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Using Gel Stain to Enhance Stained Wood

Hi, Friends!  I am jumping up and down excited today because .  .  .  .  the sofa is finished!!!!   First, I’ll just say that it was a LOOOOONG process.  Much longer than I ever anticipated.  It was a challenge, but I’m so glad I did it!  Do I want to jump right into another upholstery project – NO!  But, I did it and feel a great sense of accomplishment!   I’ll be sharing it tomorrow in all it’s glory, but today, I wanted to show you what I did with the sofa’s wood frame.  I considered painting it, but in the end, I found a photo on Pinterest of a French settee with dark wood and a gray fabric and I fell in love with the look.  My sofa already had a dark walnut stain on the wood frame, but it had faded some and had it’s fair share of wear and tear.  And, the process of removing the existing fabric resulted in some more dings and scrapes on the wood frame.  I could have sanded down the existing finish, but with the amount of work that I already had to do, I chose a different option.  Have you heard of gel stain or wiping stain?  It’s a stain that has a thick gel texture that you can use over wood to change or enhance the finish of the wood.  I actually used a gel stain on the legs of my gray tufted chairs.  When I purchased those chairs, the legs were a birch or natural finish.  With my dark wood library table, I thought those blond looking legs looked off.  So, I brushed some dark walnut gel stain over the birch legs to darken them up.  For the sofa, I used Minwax Wiping Gel Stain to darken the wood and cover all of the imperfections in the wood.  Here’s a picture of the inspiration photo I found on Pinterest.

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gel stain to enhance wood - inspiration photo from Pinterest

via Pinterest – source unknown


Here’s a picture of one of the sofa legs before I used the gel stain.  You can see that it’s dinged and shows wear.  (please excuse the quality of these pics.  I took them with my iPhone and they were taken in my lower level family room where the lighting is not ideal!)

Sofa Leg Before Gel Stain

Now, here’s the same leg after I wiped on the gel stain.

Sofa Leg After Gel Stain

Isn’t that amazing!  It really gave the wood frame the richness I was looking for.  And, here you get a sneak peek of the fabric I ended up using!  I absolutely love the contrast of the light gray woven fabric with the dark wood!   I actually applied the gel stain after I had the new fabric on the sofa.  I probably should have done it before, but I was careful and actually used a brush to apply it close to the fabric.  I did the staining at night and by morning it was dry to touch with a nice luster, but not shiny.

Minwax Dark Roast Wiping Gel Stain

Here’s the exact product I used – Minwax Pro Series Wiping Stain in Dark Roast.  This color is the same as Minwax Coffee Gel Stain and I don’t see any difference in the two products.  I think Minwax may have just renamed their gel stain to wiping stain because my local stores only had this wiping stain in the place where the Minwax gel stain used to be sold?  That’s the professional brush that I used – ha, ha!  It’s a cheap stencil brush that I could throw away after use!   You can see that I decided to finish the back of the sofa!   While I like the deconstructed look, I decided I’d rather go ahead and finish the back because I knew that I’d tire of the look over time.  But, here’s a look at the back of the sofa.  This was taken after I had already finished the front of the sofa, so that’s the fabric from the front coming through and stapled to the back of the frame.  Had I kept it deconstructed, I would have been more careful to staple the fabric in such a way that it would have looked better!

Deconstructed Sofa - Gel Stain Wood Finish

And, here’s an in process shot of what the sofa looked like after all of that velvet fabric was removed!  Sadie loved it and really wanted to sink her claws into that batting!

Reupholstering a French Sofa - Gel Stain Wood Finish

I can’t wait to show you the finished sofa tomorrow!   To see the sofa before, click HERE.

Here are a few more DIY furniture projects around my home!

DIY Upholstered Headboard

Trash to Treasure – $1 Wardrobe Makeover

Using Gel Stain

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Sunday 18th of March 2018

I’m going to be so happy to see the couch. What a transformation!!! I’m wanting to darken the top of a piece of furniture. I’m going to read how to do this. (Sand first?) Have a nice time relaxing on your sofa. (Ha!) You have the best ideas. Congratulations on tackling such a difficult project.


Friday 16th of March 2018

I used this same brand of wiping stain last year on my husband's office barn door! I loved it! So easy to use!


Thursday 15th of March 2018

Had to stop reading because the annoying ads kept popping up.

Doreen Cagno

Thursday 15th of March 2018

I'm so sorry, Ruth. Were you reading from a cell phone, tablet, or desktop? I need to contact my ad service to fix this problem.

Julie @ Restyle Relove

Thursday 15th of March 2018

Doreen, your sofa is coming along beautifully. That stain works magic! I can't wait to see it all finished. Thanks for sharing and best wishes, Julie

Linda Southworth

Thursday 15th of March 2018

Doreen, gel stain is just magic don't you think? It extends or creates new life in pieces others might wish to remove. I love it! So partial to the gray fabric. I am sure you are quite happy with the results. Looking to the reveal!