Got A Pain in Your Stain?

If you follow my Facebook page, then you know how much I'm loving General Finishes Gel Stain. In fact, I nicknamed it the One Coat Wonder, which seems to be catching on since even General Finishes started using it.  {Yippee!}   

When a client brought me her dining room table, I knew gel stain was the perfect product to take the golden oak to wonderful walnut. 

{BEFORE with leaf}

{BEFORE with leaf}

In my workshop ready to be transformed.

In my workshop ready to be transformed.

The grain was too beautiful to completely cover so I had to choose the right shade.  Java was too dark; Antique Walnut wasn't dark enough.   I decided on using a 50/50 blend of Antique Walnut and Java. I used a disposable shot glass to measure equal parts, which worked perfectly.  How's that for a shot of Java?  ;)

To prep the table for its ReStyle, I cleaned and scuff-sanded (scuff, scuff, that's enough) the entire surface.  Don't forget to wipe down the top again with a cloth after sanding to remove any dust.  

Once I applied the first coat, I noticed one section of the edging wasn't taking the stain.  This had never happened so I thought the second coat would solve the problem.  But, it didn't.  It seemed like this section came from a different type of wood than the rest of the table.  But the fact it wasn't staining was puzzling.

This was not good.  At all.  The table was now two shades darker.  All except for one section and I had no idea why.  

Table with light side_2.jpg

I was trying not to panic when I remembered a technique used in faux finishing called dry brushing.  Not sure why this idea popped into my head at that moment but I'll call it serendipitous.  Keep reading and you'll understand.

In drybrushing, the idea is to apply a small amount of paint to your brush and then squeeze the excess paint into a paper towel or rag.   Very little paint should remain on your brush.  Next, lightly drag your brush over the area so it's slightly kissed with paint rather than loaded for full coverage.  

Dip your brush about one-third to bottom of ferrule. 

Dip your brush about one-third to bottom of ferrule. 

Blot off excess stain onto paper towel or cloth.

Blot off excess stain onto paper towel or cloth.

I decided to give dry brushing a try since I didn't have any other painting tricks up my sleeve at this point.  And boy, I'm so glad I did!  I gave the entire area a quick dry brush and I almost couldn't believe my eyes.  The edge that had been two complete shades lighter was now a perfect match and blended in with the rest of the table.  The best part was the dry brushed area was completely autonomous with the rest of table.  It was now seamlessly stained.  Can I get an HALLELUJAH?!

Did I tell you this stuff was amazing?  That light edge darkened right up just like I wanted.

Did I tell you this stuff was amazing?  That light edge darkened right up just like I wanted.

It was at this moment I realized General Finishes gel stains were so fantastic, they can practically read you story and tuck you in bed.  Yes.  They really are that good.  And the best part is discovering other creative uses to help me ReStyle the world's furniture.

Check out these legs! {Whistling} 

Check out these legs! {Whistling} 

From outdated Oak to a wonderful Walnut blend, this table is ready for some serious entertaining!

From outdated Oak to a wonderful Walnut blend, this table is ready for some serious entertaining!

You might be wondering why the dry brushing technique worked when the typical staining application didn't.  Normally, when you apply stain (gel or wipe-on), you brush on and wipe off the excess. In this case, wiping off the excess was removing too much of the stain for the wood to accept the color.  By dry brushing on the gel stain, it stayed on top of the wood providing an opaque layer without removing more than necessary.

This method worked so well, I only needed to dry brush on one coat to get the desired look. Winning!

I love when a painting challenge turns into a brilliant discovery.  And this definitely falls into that category.

After this game-changing find, I thought I'd try it out on some old, past-its-prime patina brass table feet. And what do you know...magic happened ladies and gents.  Step right up and see for yourself.

Java Gel Stain on hardware.jpg

So, if you're in the middle (or beginning) of a painting project and find a paint in your stain I hope you give this method a try.  I pinkie swear it will rock your socks!  And I'd love to hear all about how you used it!

To learn more about General Finishes and the One Coat Wonder, run don't walk over to their Facebook page and give them a like.  And make sure to tell them High Style ReStyle sent ya!

In the meantime -