How to Restain Wood Furniture

Want to learn how to restain wood furniture but not sure where to start? In this blog post, we’ll show you how to use general finishes gel stain to restain your finished wood furniture without having to sand it down to bare wood!

Learn more about refinishing furniture here!

oak cabinet before and after restaining wood
See this cabinet makeover here.

If you’ve ever tried to stain wood furniture, you know it can be a challenging task. Usually, you have to sand the wood down to the bare wood, and then you can stain it.

But there’s an easier way!

Supplies for Restaining Wood

General Finishes Gel Stain is a great way to refresh your wood furniture. It’s easy to use, and unlike regular wood stain, you can use it on top of already stained wood furniture. So you can bring your old furniture back to life without the need to sand it down to bare wood!

And it creates a professional-looking finish.

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Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

Check out the Top Furniture Refinishing Tools That Will Make Your Project Perfect here!

How to Restain Wood Furniture with General Finishes Gel Stain

Restaining wood furniture is a great way to make it look new again. General Finishes Gel Stain is a perfect product for the job.

This stain is easy to apply, and it can be used on both finished and unfinished wood.

In addition, it provides excellent coverage and dries quickly.

Check out my list of Best Wood Stains for Refinishing Furniture here.

To restain your furniture with General Finishes Gel Stain, simply follow these steps:

Prepare the Wood for Stain

First, clean the wood surface with a degreasing cleaner and a damp rag to remove any oils, grease or grime on the surface.

We use Krud Kutter to clean our wood furniture before refinishing.

Then lightly sand the surface of the furniture with a fine grit sandpaper.

This will help the new stain adhere to the previous finish and create a more uniform look, as well as smooth out scratches and chips in the finish.

scuff sanding wood furniture before staining

Be sure to use a fine-grit sandpaper and sand in the same direction as the grain.

Learn about The Importance of Sanding Before Refinishing Furniture here.

Once you’ve sanded the surface, wipe away any dust with a clean cloth before applying the stain.

Apply the Gel Stain to the Wood

With either a brush or a lint free disposable rag, and working in small sections, apply a light coat of the gel stain.

dipping a lint free rag into gel stain
applying gel stain to wood furniture with lint free rag

Within 30 seconds to a minute, wipe away the excess stain until you have an even, thin coat of gel stain on the surface.

wiping off excess gel stain with lint free rag

Then let the stain dry completely, for about 24 hours.

You may need to apply more than one coat to achieve the desired color. You can test in a conspicuous area to find out if you aren’t sure.

When you are finished staining each coat, wrap your brushes in tinfoil to keep them wet.

Lay your rags outside, flat to dry before throwing them away.

When you’re done staining, you can clean your brushes with mineral spirits.

Topcoat the Gel Stain

After your stain has dried for at least 24 hours, you can topcoat the gel stain.

You can use either a Waterbased Polyurethane Topcoat or an Oil Based Polyurethane Topcoat.

A spray on polyurethane looks the best, especially if you go with a waterbased polyruethane but you can brush or wipe it on too.

oil based and water based polyurethane topcoats to protect restained wood furniture

If you use a Waterbased Topcoat, let the stain dry for at least 48 hours.

Learn more about topcoats for furniture here. (Yes, this post is specifically for topcoats for painting furniture, but a lot of the information applies to stained wood as well.)

Tips and Tricks

Restaining wood can breathe new life into an old piece of furniture.

It can also be a great way to change the color of a piece to match your home’s decor.

If you are sick and tired of your orange oak furniture, you can restain it with General Finishes Java Gel Stain to darken it up!

Check out how to refinish wood table legs with gel stain here.

wood desk before and after staining with gel stain
See this How to Stain Wood Darker makeover here.

How to Restain Wood

before and after oak cabinet restained wood darker

Refinishing furniture doesn't have to be hard! Here's how to restain wood furniture without sanding the wood down to bare wood.


  1. Clean the wood with a degreasing cleaner.
  2. Lightly scuff sand the wood with 220 grit sandpaper. Remove the dust.
  3. With a brush or lint-free rag, apply Gel Stain in small sections.
  4. Wipe off the excess gel stain with a lint-free rag.
  5. Let the Gel Stain.

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

If you’re planning to restain wood, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

First, it’s important to apply light coats of stain and to allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next.

This will help prevent the stain from becoming too dark. It will also create the most natural looking, brush free and stread free finish.

Second, you may need to apply multiple coats to get the desired color.

Third, it’s a good idea to topcoat the stain for maximum durability.

And finally, if you have a lot to sand, a Power Sander with Foam Sanding Pads helps it go faster! (Use code RAY10 to get 10% off your order).
Learn more about my Surfprep Sander here. I LOVE it and couldn’t paint and refinish all of the furniture I do without it.

antique buffet before and after restaining wood legs with gel stain
See this Olive Green Painted Antique Buffet here.

Wood furniture can be refreshed and brought back to life with a good coat of stain, whether it is unfinished or finished wood.

General Finishes Gel Stain comes in a variety of colors, and can be used on finished wood unlike regular wood stain.

Let me know if you have any questions!!

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  1. I would like to know why there are spots on this furniture that is not painted? It would certainly look a lot more finished if everything was painted instead of leaving spots unpainted. I’m not talking about the legs or the top,, I’m talking about spots on the painted part that is not wholly painted like on the drawers.

    1. That is a distressed look.

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