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How to Stain Metal Garage Doors

You can stain metal garage doors by applying a gel stain and allowing it to dry.

Your garage door has withstood the elements for a number of years and is beginning to show its age. Apart from a few little dings and scratches, there is nothing really wrong with it and going to the expense of a new door is out of the question. You want to give it a facelift but painting it doesn’t appeal to you. Did you know that you can stain a metal garage door, and give it the appearance of wood if you wanted to? Yes, you read that correctly. Stain the door to make it look like wood. But, not with the traditional stain you would use on furniture where you apply it, leave it for a few minutes, then wipe it off. You use Gel Stain. It is thicker, dries very quickly, and you don’t wipe it off. Just apply it and leave it to dry. Job done.

We have listed below some tips and questions to help you get a brand new garage door by using gel stain.

How Do I Paint a Garage Door with Gel Stain?

Painting a garage door with gel stain is much like using exterior paint except for the method of applying the stain. Gel stain is much thicker than paint and dries extremely fast. It is best to stain the door on a day when the door isn’t bathed in direct sunlight. Working panel by panel, apply the gel stain with only the smallest of overlapping strokes until the whole door is covered.

How much will it cost?

For about $30.00, you can buy a tin of good gel stain, a couple of paintbrushes, and a roll of painters’ tape. You can, of course, spend a lot more on the stain and brushes, but why spend more than you need?

Things you will need.

You should have certain items on hand before you start to stain your garage door, such as:

• Soap and water (Or a pressure washer).
• Latex gel stain.
• Sandpaper.
• Paint brushes.
• Paint tray.
• Paint roller.
If you don’t have a pressure washer, or you can’t rent one, then you will have to use a garden hose to wet the door. Using a large sponge, wash the door well to remove any dirt or grime before hosing it off.

What Materials Are Recommended For Applying Gel Stain?

To assist you, here is a list of materials recommended for applying gel stains.

• Paint brushes or clean lint-free cloths. Natural bristle brushes are recommended.
• Disposable rubber gloves. Apart from the possibility of staining your hands, gel stain is a petroleum-based product and contact with your skin should be avoided.
• Cleaning pads. Scrubbing pads do a great job loosening any grime or debris on the door’s surface.
• Odorless mineral spirits. This is needed for the clean-up process.
• Painters’ tape. You will need this to cover up areas that you don’t want stained.
• Plastic sheeting or drop cloths. Although gel stain is thicker than traditional stain, and is designed to adhere to vertical surfaces without dripping, accidents do happen. Protect your driveway by placing drop cloths or plastic sheets under the garage door is advised.
• Good, quality gel stain. Choose a quality gel stain, such as Minwax or Old Masters in the color that matches or blends with the surrounding paintwork.
• Clear coat. This is recommended, but optional.


Staining your garage door is not unlike any other painting project. How you prepare the surface will either give you a result to be proud of or make you wish you had never started.

How To Prepare A The Garage Door For Gel Stain

A metal garage door must be cleaned and have no moisture, debris, dirt, or oily residue on it. To make sure the door is clean and dry, you can wash it with soap and water using a sponge, rinse it off with a garden hose, and let it dry. One other method is to use a pressure washer to thoroughly clean the door, and once the door is dry, go over it with a clean cloth, removing any loose debris still on the door.

Applying Gel Stain To The Door

Using a gel stain is similar to normal painting except for a couple of differences. Gel stain dries very quickly and must be stirred carefully before you start. Do not stir it vigorously, but make sure you get down to the bottom of the can because the pigments tend to settle at the bottom. If you stir it too hard, then you may get bubbles in the gel, which, if applied to the door, will stay there and spoil the finish. Once you have stirred the gel, follow these few easy steps for a perfect finish:

• Use a quality paint brush.
• Do small sections at a time.
• First, apply the gel stain to the raised panels.
• Then the recessed areas, finishing with light, even strokes following the direction of the texture of the panels
• Don’t be tempted to go over a stained area again before it is dry. You will only lift the stain off and ruin the finish.
• If you need the door to be darker, then apply additional coats, but wait at least 6 hours before applying another coat.

Selecting a stain

Gel stains are readily available at your local home improvement or paint store. Pick a color that blends with the color scheme of your home or one that is a direct contrast. Choose a matte finish gel stain rather than a high gloss finish as it minimizes any brush stroke imperfections.

Look At The Transformation

What was once a dull, off-white garage door is now a beautifully stained door that is sure to enhance your home’s curb appeal.

Should I Paint or Stain a Garage and Entry Door?

You can do either depending on the existing finish of the doors. If the doors have never been painted or stained before, then giving them a coat of paint will freshen them up, as will a coat of stain. It is entirely a matter of choice and which method will best suit the material and the current color scheme.

Both Give Equal Levels of Protection

Paint and stain both give your doors protection from Mother Nature. Wind, rain, snow, and debris all take their toll on the surface of your doors, so a coat of quality paint or stain will help protect them from the elements.

Which Finish Lasts The Longest?

To keep the finish looking as good as the day you applied it, you will have to re-paint or re-stain the doors every few years. Stain, however, usually requires more frequent applications than paint.

Stain Retains Wood’s Natural Beauty.

If your door is made of wood, then staining it will keep the appeal of its natural grain and color. Several stains on the market today are designed to enhance the color of wood without changing it, while paint will eliminate its color completely.

You Have More Options with Paint.

Stain comes in a variety of colors, but when you look at the number of color choices of stain and those of paint, there is no comparison. Paint can be mixed to virtually any color or shade you desire. With stain, you are limited to what is available.

Is There a Right Option?

Not really. Your options are dependent on whether you want to keep the look of natural wood by staining it or change the appearance completely by painting it. Whichever method you choose, select a good quality paint or stain that will protect your door.


How do you stain a metal garage door to look like wood?

You can get a wood grain effect on a metal door by using a wood graining tool. This instruction sheet shows you step by step how to achieve a perfect finish.

Can you put stain on a metal door?

Yes, but to ensure there are no drips or runs use a gel stain not a regular wood stain.

What kind of stain do you use on a garage door?

Gel stain is the best choice as it is thicker, dries faster than other stains, and you just apply it, and then leave it to dry.

Can you stain a metal door to look like wood?

Of course you can, with stain and a wood graining tool. Here is a comprehensive guide to wood graining a metal door, complete with recommended materials.

What’s the best stain for metal garage door?

Two of the most popular and best stains for use on a metal garage door are Minwax Gel stain and Old Masters collection.

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