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!

This quick and easy refinishing furniture method will give your piece a beautiful, updated look even it already has a finish on it.

photo of restaining furniture with text overlay

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.

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But what if you didn’t have to do all that hard work? What if there was a way to restain your wood furniture without having to go through all that sanding?

Yes, there’s an easier way! Even if your furniture already has a finish on it, this method will work like a charm.

Supplies Used to Restain Wood Furniture

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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.

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 and our blog post about restaining furniture if you want to use regular wood stain to restain furniture.

To restain your furniture with General Finishes gel stain, simply follow these steps:

Prepare Wood Furniture 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 Gel Stain to 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. Check out this blog post to learn more about how to stain wood with a rag.

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.

If you’re wondering can you stain over paint, check this blog post to know the answer.

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.)

Restaining Wood 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. Learn more about how to refinish wood furniture with gel stain here.

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! Here’s another great makeover on how to tone down orange wood furniture.

Check out how to refinish wood furniture legs with gel stain here. Here are more tips and tricks on how to stain already stained wood that you should follow.

You can also use Retique It to stain furniture – here’s how to use Retique It to learn about this product and how to apply it.

wood desk before and after staining with gel stain
See this makeover on how to stain wood darker here.

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 makeover here.

What are common mistakes when restaining wood furniture?

If you’ve never given restaining wood furniture a shot, you may be surprised at how easy it can be. Yet, there are a few common mistakes that beginners often make when trying to restain their wood furniture.

One of the most common mistakes is not properly prepping the wood before applying the stain. You gotta sand and clean that surface real good for a nice, smooth and even finish. Skipping to prep furniture for painting (or in this case, staining) can result in blotchy or uneven stain.

Another common mistake is rushing the process by not waiting for the stain to dry completely before adding a topcoat.

Make sure each coat of stain dries fully before moving on to the next layer or applying a topcoat. This helps avoid ending up with a stain that’s too dark or a finish that feels sticky or tacky.

Not testing the color in an inconspicuous area before applying it to the entire piece is also a common mistake. It’s important to check how the stain will look on your piece and make any adjustments as needed before committing to staining the whole thing.

Finally, not applying enough coats of stain can lead to a lighter or uneven color. Just remember to go for multiple light coats, letting each one dry completely, until you get the color you want. It might involve some trial and error, but it’ll give you a more natural look in the end.

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!!

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.

Materials

Tools

Instructions

  1. First, clean your wood furniture with a degreasing cleaner and a damp rag to remove any oils, grease or grime on the surface. Then lightly sand the surface of the furniture with a fine grit sandpaper. Once you’ve sanded the surface, wipe away any dust with a clean cloth before applying the stain.
  2. Apply a light coat of the gel stain onto the wood with either a brush or a lint free disposable rag, and work in small sections. Within 30 seconds to a minute, wipe away the excess stain until you have an even, thin coat of gel stain on the surface.
  3. Let the stain dry completely, for about 24 hours.
  4. After your stain has dried for at least 24 hours, topcoat the gel stain with either a waterbased polyurethane topcoat or an oil based polyurethane topcoat.

Recommended Products

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2 Comments

  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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