If you are a DIY guy but hate stripping and sanding your old furniture to update it, using gel stain is the way to go. Gel stain is easy to use, lets the grain of the wood shine through, and is excellent for vertical surfaces.

But with so many gel stains in the market, how can you pick the best stain for wood and fiberglass? We’re DIY enthusiasts who use gel stains in our projects. We’ll give a list of the best gel stain for wood and fibreglass that could be suitable for your different projects.

The Difference Between Gel Stain and Standard Stains

Gel stain differs from traditional stains in that it lays on the wood’s surface rather than soaking into it. Its consistency is thicker than normal stains and has the appearance and feel of pudding.

 As a result, it’s effortless to use and has superb coverage. Also, you can apply it on top of existing finishes, which is ideal for staining softwoods. You can use it on multiple surfaces, including metal and fiberglass. However, it is more expensive and obscures the wood if you apply many coats.

Best Gel Stain for Wood and Fibreglass Reviews

1. Best overall gel stain– General Finishes Oil-Based Gel Stain

General Finishes Oil Base Gel Stain, 1 Pint, Ash Gray
11,507 Reviews
General Finishes Oil Base Gel Stain, 1 Pint, Ash Gray
  • This is the stain that has the most "finishing feel" of all General Finishes' products
  • Woodworkers love the lustrous finish that shows up
  • Heavy-bodied, and so does not penetrate as deeply into the wood as liquid oil-base stains do
  • Can help you get a more even appearance on difficult woods such as aspen or pine
  • Easy-to-use stains simply wipe on with a cloth or applied with a foam brush (no spills or splashes)

It is time to pull the trigger if you have been thinking about gel staining your cabinets for ages. This product lives up to the hype. You can use it on almost any surface and get professional results.

So, if you have furniture or doors, you would like to refinish without damaging them, using this gel stain is a brilliant idea. Be sure to read application instructions and to stir it thoroughly before using it and intermittently if your project takes longer.

Let each coat dry for twenty-four hours. Use a small paintbrush for smaller areas and foam applicators for sizable areas to save time and energy. 

General Finishes Oil Based Gel Stain is available in four different sizes: 1 gallon, one half-pint, 1 pint, and 1 quart so that you can buy one based on your project. The product is easy to apply and is gorgeous. You can even use it to transform your bathroom vanity, which will look magnificent for years. 

It is a little scary at first and may appear nasty when applied, but the magic happens when drying. It self-levels excellently and lets the wood grain show through. For best results, avoid back brushing. You’ll cover all the missed spots when applying the second coat. Work in an area with adequate ventilation.

Check your local fire regulations and immediately place rags and sanding residue in a container with a tight-fitting lid after use before throwing them away based on your local fire regulations. Improperly discarded rags could spontaneously catch fire.

Pros

  • It self-levels perfectly
  • It is excellent for staining vertical surfaces
  • It is best for fiberglass doors, just like masters gel stain
  • It is appropriate for most staining projects
  • It’s a high-quality stain like old masters

Con

  • It is pricey if you’re budget is tight.

2. Best for interior wood– Gel Stain by Retique It, Thin Water-Based Gel Stain/Paint Glaze, and Wood Stain Hybrid Wood

Gel Stain by Retique It, Thin Water-Based Gel Stain/Paint Glaze and Wood Stain Hybrid Wood
468 Reviews
Gel Stain by Retique It, Thin Water-Based Gel Stain/Paint Glaze and Wood Stain Hybrid Wood
  • [VERSATILE HYBRID TECHNOLOGY] New Nano-technology makes this the most Versatile gel stain & glaze on the market
  • [GEL STAIN] - This thin gel stain rides over an existing finish just like a typical gel stain
  • [WOOD STAIN] - Thin enough to absorb into unfinished wood like a traditional wood stain
  • [PAINT GLAZE] - Works just like a traditional paint glaze when applied over a painted finish
  • [NON-TOXIC] - Water-based, non-toxic, hypoallergenic. It even smells like water

If you are looking for a gel stain ideal for matching to weathered wood, your search could end with this product. It has no annoying purple/ blue undertones. You could read the previous reviews to get the feel of this product.  It is one of the best gel stains for interior use, but you can also use it on other projects. It has a mild smell since it is water-based.

The gel is harmless to pets and pregnant women. The “gel stain” has a watery consistency, not a thick pudding consistency like most standard stains. Apply the product with a natural bristle brush 

 If you’re refinishing a wood door or hardwood floors that have been varnished, sand it thoroughly. Sand the surfaces more than what the application’s instructions say. For surface cleaning, follow the directions to the latter.

You’ll need to lightly sand before staining if you want a super smooth finish. Only cover part of the surface with paint at a time. The base stain dries quickly. When using a graining tool, apply light pressure.

Work fast with the stain as it absorbs in record time. Wipe excess stain, and plan on two coats. Use a high-quality poly to seal the stain to enhance durability.

Pros

  • It is friendly to pets and the environment
  • It dries quickly
  • You can use it on different projects

Con

  • It is not available in a different color 

3. Best gel stain for vertical surfaces– Varathane 224457H Premium Gel Stain, Quart, Provincial

Varathane 224457H Premium Gel Stain, Quart, Provincial
478 Reviews
Varathane 224457H Premium Gel Stain, Quart, Provincial
  • Designed for vertical surfaces including doors, window trim and furniture; creates a natural wood look on fiberglass and composite doors
  • Formulated with a thicker consistency to prevent drips and runs and provides twice the coverage of traditional oil-based stains
  • Dries to the touch in 1 hour and covers up to 250 sq ft
  • Applies evenly without causing lap marks or grain raise; not recommended for floors, decks or siding
  • Enhances the natural beauty of the wood grain with long-lasting, rich deep color

If you need the best gel stain for vertical surfaces, this could be the product you’ve been searching for far and wide. It is formulated for vertical surfaces such as doors and window trim but is also suitable for other surfaces such as wood furniture.

Its thicker consistency is a massive plus as it prevents drips and runs in vertical applications, providing twice the coverage of conventional oil-based stains. It dries to the touch in one hour and can cover up to 250 square feet.

The gel stain makes composite wood and fiberglass doors look like natural wood. It applies uniformly without leaving lap marks or raising the grain. Nonetheless, please do not use it on hardwood floors, decks, or siding.

It is the best gel stain that gives the surfaces a durable, rich, deep color. It improves the natural beauty of the wood grain, making it new even if you have used the pieces for a while.

Pros

  • It gives you the best value for money
  • Its coverage is second to none
  • It works as marketed

Con

  • It is an oil-based stain, so it takes longer to dry

4. Best for small projects– Unicorn Spit Gel Stain and Glaze in One, 4 Ounce Each – 10 Paint Collection

Unicorn Spit Gel Stain and Glaze in One, 4 Ounce Each - 10 Paint Collection
903 Reviews
Unicorn Spit Gel Stain and Glaze in One, 4 Ounce Each - 10 Paint Collection
  • 👍 PAINT, GEL STAIN and GLAZE in One!
  • 👍 VIBRANT COLORS - 10 4 oz bottles of vibrant colors! - see image of colors and list below of colors
  • 👍 OPAQUE OR VIBRANT - Make your project as opaque or vibrant as your dreams require. Use as a PAINT or dilute with water to create a GEL, GLAZE, STAIN, WHITE WASH or ANTIQUING TINT!
  • 👍 GREAT QUALITY - Penetrates deep into the bare wood grain or glazes over existing finishes, brightens and highlights chalk paint, and provides a 3-D dimensional effect
  • 👍 JASMINE SCENTED - Use indoors or outdoors

Unicorn Spit transforms ordinary objects into customized masterpieces! Use gel on wood, glass, fabric metal, pottery, wicker, laminate, and concrete. It is Ideal for starting from scratch or refinishing hundreds of projects.

Hobbyists, creators, DIYers, and Professionals will love it! It is unique because you could use it as paint or dilute it with water to make a glaze or whitewash antique paint, and whitewash. As if that is not enough, It is available in ten vibrant colors.

You could use it for almost all your craft projects, and it has a soapy water cleanup. It is a durable product since a little goes a long way. Use a rock, bare wood, glass, plastic, cloth, and leather.

Thin it with alcohol, mineral spirits, water, xylene, and acetone. You could combine it with other paints, acrylic, watercolor, and inks. Use it straight from the bottles, and you’ll still love the results. Airbrush with it, sponge it on, brush it on, or use it as a stain, and you’ll get the same spectacular results.

You could also use it as a color additive to wood stain to make subtle shades of bold colors. It’s a fantastic product that never ceases to amaze you.

interesting read: Can You use Gel Stain on Laminate Furniture?

Pros

  • It is easy to use
  • It’s affordable
  • It is a high-quality product that lets you exercise your creativity muscle

Con

  • The packaging is wanting 

5. Best for both wood and non-wood surfaces– ½ Pint Aged Oak Gel Stain 

Sale
1/2 pt Minwax 26020 Aged Oak Gel Stain Interior/Exterior Gel Stain
5,074 Reviews
1/2 pt Minwax 26020 Aged Oak Gel Stain Interior/Exterior Gel Stain
  • WOOD GEL STAIN – Minwax Gel Stain is specifically designed to give you full control over the staining process and help you achieve beautiful results. Recommended uses include woodwork, furniture, doors, molding, trim, cabinets, and accessories.
  • UNIQUE NON-DRIP FORMULA – The non-drip formula of this gel stain for wood makes application easy, even for vertical surfaces. It’s thick-bodied, so it stays more towards the surface of the wood, allowing for greater color control during application.
  • DELIVERS EVEN COLOR – Minwax interior wood stain delivers color evenly on wood and non-wood surfaces, such as metal, veneer, and fiberglass. Pre-treat bare wood with Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner to ensure you get the most uniform color.
  • AGED OAK STAIN – This beautiful natural wood stain provides a rich, oak-colored finish. It offers a classic, medium color that looks great on a variety of projects.
  • A BRAND YOU CAN TRUST – Minwax is America’s leading brand of wood finishing and wood care products. Since 1904, we have been inspiring consumers to Keep on Finishing. We offer consumers a complete line of products to meet every wood finishing need.

Buying a product from a brand is a brilliant idea because the brand has established an unmatched reputation for quality, consistency, and trustworthiness. Minwax gel stain has been around for a while and never disappoints.

It is a non-drip formula so that you can use it on vertical surfaces such as a front door, and you won’t struggle with runs or drips. This gel stays longer on the surface of wood, giving you complete color control.

If you want a richer color, leave it longer on the surface, and if you need a lighter color, wipe off excess gel. We consider it the best gel stain because it gives surfaces a uniform rich color. Use the product on bare wood, metal, fiberglass, or veneer.

To achieve consistent color on bare wood, pre-treat it with a Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner. This lovely natural wood stain has a rich, oak-colored finish. It has an iconic, medium color that goes well with various projects.

Pros

  • It is exceptional for vertical applications
  • It’s effortless to apply
  • It’s ideal for multiple surfaces

Con

  • The can is tiny and pricey but makes up for it in quality and effectiveness.

6. Best for interior wood surfacesMinwax Gel Stain for Interior Wood Surfaces, Quart, Chestnut

Sale
Minwax Gel Stain for Interior Wood Surfaces, Quart, Chestnut
5,071 Reviews
Minwax Gel Stain for Interior Wood Surfaces, Quart, Chestnut
  • WOOD GEL STAIN – Minwax Gel Stain is specifically designed to give you full control over the staining process and help you achieve beautiful results. Recommended uses include woodwork, furniture, doors, molding, trim, cabinets, and accessories.
  • UNIQUE NON-DRIP FORMULA – The non-drip formula of this gel stain for wood makes application easy, even for vertical surfaces. It’s thick-bodied, so it stays more towards the surface of the wood, allowing for greater color control during application.
  • DELIVERS EVEN COLOR – Minwax interior wood stain delivers color evenly on wood and non-wood surfaces, such as metal, veneer, and fiberglass. Pre-treat bare wood with Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner to ensure you get the most uniform color.
  • CHESTNUT WOOD STAIN – This beautiful natural wood stain provides a rich, chestnut-colored finish. It offers a classic color that looks great on a variety of projects.
  • A BRAND YOU CAN TRUST – Minwax is America’s leading brand of wood finishing and wood care products. Since 1904, we have been inspiring consumers to Keep on Finishing. We offer consumers a complete line of products to meet every wood finishing need.

This Minwax Gel Stain is a fast and easy way to give your wood furniture and other projects a lovely, rich color. This wood finishing gel for interior use is specially formulated to give you absolute control over the staining procedure. You could get professional results whether you are a pro or an amateur. 

This indoor wood stain produces uniform color on wood, metal, stones, veneer, fiberglass, plywood, etc. Pre-treat bare or unpainted wood with Minwax Pre-Stain Conditioner to achieve the best even color.

Though the product is excellent for interior surfaces, you can also use it on exterior projects. Be sure to coat exterior surfaces with a top-quality transparent protective finish to improve durability.

Apply this interior stain generously in the direction of the grain with a clean, lint-free cloth, regular brush, or foam applicator. After three minutes, wipe off excess stain in the direction of the grain.

If you want a richer color, recoat after eight to ten hours. Wait for twenty-four hours before applying a protective finish, and you may like the finished product.

Pros

  • Ease of Use
  • It gives you control over the color richness
  • It’s versatile

Con

  • It is challenging to use on surfaces that have holes 

7. Best for general finishes 1/2 Pint, Antique Walnut

General Finishes Oil Base Gel Stain, 1/2 Pint, Antique Walnut
11,507 Reviews
General Finishes Oil Base Gel Stain, 1/2 Pint, Antique Walnut
  • This is the stain that has the most "finishing feel" of all General Finishes' products
  • Woodworkers love the lustrous finish that shows up
  • Heavy-bodied, and so does not penetrate as deeply into the wood as liquid oil-base stains do
  • Can help you get a more even appearance on difficult woods such as aspen or pine
  • Easy-to-use stains simply wipe on with a cloth or applied with a foam brush (no spills or splashes)

If you want magic in a tin, this is the product to invest in. I say so because it preserves my wood grain, making it appear more natural than painting. Also, it gives you superb results even on pine, the most challenging wood to paint.

You’ll need TSP substitute cleaner, sandpaper, lint-free cloth, foam brush, painter’s tape, steel wool,  and a drop cloth to apply the stain. For best results, lightly sand the surfaces. You’ll use less product if you take the time to sand off old paint. Also, your project will dry faster.

Follow the guidelines for diluting the solution and spraying it on. Remember to cover the areas you do not want to stain. Let sit for five minutes, then wipe off excess product with a clean damp cloth.

Stir the stain extensively to get rid of clumps. Work on a small area at a time. – Avoid applying too much pressure. Wait for twenty-four hours between coats. After applying the last coat, wait three days before applying a top coat.

Pros

  • It has good reviews and above-average customer ratings
  • It has excellent coverage
  • It works magic on hard-to-stain woods such as poplar and pine

Con

  • You need patience when using it takes longer to dry

What Are The Different Types of Gel Stains For Wood Surfaces?

There are many types of wood stains. But what are the types of gel stains for wooden surfaces? Let’s find out …

Polyurethane 

Polyurethane gel stain is a pigmented stain typically used to give wood surfaces a richer, more lustrous appearance. This type of stain is also known for its durability and resistance to wear and tear.

Polyurethane gel stain is available in many colors, making it a versatile option for staining wood surfaces.

Oil-based Gel Stains

Oil-based gel stains are famous for staining wood because they provide a deep, rich color and a smooth finish. Also, they’re more durable than some low-quality water-based stains.

However, it can be challenging to apply evenly and could result in streaking or blotches. They take longer to dry than other stains, so you need to be patient when using them. Finally, oil-based gel stains can be tricky to remove if you don’t like the color or finish, so be sure you’re happy with your choice before committing to it.

Interior/exterior stain

Some products are specially formulated for interior use, while others are for exterior use only. Check the product keenly to determine whether it suits your needs.

If you use an interior stain outdoors, it may not last as long because it is not fortified with additives to withstand harsh elements such as sun, snow, mold, mildew, etc.

Water-based

Water-based gel stains are perfect for interior use as they do not produce upsetting odors and are friendly to pets and the environment. Nonetheless, some are designed for exterior use. 

Difference Between Gel Stains and Regular Stains

Let us compare gel stain vs regular stain to help you decide on what to use.

Gel stains are thicker than regular stains and provide better coverage. Gel stains are perfect for vertical surfaces as they do not drip. You could also use horizontal surfaces and be happy with the coverage. Because gel stains are thick, they sit on the surface of the wood instead of soaking in it.

Gel works wonder hard to stain wood such as poplar and pine. You could use them on any type of wood, including cabinets, trim, furniture, and floors. Gel stains are available in various colors, including clear, white, and black. They’re pricier than a regular wood stain but make up for it in durability and color richness.

When to Use Gel Stain

Using gel stain is brilliant if you want to make your wood uniquely attractive without covering the wood grain. Gel stain is excellent for finishing a small project. You could also use it for massive projects if you can afford it. It is easy to apply, and you need readily tools to apply stain.

Pros and Cons of Using Gel Stain

Using gel stains has advantages and disadvantages we can’t overlook. Here are some of them. 

Pros

  • Gel stains are suitable for hard-to-stain woods such as maple, birch, cherry, and pine, as they absorb the stain unevenly.
  • They sit on the wood’s surface instead of sinking into the pores, thus making staining these challenging-to-stain woods a breeze.
  • Gel stains are superb for vertical surfaces as they do not drip or run
  • You do not need to sand the surface before applying the stain. Therefore, you finish your staining project in record time with minimal effort. 
  • Gel stains are also more resistant to fading and chipping.

Cons

  • They are more expensive than regular interior wood stains
  • Gel stains could pool in crevices, cracks, bumps, and corners. To avoid a smudgy finish, wipe off the excess stains as you work. If you are staining a work surface with many facets, angles, and furrows, you’re better off using a conventional stain.

How to Apply Gel Stain on Wood and Fiberglass

The gel stain is suitable for multiple surfaces, including wood, metal, and painted surfaces. You apply it with a brush rather than rubbing it like most other stains. 

However, keep in mind that it is available if a few select colors. As with any stain, test it on a scrap piece or in an inconspicuous area.

Requirements

  • Step ladder
  • Applicator
  • Rags
  • Screwdriver
  • Foam brush
  • Polyurethane
  • Sandpaper
  • Mineral spirits
  • Gel stain
  • Sandpaper
  • Drop cloth
  • Latex or nitrile gloves

Step 1: Prepare the surface

If you are working on bare wood, you do not have to sand. But if you’re working on a previously painted, sand off the old paint, it might take some time, but you’ll save some products for your next project.

Sand the painted surfaces with fine-grit sandpaper and wipe off the surface with a clean damp cloth.

Step 2: Apply the gel stain 

To begin, cover your workspace with a drop cloth. Next, open the can with a screwdriver. Wear gloves to avoid skin contact. Dip your foam brush into the stain. Wipe the gel stain across the surfaces uniformly.

Let the first coat be thick. Let the stain sit on the surface for a while before wiping it away.  

Step3: Wipe off the excess stain

Using a rag, remove any excess product, particularly from crevices. This step is essential for ensuring a uniform finish. The stain will have a thick, pudding-like consistency.

It will dry on the wood or fiberglass surface. Allow the first coat to cure for twenty-four hours in a dry climate. It might take longer in humid areas.

Step 4: Allow the stain to cure for 24 hours or more based on the humidity levels

Unlike typical stains, gel stains will sit on the surface of wood or fiberglass, just like paint. You may need to apply multiple coats for a super smooth finish. The first coat will appear streaky when dry, but don’t worry. The subsequent coats will be a bit thinner. 

The gel stain will penetrate bare wood slightly but not non-porous surfaces. Wait for two days between coats. Expect to need 2-3 coats to achieve an even finish. Keep in mind that the dry time differs depending on the humidity levels in your locality.

Step 5: Seal the surfaces for maximum durability 

After achieving your dream look, applying a single coat of water-based polyurethane is advisable to safeguard the finished surface for optimal durability. 

Factors to Consider When Buying Gel Stain for Wood and Fibreglass

You do not just hop in a shop and buy a gel stain on which you could lay your hands. Consider the following factors to help you pick a product ideal for a unique project.

Coverage

Coverage means how many coats you apply to a surface to get the desired look. Some products need you to apply more coats to get a professional look. This means you’ll need a lot of gel stains, which will cost you more.

You can apply one coat using some products and be happy with the results. So, you use little product, and one coat goes a long way. So, you save money and time, as you do not have to apply many coats, which will take more time to dry.

Color

Gel stains are only available in a few colors. Even so, pick a color that matches the rest of your home decor to create harmony. You do not want your project to stick out from the rest of your decor like a sore thumb. 

The size of your project and the quantity of the product

How big or small is your project? Knowing the correct size of your project will help you pick the right size of the gel stain. If your project is big, buy gel stain packaged in a gallon, as buying in bulk enables you to save a few dollars. If you are finishing a small project, buy gel stain packaged in pint or less.

You could buy a gallon-size gel stain, yet you want to finish a small table, hoping to save the rest for future use, only for it to go wrong. So, you end up wasting money. In short, buy a product based on the size of your project. 

Quality of the product

Always go for brand gel stain to get the best bang for your hard-earned cash. It may cost you more, but you will save cash and time in the long run. Quality gel stains are durable, and their coverage is next to none.

Cheap products may entice you, but they could disappoint you in many ways. They could come off the services quickly, and the coverage could be poor. 

Good reviews on Amazon and other places 

It is wise to read reviews of a product before investing even a penny in it. Some reviews are genuine as they come from people who bought and used the product before you. Reading the reviews and checking average rating helps you know more about the products and some of the drawbacks they might have.

However, only believe some reviews you read, as some are subjective. For example, many people could buy the same paint from the same place

 Most are happy with the results, but one person is disappointed. The satisfied customers praise the product, while the disappointed customer spits bile. Which one would you believe?

 Maybe the unhappy client ignored some of the instructions, and they did not get the desired results. Read as many reviews as possible to help you make an informed decision. 

Cost

Check the price of the gel stain before buying it to see if it suits your budget. Remember that you get what you pay for most of the time. Never sacrifice quality for the price. Buy a reasonably priced gel stain, and you might be happy with your choice.

Ecofriendliness

Key an eye out for VOC levels in gel stains. The lower the gel stain’s VOCs, the more eco-friendly it is. The higher the VOCs, the less eco-friendly the stain is. Ensure the VOCs Levels in a product meet the EPA requirements.

Water-based gel stains are more friendly than water-based gel stains as they contain very low VOC levels. You should always wear protective gear when using stains to avoid contact with skin and to protect your clothes. 

Ease of application

Most gel stains are painless to apply. You only need a brush, a foam brush, patience, and voila! You are done with your project. Before buying gel stain, check the application procedure and see if you have the application tools the manufacturer recommends. Note that stain application differs based on the surfaces you’re working on. 

 I bet you do not want to deal with the agony that could come with buying a product only to realize that you can’t use it when you get home. 

Where to Buy Gel Stain for Cabinets?

You could buy gel stain for cabinets online from amazon or home depot. Also, you can get it from local hardware near you. No matter where you buy the gel stain, consider your project, color, and ease of use. 

Conclusion

The best gel stain for wood and fiberglass should be easy to use, affordable, available in different colors, and versatile. Our top pick gel stain is General Finishes Oil-Based Gel Stain. It checks all the boxes in price, effectiveness, versatility, ease, and coverage. 

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