Gel Stains

If you are following along with my One Room Challenge progress, then you know that I am redesigning our master bedroom and that one of my goals was to create a comfortable reading nook in the corner of the room. Whether you are installing a new hardwood floor, refinishing an old one, or just keeping your existing floors looking good as new, Minwax has a full range of products to make and keep your floors beautiful. So far, though, I’ve used one coat for paint (leaving it overnight or while I’m at work) then a 2nd coat for stain. To remove it, I’m pouring a quart of hot water into this container into which I’m adding a heaping tablespoon of powdered bleach called oxalic acid.

Minwax Preparation products are the first step to ensure your wood surfaces show their most beautiful colours and smoothest finishes. The polyurethane that I used had a blue tinge when applied (which I freaked out about for only a few seconds), but quickly went away – thank goodness! Always apply a liberal coat of a pre-stain wood conditioner prior to staining and even then select light to medium colors. The longer the stain is left on, the deeper and richer the color will be. For consistent color, use careful timing.

I often use a ROS to get to my highest grit then use a linear sander of the same grit to go over the surface with the grain. The thing is, believe a tiny blurb on their web site and neutralize or wipe down your piece with water and the scrubbie. That said, I think the use of dewaxed shellac, which I get in the form of Zinsser SealCoatâ„¢, is a great way to pre-seal end grain if you want to prevent excess stain from being absorbed there. I’m thinking the orbital might work so long as I use less pressure or perhaps I should just hand sand the whole thing (worried that might take forever).

We use that prior to stain almost all the time to encourage the wood to take the stain in fewer coats. But given my inability to get it wiped off without streaking I decided to try the next coat with the oil based stain which I’ve had more experience with. Next time I would also definitely use a wood conditioner prior to staining for a more even application.

Your cloth will simply wipe off the stain blocked from the pores by the existing finish. I love the Wood Classics brand water based poly found @ Sherwin Williams – its really good stuff! The water evaporates leaving more sealer in the more porous areas resulting in more even stain absorption. Oil finishes like this, penetrate deeply into the wood and require multiple coats applied over several days.

As far as the gel stain colors, I’m only familiar with the Java color that I used. Simply put, wood conditioner is a far less risky alternative, and the companies themselves clue you in to which types of stains may need it by marketing it together with those particular stains. I used minwax to stain my Ikea butcherblocks and waterlox to seal them with no apparent issues.

I’ve used them with success, and some real outside the box creativity, but you had to want to use them to get good results. I’ve used it again and again because I loved the results although this one is stinky so use it in a ventilated area. If you are using a pigment stain, such as Minwax or Varathane, bear in mind that pigment stains work best on large-grained woods like oak and worst on tight-grained woods like maple. After sanding”, I wiped away all of the dust, and then gave them two more coats of polyurethane. Recommended finishes include Minwax® Fast-Drying Polyurethane or Minwax® Wipe-On Poly.

Commercial wood conditioner/pre-stain conditioners are merely proprietary products designed to partially seal the wood. I don’t think you would get the full effect of Polyshades by applying it as you stated so I would put a coat or oil or polyurethane over the top for stain protection. The idea is to be able to see the wood grain and with a primer it would be all but hidden. Apply a coat of wood conditioner evenly to the entire surface of the wood using a paint brush.

The other thing I like about this finish too or this top coat is that it’s got a very slight yellow or amber color to it and that’s going to look very attractive on top of this cherry stain. Afterwards remove any unabsorbed stain by rubbing a clean cloth in the direction of the grain. If you are using water base top coats to finish later, use the denatured alcohol solution only for cleaning; do not use mineral spirits or steel wool.

You probably can’t tell too well from the pictures but the wood grain is still visible which I just love. To remove these types of blemishes, soak a cloth in water and then wring it out as much as you can. This process gives very even coverage and a very even color, so you should not have to use a wood conditioner or any other pre-treatment. Last summer I tried touching-up scratches on a head & foot board by applying a matching cherry stain over the finish. The more time the stain is allowed to penetrate, the richer and darker the color will be. DO NOT ALLOW STAIN THAT HAS NOT PENETRATED INTO THE WOOD TO DRY ON THE WOOD SURFACE.

Note how the green (less porous and harder) portions of the wood accepted little stain but the white (more porous and softer) portions of the wood accepted much stain thus darkening that portion of wood much more. A pre-stain conditioner can limit absorption and therefore the shade of the stain – it may not be as dark. After the second stain dries, I then use the 220-grit sandpaper to smooth out the desk and then I apply one last coat of stain.

Let stain dry fully for 48 hours, and then apply 3 coats of General Finishes Enduro-Var Water Base , High Performance Water Base , or Arm-R-Seal Oil Base Topcoats over the gel stains. You’re not looking to strip the wood, you’re simply looking to take down the shine a bit and create a clean, grease-free surface to apply the gel stain to. After it’s all clean, wipe the surface down with a damp cloth and let it dry.

Companies selling oil-based stains, the ones most prone to blotching, also sell wood conditioner. As far as going lighter, the only way you would be able to do that is the old fashioned way (or painting)…sanding completely down to the bare wood and restaining. For example, if one shade of stain is a bit too dark you can add a lighter stain to it until you get the desired shade. You need to stain within a time window – too early and not much stain is absorbed, too late and more blotching occurs. The Gel Stain is ideal for vertical surfaces like these because it won’t run or drip like traditional stains.

While I have gotten a few stains, the ease with which those stains can be removed gives me such freedom to actually USE my countertops (whereas before, I was trying to baby them…and that’s not pleasant in a kitchen). Various species of wood color differently for a given stain and, obviously, a given species of wood colors differently for various stains. To understand how these two types of stains behave differently, imagine a piece of wood as if it were a slice of bread. A regular polyurethane will crack and fail after a couple short years in brutal exterior settings whereas a spar urethane can last a decade or so with care.