The Best Stain for the Front Door


Your front door is the exclamation point of your home's decorative statement. A properly stained door adds visual elegance to wood, fiberglass, steel or composite materials that painted finishes cannot match. Whether you're an experienced painter or a novice "do-it-yourselfer," gel stains are the easiest way to create a professional-looking finish.

Gel-Stain Advantages

  • Unlike traditional wood stains, gel stains are thick-bodied solutions that will not run when applied to a vertical surface -- eliminating the need to take the door off its hinges for staining. Gel stains don't penetrate into surfaces like an oil stain. Instead, they form a surface film much like a paint. In fact, these coatings look and act like a tinted, semi-transparent glaze. Gel stains can be applied to doors using a paint pad or foam mini-roller, or rubbed onto the surface with a clean, lint-free cloth.

Staining a Wood Door

  • Several species of wood -- including maple, pine, juniper and cherry -- are prone to "blotching" when a liquid stain is applied. In other words, the pigmentation from the liquid stain appears deeper in some parts of the door than others. Gel stains eliminate this problem by applying a uniform color over the top of the wood, without concealing the wood's natural grain patterns.

Staining an Embossed Fiberglass Door

  • Gel stains flow into all the nooks and crannies of the embossed wood texture common to many fiberglass doors. It applies color evenly, yet it enhances the illusion of real wood as it emphasizes the door's simulated wood grain. It may be necessary to hand-rub the gel into the corners of any molded panels.

Staining a Steel Door

  • You can use gel stains to create a real-looking faux wood-grain pattern on an unembossed steel door. First, apply a gel-stain base coat and allow it to dry thoroughly. Then follow up by applying a darker color of gel stain with a graining tool. If you've never used a graining tool before, practice on several pieces of poster board until you learn to create the effect you want.

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