Total rookie move here. My husband cut baseboard, trim and shoe molding (pre-fab kind from Lowe’s) and asked me to stain it. He had a gel stain so I wiped it on and then wiped off the excess. Unfortunately I DID NOT sand the trim first and now it’s all blotchy looking and none of the pieces match. Can I fix this somehow or do we need to go buy more trim and start over?!

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Can I fix this somehow or do we need to go buy more trim and start over?!

You might be able to sand this out, but it could easily be faster and at the end of the day cheaper, to just buy fresh. Certainly less effort!

If you sand you do start with the advantage that "gel stain", unlike conventional stains, doesn't penetrate wood that much; it's actually intended not to in fact.

However, wood being wood, it still does penetrate a little on any surface and can penetrate far more deeply than you'd like on any patch where there's 'rising grain' — where the flow of grain is not parallel/nearly parallel to the surface but instead meets the surface at an angle. This is not at all uncommon, especially on ungraded wood of any species, but is notoriously common on all common softwoods.

So this might not have been entirely about the wood not being sanding. Although the result might have been better if you had sanded, the wood itself could quite easily have been mostly responsible for the blotchy outcome. Sometimes wood is just like that.

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