Gel Finish for Kitchen Cabinets

Gel stain is one thing, gel polyurethane topcoast is something else. But both may be suitable in different ways. February 12, 2009

I'm sure this question has been asked before, but on custom kitchen cabinetry (bare wood) is gel-stain with a gel-urethane topcoat a suitable and durable protective coating? I've used it before on custom furniture that isn't going to take as much abuse and it seems ok. I can apply it fairly well myself of course which is a perk. However, if it makes a world of difference in durability, I'd just assume hire a finisher to lacquer the cabinets and components or use some other sort of harder/thicker finish. Note that this is for my own kitchen and not a job I'm selling.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor S:
It's an acceptable coating for an entry door. The fiberglass door stain "kits" are these products, and seem to hold up extremely well. An entry door takes a lot of abuse. My suggestion is that you go for it.

From contributor C:
I guess I was wondering more if it was suitable for kitchen cabinets because of the moisture resistance factor. From what I've read it is not the best finish for a moisture barrier, which I would assume would be a key concern for kitchen cabs but I'm looking for an expert opinion.

From contributor S:
Ok, to me you're asking two questions: gel-stain and gel finish. First of all, we've been using polyurethane gel finish on our cabinets for years, and conclude it holds up well. We have it the kitchen, laundry, and bath cabinets in our own home (five years). We are a small shop and like to use it because it doesn't drip and finishes up very nice.

Gel stain is a slightly different issue. When we stain our woods we like to maintain the grain of the wood. A gel stain can cause a slight hazy effect. Two or more coats and it looks painted, so if you use it limit yourself to one coat and follow with clear gel. The one place I did use it was to match a lady's existing cabinets that were cherry-stained oak. But again, I only put on one coat of the gel stain.