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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a large dining table to do in a dark expresso finish, would using a gel stain be easier ? Better?
 

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That question is more opinion than anything. To me a gel stain is nothing more than thinned paint. It lays the pigment over the wood instead of staining. I prefer to color the wood with oil stain and have the protective coating be clear so it shows the beauty of the wood. For the finish I would recommend Behlen Rock Hard Table Top Finish.
 

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I use a general wipe on wipe off gel stain. I like it. It does not seem to "muddy" the grain. It also is easy to use.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I'm using GF water based stain and its hard to put on.. Dries real quick and gets uneven, I'm not sure what type of wood the furniture is, best guess is oak.
 

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I'm using GF water based stain and its hard to put on.. Dries real quick and gets uneven, I'm not sure what type of wood the furniture is, best guess is oak.
Are you wiping the stain or spraying it. I don't work very much with water based stains but when I do I spray it. I would imagine if you are wiping it you should thin it more. You might give it a try on some scraps. Perhaps someone with more experience with water based stains could answer you better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Wiping it, it is pretty thick. Only sits for 1 min then I get the expresso color I wanted. Should I use oil based, easier,?
 

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Wiping it, it is pretty thick. Only sits for 1 min then I get the expresso color I wanted. Should I use oil based, easier,?
Well I started finishing before the enviromental movement and before water based finishes started taking over. For me it is far easier to use oil based stains. Chances are if another person started with water based stain and hadn't used oil based stains it would be easier for them to use water based stains and would tend to recommend them. Everything has it's quirks and once you get used to working with one product it's a struggle to switch to another. The only thing I can't see how you can get around useing a water based stain is the water in it raising the grain. This would be more of a issue wiping it. You just need to wait for input from someone that works with water based stains on a regular basis to get the other side of the story.
 

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I use a Georgian Cherry gel stain. Mostly because my wife like the color and I still have a bunch left:blink: I do like it for flat surfaces where you can wipe it off easily without buunching up around corneres.

Here is my litmus test if I will use a gel stain: If I have to use a q tip to get into an area.......then I won;t use it. These were done with gel stain. The doors were stained before being put together. I would never use a gel stain doors like these assembled. It would pool and become uneven.

The blotchiness is there on purpose. My wife wanted a "burnt" look to it.
almost done1.jpg

almost done.jpg
 

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mengtian said:
Here is my litmus test if I will use a gel stain: If I have to use a q tip to get into an area.......then I won;t use it. These were done with gel stain. The doors were stained before being put together. I would never use a gel stain doors like these assembled. It would pool and become uneven.
That makes sense. BTW, very nice looking stand.

Mark
 

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I have a large dining table to do in a dark expresso finish, would using a gel stain be easier ? Better?
To answer your question, gel stains in general are very easy to use. They can be applied over most any surface. For a specific brand, it's best to follow product application directions. But generally, it's liberally applied, and wiped down to the desired coverage. If too much stain is left on and not wiped down, it can have an extended dry time.

Oil base stains have the longest working time, and because of the resins in the stain which somewhat seal wood fibers, usually gives a one time application to achieve the desired color. These need to be applied, allowed to sit for a few minutes and then wiped off.

Waterbased stains dry fast and can be recoated to get additional staining. Coverages should be worked out when being wiped off to minimize the overlapping from one application to another. Grain raising isn't a major problem. I wouldn't sand the stained wood, or the first topcoat or two after staining. You don't want to be sanding off the stained application. This also applies to using an oil based stain or using dyes.

Dyes work very well. Waterbased dyes are applied and finished as waterbased stains. Alcohol (methanol) based dyes dry very fast, don't raise the grain, and have to be worked to minimize overlap. They can be called NGR (non grain raising). Any stain or dye can be sprayed, but still may require to be wiped to get an even coverage.







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Pigment is pigment. Whether it is in oil stain, water based stain, gel stain or paint, it is all the same pigment. With paint there is enough pigment to make it opaque enough to cover over another color.

Also each product has a different binder (resin) and solvent. Once the stain is dry and the solvent has evaporated it is the same pigment left on the wood no matter which stain you use.

A gel stain has a thixotropic quality which is just a fancy way of saying it is thicker and doesn't absorb into the wood as easily as a typical oil or water based stain. This makes it really good for blotch prone woods since the softer wood can't absorb more color.
 
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