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Guide to Gel Stained Front Door

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Gel Stained Front Door DIY Project is a great way to update a sad-looking front door. It was painted a beautiful, glossy black ten years ago when the house was built. We moved in eight years ago and it’s been fading since.  Our front door faces east and gets the beating sun for the first 5-6 hours of the day. So I figured why not try using gel stain on our front door? We used gel stain on our garage door and it’s held up beautifully so why not try?

How to Gel Stain Your Front Door

Here’s what I was dealing with…

Black faded front door

faded black paint! Nothing pretty about that. The sun had just baked the black paint and it was a very sad-in no way pretty gray!

Patch test on front door

Can’t you hear it saying… please… help… stain me!  You can see the base of the left corner of the door where I did a test patch.  I’d highly recommend you do that if you want to try staining.  I knew either the stain would work and I’d love it and do the whole door OR it was going to be painted which meant it needed a sanding so that patch of stain would be going bye-bye.

Our front door is a wood door, but this should work on a metal door or fiberglass door. We used this same technique on our garage door which is aluminum.

Supplies Needed

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Clean The Door

Make sure you clean your surface well before starting… I’d recommend vinegar /water washing. I hosed off the door first but then used a sponge with the vinegar water rinse to get the rest of the dust and dirt off the exterior door. You don’t want any grime left when you stain your door.

Texture of gel stain

Prep the Door

I used painter’s tape to cover the hardware, hinges, etc. I left the door on but just opened it as needed for the staining process.

Gel stain is thicker than regular stain, but it’s still a good idea to lay down a drop cloth or tack cloth to protect from any drips.

Stain The Door

We used cheap foam paint brushes to put the gel stain on. Gel stain is different than regular stain. It’s much thicker. I don’t wipe it off either. It’s a whole different ball game than traditional stain.

We brushed the stain up and down in the direction of the grain. You don’t want to put excess stain on your brush or on the door. Make your strokes even and try to barely overlap the strokes as you apply the stain. With gel stain, if you keep going over an area you can start to pull the stain up because it is a sticker consistency.

Gel stained front door

You can see a little bit of the black peeking through… which I love!

Gel Stain also dries very quickly.  So we worked section by section, just like we did when we tackled gel staining our garage door.

But the results are gorgeous!  In a couple of hours, your door is transformed. This is a great diy project that will add great curb appeal to your home!

If you want you can add a clear coat on top once it has completely dried.

 

You can check out how we gel stained our faded garage door and see how it’s holding up after a year.

38 Comments

  1. This looks so much better than the factory stained wood look garage doors. This has a quality look and is more realistic, great job! Enjoyed your follow up on it as well.

  2. My wife and I just applied gel stain to our aluminum garage door and it turned out beautiful! Thanks so much for the idea and for the DIY instructions. It gave us the courage to make the change and we are SO glad we did! We used the Minwax Gel Stain in Coffee shade, which turned out really dark brown, but we love it!

    1. Hi! Gel stain will definitely work on plywood. How it will stain the wood when it’s different tones, that I don’t know. If you hate it then I’d personally give it a try. You could also try a little section and see how it turns out. You can always re-sand.

    1. We did not put a top coat on. You definitely could, and I would guess it would last longer.

    1. Not sure! I’d recommend trying it on a small corner. We used gel stain on our garage door, which is aluminum, and it worked great!

  3. I have an older fiberglass pole barn door that is faded and very sad looking. I had wanted to paint it brown to match the trim on our home but my shade of brown paint is no longer available so I was stymied. I saw your garage door on Pinterest, read your post(s) from top to bottom and when I saw the word fiberglass on the Miniwax label I was sold! Thank you!!!

    Donna at:
    White Oak Studio Designs (Facebook Page)
    smallhousebigskyhomestead.wordpress.com (Blog)

  4. I have an older fiberglass pole barn door that is faded and very sad looking. I had wanted to paint it brown to match the trim on our home but my shade of brown paint is no longer available so I was stymied. I saw your garage door on Pinterest, read your post(s) from top to bottom and when I saw the word fiberglass on the Miniwax label I was sold! Thank you!!!

    Donna at:
    White Oak Studio Designs (Facebook Page)
    smallhousebigskyhomestead.wordpress.com (Blog)

  5. I’ve been wanting to add some life back to my old doors. This gel stain seems like a really easy solution. I’ll have to look into this!

  6. a friend of mine stained her garage door just like you did but put a coat polyuerthine over her gel stain, my question will the polyuerthine hold up in sunlight or will it peel?

  7. Do you have a wood door? My garage door is metal and my front door is not wood, not sure what it is exactly but magnets stick to it so it’s some kind of metal. I’d love to update the color of both of them (they are white) and love the look of the stain.
    Also, do you think two coats would work for the gel stain being that my doors are white?

  8. Hi, very interested in your gel stain garage door. However would a ronde colour work over garage door grey and is an exterior protective clear coat over the gel stain required?

  9. Bravo! Clean and classic and it makes a beautiful punctuation mark to your house. It took me many years dithering about trying to decide which paint color would suit my door, which had been painted white but now it has a beautiful bright cherry stained color that makes the house looks so beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

  10. We have a factory white garage and front door, would you recommend painting them a darker colour (as a base coat) before putting on the gel stain? I’m worried that the white may show through… When faux finishing other crafts I have painted a dark base coat first and then use a dry brush effect with a lighter colour to make the detail lines (or in this case it would be the wood grain) ‘pop’. Our garage door has wood grain design in it (which means a dry brushing may bring out the grain) but the front door is flat, so I would need to create some ‘grain’ effect. Any advice from those who’ve done it would be amazing… Please help! Thanks 😉

    1. Yes Shaina – I’d definitely recommend painting it a darker base color – my garage door was a little brown and my front door was a faded black when I gel stained them.

    1. If it’s peeling I’d sand it, otherwise your surface won’t be smooth.

  11. Wow, that looks really good! I think I would like to do something like that to my garage door. The white paint shows all the dirt and debris that blows around during storms. I want a dark color, maybe a dark grey. I think your front door turned out beautiful!

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