Exploits with Gel Stain: Testing the Water

I've read a lot of online tutorials about people who update their golden oak cabinets using general finishes gel stain.  One of the benefits of gel stain is that you don't need to sand the cabinets all the way down to the bare wood.

In our last house, I did exactly that - sanded the cabinets all the way down to the bare wood and let me say, it was a very long and arduous (but worth it) undertaking.  I've also experimented with painting cabinets.

With a brand new kitchen full of golden oak cabinets, I've decided to explore other options to update our cabinets.

View Exhibit A: The ugly oak bathroom vanity in the basement.

I decided to start small and focus on a drawer.  First I cleaned it with a sponge and dishsoap to remove any grime.  Then I used sandpaper to remove the glossy finish (hand sanded).  This is what the drawer looked like.

To apply the gel stain, I used a foam brush.  I applied the stain on the edges first and then on the face so that I could apply it in smooth strokes.  Here is what the drawer looked like after one application.

I waited 24 hours and then applied another coat. 

The second coat appeared much more even, yet the strokes still kept the wood looking natural.  

I was pleasantly surprised at the results.  The gel stain dried evenly and fully (without leaving a sticky residue).  Plus it was much easier to use because it didn't require intense sanding.

Check back for more information as we continue our exploits with gel stain later this week!


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