How to Gel Stain a Garage Door

A gray garage door.
  • 2-4 hours
  • Beginner
  • 10-25
What You'll Need
Power washer or hose
Gel stain
Synthetic paint brush
Plastic tarp
Painter’s tape

Garage doors can certainly take a hammering over the years. From the constant exposure to the elements to the normal everyday wear and tear of operation, it does not take long before the average garage door needs a good makeover. However, replacing the door can be an expensive and difficult job to undertake. Fortunately, applying a gel stain is a great affordable alternative to replacement and will leave the surface looking as good as new.

Step 1 - Washing

A yellow rag washing a white wall.

The first thing you will need to do is make sure the surface of the door is as clean as possible. A power washer is the best tool for this purpose, though you can clean it by hand. You want to get as much of the old paint off the metal as possible as well as any loose dirt or other debris. If you are not using a power washer, then wash the surface with a strong hose. Then apply a mixture of vinegar to the surface and rinse thoroughly.

Step 2 - Prep

There are a variety of types and colors of gel stains on the market, so choose one that matches the color and tone of the rest of your home. As far as paintbrushes are concerned, you do not need an expensive brush for this project. Instead, an affordable synthetic brush will work just fine. Before you start painting, make sure the power to the door has been turned off or that everyone inside the home knows not to accidentally open the door. You also want to lay down a sheet of plastic to catch any drippings and tape off areas you do not want to be hit with stain.

Step 3 - Staining

A paint brush staining a wood wall.

Now that everything has been properly prepared, you are ready to start the staining process. Using your brush, simply apply the paint to the surface. The first coat is generally the thickest, so do not be afraid to overdo it. Just make sure that the stain is not running. If you have a paneled garage door, start at the center of the paneling and work your way out. In contrast to regular wood stain, gel stain does not need to be wiped off or rubbed in. The only trick is to keep the layer even throughout the surface and avoid dripping.

Step 4 - Drying

After the first coat of gel stain is applied you will need to let it dry before adding another layer. Luckily, gel stain dries at a surprisingly fast rate, so you should not have a lot of downtime in between coats. Considering how fast gel stains dry, you might want to start this project on a day when the weather is mild and the door is not exposed to direct sunlight. This will give you extra time to make sure the first coat is evenly distributed throughout the entire surface of the door.

Step 5 - Additional Layers

Once the stain is dry, apply a second layer. This layer, and all subsequent ones, should not be as thick as the first one. The number of layers you choose to apply to the door depending on your personal preference and the color. You may only need one layer to reach the desired look, though a second or third coat can produce a darker and smoother end product. Once the second layer has been applied, make sure you wait until it has fully dried before adding another layer. Unlike traditional stains, sanding between coats is not necessary.

Step 6 - Cleanup

A pair of used paintbrushes on a drop cloth.

After the gel stain has reached your desired color the only thing left to do is clean up. While the final coat dries, you can go ahead and remove any painter’s tape from the area and the layer of plastic on the ground. However, before you turn the power back on, ensure the door has fully dried. Remember, it is always good practice to follow the drying times on the label of the gel stain, as they can vary depending on the type of surface and outdoor conditions. Once everything is dry, you can sit back and enjoy the success of a job well done.