How to Apply Gel Stain Over a Pre-Finished Cabinet

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Gel stain allows you to stain your cabinet, giving it a beautiful color and shine, without the potential mess that traditional wood stain can cause. Gel stain has a gelled consistency, which adds up to a non-drip formula when you use it on vertical surfaces. Pre-finished cabinets must be sanded before staining and any hardware such as handle or drawer pulls should be removed.

Things You'll Need

  • Sandpaper
  • Lint free cloth
  • Paintbrush
  • Gel stain
  • Rag
  • Polyurethane
  • Sand your pre-finished cabinet to remove the outer layer of finish. Use lower grit sandpaper to open the pores of your cabinet, which will allow the gel stain to better penetrate the piece. You must have uniform sanding if you want to have even coverage across the cabinet when you apply your gel stain.

  • Clean your pre-finished cabinet with a lint-free cloth to remove the dust left by sanding.

  • Brush your gel stain onto your pre-finished cabinet, taking extra care that you brush with the grain of the wood. Work in sections if you're working on a large cabinet.

  • Wipe off the excess gel stain using a clean rag to avoid unattractive puddles of color.

  • Continue to apply stain and wipe off the excess until you achieve the look you desire.

  • Let your pre-finished cabinets dry overnight so the stain can set.

  • Apply a thin coat of polyurethane over the gel stain to seal your pre-finished cabinets.

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