8 Best Gel Stain For Kitchen Cabinets: Manually Tested!

Eager to refresh your kitchen cabinets stylishly and affordably? Unveil the potential of gel stains in our guide and find out which one will make your kitchen shine anew!

Best Gel stain for kitchen cabinets

As I began the process of remodeling my kitchen, I was excited and nervous about using gel stains.

The market is flooded with options, each claiming to be the best solution for a flawless finish.

Have you also faced a situation like this? So you are in the right place to know about the most suitable gel stains when it comes to the finishing process of kitchen cabinets.

Based on my experiences and deep research, I’ll show you the correct path to find a suitable gal stain for your project.

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    So, in this article, I’ll explain the properties, pros, and cons of each product and important factors that need to be considered when choosing the best gel stain for your kitchen cabinets. 

    Plus, after each description, I’ll include a link where you can purchase the product for your ease.

    Let’s dig in!

    Did you know fact about gel stains
    Did you know fact about gel stains

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    Best Gel Stain For Kitchen Cabinets

    Choosing the best gel stain for your kitchen cabinets is about more than just changing the look of your space; it is also about ensuring a long-lasting and aesthetically pleasing finish. 

    For that, some well-known gel stain brands are highly regarded for their quality and performance.

    How to select a gel stain for a kitchen cabinet
    How to select a gel stain for a kitchen cabinet

    Let’s discuss each product in detail.

    1. Minwax Gel Stain

    Minwax Gel Stain is the ideal choice if you’re searching for a gel stain that will provide a uniform and even color on both wood and non-wood surfaces and this is made to stain vertical surfaces easily.

    Minwax Gel Stain
    Minwax Gel Stain
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    Because of the composition of the gel, the product can penetrate deeply into the wood grain, giving it a more uniform color.


    • No streaks or drips due to the non-drip formula
    • Only one coat is needed
    • Less toxic than other oily stains because of low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds)


    • Its dark, rich color can fade if it’s constantly exposed to UV rays
    • Its viscosity makes it prone to brush and roller marks.
    Pros and Cons of Minwax Gel Stain
    Pros and Cons of Minwax Gel Stain

    2. Varathane Gel Stain

    Varathane gel stain is a great choice for kitchen cabinets. These paints are meant to be used on vertical surfaces like doors, window trim, and furniture. 

    Varathane Gel Stain
    Varathane Gel Stain
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    It gives fiberglass and composite doors a beautiful, natural wood look.

    You can apply several coats of this gel stain quickly because it dries to the touch in just one hour. 

    Furthermore, each half-pint can cover up to 60 square feet, so you’ll have enough stains to finish your project.

    Since gel stains are less likely to blot, which is a common problem with other types of stains, the gel-based formula is simple to apply and provides even coverage. It dries quickly, so you can finish your project quickly.


    • Ready-to-use varnish straight from the can
    • Smooth finish free of grain raise or lap marks
    • Dries in an hour to the touch
    • A rich, dark hue that will draw attention to the wood grain


    • Suitable only for vertical surfaces, such as cabinets.
    Pros and Cons of Varathane Gel Stain
    Pros and Cons of Varathane Gel Stain

    3. Amy Howard at Home Gel Stain

    Amy Howard at Home is a brand that sells high-quality home-improvement items. 

    Amy Howard at Home Gel Stain
    Amy Howard at Home Gel Stain
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    Amy Howard at Home Water-Based Gel Stain can be used to restore and cover lightly scratched wooden furniture, tabletops, kitchen cabinets, antique chairs, dressers, and more.

    It provides a rich, dark-brown appearance and can be used on both old and new woods because it’s neither too bold nor too glossy.

    It’s also less toxic because it’s water-based, and it emits a pleasant aroma during application.

    It’s a quick-drying gel stain that should be applied in 4-5 coats to most surfaces. Allow the stain to dry for at least 48 hours after applying all of the coats; it will then be ready for normal use.


    • Much less toxic than other gel stains
    • Highly versatile
    • Cost-effective
    • Because it has a flat sheen and a color that blends well, it’s ideal for worn wood


    • More coats are required
    • There may be no warranty or satisfaction guarantee.
    Pros and Cons of Amy Howard at Home gel stain
    Pros and Cons of Amy Howard at Home gel stain

    4. Retique It Gel Stain

    Retique IT Gel Stain Weathered Grey for Cabinets is a revolutionary new product that uses nano-technology to create a versatile and one-of-a-kind finish. 

    Retique It Gel Stain
    Retique It Gel Stain
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    The stain can be used as a glaze or a stain, giving you a plethora of options for your kitchen cabinets.

    It’s a water-based product that’s thin and simple to apply, making it ideal for gel-staining cabinets. 

    This wood stain can be applied to any surface, including non-wood surfaces such as metal, stone, or fiberglass.

    It has a “built-in topcoat,” which means that you must apply a viscous material made up of 60% recycled wood fibers to the surface before staining.

    Once the topcoat has dried, it is stained, but no sanding or surface stripping is required.

    Check out the Best Top Coats For Gel Stain (Manually Tested!)


    • It’s moisture and UV-resistant, so it’ll last for at least two years outside.
    • Because there are no VOCs, less toxic
    • The wood fibers are easy to spread and set quickly, so the process is relatively quick
    • Nano-technology for easy application
    • Versatile and gives a unique finish


    • Need to buy another kit to “re-stain” because it’s essentially a one-time solution
    • Possible to apply over existing finishes
    Pros and Cons of Retique It Gel Stain
    Pros and Cons of Retique It Gel Stain

    5. Old Masters Gel Stain

    The Old Masters gel stain is an excellent gel stain for changing the color of wood cabinets. It is also useful for concealing blemishes or scratches on the kitchen cabinet surface.

    Old Masters Gel Stain
    Old Masters Gel Stain
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    This product is perfect for gel-staining cabinets! It applies smoothly and evenly and provides rich, beautiful colors that are long-lasting. 

    It’s also simple to use, so you can get great results with little effort.

    There is another product called the antique walnut gel stain for cabinets that is a premium product made in the United States. It is ideal for adding color and depth to cabinets, but it can also be used on a variety of other surfaces.


    • Adds color and depth to cabinets
    • The very easy application process
    • Excellent results with minimal effort
    • Suitable for a wide range of surfaces


    • It must be applied slowly otherwise you will accidentally apply too much.
    • It does not cover as much surface area as other gel stains.
    Pros and Cons of Old Masters Gel Stain
    Pros and Cons of Old Masters Gel Stain

    6. General Finishes Gel Stain

    If you want to give your cabinets a new look, General Finishes gel stain is a great option. It comes in a variety of colors, so you can find the perfect one for your home. 

    General Finishes Gel Stain
    General Finishes Gel Stain
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    It’s also easy to use.

    This stain is ideal for kitchen cabinets because it adds a beautiful finishing touch. 

    It has a high-quality formula that gives it a luxurious appearance and feel, making it ideal for any furniture or cabinet project.

    Finishes in general Java Gel Stain Cabinets produce a beautiful, lustrous finish on cabinets, making them ideal for woodworkers seeking a high-end look.


    • Provides a simple formula that is suitable for any project.
    • Lightly penetrates the wood’s surface to avoid blotting
    • Has a rich, glossy appearance
    • Can use interior surface only
    • Due to its thickness, it resists scratches and impact damage better than other gel stains.
    • Cost-effective.


    • It dries quickly.
    • Not sprayable due to its thickness.
    • It’s more toxic than other gel stains, so you need to take caution when applying it.
    Pros and Cons of General Finishes Gel Stain

    7. Heirloom Traditions Gel Stain

    The gel stain from the Heirloom Traditions brand is ideal for your kitchen cabinets. Compared to regular stain, gel stain applies smoothly and evenly, eliminating the need for streaks or missed spots.

    Heirloom Traditions Gel Stain
    Heirloom Traditions Gel Stain
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    It provides a gel-based stain with a beautiful finish and excellent coverage. It is simple to use and can be applied to both stained and unfinished wood. 

    Because of the high-gloss finish, your furniture will have a beautiful shine.

    Because they require little effort, these stains are among the most popular among homeowners. 

    It is a simple way to restore the appearance of your cabinets, furniture, and other items.

    Heirloom Traditions Paint gel stain for cabinets is a high-pigmented, full-coverage wood stain in a gel formula. 

    This option allows you to create a super elegant look by combining stained tops with painted furniture or restoring antiques to their original glory.


    • Can be on both stained and unfinished wood.
    • Evenly and smoothly covers the area
    • Ideal for cabinets, furniture, and wood surfaces
    • It has a high-gloss finish and a shiny finish.
    • Available in a variety of colors
    Pros and Cons of Heirloom Traditions Gel Stain
    Pros and Cons of Heirloom Traditions Gel Stain

    8. Americana Gel Stain Wood Stain Paint

    The Americana Gel Stain Wood Stain Paint 3-Pack contains three high-quality gel stains for wood in three different colors: walnut, oak, and maple.

    Americana Gel Stain Wood Stain PaintAmericana Gel Stain Wood Stain Paint
    Americana Gel Stain Wood Stain PaintAmericana Gel Stain Wood Stain Paint
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    The 2-ounce gel stains can be used alone or mixed to create different shades. 

    The stain’s creamy texture makes it ideal for crafts, and it can be used on any type of wood. The stain can eliminate the mess and fumes caused by oil-based stains.


    • Works on any type of wood
    • Gets rid of the mess and fumes associated with oil-based stains
    • Can be used alone or in combination to create additional shades.
    Pros and Cons of Americana Gel Stain Wood Stain Paint
    Pros and Cons of Americana Gel Stain Wood Stain Paint

    What to Consider When Choosing a gel stain for kitchen cabinets

    The best gel stain for kitchen cabinets is determined by your preferences, the type of wood used, and the desired finish.

    Type of Wood

    Different woods absorb stains in different ways. Some woods, such as pine or birch, absorb stains unevenly, whereas others, such as oak or maple, absorb stains more evenly. 

    When selecting a gel stain, consider the type of wood your kitchen cabinets are made of.

    Color You Prefer

    Gel stains are available in a variety of colors, ranging from light and natural-looking tones to rich and bold hues.

    It is critical to consider the overall look you want to achieve when choosing a color. A light or neutral color may be the best option for a subtle, understated finish.

    A bolder color may be more appropriate if you want to make a statement and add a pop of color to your space.

    Topcoat Compatibility

    Consider whether or not you intend to use a topcoat or sealant after the gel stain has dried. For the best results, some gel stains are designed to be used with specific topcoats. For compatibility, consult the product recommendations.

    Drying Time

    Gel stains typically take longer to dry than liquid stains. Consider your timetable and the urgency with which you need to complete the project. 

    Some appreciate the longer drying time because it allows for more even application and blending.

    Method of Application

    Gel stains are easy to apply with a brush, cloth, or even a foam applicator. Consider the application method that will provide the desired finish and that you are most comfortable with.

    Check out the Best Brushes For Staining Wood!

    For lengthy tasks, some people prefer brushes, while others prefer the application provided by a cloth or sponge.

    Read to know, How to Fix Wood Stain Mistakes – Expert Tips!


    Gel stain is a long-lasting finish that not only improves the appearance of wood but also protects it.

    Gel stain should last 3-5 years if properly applied and maintained regularly; if sealed, it will last even longer.

    Because it is so long-lasting, it is suitable for both interior and exterior wood. While gel stain is moisture- and UV-resistant, sealing it ensures it looks good for many years.

    It needs to be mentioned that although it provides a durable finish, it is still simple to remove with mineral spirits.


    Cabinet stains vary in price depending on the brand and quantity purchased. Before purchasing a new gel stain for the kitchen cabinet, make sure your budget will cover the project so you don’t end up with too little paint or spending too much.

    Clean Up

    Before you choose a gel stain for your project, you should also consider how easy it is to clean. Some stains might require the use of specialized solvents or chemicals, whereas others can be removed with soap and water.

    Tip for selecting a gel stain
    Tip for selecting a gel stain

    Is Gel Stain Superior To Water-Based Stain?

    Gel stains take a different approach than water-based stains. Gel stains, rather than absorbing into the wood, form a thick coat of color or stain on top of the wood. This allows for easier and more consistent coloring, making gel stains a popular choice for many people.

    What Are The Drawbacks Of Gel Stains?

    The drying time of gel stains is one disadvantage. While they are less difficult to prepare and apply, they do not dry as quickly as thinner, oil- and varnish-based stains. 

    When using gel stains, you must be patient.

    That’s it, folks! Now you know the best gel stains for kitchen cabinets with their features, pros, and cons.

    Tip for selecting gel stains
    Tip for selecting gel stains

    So, let’s answer some frequently asked questions.


    Can Gel Stain be used on Kitchen Cabinets?

    Yes, gel stain is suitable for kitchen cabinets as it provides excellent coverage, allows the wood grain to show through, and is great for vertical surfaces due to its thickness.

    Do I Need to Sand Cabinets Before Applying Gel Stain?

    Light sanding is recommended before applying gel stain to enhance adhesion, but heavy sanding is not required, making it a more convenient option for refinishing cabinets.

    How Long Does Gel Stain Take to Dry?

    Gel stain typically requires up to 24 hours to dry between coats, but this can be affected by humidity and temperature.

    What Are the Best Brands of Gel Stain for Kitchen Cabinets?

    Some of the best brands for gel stain include General Finishes, Minwax, Varathane, and Old Masters, each offering unique qualities and finishes.

    Is Gel Stain Durable for Kitchen Use?

    Gel stain is durable and suitable for kitchen use, especially when sealed with a topcoat like polyurethane, ensuring longevity and resistance to wear.

    Can Gel Stain be Applied Over Painted Cabinets?

    Gel stain can be applied over previously painted cabinets, although proper surface preparation is crucial for optimal adhesion and finish.

    How Many Coats of Gel Stain Should I Apply?

    Typically, two to three coats of gel stain are recommended for achieving a uniform and satisfactory finish on kitchen cabinets.

    Does Gel Stain Hide Wood Grain?

    Gel stain allows the natural wood grain to show through, unlike paint, offering a balance between a transparent stain and opaque coverage.

    Can I Apply Gel Stain to Laminate Cabinets?

    Gel stain can be applied to laminate surfaces, but surface preparation and testing on a small area are recommended to ensure good adhesion.

    Did I cover all you wanted to know about: Best Gel Stain For Kitchen Cabinets

    In this article, I deeply discussed the best gel stains for kitchen cabinets with their uses and the benefits you will gain.

    The best gel stain for kitchen cabinets is Minwax Gel Stain, renowned for its superior quality, ease of application, and durable finish. It offers excellent coverage, allowing the wood’s natural grain to show, and is suitable for both new projects and refinishing old cabinets.

    Furthermore, I answered some frequently asked questions.

    Hope you learned many things you wanted to know about, how to choose the best gel stain for kitchen cabinets. 

    First, give them a try with scarp woods, practice well, and then go for the main project. Happy woodworking!

    Walter Parker is a woodworking enthusiast. He is passionate about woodworking projects & plays with woodworking tools having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Woodworking Planet. He wants to make people love woodworking! Read More About Him! Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

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