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DIY Garage Door Makeover | Gel Stain Garage Door to Look Like Wood

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Transform your garage door to a gorgeous faux wood door with this easy gel stain DIY garage door makeover!


We’ve been dreaming up garage door makeover ideas since we first purchased our home, and though we’ve been making over just about every square inch of our house, our garage door was working and in great condition. It just wasn’t a style we liked, in fact, I wanted a wood garage door. 

You guys, wood garage doors are expensive! So with a wee bit of time on our hands, and a little bit of research, we decided to DIY our own garage door makeover with gel stain to make it look like wood. 

No new garage door, no expensive installations, no crazy overhaul. Just a few dollars and a couple of hours, and we had ourselves the look we wanted at a FRACTION of the cost.

Tips for a DIY Garage Door Makeover and how to Gel Stain a Garage Door to Look Like Wood

Choose the right stain color. 

We’ve been adding small wooden accents to our house, little by little. As we’ve been painting our home a creamy white color (Swiss Coffee by Behr to be exact), we’re also adding in some black details, like on our front door makeover, and wood accent pieces. More wood accents to come, btw! I wanted our garage door to match the wood we’ve already been adding, so that was the color of gel stain that we chose. 

Since our garage door was already a creamy yellow color, it worked well for a base coat. Most neutral colors would work great for this, but if you’ve got a bright or bold garage door color, you may consider painting it neutral BEFORE adding the gel stain.  Part of the process of staining a garage door to LOOK like wood is using brush strokes to allow the base color to come through, just a little, to give it that woodgrain look.

We chose this gel stain in Mahogany!

Clean your garage door first.

Besides getting off dirt, you want to prevent any growth from taking place or from getting sealed in under your stain. Pick up cleaner, wash with dish soap, or break out the power washer. Then just let dry thoroughly before you get started. 

Select a cheap brush!

The GREAT part of this garage door makeover, is that it’s super cost-effective. If you’ve got some old paint brushes laying around, those would be perfect to use for this project. Or you can grab a couple of cheap, hard bristled brushes from your local home improvement store. A medium width chippy paint brush is perfect (and less than $2!).

They key here is to not spend very much on a great, high-quality brush, because you really don’t need it… you want there to be brush strokes in the stain to give it a wood-grain look. And I just threw away the one I used when finished with this project.

Mind your light.

Since you’re applying gel stain and want to be able to move it around a little while letting the brush strokes show through, you don’t want it to dry as soon as it touches a hot metal garage door that’s been baking in the sunlight. 

It’s best to choose a time of day that you can work in the shade, for us, the morning was best as the door was much cooler, and we still had shade to work in. 

Apply in sections.

For the same reason we apply the stain in the shade, we also want to work in sections, because it will dry fairly quickly. If your garage door already has squares, this makes it nice and easy. Otherwise,  just create your own sections. 

For the squares, apply the stain in the indentations of the panels (it actually looks better to have it darker and a little more shadowed in this area and I wish we did more of it), and then brush across the entire panel horizontally. You want to extend the brush stroke so that you’re feathering out beyond the square so that it doesn’t leave any hard lines and instead you get a continuous wood look.

Add fun garage door accents.

To complete the look, we added in this black rustic garage door hardware to complete the look. The great thing is that there are even magnetic accent pieces you can add… no drilling needed! 

Pro Tip: Gel stain can be hard to remove from your hands. Wash your hands with water and cooking oil and watch the gel stain peel off easily.

For kicks, below is a look at the front of our house when we bought it, and then with our current updates for curb appeal and the DIY wood garage door makeover!

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