Stained "Wood" Window

You may remember about 9 months ago we got our ugly aluminum front window replaced with a cool fiberglass-that-looks-like-wood-window.

And when we got the house painted we painted the outside of the window, but the inside has remained bare "wood" ever since. Plus, you could never see it because we had a big huge curtain hanging in front of it

But now that we're working on the front room the plan is to finally stain it and then sew and install a roman shade so we can finally look out our pretty (and expensive, ugh) front window.

I taped everything off to protect the glass, sill and walls

And then I brought out the stain: per the product instructions this window needed to be stained with Gel Stain. HD now carries them, but when I was looking to buy some about 3 months ago (I've had the intention of completing this project for a little while), they didn't, and neither did our go-to hardwood place MacBeath, so I returned to the internet for another search.

The first link that popped up was Minwax, but you know how I feel about them. So I scrolled down to the Rockler link (we use a ton of their stuff for all the woodworking we do and love them) to see what they had to offer. Via email back and forth Chris and I settled on Antique Walnut (we thought it was the best match to the original baseboard and trim stain).

When it arrived I tested it out on the samples our window company left and Chris and I found that we liked 2 coats of stain best.

With everything all prepped, I got started

Gel stain gets applied like regular oil or water based stain (with a clean, lint free rag), the only difference is that it's a lot thicker, like a gel (imagine that).

I made my way around the window and after about 45 minutes I had the whole thing done

But after I let it dry for a few hours Chris and I were both a little weirded out that the color after 1 coat was so much lighter than it had been when I did the sample. It was also very splotchy and I hadn't had that experience with the sample either

A few days later when I applied the second coat I decided that this time I wouldn't rub out the excess stain, that I would just leave it on the window trim and let it soak in. I wouldn't apply a ton onto the window, but normally when you apply stain you spread it on with a rag, let it sit for a little, and wipe the extra. I would do the same thing, just minus the last little wipe.

I paid a lot of attention to how the stain was going on during that second coat (I wish I had pics, but my hands were covered in stain) and noticed that because gel stain is so thick, it actually goes on a lot like paint. Because of this it was necessary to apply it in long, even stretches. I made sure not to let any gob up anywhere because that's where streaking occurred. Normally this isn't really a problem with oil and water based stains, even when you let it sit for a while, the color tends to even itself out a bit (or at least it isn't as splotchy as the gel based). But with the gel stain it was really important to make sure that the thickness in coverage was uniform everywhere in order to get the most even saturation.

Once I was finished and let it sit for a day or so it had a much richer color and I was glad to have not wiped any of the excess away (sorry for the not great lighting, we still don't have light in this room yet because of work on the ceiling so all the pictures are a bit dark and/or shaky)

The window looks great, but when I pulled away the tape I saw some places where the stain seeped in a bit so I'll have to clean it up

And the sill is seriously struggling

So it still needs a bit of touching up here and there and the sill needs to be sanded down and restained, but it's looking good so far!

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