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Info & Techniques > Oil Based Gel Stain Application

Application techniques differ between oil based products and water based products. Oil based gel products require different application techniques than liquid oil based finishes - both produce equally beautiful, lustrous wood tone finishes.

Attributes of Gel Stains

Unlike liquid stains, gel stain are thick. Gel Stains give such immediate satisfaction and have a very high "touch" factor during the finishing process. Due to their high urethane content,  applications of Gel Stain respond with a high luster sooner than liquid oil based stains which must be top coated.  And they do not splash, drip or run. However, this high urethane content also increases the viscosity (thickness), requiring more wiping away of excess product during the staining process. If you prefer  "rubbing" and polishing a finish on, gel stain for you. The stain itself contains top coat material and they may be used as a one can finish. If using a gel stain as a one can finish, we recommend using at least 2-3 coats. For maximum durability, apply Enduro Var or High Performance Top Coat over Gel Stain.

Clean Up

Use mineral spirits or paint thinner for clean up.

Dry Time

Oil based products dry more slowly than water based products. In good conditions, allow 6-8 hours. In cold or damp conditions, allow 24 hours.

The sun affects everything! If left in strong sunlight, the materials in stains will fade like everything else does in the sun.

Disposal

When using oil based finishes, take careful precautions when disposing of waste products.  Rags, steel wool or other waste soaked with these products may spontaneously catch fire if improperly discarded. Immediately after use, place rags, steel wool or waste in sealed, water filled, metal container. Dispose of in accordance with local fire regulations.

Mixing Custom Colours

You can create a unique colour by mixing any two shades of GF oil based wood stains, or by layering one colour over another. Be sure to write down exactly how much of each colour is in the mix  and mix enough to complete the entire project. Do not mix oil based products with water based products.

Supplies Needed

A good supply of high quality paper towels or lint free absorbent wiping cloths. Cotton cloth materials such as tee shirts do not absorb well.

Foam or synthetic brushes, latex paint pad applicators, and an old bristle brush to get paint out of corners. You must brush or wash paint pad applicators before use to remove loose bristles.

#120, #180 or #220 grit sandpaper for sanding raw wood.

#320 or #400 grit sandpaper or superfine sanding sponges for buffing in between coats of Top Coat.

Surface Preparation

Remove all hardware, doors and drawers.

All surfaces should be clean and free from all dirt and oils.

Fill all nail holes with putty before sanding. There are two methods: 1. Fill holes before you stain using putty that dries hard and can be sanded and stained, or 2. Stain the wood, apply one GF Top Coat, and then use coloured putty that matches the stain.

Good prep sanding is absolutely essential to achieving a good finish! Prepare the surface by using medium paper first, and then proceed to finer grades. For softwoods such as pine, aspen, or alder, sand first with a #120 grit sandpaper, and finish sanding using #150 or #180 grit sandpaper.  For closed grained hardwoods such as Oak, Maple or Birch, start with #100 sandpaper and finish with no finer than #120 sandpaper. Never start sanding with very fine sandpaper on unfinished wood. 

Remove all the dust by vacuuming or wiping with a lint-free cloth or tack cloths. End-grains (areas where the wood has been cut against the grain), such as the front side of a table, tend to soak up more stain than other surfaces. Give end-grain areas an additional sanding to control the absorption of stain. 

Wipe-on Gel Oil Based Application Guide

1. Application of Gel Stain

Caution: If finishing an unassembled piece of furniture prior to assembly, care must be taken to avoid getting stain on the areas of the joints. Glue will not stick to surfaces that have finish on them.

Using a cloth, foam brush or paint pad applicator, apply a liberal amount of Gel Stain to the area of raw wood you are working. Divide your project into sections: drawer front, table or cabinet top, side of chest, etc. Keep the area wet with product while applying. Wipe away the excess with clean cloths or paper towelling and rub out the stain until the colour is even, applying light pressure with your hand until the first layer of stain evens out in colour. As the first coat of stain dries, the appearance will be dull or dry. Take heart, the beauty of the wood will come alive as you add subsequent layers of colour and top coats. 

Additional coats of stain may be applied for a deeper, richer colour. This photo shows a second coat of Java being applied over the first coat of Java.  

Sanding between coats of any stain or top coat is referred to as BuffingWe do not recommend buffing between coats of stain because you may remove an area of stain that cannot be re-blended. If you must buff because you have imperfections that need to be smoothed out, do so with caution using a superfine sanding pad or #320 sandpaper.

On the second or third coats of stain, wipe off the excess stain using a clean cloth or paper towelling the direction of the grain. Again, apply light pressure with your hand until the colour is evened out, finishing with a polishing motion always in the direction of the grain.

Tip: Keep extra wiping cloths nearby as you work, replacing them as needed until you remove all excess gel stain. Be sure to remove all rag marks and smudges, turning and changing cloths as needed.  Several thin coats will give a better result.

Continue to turn the cloth to a clean side as you work. On your last few passes across the surface, use a lighter polishing motion, continuing to work in the direction of the grain.  When you achieve the depth of colour desired, it is time to move on to optional top coats.

Tip: Use an old dry bristle brush to remove stain buildup from the corners of molding, bead board, etc. 

Tip: Protect any wet surfaces that you may handle by using a dry cloth.

The stain itself contains top coat material and can be used as a one can finish. If using a gel stain as a one can finish, we recommend using at least 2-3 coats. For maximum durability, apply Enduro Var or High Performance Top Coat over Gel Stain.
Apply top coat with a paint pad or foam brush. 

When applying topcoats, your application process turns into a very light, brisk polishing motion with long light sweeping strokes, as the Top Coats glide along the smoother surface of the previous stain coats. Several thin coats give the best result.

Buff lightly between each top coat with a super fine sanding  pad or #320 sand paper.  Do not buff the final topcoat.  Sanding pads are far superior to sand paper as they form around moldings and corners and they last a long time. We like using a well-worn pad on the last few coats of top coat to promote a fine finish. Tip: If your super fine sanding pad is new, use it on raw wood first when working with the final finish coat.

Vacuum after buffing each layer of top coat.

Last step - just start admiring your beautiful furniture.

2. Drying Information

Good conditions, 6-8 hours. Cold or damp conditions, 24 hours.

3. Coverage

20m² per liter / 200 square feet per quart.

Maintenance and Care

It's important to let your final coat cure for a period of 14 days to reach optimum hardness. You may use your project sooner, just treat it with special care during the curing period. To maintain the finish use General Finishes Orange Oil or just a damp cloth. Paste wax is not recommended, because it builds up and yellows, thus becoming a maintenance problem. 

Use caution in disposal of waste materials!!!!

When using oil based finishes, take careful precautions when disposing of waste products.  Rags, steel wool or other waste soaked with these products may spontaneously catch fire if improperly discarded.  Never leave application materials indoors. Immediately after use, place rags, steel wool or waste in sealed, water filled, metal container. Dispose of in accordance with local regulations.