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DIY Tales: How to Stain Without Pain

By Evolution of Style on Jan 07, 2014

Hello!
I hope it's warm wherever you are - the kiddos have a snow day again today, not so much for the snow (we dodged that bullet, thank goodness), but for the bitter cold temperatures. We're talking 30-40 below with the wind chill. Suffice to say, I'm craving a normal schedule and routine!
After staining my front doors, my "Stain Without Pain" projects continue, and today I'm going to share my breakfast bar. Oh, how I love how easy it is to give woodwork a new look without having to strip the finish, sand and start from scratch!
Let's start with the before, shall we?
The breakfast bar was more of an orange-y wood look, especially when you see it against the hardwood floors that we added in the great room. (And yes, I was doing this project in tandem with the fireplace redo, thus the hot mess in the background).

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The white trim around the bar where the floors were installed, has always bugged me since I thought it was going to be stained to match the floor, so this project allowed me to remedy that.

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But I was able to transform this space with my BFF, General Finishes Gel Stain.

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It really is a crazy simple process. First, clean your woodwork.

I like to use a combination cleaner and deglosser, which kills two birds with one stone by helping to take the gloss off of your woodwork. Krud Kutter Gloss-Off is a great product.

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Sometimes it can be hard to find, so I've also used this all-surface paint prep product, from Lowes:

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Next, give it a light sanding. Technically, the cleaner/deglosser should do this for you (like when I painted my cabinets), but I didn't want to take a chance, since I am a newcomer to the world of gel staining.

Now, wipe down your woodwork with a tack cloth to remove any lingering dust.

Finally, get staining! I used a (clean) sock over a rubber glove, in combination with a foam brush to get into some of the nooks and crannies. Make sure you put the stain on in light coats, moving with the grain of the woodwork. And don't overwork the stain - you will be tempted, but trust me that it will all come together in the end.

Here it is with one coat of stain - kind of streaky, but no worries.

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Two coats of stain...

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Once the stain was the color I wanted it to be (3-4 coats of stain), I added this poly top coat, based on the advice of the expert at our local Woodcraft store. And yes, it's water based (just like the top coat I used on the front door), but a satin finish vs. a semi-gloss like I used on the doors. You just have to allow the stain to fully dry before applying it. A week or so was the guideline the expert gave me.

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And finally, finished! Now I'm eyeing that range hood - I might have to give it a makeover...

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Pay no mind to the Frog Tape...

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Now the trim blends in with the hardwoods - much better.

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And to appreciate the full effect - here is a side by side, before and after.

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I have more makeovers in the works - I'm waiting until the kids go back to school (whenever that is) before I stain our stair railing, but it's on the list!
Stay warm - here's a fun video which pretty much sums up my pre-winter storm, grocery shopping experience. It was like Thanksgiving shopping on steroids.

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