Where did you buy your gel stains?

brutusesFebruary 16, 2008

I'm going to get some gel stain to try and tackle those old chairs I recently confiscated from a neighbor's trash. Where did you buy your dark gel stains? Also, are all gel stains oil based or is there such a thing as latex gel stain? I know I can look this up, but it's easier to ask. LOL I checked BM store and they had a selection of 7 and none were dark and they were oil based. Thanks so much.

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I bought Minwax Walnut from Ace hardware.

They do have water base stain that comes in tons of colors and can be tinted to what you want.


or polyshades. But if they are high use then polyshade might not be the best to use.


Here is a link that might be useful: minwax gel

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 2:30AM
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Thanks so much. I have an Ace right across the street from the BM store by my house. I'll go stop in.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 3:05AM
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Bartley's gel stains are sold in paint stores, lumberyards, etc. They invented the stuff, AFAIK.
Woodcraft stores (and online/catalog) sell General Finishes gel stains.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 8:30AM
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The darkest Minwax Polystain that I can find is Bombay Mahogany, which has a lot of red in it.

One of the companies makes a regular stain in Ebony, but it isn't a gel stain.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 8:52AM
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I bought General Finishes gel stain (comes in Java) at Woodcraft, and Zar (comes in Moorish Teak) at a local unfinished furniture store. Zar isn't labeled as a gel stain, it's just marked "wood stain". Varathane makes gel stain but I've never used it - their darkest is Dark Walnut. I think Lowes carries it and should have a sample board. Haven't used Old Masters either but it comes in Spanish Oak which is a blackish brown. All those sites have dealer locators.

Minwax's water-based stains are not gels. I have not been impressed with Minwax products the last several years, especially not Polyshades which I really really wanted to work. :-(

There are water-based gel stains although technically they're dyes in a gel medium, not stains, and they are incredibly rare. Dyes have to go on raw wood to be absorbed properly. Clearwater is one brand, the darkest colors are Mission Oak and Ebony (a true black, will need multiple coats if it is anything like the dyes we have worked with).

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 3:35PM
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johnmari, thanks for all that information and mentioning the unfinished furniture store. I have one I can go visit. They'll most probably have a very large selection for me to chose from.

I'm asking about gel stains because I think that's what some people used on their kitchen cabinets and furniture that turned out so well. I'm under the impression, and correct if I'm wrong, but the gel's are easier to work with. Is that right or am I dreaming for that? LOL

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 3:58PM
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I was in "Walmart" today and saw Minwax had a dark walnut gel stain. I used minwax on my cabinets and the gel stain was oil based. I had never used a gel stain before so I can't compare quality but I was happy with it. I hope to post pictures and directions of my Kitchen cabinets tommorrow. The pictures show how much deeper two layers of gel stain will be. Regular stain is too runny to layer on. Can you post a picture of your chairs and what you hope to do with them?



    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 7:55PM
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never ending, I'll post the photo's as soon as we figure out how to get them on the new software. Thanks for the information. My only problem is I hate anything oil base. I don't like the smell and hate the long drying time involved. I know, I'm a cry baby!! LOL I may just opt to paint them. I haven't decided yet.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 9:29PM
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I would use the oils just to give the wood some nourishment. Man and wood need enough oils to keep the wrinkles and aging away.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 6:48AM
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I found the gel stains SO much easier to work with than the thin stains because they were pretty much idiotproof. Wipe on, wipe off. Very Karate Kid. :-) No worries about blotching, lap marks, uneven penetration from board to board, raising grain (almost inevitable with water-based stain), or drips/runs on vertical surfaces. I was even able to get different species and subspecies of wood to come out the same color, which is very difficult to do with the thin stains. Goodness knows I wasted enough good wood trying!

A friend and I stained what seemed like acres :-) of oak beadboard and trimwork in my previous house in 2006 with Zar stain and it went very quickly. Cheap brush in one hand (the white-bristled "chip brush" worked really well) to apply, rag in the other to wipe off. I am sure everyone knows this already but rags used with oil-based products will be flammable until they are thoroughly dry. Lay them flat or hang them on a clothesline outside to dry out, don't wad them up in a pile. I ran out of rags in no time and had to buy a boxful at the hardware store; if a thrift store near you has the ratty clothes sold "by the pound" go pick out all the t-shirts you can get and cut them up, but it was cheaper for me to get the boxed ones. Oil-based products will dissolve latex gloves so get nitrile ones - those are labeled "non-latex" and are usually blue or purple. Cheapest by the box of 100 at the drugstore and have a bazillion uses! Recoat time (if it's even necessary) was only 3 hours. The weather was very warm and humid so we opened all the windows and put fans in them but that was almost as much to keep us from dripping sweat all over our work - it didn't smell as bad as the regular oil-based stain, and although I bought a respirator I took it off after about an hour because the sweat was literally pooling in it (ewwwww) and I was able to work with the stain without it with that good ventilation. I did have to leave the varnishing to my friend because I chose an oil-based varnish (SW Fastdry Oil Varnish) for a less "plasticky" appearance than polyurethane and because I wanted the "ambering" effect that you don't get with water-based products, and that was pretty smelly stuff. That was done the next day after the staining just because that's how the timing worked out. You can use water-based poly over an oil stain as long as you let the stained piece sit for several days in order for every trace of the mineral spirits to dissipate.

About the "use oil stain to feed the wood" idea - it is a very common myth that you need to "feed" wood with oils. Manufacturers take advantage of this long-standing notion in order to sell you products. Wood does not need to be "fed" or "nourished", it's dead. Humidity and temperature changes, UV exposure, and water are what cause wood to deteriorate, not a lack of oil. Sure, wood will absorb oil (unless you apply it to wood with a film-forming finish such as polyurethane, varnish, etc.) which is also how a penetrating oil finish like Danish Oil or Waterlox works - but wood will also absorb water, alcohol, kerosene, lemonade, or pretty much any other liquid that sits on an unprotected or minimally-protected wood surface. Oily substances can act as a slight protectant by repelling/preventing absorption of water to some degree, although a film-forming finish does so much more effectively, and can impart a somewhat shiny surface (as well as a gummy, dirt-attracting surface if overused), but they do not "feed" that tree corpse.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 5:45PM
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johnmari, thanks so much for all the information. You've put my mind at ease as far as using an oil based gel stain. I think I'll give it a shot. I want to tackle that job now while the weather is cool and dry. We only get about 10 of those days a year. LOL One of the items is a rocker that my DH needs to do some repair on. Whomever had it before its' last owner (my neighbor), actually put nails and screws in the thing when the glue became lose. Oh it's a mess. It's not a fine piece or antique, but it's cute so I want to restore it to some stage of nice. If nothing else, the cats love it!! I actually considered spray painting it because it has spindles and that would be the easiest route to take. The other chair I definitely want to use the gel stain on. I'll keep y'all posted on my progress or lack thereof. With so many things going on right now with the house, it's difficult finding time to do some fun stuff like this.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 9:44PM
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never buy the minwax polyshades, it is terrible product.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 11:14PM
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amrad. Well, some people, including myself have had very good luck with it. Its not for everyone or every project, but it has its use.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 11:51PM
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