tell it’s there.  If you were to only use gel stain and not this process, you would see some of the wood putty’s color and texture through the gel stain.

Can you gel stain over a painted garage door?

You can gel stain over a painted garage door whether it is metal, wood or fiberglass as long as you use this technique with gel stain as other stains will not work.  Also, be sure you are using the appropriate exterior primer for your work surface.

Can you Use Gel Stain Over Polyurethane?

In most cases, I’d say that most products would not adhere to an existing finish with polyurethane.  But since gel stain is oil based and

How to gel stain raw wood:

For raw wood, with no imperfections you want to hide, just sand lightly to smooth out the surface and then apply the wood stain.  You don’t have to add the paint because you aren’t hiding anything.

Can You Stain Over White Paint?

A few have asked me if you can add dark stain over white paint.  In other words, they are wondering if they can skip the peanut butter color of paint and go right to the gel stain from a white primer or previously painted white surface.  You could try it on the underside of the furniture.  It might work if you are going for a very dark gel stain look but I wouldn’t recommend it otherwise.  The peanut butter base coat gives it the look of wood as a white base might look odd.

Can you Paint Over Gel Stain?

If you try to paint over gel stain without prepping or priming the surface, the paint will be very likely to peel.  Use the same prep process as described about where you lightly sand and then use a primer before adding paint.  One thing Jennifer Allwood always says is “primer sticks to things and paint sticks to primer”.  In other words, paint will not always stick to every surface so be safe and use a primer.

Can You Stain Over Painted Cabinets?

You can absolutely gel stain kitchen cabinets using the process described above.  This process also works well for painted bathroom cabinets as well.  I would only suggest that when you stain the boxes, work in sections.  in other words, pick a 4 x 4 foot section and do the gel stain process on it to ensure you get the look you want before it dries up on you.  Then go onto the next section.

Why did My Wood Stain Turn to Jelly?

After gel stain has been stored for some time, the contents can separate leaving most of it in a very jelly-like consistency.  If this happens, you can easily restore the can by mixing it well with a paint stirrer.  I was once able to use a 5-year-old can of gel stain after just stirring it up well.

How to Gel Stain Cabinets Gray

Gel stain for cabinets doesn’t just come in wood tones but they give you a lot of options if you want to try gray or black.  The method would be different than described above but would involve using gel stain in more of a traditional sense.  You would just paint on  the gel stain and then wipe it off with a rag so you can still seen the wood grain underneath. What you’d end up with is a beautiful gray finish that still retains the natural grains of the wood.  To see how to do this process you can check out this post: How to Gel Stain Cabinets Gray

Gel Stain Problems:

There are very few problems with gel stain as it is a very easy product to use but I wanted to make you aware of a couple things.  When you first open the can, it might look like some dark brown jelly that was left in the fridge WAY too long.  That is normal.  Just get a paint stirrer and slowly stir it until it is all the same consistency.

Also, gel stain can take a while to dry if you are in a humid environment but be patient.  I promise it WILL dry!

Gel stain gives you has a thick consistency that is not very translucent.  If you want a look that is not quite as a traditional and a little more farmhouse or rustic, you might check out these posts for water-based options.  Also the posts below have less fumes and aren’t quite as messy as they are water-based products:

Alternatives to the Gel Stain Over Paint Technique

How to Make a Driftwood Finish with Latex

Easy Barwood Stain with Paint (See the video below!)

Related Posts to Applying Gel Stain Over Paint or Stain:

A Beginner’s Guide to Furniture Painting

DIY Driftwood Finish on Any Surface

Easy Restoration Hardware Finish with Latex Paint

Why I Don’t Use Chalk Paint

A Better Alternative to Chalk Paint

How to Paint Laminate Furniture

Apply Paint That Looks Like Stain (Barnwood Stain with Latex!)

Best Clear Coat for Furniture

Easy DIY Farmhouse Coffee Table with Turned Legs (Free Plans)

If you like this post, you might also like my faux stain technique to get the look of wood with latex paint and glaze:


Gel Stain Over Paint Technique – Final Thoughts

Gel stain is one of my favorite products in my DIY arsenal.  I have gotten to the point where I no longer use regular stain even on raw wood.  With gel stain, it’s easy to work with and I know how it will turn out every single time.  Now that you know about all the benefits of gel stain, I hope you feel empowered to refinish ANY piece of painted or stained piece of furniture you come across!


If you want to save this post for later, pin it here:

gel stain over paint


What are your thoughts, my friend?  Do you think the makeover was worth it?  Do you have more options now for refinishing furniture?  I love to hear your thoughts and questions!  Scroll down to leave a comment and I WILL reply! ❤️

Gel stain gives you so many more options with painted furniture.  You don’t have to scrape or use paint remover to remove the paint and then stain it again.  Instead, this process allows you to go over the existing surface to give you a rich, deep stain every single time.  Be sure to let me know if you have any questions at all!







Gel Stain Over Paint, YouTube Video



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Stain Over Stain Technique for Furniture

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  1. This process turns out beautifully. I have a Drexel 5-sided lamp table in pecan that needs the top refinished after 35 years of use. I would like the top a bit lighter to match the other tables in the room. Is this possible? The sides on this table are still like new.

    1. Great question Sheryl! These particular end tables had a wood inlay in a funky pattern and I wanted to make sure that you could not see that inlay through the stain. That’s why I painted it. If your furniture is light and has an even finish, by all means continue with the gel stain without the layer of paint. Just make sure you sand it really well first. 🙂

      1. Hi there – thank you for a terrific tutorial. Your tables look beautiful! Several years ago, we purchased from the Salvation Army a wonderful but very ugly wall unit. It is huge, heavy, and well-made, but sadly it was an orange oak color. YUK!! I used gel stain directly on top of the existing finish. I applied most of it with a cotton sock on my gloved hand. With the exception of the corners, cracks, and crevices, the sock method worked well. I have also used a cotton t-shirt. with great results, too. Gel stain is our friend! All the best to you, Karin.

  2. Thanks for the easy to follow and inspirational tutorial! I am doing this exact process to make my parent’s dining room table to give it a new life:-)

    1. So glad you are using this process! It has never failed me. I have used it on our dining table, coffee table and several other projects. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. These came out beautiful! You say that gel paint can be used on laminate, is it the same process? Sand it first then apply the gel stain? I bought a dresser and I want to do the same as these tables with the dark top and I keep reading that laminate cannot be stained. Can you help me with this question?

    Thank you!

    1. Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. Yes, it can be used on laminate. You might want to sand more and use a primer like Zinsser 123 Bullseye (thick coat) before your base coat. I just used Gel Stain on some plastic picture frames and it worked really well. The gel stain would have no problem adhering but you just want to make sure the base coat (if you use one) adheres. Let me know if you have any other questions and thank you for reading!

  4. I truly enjoyed this tutorial, but even more so how you incorporated God’s love for us and how He desires for us to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, into your work. I was struggling with something this past couple days, but it’s only through Gods love that I happened upon you on Pinterest. This totally helped me in my decision and I am so very thankful.
    I have just started upcycling furniture and recently shared with family and friends, via FB, my first ‘Passionately Painted Piece’. And in that post, I too wrote how painting helps me in finding relief from a stressful day.
    Your piece is beautiful and so are you!
    Thank you and may God continue to help you in sharing with others your beautiful work and His word!

    1. Your encouragement means more to me than you know. Thank you so much and I hope the furniture you work on provides you with some time to relax and enjoy God. Thank you again Sharon!

  5. Thank you such for this tutorial…I have found my new love and enjoy up cycling furniture…my nap time unwind time. ? Also, I love the comparison you made about how God has cleansed us from our sins and made us into something new! Amen!

  6. I am working on a piece using this process now. I am putting it on veneer which the Minwax can says is ok. However, it’s been 24 hours since the gel was applied and it’s still tacky. Since I knew I would put two coats as you did, I made sure not to put the first coat too thick. Any advice? Thanks.

      1. Karin, thanks for replying so quickly! I was beginning to wonder if I should remove and start over but I’ll just wait it out. The piece is looking really nice so I wanted this to work.

  7. I want to try to refinish my coffee and end tables but have been afraid to start. I have never refinished any furniture but you made this look so easy that I hope to start after Mother’s Day. I do have a question about the polyurethane, I have no idea what kind to use as the tables get a lot of use and I don’t really want a shine, do you have suggestions for me?

    1. Carmen, first of all, I’m so sorry it took me so long to reply. You have a great question about the polyurethane. I understand being nervous about staining as I was the first time I used the process. Fortunately, this type of staining is very forgiving. I used MinWax Semi-gloss Polyurethane. The first time I used this type of process was on my dining table. I did not sand it very well and the surface was kind of rough, which was fine. The problem was when I used a satin polyurethane… All polyurethanes start out as full gloss and then the company adds an additive to dull down the shine. The problem with all the unevenness is that the additive was settling in the lower bumps and it looked really weird. Fortunately, I put a coat of semigloss on top and it “fixed” the finish. So, I say all that to say that I feel safer using the semi-gloss although in a perfect world I prefer satin. Also, on my table, I used 6, yes 6, coats of poly. because I wanted to be able to set whatever glasses I wanted to on it without worrying about rings. With that much poly., I felt like the layers of satin would look cloudy after a while. So, my point is that, if you do one or two coats of polyurethane, I would feel confident using the satin. If you do more coats than that, I would use semi-gloss. Honestly, my semigloss pieces have dulled over the last couple years and now look satin. Either way, make sure you sand well. Does that answer your question? Feel free to ask any others and feel free to practice on a piece of wood if that would help you feel more comfortable! Thanks for reading!!!

  8. Your tables turned out beautifully! This is probably a silly question, but I’m new to the furniture refinishing process so forgive me…..did you sand and prime the table top and legs?? I know you must sand before using the gel stain (for the table top), but I’m not sure if it’s the same with latex paint (for the legs). Thank you!

    1. That is not a silly question AT ALL! The legs were really glossy so I put a thick coat of primer. I sanded just a little by hand because its so time consuming to sand curvy legs. I think the key is thick primer. For the legs and the rest of the table, I just used latex paint after the primer. Thanks for reading!

  9. Awesome job! I have never used gel stain and always wondered how it would turn
    Out on my project. You covered the instructions well. I am going to give it a try. I have been afraid to buy those bad stained pieces at a garage sale, but no longer…..wooho!
    Thank you,
    God bless
    Tricia Sadler

  10. Your tables are beautiful! I have a very large(think board room) dining table. It seems to be made from a type of plywood. It is honey color which is awful in my newly painted (SW Repose Gray) dining room. I wanted to sand it down and restain it in a darker stain, but I think I have sanded too much because now it has a pink edge. Do you think I could paint it in a base color like you did above and then add a gel stain? I understand it’s hard not actually seeing the piece, but I’d love to hear your thoughts. Blessings, Andrea Nelson

    1. I think you could definitely do that! I just added an update to my post. After doing this process several times, I now like Behr Glazed Pecan as the base. It’s a little darker and you only have to do one coat of gel stain. I think this would be a great process to revive your table. Since it sounds like a big project, you might have someone to help you with getting the gel stain on. It takes a long time to dry which is nice because you have more time to work with it, but still it might be easier to have someone help you. Good luck and be sure to send me a pic! Let me know if you have any questions! 🙂

  11. I’ve painted my table with an off white chalk paint and then topped w a dark gray. I was going to sand to add distressing showing different shades. Could I then use the gel stain to add depth? What are your thoughts? Thanks

    1. Great question Ashley! It depends on what look you are going for. The gel stain is very thick – think pudding consistency. So, you are not going to get a subtle transparent look in the places you add the gel stain. Regular stain is much thinner and might be a better fit depending on the look you are going for. I hope that helps! Let me know if it doesn’t.

  12. I have been looking for something like this. I was gifted a light wood changing table, and the rest of the room has dark furniture. Do you think it could work for this application? The changing table is in great shape. Do you think I would need to sand it or could I simply put the gel stain over the current finished table?

    1. I would sand it a little bit so the gel stain “sticks” a little better. Then just wipe it down with a damp cloth and you are good to go! Thank you for stopping by.

  13. There are so many whites to choose from for the legs? I like what you chose. Do you remember what the name of the white was? Also, I can’t find the Behr Glazed Pecan at my HD. Do you know if they changed it, and if so what it is comparable to? Thanks!

    1. Such great questions. Go to the desk at Home Depot and ask them if they can match your paint to Behr Glazed Pecan. They should still have it in their system even if it isn’t with the paint samples. Also, I used Behr pure white for my white. Let me know if I can answer any other questions Bridget!


    1. Hi Julie,
      Yes, you can use it over the existing stain to make it darker! Gel stain is such a versatile product. It’s wonderful! I have not used it for antiquing but I think it should work well. I would test a small area first. Thanks Julie!

  15. I love the way you finished these tables. I have a dining room table that I want to finish to look very similar. The top has a veneer and I accidentally sanded through an area during prep. I have used wood putty to fill the hole and then sanded it. I then used GF Java Gel for the stain, but the coverage was terribly splotchy. Seeing your tables, I think that applying Zinsers, with a base coat of paint b4 using the Java Gel may be my solution. 🙂 My question is…why did you used that particular color (Glazed Pecan) for your base coat? Was it because it was close to the original color of your table….OR….is it because it is the “perfect” color to use under Java Gel to get the result you were after. My thoughts are that any color as the base coat will do….but, I thought I’d ask.


    1. Thank you so much Angel! I used the Glazed Pecan because it seemed to work best. I used a yellower base coat color the first time and it just looked out because the lighter parts of the faux grain just looked too light and yellow. So, the Glazed Pecan is as warmer, color with more brown/orange and it seemed to simulate the look of stained wood better. I hope that helps and thanks for stopping by!

  16. I want to go from a cherry stain on dining room table to a honey or lighter stain. Is that possible without sanding or stripping?

    1. Hmmm…It is probably possible but I just don’t know how to do it. You would have to do the primer and a base color similar to my method but then different colors for the base and top “gel stain” layer. It might just take some experimenting on some old pieces of wood. Sorry I’m not more help!

  17. I am refurbishing a pine end table, and this is the look I’m going for:) So I’m wondering, do I have to do a base coat in glazed pecan? Can’t I just sand it, prime it and then use gel stain?

    1. Hey Jo! Great question. You notice how when you look at a piece of furniture with a dark stain, you can see “streaks” of brown but then lighter streaks of brown/gold underneath slightly. The pecan glaze base coat gives you those golden undertones that make it look more like wood grain. Let me know if I can help in any way!

  18. I am so happy that I found your you…. I have been wanting to do my Mothers old end tables . The end tables are exactly like the pair you refurbished . My Mother passed away in January. When my family and I were cleaning out my Mothers home, the family wanted to throw them away. I wanted to save them and do something grand with them and thanks to you I will be able to keep more of my Mother with me.

  19. I am thinking of trying this with my family room furniture that is good quality from Pottery barn, but painted a mossy green. I want to use a dark espresso color gel stain on the top surface. Do you think I need to paint the surface with a brown color first or would the stain look ok over the green paint (after sanding)?

    1. Hey Kris, I’d do the shade I mentioned underneath the stain. Otherwise you will see the green through the gel stain as it is a little transparent. Let me know if you have any questions! Thanks!

  20. I have an oak hutch that I want to transform but not with paint. Do you think this gel would work for a larger project like this?

    1. I think so, I would sand it lightly first. If the oak is all the same shade, you don’t have to do the primer/base coat. You might test the gel stain on the bottom of the piece to see how you like the look. Thanks for stopping by!

  21. Hello! Thanks for sharing this wonderful project. I have a dining table, coffee table, and two end tables and I want to stain the tops of. How much stain do you think I would need to do all of these?

    1. Great question. A quart of gel stain will go a really long way and it will last you for dozens of projects, if not more. Thanks for stopping by and let me know how they turn out!

  22. Can I use the General Finishes Gel Topcoat on the painted legs as well? I used white chalk paint and if I stick my finger nail in them it scrapes, after 8 hour dry time, I want to seal it up. And hope that alleviates the issue.

    1. Great question…the General Finishes should make the chalk paint more durable! You might want to add a couple coats for extra insurance. Thanks for your question and have a great New Year!

  23. We are attempting to use gel stain on our interior doors. There are many coats of paint. We sanded wiped down the doors and put on a thin coat of gel stain. it turned out streaky, should we have wiped it down or will the next coat cover. It’s been 18 hours and still tacky. we are on the ocean. we have ceiling fans and daytime temp in the 80’s HELP

    1. You are in the right track. It is streaky with the first coat. The second coat will look great! It will take at least 24 hours to dry enough for the second coat. Wait until it’s not tacky.

  24. I am trying to gel stain a table similar to these… with an inlay pattern. I tried following the inlay with the gel stain and made kind of a mess. Can I put primer on now and start over? What should I do? Thank you in advance.

  25. I have read through all this great informant on gel stains. I have used it on raw wood and absolutely love it. I am about to tackle my kitchen cabinet makeover. I thought about repainting them but hate paint. I want to do a grey color. If I prime them with a grey alkyd primer, can I use a grey gel stain over it with no issues? I want to make sure it will stay long term before spending the money on new counter tops.

  26. Your work and ideas with gel is mind blowing! Now..I have a bedroom set of IKEA’s Malm furniture that is in that laminated wood look. I can’t sand it properly as it is so thin, you get down to the chipboard! I think a very light hand sanding might be ok, just to rough up the surface. However, the reason I need to paint/gel it is because our last house was so damp that I got a lot of black mould streaking over tops, sides and drawers. I’d prefer them lighter if possible (they are a medium right now) and am wondering if I can use this gel paint with this problem? I would still give a coat of paint, perhaps in a lighter shade of ‘hideous’ (I loved that, made me laugh! Yes it was hideous! ) . I’d be really happy with some advice! Then I’ll have to find this gel paint! I live in northern Portugal and sometimes I drive back to the U.K. so I’ll check both places and Amazon! Many thanks in advance!

  27. I used this technique on my pine stair treads and am pleased as punch with them. Shortly after my SIL installed the stairs four years ago, they began to squeak, so I used spray foam to fill in the gaps. I did not protect the wood before using the foam so it plopped here and there on the treads. Letting the foam dry made for easy clean up, but it left a film that I could not remove. The first round of staining was a disaster! The stain did not penetrate the foam spots, so I was left with blotchy stained stairs and I did not want to sand and sand and sand. I then started looking for ways to ‘fix’ them as inexpensively as possible. Thanks to your blog, I was inspired! I had the gel stain and poly on hand, so all I needed to purchase was the porch/floor paint. Thanks again for your inspiration and instructions!

  28. Great ideas! Appreciate that I won’t have to do it much experimenting in order to get nice looking results for a old beat up desk I’m going to repurpose.

  29. Hi. I have a huge, old dresser that I want to re stain. The color is a light oak with some orange undertones. I want to go for a gray oak stain. What do you suggest I paint as a base color before doing the gel stain?

  30. Do you suggest the peanut colored base for all color of gel stain? I am aiming for a more cherry like finish.

  31. Great Tutorial. I am going to do it on a 20 year old dresser to make it match our new dark wood dresser. My only question is about the Glazed Pecan Behr Latex Satin. It looks like all of the Interior Behr paints are Enamel. Can you please advise if that is what I should use or is there a specific name of the Behr that is Latex or is it an Exterior paint. Thanks for your answer and your great site.

    1. Hey Shannon – “Latex” is a very loose term in the paint industry. Use Behr’s Premium Plus, Premium Plus Ultra or Marque in their interior satin. I hope this helps! Thanks Shannon!

  32. I tried this on my kitchen table and loved it!!! The gel stain was so easy to work with. I can’t wait to do another project now!

  33. Hi! I’m just wondering if this wood work on wood floors? If so, what type of paint (ie: Porch paint?) would you use for the pecan under coat? And what type of top coat and how many layers? Thank you 😊

    1. Hey Susan, I haven’t used it outdoors yet but if you do use an exterior latex for the base coat, use the same gel stain and use an exterior clear coat like Spar Urethane to seal in the finish. I would add several coats too. Another good option is Behr’s Outdoor Stains. You can pick the transparency so you can get one that covers and the surface underneath doesn’t show through or not very much. Let me know if you have any other questions!

  34. I have dark stained oak cabinets that I would love to change to off white/biscuit with slight antinquing. Will this gel stain accomplish that task. Will I need to remove all of the old finish or just rough sand the satin/poly finish?

    1. Hi Marlina, I’ve never used gel stain for antiquing. I usually use a combination of latex paint and Valspar’s clear mixing glaze for that. I’ve had really good results with this combination for antiquing.

  35. Could I do this to kitchen cupboards but with a lighter driftwood look? I like the slight glossiness of it OR would you recommend the driftwood process you use with latex paint for kitchen cupboards? Also, I can’t get Valspar paint where I live. Can you recommend comparable brands and shades?


    1. Hey Kristyn,
      Instead of Valspar’s glaze, you might try a product called Flood by Floetrol. It’s a little so I wouldn’t use quite as much. I have an updated post with more faux paint shades and I’m about to work on a post about a Restoration Hardware finish and a raw finish with latex. To see the more traditional faux finishes with latex, go here: Also, you can look at some different options for clear coats here based on whatever sheen you want: Let me know if you have ANY other questions Kristyn!

  36. HI Karen,
    I have a very dark cherry laminate piece I would like to stain lighter to match other furniture in the room. The other wood pieces are basically oak wood with an ebony stain. Can I stain my primer an oak color, skip the latex paint and then add the ebony stain? Or would you add a layer of colored latex paint because the laminate is so dark?
    Thanks for your posts. I was reading them and watching videos until the wee hours of the morning!😀

    1. Yes, if you have the primer tinted, you should be able to go straight to the stain. Thank you so much for your sweet comment Tanya. And let me know if you have any more questions! 🙂

  37. Thank you so much for the information. I can really use the input and tips and tricks to go with it. One other question, I have a table that I put some wax on- what is the best way to remove that for painting. Would one just sand it?

    Thanks again.

  38. I’m new to your site and love it. I have a cherry wood buffet that I’d like the top piece to match my new dining room table in the oak family color. Then I was going to paint the body of the buffet a Navy blue. My question is for the top of the buffet would I choose a gel paint color and just apply that after lightly sanding and brushing on primer? Then for the body, I’d lightly sand, prime and paint with a Behr paint in navy? Would I apply anything on top of the navy paint after it drys.
    Can’t wait to hear your response. Trying to not spend a lot of money since hubby laid off due to COVID but I’d like to update our furniture in dining room.

  39. I’ve used gel stain over white-painted porch columns to give them the appearance of raw/natural wood and they came out amazing. You CAN paint over white and these columns fool everyone!

  40. Hi Karin,

    You did inspire me to use the gel stain to restore two sewing cabinets that were my mother’s. I have had them both for 20+ years but just didn’t know what to do with them. I finished them but can’t figure out how to post the pictures as your link does not take me there. But thanks for pushing me to get them done.

  41. I would like to have my laminate bathroom countertop have a wood look. Would you suggest that gel paint would last on a bathroom countertop?

    1. I probably wouldn’t try to do this technique to a bathroom countertop. I have used Rustoleum Countertop transformations and had a really good experience. I hope this helps Elizabeth! – Karin

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