Gel stains are a heavy bodied, oil based substance. They carry the same consistency as mayonnaise. Because of their thickness they can be rather messy to apply.
Gel stains will sit on top of the wood surface rather than soaking into the surface like thin bodied stains. This makes the stains rather goof-proof and makes vertical surfaces easy. Another area gel stains help with is with blotching.
Blotching is uneven coloring caused by varying densities and resin deposits in the wood and is the only problem that can’t be fixed by stripping and starting over. The only ways to remove blotching are to sand it out, which is very time consuming, or paint the wood, which is seldom a desired solution.
So gel stains serve a very important role in wood finishing. And they are much more predictable and easy to use (only one product to apply) than applying a wood conditioner or washcoat before staining, which is the method most often suggested.
Choose a gel stain especially when staining pine, but also when staining other blotch-prone woods if you want to reduce the blotching.
To apply gel stain follow the instructions below.
Of course with any finishing technique you have to make sure your wood surface is clear of oil, grease, dirt, and debris. Do a final wipe with a moistened lint free rack cloth and allow the moisture to evaporate.
Using a clean cloth, or brush, apply a generous layer to the surface being stained. It does not matter so much if you brush it on even, the only important thing is to make sure there is complete coverage. Check with your manufactures directions to see how long to leave the stain on.
When it is time to wipe of the stain your main focus will be on evening out the stain. Wiping with stain, keep rotating your cloth to a clean spot to ensure the coat gets evened out properly. The more you wipe the gel stain, the lighter the color will get. Even if you wipe off too much and get a lighter than desired finish, you can always apply a second coat to darken it. Once your desired color is achieved let the stain fully dry to the manufactures directions.