Minwax Gel stain on Thermatru Fiber Classic door?

2ajsmamaSeptember 3, 2009

I got a clearance Thermatru kit from Home Depot just to get the top coat and sample panels, didn't like the stain color (English Walnut). I tried Minwax gel stain in Cherrywood on the sample that matches my door, wiped it on thick and let it set 10 minutes - nothing. Put more on, let is set 30 minutes, wiped off excess - it turned the fiberglas a little pick (more in grain) but that's it.

Do you *have* to use Thermatru's stain (not a gel) on their doors? How dark can you go with this base color door? I originally wanted Light Oak (prefinished!), the builder got this one that turns out wasn't finished (I didn't think it looked like the one I saw in the HW store), so now I have to finish it. I don't know if Light Oak or Natural Oak will look good with my house color now, so thought I'd try darker but maybe you have to get the darker door to begin with? The other sample in the kit is almost red.


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ajm, I found this discussion online. Looks like you have to let the gelstain dry somewhat before lightly wiping off.

Here is a link that might be useful: gelstain won't stain on primed fiberglass

    Bookmark   September 3, 2009 at 10:43PM
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Thanks awm. I found another thread on that forum that talked about using Old Masters gel instead of Minwax. I've using Old Masters for furniture, it was good stuff, maybe I'll try the Red Mahogany I used (mixed 50% with Spanish Oak - but I don't think I want door that dark) on my coffee table.

Just how would this look on the inside of the door, with all my Honey Maple stained pine trim and natural red oak stairs? Maybe I need to go with a lighter Old Masters color?

    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 8:10AM
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OK, I got some Old Masters Dark Mahogany and Rich Mahogany gels (Red M. was too red). Also picked up some Zar oil-based (not gel) that my neighbor used on his fiberglas door (1 coat interior didn't look bad, he said 4 coats exterior). I'm a little scared to use the Zar, think gel might be easier to control. Anybody use both in the past and have any opinions? Thanks

    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 3:19PM
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I have never really had any success using gel stains on Therma Tru doors. I have had some success with the Old Masters Wiping Stains. The best thing to use is the actual Therma Tru stain, but the kits are a total scam. $45 for a kit and all I ever use in the kit is the stain so it's $45 for a jar of stain that is so small it barely does one door both sides. If you do use gel stain, you really don't want to wipe any off....just lay it down lightly and feather it out with a dry brush. I usually have 3 brushes going for working on those doors and a rag nearby to wipe my brush on when the brush is getting too full of stain.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2009 at 12:45AM
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Thanks paintguy. Why don't you use the Thermatru topcoat? I agree the kits are a scam, but the topcaot by itself is even worse - $20 (plus shipping) for 20 oz. I picked up 2 kits in English Walnut for $35 each at HD just for the topcoat and sample skins (which could be worth a lot more than $15 each in my color if it helped me make the right choice for stain). I thought the brush would be worth $10 or so but it's cheap.

Anyway, I tried the Zar - almost have to put it down like paint, feather it out (hard on small sample) and *leave* it. Don't know how my neighbor wiped/rubbed and got his door looking so nice but I forgot to ask if it was Thermatru. The OM gels pretty much just wiped off - I couldn't leave them on thick b/c it would obscure the grain pattern. Even if I left them on thick and practically had to scrub them off after they dried they pretty much lifted and didn't leave much color.

I'm using Zar Dark Mahogany - now Thermatru says it's got UV inhibitors in its stain (I don't know if that's just their new "One Day" stain, this is an older kit with expiration date 2009 they told me should still be good). Think I should put down a light coat (since you said stain doesn't go far) of the English Walnut and then do Dark Mahogany Zar over? Or Zar first, topcoat, and use Thermatru stain as a glaze, another coat or 2 of topcoat on top of the glaze? Would either of those give me the UV protection?

I haven't checked into the cost of the stain alone from Thrematru, but would it be better to just order their Mahogany stain?


    Bookmark   September 5, 2009 at 8:15AM
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That application method is actually pretty normal sounding and it's why I have three brushes out when working on those types of doors. One brush puts the stain on and I let it set up a bit and then almost take it off with a dry brush and the third brush is really dry and as I feather it out the grain starts to become visible again. I just am a big fan of Sikkens finishes so the poly that comes with the Therma Tru kits may be good but I still just don't trust those water based topcoats for exterior. Maybe it's good stuff and I know it comes with a warranty. I have just never tried it. The UV protection in the stain is irrelevant to me because I am counting on my topcoat to provide the UV protection. The topcoat protects the stain and the door should be maintained. I guess maybe I'm missing something there?

    Bookmark   September 5, 2009 at 8:33PM
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So the Thermatru topcoat is a waterbased poly? I thought it was something special with UV inhibitors (they say on their website the stain have UV inhibitors in it, at least the stuff they started selling this year does), so figured the topcoat would definitely.

Should I just return the kits to Home Depot (used 1 skin) and buy something else to topcoat? Woodworking forum someone posted a link to some tests (done of wood) that said just use a deep base exterior paint with no tint, it will dry clear and held up better than "spar varnish" and other things sold as clear exterior wood finishes.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2009 at 8:43PM
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Well, everyone has their own opinions of what works best. I'm sure the water based poly does have UV inhibitors but it's still water based. The Sikkens will also hold up better than spar varnishes. You can use the water based poly that comes in the kits if you want though....just be prepared to keep an eye on the finish and recoat when the sun has weathered it away.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2009 at 10:49PM
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If it's waterbased, will it even stick to the oilbased Zar? Maybe I should either order the Thermatru stain (2 kits for about $100 to make sure I have enough stain and topcoat? 1 kit just to do the exterior and then I can leave interior unfinished or just paint/stain it with something else?) or get an oilbased top coat? What would you recommend?

At this rate it's looking like I'll get the jambs painted today and the door and sidelights might have to wait til next year.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2009 at 7:37AM
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I have used minwax gel stain on an oak cabinet. After trying a few different techniques (and ripping out my hair) I realized that the best way to use minwax is to roll it on very lightly with a (very good/fine) foam roller and do not wipe it off. I know that probably sounds weird but with minwax I think that is the only way to go. (Of course I also had to smooth it out after a few applications with a 1500 grit sandpaper)
My cabinet turned out lovely. But I don't know how to post pictures on here. lol

    Bookmark   May 4, 2010 at 11:53AM
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You post pictures on Photobucket or something similar and then hotlink them to here.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2010 at 10:29PM
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Since we sell Zar, I KNOW how good this stain is...for EXACTLY this use!!

(Return all your Therma*** stuff...)

To ME, it's easy to control ZAR's color.
* Once the stain has dried a day, I'd use any good OIL Spar-Varnish.
* Even FPE-Varnishes implore you to stay on top of your Poly'd "exposed woods"...meaning...stay AHEAD of the UV-damage by lightly sanding and applying a maintenance-coat every few years.
* Depending on actual sun-exposure, I wouldn't let a door go 3 "off" years without a maintenance coat or 2!
* If it's an East or North door, you could easily have 5 or 6 "off" years!


    Bookmark   May 5, 2010 at 12:18AM
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I have never heard of anyone using Zar stains for Therma Tru doors. Is this a new thing?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2010 at 1:07AM
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I'm surprised to see this thread still going. I used the Zar in Sept, then topcoated with the Sikkens Cetol D&W faron recommended. West-facing front porch, 7ft deep, still looks good!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 6:43PM
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Does the ZAR -oilbase - really work on the Thermatru Fiberglass door?
How does it adhere? Or were you talking about using the ZAR on a wood

Door photo looks great. Just need some clarification.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 2:24AM
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