How to Use Gel Stains on White Oak

White oak is a hardwood largely used for making trim or cabinets because of its neutral wooden tone. The task of applying gel stain on oak wood is fairly easy if you have some basic painting skills. Ranging from golden to cherry or brown, you can use gel stain of any colour. Since almost all gel stains are oil-based, therefore it is important to use oil-appropriate pre-treatment and post-treatment products.

Things Required:

– 180-grit sandpaper
– 220-grit sandpaper
– Clean cotton cloths
– Denatured alcohol
– Wood conditioner or sanding sealer
– Gel stain
– Gel topcoat


  • 1

    First, you need to prepare the white oak surface so that gel stain can be applied on it. Sand the surface with 180-grit sandpaper. Keep sanding until the surface is perfectly smooth. After the wooden surface looks relatively smooth, replace the 180-grit sandpaper with 220-grit sandpaper and sand again. Once you are done sanding, wipe off wood dust that would have accumulated on the wooden surface while you were sending it. Make sure no wood dust particles remain on the wooden surface, otherwise they will get caught up in the gel stain and you will not be able to achieve a perfect finish.

  • 2

    Dampen a clean piece of cotton cloth with denatured alcohol. Use this piece of cloth to wipe clean the surface that you will be staining. Denatured alcohol will remove any dust particles left on the wooden surface to be stained.

  • 3

    In order to colour the wooden surface easily after it has been stained, paint the wooden surface with a layer of oil based wood conditioner or sanding sealer. Make sure that the strokes of the paint brush that you use for the purpose are in the same direction as the wood grain. The coat of oil based wood conditioner or sanding sealer has to be applied within two hours of staining.

  • 4

    Apply a generously thick layer of gel stain with a piece of clean cotton cloth. Allow approximately 3 to 4 minutes so that the gel stain can soak and sit in the wood. If the area that you are staining is fairly large, apply gel stain in small sections. This will help you prevent gel stain from sitting too long on the wood.

  • 5

    Remove excess stain by wipe cleaning the oak wood surface with another piece of clean cotton cloth. Allow about eight hours for the stain to completely dry. If you feel that the colour of gel stain needs to be darkened or it needs to be smoothed out, apply additional coats of gel stain but make sure that you allow enough time for each coat to dry completely.

  • 6

    Finally, apply one or more protective coats of gel topcoat in exactly the same way as you applied the gel stain coats.

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