How to Apply Gel Stain Over a Pre-Finished Cabinet

Are you not satisfied with the stain or paint finish on your maple cabinets? Gel staining might be the answer to your problem. Gel staining is a technique used to fix painting issues on pre-finished maple cabinets. Gel stains are easy to apply and give you complete control over the depth and sharpness of the paint colour. The wood grains absorb it more quickly and evenly and you end up with a neat finish.

Things Required:

– Screwdriver
– Bucket
– Trisodium phosphate cleaner
– Warm water
– Sponge
– A lint free towel
– A soft cloth


  • 1

    Remove the doors from the cabinets

    Remove the doors from the cabinets by unscrewing their hinges with the help of a screwdriver. If the handles on your doors are made up of metal, remove them as well and put them away safely.

  • 2

    Clean the doors

    Before applying the gel stain to your cabinet doors, clean them thoroughly to wipe off the existing finish. Place the doors on an even surface, such as a floor or a kitchen counter. Fill a bucket with lukewarm water and add trisodium phosphate to it, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Damp a sponge in the TSP solution and rub the cabinet and doors with it. Rinse them with tap water and pat dry with the towel.

  • 3

    Apply finish striper to the doors and cabinets

    Apply the finish striper to the targeted areas with the help of a soft cloth and let it sit for the time being as directed by the manufacturer. Once the finish has softened, scrape it off using a butter knife.

  • 4

    Apply grit hand sander to remove any remaining finish

    If there is still some finish remaining on the doors and cabinets, remove it using a 150-grit hand sander, followed by a 220-grit sandpaper. Use a tack cloth to remove the dust.

  • 5

    Apply the gel stain

    Apply the gel  stain to the doors and cabinets using a foam paintbrush, following the grain of the wood. Apply the gel stain to a 2-feet section at a time and wipe it off immediately with a lint-free towel. Repeat the procedure until you have gel stained all of the cabinets and doors. For a darker shade, apply another coat of stains only after the first one has dried completely.

  • 6

    Reattach the doors

    Let the doors and cabinets dry for a day before reattaching the hinges and handles.

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