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Hey there! Today, I want to share with you my experience of transforming my garage doors to achieve a wood look without breaking the bank. Earlier this summer, I embarked on an exterior renovation project that involved painting the brick, updating the exterior doors, replacing the lighting, and considering new wood garage doors. After a little over two months of hard work, I am ecstatic with the results. Let me take you through the process and show you how you can achieve the same stunning outcome.

Planning and Inspiration

To kick off the renovation, I started by researching and planning. I wrote a few blog posts about my design ideas, including one about painting our brick house and another about working with an online design service. I also shared my top picks for exterior sconces. These posts not only helped me organize my thoughts but also served as a valuable resource during the renovation process. Feel free to check them out for inspiration!

Before and After
Before and After: A remarkable transformation

The Quest for Wood Garage Doors

After completing the painting phase, I realized that my garage doors needed a major upgrade to complement the overall look. I reached out to a few garage door companies and received quotes ranging from $6,500 to $10,000 for new wood garage doors. Since we were already stretching our exterior renovation budget, I decided to explore alternative options. Plus, even if we had the budget, the lead time for custom doors was a staggering 3 to 5 months!

The DIY Solution: Faux Wood Look with Gel Stain

That’s when I remembered seeing some DIY projects where gel stain was used to create a faux wood look. I thought it was worth giving it a try to see if it could be a viable solution. Not only would it save us a significant amount of money, but it would also be a fun and rewarding project to undertake.

Gel Stain Experiment
Gel stain experiment: Testing the waters

Project Supplies

Before diving into the process, let me share the supplies you’ll need for this project:

  • Disposable Gloves: Protect your hands during the painting process.
  • Staining Pads: Use these to apply the gel stain.
  • Exterior Paint: I used SW Resilience in Rookwood Brown for the base coat.
  • Gel Stain: I used a mixture of General Finishes to achieve the desired wood color.
  • Paint Roller and Tray: For applying the exterior paint.
  • Painters Tape: Use it to protect areas you don’t want to paint.

Project Supplies
Project supplies: Get everything you need in advance

The Transformation Process

Now let’s get into the nitty-gritty of transforming your garage doors into stunning wood-like masterpieces!

Step 1: Clean the Doors

Start by thoroughly cleaning each door. I personally like using a product called TSP, but a simple mixture of water and dish soap will work just fine.

Cleaning the Doors
Clean the doors to ensure a smooth surface

Step 2: Apply the Base Coat

Next, it’s time to apply the base coat of exterior paint. Choose a color that is a few shades lighter than your desired wood tone. This step is crucial because if the base coat and gel coat are too different in shades, the final result may appear streaky.

Applying the Base Coat
Applying the base coat for a solid foundation

Step 3: Add the Gel Stain

Now comes the exciting part! Mix your chosen gel stain colors according to the shade you want to achieve. I used a combination of American Oak, Ash Gray, and Antique Walnut. Using a paintbrush, apply the gel stain in random strokes, following the direction of the grain. Don’t worry about being too precise; small imperfections will only enhance the wood-like effect.

Applying the Gel Stain
Applying the gel stain for a realistic wood look

Step 4: Wipe Away Excess Stain

Work in small sections, as gel stain dries quickly. After applying the gel stain to a panel, use a staining pad to wipe away the excess stain until you achieve the desired look. Remember, you can always touch up or make adjustments later, so feel free to experiment and have fun with it!

Wiping Away Excess Stain
Wipe away excess stain to achieve the perfect finish

The Final Result

And there you have it! Take a step back and admire your handiwork. Can you believe the difference from where you started? The faux wood finish adds a touch of warmth and sophistication to your garage doors.

The Final Result
The final result: Garage doors transformed with a budget-friendly DIY project


I hope this guide has inspired you to take on your own garage door transformation project. With a little creativity and some DIY spirit, you can achieve remarkable results without breaking the bank. Remember, this is just one example of what can be achieved through the power of DIY. So go ahead, unleash your inner handyman, and make your home truly shine!


  • Planters
  • Exterior Sconces
  • Full list of supplies

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