***The finished result of clean pavers, driveway, and post-gel stain!!***
(We just got these shutters put up in January and I am LOVING my house!)
I’ve never been the type of woman who wants fancy things, jewelry, nice dressy clothes, high heels, etc. because I’m just too practical. I prefer tennis shoes or sandals, depending on what I’m doing and if I feel my feet need air/to breathe, but I’ve just always been a “comfy and moveable clothing” kind of person. That and with doing daycare, I’m bending over, stooping, cooking, cleaning, doing activities, etc. and so I prefer to minimize opportunities for my clients to see more than they want to, haha!
My most recent endeavor in 2018 in March was to buy an electric pressure washer (love my Ryobi 1700 PSI machine!) and clean up the exterior of the house, the fascia, gutters, clean the garage door itself, the decorative stone flanking the house 4 spots on the front, the pavers in the backyard and front yard, the driveway, sidewalks, and the concrete gutter by the street (it gets mucky too). I had my partner do some pressure washing his last work weekend and he got the backyard pavers, the white vinyl fence, backyard and side of the house fascia/gutters, and the lower part of our covered screen porch cleaned up. I worked on the garage door and driveway last week after the last daycare child went home around 6pm and finished at 8:30pm. Then I did more on Saturday morning and did my gel stain on the garage! So thrilling!
From the moment that I heard of doing a gel stain on a garage door, I was VERY interested in it. I really love the farmhouse look (that is trendy these days) but mostly because of the subdued color scheme, neutrals that look good with everything, and a natural/rustic look. Moderately shabby chic. We have a few projects lined up for later this year, but the front exterior of the house is my priority at the moment.
So as you know, you can do a stain on wood. That’s the common one. But there’s a newish type of product called “gel stain” which is a stain that works on any type of surface- plastic, metal, etc. So I bought a container of some Minwax brand, a polyurethane sealant for exterior applications, a natural bristle brush for applying the poly seal (I used and ruined a nice angled brush because I didn’t have a natural bristle one on hand OR mineral spirits to remove the gel stain from the brush… lesson learned).
So I’d like to take you on the journey for preparing the surfaces (pressure washing/cleaning) and how I did it!
I recently bought this amazing Ryobi electric (corded) pressure washer from Home Depot for $150 just last week. You can use a 50ft 12-guage extension cord with it (no longer than 50ft is safe or recommended) so I picked up one of those too. I had vinyl gloves on-hand since I use them for applying diaper ointment anyways, so I used those to prevent the gel stain getting on my skin (and yes, do not skip that step or you’ll see why!)
On the left is a picture of the driveway before pressure washing.
On the right is the garage door and driveway after pressure washing.
I used Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner for my “soap” for my pressure washer, which is safe for plants and is non-toxic. This large jug is only $10 at home improvement stores and lasts a long time. It’s safe for use in most pressure washers but be sure to read your instruction manual beforehand. Using the wrong type of soaps or detergent can void your warranty or ruin your machine. Bleach cannot be used in my pressure washer but I prefer not to use corrosive or harmful chemicals like bleach unless ABSOLUTELY necessary.
So I used the soap attachment nozzle and coated the gutters, fascia, and driveway in the Simple Green (my pressure washer automatically dilutes it for me) as a pre-treatment. Then I started cleaning the area that I put soap on first, working my way from the top to the bottom. So I did the gutters and fascia first, then the vertical stone areas, then the garage door, then the driveway. For the driveway, I worked from the part by the house and went towards the end of the driveway by the street. The direction you work will affect how much cleanup and etc. there is, so work your pressure washer towards the drainage area (in my case, the street). Once you’re done pressure washing (2hrs for this small-ish area), you’ll want to get your garden hose attachment nozzle on just the plain hose with the jet stream option and rinse off your work area, pushing the dirt into the drainage area. That took me 30 minutes. Put everything away and let your garage door dry 24 hours before doing any painting or etc. Longer, if needed.
Then, 2 days later, I was ready to do the gel stain on the garage door. To do this, you’ll need:
- Gel Stain in the color of your choosing (I used Minwax Hickory. They only had 4 colors to choose from) $15 or so
- Spar Urethane Sealant for exterior applications $15 or so
- A recently cleaned and dry garage door for painting
- Forecast for a non-rainy day for 24 hours after painting
- You’ll want to paint at a time of day when the sun is NOT beating directly onto the area as you’re painting it (for me, that means early morning painting, like 7-9am)
- An angled natural bristle brush (vs synthetic) $12
- Mineral spirits (for cleaning brush afterwards and for fixing mistakes in your work area) $10
- Cheesecloth (for errors or texturizing) $2
- A large drop-cloth (for spatter and also so you can get the lowest edge of the garage door without getting some on your driveway) Already had mine, but $15 possibly?
- Have your hair up in a bun/wear a hat, and wear clothing AND SHOES that you are ok with them getting ruined by the gel stain. I have designated yardwork shoes for this reason
- Don’t plan to go out to anyplace nice later the night you paint cause you’ll inevitably have some on your hands, arms, legs, etc.
- A stepladder so you can reach every corner $45
- A paint can opener tool $5
- A stir stick/wood shim $1
- A razor blade/utility knife (in case you get too much stain on the garage door and want to prevent cracking once it opens again- optional) $1-$7
- Music or something to keep your mind occupied as you work (for me, my karaoke soundtrack and Disney music kept me festive) priceless
- Open your garage door all the way. Get all your supplies and equipment out and ready to go. Lay your dropcloth partially under where the door will go once it’s down and mostly in the area where you’ll be working.
- Put your vinyl gloves on both hands. Open up your gel stain can and stir it well, for 1 minute or so. It’s a bit sludgy so it won’t be smooth like paint, but stir well. You’ll need to stir it about every 30 minutes of working, so keep the paint stir stick handy/closeby.
- Start at one side/corner and work down by panel sections. I chose to save time and movement (which lessons errors) by working from left top corner down and then working towards the right. Just made sense to me to do this method.
- Since the paint is sludgy, you want to “scoop” some up using your brush but be careful as you’re applying the first amount to the garage door since it’s easy to overspread it and get it on your trim (yep, I have cleanup to do!). Get the gel stain up there on your door and edge using the angled brush. Once you’re done with the panel, use the brush to “remove” some gel stain by applying pressure on the brush and dragging it across sideways, like a wood grain would go. Try to make it non-symmetrical like wood is, and have varying pressures in different areas. You cannot remove the stain easily later, so if you want a distressed look, you need to do it while working in the section.
- Continue on and adjust your stepstool or move it to the side as you work and no longer need it for other sections. Be sure to stir the gel stain for 1 minute every 30 minutes you’re working. Set a timer if you need to. (OK Google or Hey Siri is good for this since it’s hands-free). Be sure that you don’t get any gel stain in your eyes and avoid getting it on your skin.
- Keep distressing the gel stain as you work (or don’t to have a solid color- I’m not a huge fan of this, but different strokes for different folks). Once you’re done, clean up your area (leave the dropcloth) and go clean your tools. Since I trashed my brush, I just tossed it, but read instructions on how to clean gel stain out of brushes. I would assume you get a disposable cup and put some mineral spirits in it (halfway up the bristles) and then put the brush in there to let it soak overnight, but I’m not certain of how to remove this from a brush.
- After a day or two of your gel stain curing, go ahead and read the instructions on the polyurethane seal (exterior application) that you have and how to apply it to the garage door. Repeat the same process for the sealant (check instructions just in case).
- Sit back and check out your hard work!
Before & After doing the gel stain
The finished project, after my pavers were cleaned the following day.
The gel stain gets a bit darker as it cures and I would’ve preferred a mid-brown color, but that wasn’t available. I love how my garage door turned out and the front of my house is really looking gorgeous these days. After I put on the sealant and that’s cured, I will be adding decorative garage door hardware (like what carriage houses once had) to give it a more rustic look and feel.
Getting some more plants/flowers for the front gardens in the coming months to spruce up the look even better. I was thinking maybe some lavender, some light pink flowers, and maybe some white. What plants should I do? I’m in Zone 9b and prefer something that is not high-maintenance or thorny. Write your ideas in the comments below!