Gel Stain Complete Guide

Whether you are looking to stain raw wood, makeover previous stained furniture, or glaze and antique a piece for a vintage look, this gel stain complete guide is for you.

I’ve never been shy about painting furniture, especially with chalk paint. The process has always been easier for me than staining. That was until I tried this gel stain. This post will show you the benefits, FAQ, and a couple of recent projects using gel stain.

Learning to use gel stain is something I found interesting. I have used this gel stain in a few of my before and after home projects but my favorite might be on a bench that was a family heirloom. I wanted to keep it in our living room makeover.

See the before and after at the bottom of this page.

This living room makeover adds fun pieces into the decor like this heart pillow.

Gel Stain Complete Guide

When to use gel stain

  • When you want the stain look without the terrible smell.
  • When you need to work on a project indoors.
  • When you want to skip the stripping and sanding steps.
  • When saving money on multi-use products appeals to you.
  • When working on a vertical surface.
  • When easy clean up is top priority.

One of my favorite things use to be glazed kitchen cabinets. This gel stain, if watered down, would work great for this type of project.

How to use gel stain

  • Apply like paint, with a paint brush.
  • Move paint brush with the grain of the wood.
  • Applying a couple of thin coats is better than one thick layer.
  • Use as a glaze when diluted with water.
  • Apply with a rag or sponge brush for aging effects.
  • Use over painted metal for aged bronze effect.
Gel Stain over raw wood with A Makers' Studio environmentally friendly product.

Gel Stain Benefits

  • water based
  • cleans with soap and water
  • environmentally friendly,  No VOC
  • smells amazing
  • use indoors
  • applied over any surface
  • use as a glaze

Gel Stain FAQ

The Gel Stain I am referencing for all of the FAQ’s is from A Makers Studio.

  • What is gel stain used for? Gel stain is a multifunctional product. This product is used to rejuvenate worn stain, add depth to raw wood, or totally transform any other surface such as metal. Gel stain in so versatile. When diluted with water gel stain becomes a glaze.
  • Do you need to sand before using gel stain? Yes and no. No for most projects. You only need to sand away any flaking paint or stain from the existing finish. If the piece you are going to apply the gel stain over is smooth then all you need to do is clean it.
  • Do I need to seal or top-coat the gel stain? I would recommend sealing the gel stain on any table tops or highly used surfaces. It is not required that it be sealed but for protection from spills and high traffic it is recommended. A top-coat of Matter Sealer will protect your surface and make it easy to clean.
  • Can I use gel stain on my kitchen cabinets? Yes. Gel stain is perfect for vertical surfaces because of its thick consistency.
  • Can I use gel stain over polyurethane? Yes. It is recommended that you clean the surface first. This cleaner is the

Now that you have been educated by the gel stain complete guide, it’s time to show some projects.

Watch how I used the Kensington Black Gel Stain in this Facebook Live video. Be sure to like and follow my page there and join the conversations.

This gel stain will rejuvenate your worn wood, stain new wood, or use as a glaze. #amakersstudio #athomewiththebarkers #gelstain

I rejuvenated passed down Deacons bench with the Antique Pine Gel Stain.


  1. Thanks for responding! If I don’t do a topcoat but down the line I notice it’s wearing a bit, can I do the topcoat then or would I need to do another gel stain coat before doing the top coat?

  2. I have a brand new, never been used, nursery glider that is a dark espresso brown, but is just a tad too red to match the rest of the nursery furniture, which is a super dark espresso with no red undertones. I have been wanting to use black gel stain to get rid of the red undertones in the glider, but I am wondering if I need to use a top coat or not, and also whether I need to sand it at all. From this blog post it seems like the answer to both might be no, but I just wanted to ask your advice! If you don’t use a sealant, and you have to wipe baby formula or spit up off the wood, will it get discolored? Also, I don’t want a super shiny finish, so if I DO end up needing to use a top coat, is there a specific one you could recommend? Thanks in advance!!

  3. We don’t have a white colored gel stain. The look I think you are talking about would be achieved with our Rescue Restore Paint. If you want the white washed or gray washed effect you just add water to the paint. I can help you more with that if you can send me photos of your kitchen and the look you are going for. Also, the paint I am talking about doesn’t require any sanding just cleaning. You can email me if you’d like to at [email protected] We have a black friday sale starting on Wednesday and the paint.

  4. I know there are white (marshmallow colored) gel stains. How well do those cover if you don’t completely sand before using? My kitchen cabinets are a medium wood color, and I really want them to be white or gray.

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