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What can I do to fix this? I have recently used a gel stain on this and allowed to dry for 3 days before going ahead to apply furniture varnish. I placed a table mat on it and the varnish peeled off. I followed the manufacturer's instructions and curing time.

varnish peeling off after applying on a recently gel stain after allowing to dry for 3 days

I used Dixie Belle No Pain Gel Stain. I did 2 coats allowing 6 hours in between. Then cured for 72 hrs before applying Good Home Furniture varnish water-based (clear). I applied 2 coats allowing 2 hours in between then left to cure for 15 hours before putting to use.

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    This looks like classic delamination, which suggests poor/improper bonding of the varnish to the "gel stain". This has multiple possible causes, and the most likely depends on certain details.
    – Graphus
    Jun 23, 2023 at 14:06
  • @graphus thanks for your interest to help. I used Dixie Belle No Pain Gel Stain 2coats, allowing 6hours between coats. I allowed to cure for 72hours before applying Good Home Furniture varnish water-based. I applied 2 coats allowing 2hours in between then left to cure for 15 hours before putting it to use. Jun 23, 2023 at 20:31
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    OK, well most importantly 15 hours before putting something into service is way too short an interval..... regardless of what the tin might say O_o Waterbased finishes take something like 48 hours to fully coalesce (yes, despite being touch-dry in only 1-2) and full cure will be after some days, not some hours. Brand is fairly important with finishes as you'd expect, and, well, I hate to say this but those products don't fill me with confidence! I have literally never even heard of the second, and have only the most superficial awareness of the former... that's how little I've seen it used.
    – Graphus
    Jun 23, 2023 at 21:34
  • @graphus, thank you. After reading your last comment, I am certain that I haven't been patient to let it cure. Jun 23, 2023 at 23:21
  • @graphus, Please, what do you recommend for remedy and a heat resistant finish? Jun 23, 2023 at 23:30

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Sorry to say it. But, I think the only course here is to start over.

The question then is how far back do you go in starting over.

If you are feeling confident, you could try doing just the affected area to save time and effort if this is a large piece.

But you will have great difficulty managing the interface at the edge of the areas you're working on. This will problematic if this is a dining room table, sideboard, or other such prominent piece of furniture that you want to display in your home -- which I surmise it is based on your post. This solution is also potentially problematic because it does not address the possibility of poor adhesion between varnish and substrate elsewhere in the piece.

Best practice is (as far as I know) to go all way back on the varnish. The rationale here is similar to when there is cosmetic damage to a panel of an automobile. The body shop repaints the entire component to ensure a perfect, even finish. This is because it is ultimately less work to redo the whole piece to get a perfect finish than it is to feather the edges between the original and new finish applications.

In either case, the question is now of removal process: sanding or solvents?

I couldn't verify if the stain you used is penetrating or film. If it's the latter, you will have to redo the stain as well in all likelihood and if the former you might be able to get away with just sanding down the varnish.

My personal preference for this project would be a product called Citrustrip. It will take the stain off. But it also doesn't agitate your lungs and eyes like other solvents and it's probably faster, cheaper, and less effort than sanding.

That said, the expense/time/effort cost-benefit analysis will change based on the size of the project. If it's something smaller like a sideboard or a serving tray, sanding probably still works fine. If it's a dining room table or has lots of facets, I would recommend solvents.

In the mean time, there's always table cloths!

Hope that helps you out a bit and that you're on your way to a satisfactory solution to this unfortunate circumstance.

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  • I upvoted although I think there's zero chance of a successful spot repair here. And because the 'varnish' is a waterbased finish (and a budget one especially) there are some options for removal that should/could leave the colour layer pretty much untouched. Re. the stain used being penetrating or film, OP specified they used a "gel stain".
    – Graphus
    Jul 5, 2023 at 7:20

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