I'm in the middle of refinishing my fiberglass front door. Definitely not going the way I've planned, but I'm hoping it may still turn out ok. :)

What I've done so far:

  1. I used Citri-Strip Paint and Varnish Stripping Gel to remove most of the finish.
  2. I used a Purdy Patainers Tool to scrape the finish off after the gel had set for about an hour.
  3. I used Crown Mineral Spirits with a rag to clean up the residue and remaining paint after scraping the surface (especially around the panel contours).
  4. I dried any remaining mineral spirits off the surfaces with paper towels so it was dry to the touch.
  5. I waited about 20 minutes.
  6. I've stained the exterior side of the door with Minwax Walnut Gel Stain.
  7. The door is currently drying (only the exterior side is stained thus far).

Note: I've got Rust-Oleum Marine Spar Varnish to seal the door, but haven't gotten this far yet.

The instructions says the Gel Stain takes 6-8 hours to dry - it's been drying for 12 hours so far, and it feels very 'tacky' to the touch, but no residue is transferred to my finger.

It's propped up on saw-horses right now, but if I flip it lay it down on the saw horses, I'm worried it's going to ruin the stained side. I've got painter's squares, but I'm worried those will leave marks as well.

I'm not sure what to do at this point. I still need to stain the interior side of the door, apply the varnish to both sides, and put the hardware on the door.

  • Not sure if I should let it dry longer, or if it's ok to flip.
  • Not sure if it's ok to lay on sawhorses, or if painter's squares are less likely to damage the stain.
  • Considered putting the hardware on, hanging it back up, taping everything off, then finishing the interior stain & varnish on both sides while it's hanging.
  • Planning to put hardware on last, after varnish has cured, then hang the door, but it occurred to me that maybe it should go on before the varnish? Not sure.

As of this A.M. (after drying 12 hours) the stained side of the door looks like this:

stained door

Note: I've got almost no experience with DIY projects like this, so I've got pretty much no clue what I'm doing (except for some videos and articles I've read online). This is more a learning experience than anything (though I hope the door comes out alright) - any advice of any kind (basics, painters tips & tricks someone with no experience wouldn't know, things I should have done completely differently, etc) would be greatly appreciated.

Album of in-progress pictures are here.


  1. After about 4 more hours of drying, it feels less 'tacky' to the touch, and some areas feel not tacky at all ... it's been drying for a total of about 16 hours so far.
  2. After drying for close to 24 hours it was no longer 'tacky' to the touch. I flipped it on the sawhorses and stained the other side. The other side seems to be drying much faster (I used less gel stain).
  • How much time did the door surfaces have to dry and let the vapors from the stripping gel and mineral spirits dissipate before you started applying the stain material?
    – Michael Karas
    Jul 19, 2015 at 15:25
  • On the first side, I let the paint stripper sit for about 30 minutes, then started scraping (instructions say to let it sit 30 mins to 24 hours). It took a lot of elbow grease & mineral spirits at that point to get it all off. On the second side I let it sit for an hour before I started scraping, and it came off pretty easy.
    – nfarrar
    Jul 19, 2015 at 15:42
  • That was not an answer to the question I asked. I was wondering how much time you waited after the scraping and cleanup with mineral spirits was all done till you started the stain application.
    – Michael Karas
    Jul 19, 2015 at 15:51
  • Sorry. It was about 20 minutes from the time I dried off any remaining mineral spirits residue from the door until I started applying the gel stain.
    – nfarrar
    Jul 19, 2015 at 15:58
  • There could be a possible issue here. Even though a surface could look dry from the stripper and mineral spirits there could still be a residual and lingering amount left behind where it affected the stain. This would be particularly applicable if the first side you stained was the last side stripped.
    – Michael Karas
    Jul 19, 2015 at 16:06


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