If that title sounds too good to be true, just hang on.  It really IS true!  I stained my bathroom vanity and I plan on doing my entire kitchen and other bathrooms!  It was easy and looks even better than the pictures show!

I found a tutorial on how to achieve this look.  It gave me courage and hope.  So I decided I would start with my bathroom and if it looked terrible I would buy a new vanity.  Either way, I wanted a facelift.  I was just hoping that staining would work since that is WAY cheaper!!

I made a store with everything you need HERE.

You can purchase the stain HERE.  The poly I got can be purchased HERE.

  • Tape off your area.  Walls, floors and underside of countertop.  Use newspaper or some sort of protection on your floors and walls.
  • Clean the vanity.  The entire thing.  I used a wet rag with a little bit of Dawn dish soap.  Then I rinsed the rag out and wiped it with just water.  Then I dried it.
  • The insides of mine is the same golden oak color so I decided to do that too.  If yours is white you could either tape it off and leave it white or you could stain it so it looks like it is wood!  (You will probably need to do at least one extra coat of stain over white.)
    • Note* Inside and on the sides is linoleum.  And YES, I stained it!
  • Rough up the surface.  I did NOT say ‘sand’.  That is one of the things that makes this WONDERFUL!  No sanding!  Just rough it up.  I always went with the grain.  (Or on the linoleum parts I went the way I wanted my faux grain to go.)  It took me about a half hour to do the entire thing.  Inside, out, and both sides of doors.  Use a sanding block.  220 grit.  Get that HERE.
  • Vacuum the inside out.  Mostly just around all of the edges. Then wipe it out twice.
  • Use two disposible gloves and one men’s sock.  Yes, it needs to be men’s so it goes up to your elbow!  It keeps you cleaner!  You will need a new sock for each application.  I used old socks and bought my husband new socks, but you can buy the ones in the link above if you just want to use cheap ones.
  • Use just a little bit of stain at a time.  Do the edges first and then go across the surface.  I got in all of the little cracks and crevices with my fingernails and then did the flat surfaces.  Make sure to use strokes that go from one side all the way to the other.  Do the whole the thing in the same direction for the linoleum.  (Pick the way you want the ‘grain to go’.)  Go with the grain on the real wood.  It is going to look weird on your first coat, don’t worry about it!  You still have two more coats to go!  You don’t have to wipe off the stain between coats as long as you don’t glop it on.
  • Do 3 coats of stain.  Then do the poly.  (You do NOT need to sand between coats!)  I did 3 coats of poly.  (You will probably only need 2 coats of stain on unfinished wood.) Each coat of stain and polyurethane only needed 24 hours to dry.  I did wait 24 hours after the last coat of poly to re-assemble my cabinet.  I live in Las Vegas, NV and did this in September.  It is hot and dry.  If you live somewhere humid or cold you will need to have longer drying times.  Do not try to rush it or it won’t turn out well.  You will be able to feel it and see if it feels like it is completely dry.  It will not be tacky at all.
  • Do the door and drawers in your garage on painters pyramids.  I would highly recommend getting the ones in the link becasuse they can screw into a board.  That way they do not flip all over while you are staining.
  • For this size cabinet it only took me about 15 minutes to stain the entire thing (per coat) and about 10 minutes for the doors.  I did one side of the doors and then 24 hours later did the other side.  Your doors will take a lot longer than the cabinet.  But you cannot flip it over just after you did the one side or it will ruin what you just did.  Take it slow and you will have good results.
I also did this on unfinished wood.  I did some shelves for my movie theatre and I LOVED the results.  Because they were unfinished I only needed two coats of stain to achieve my desired color and then did 4 coats of poly.  Again, it takes a long time because I did one side at a time.  I would do the front side and the top side and then flip it and do the back side and the under side at the same time.  So I always knew which way to flip it so I never got confused.  If it helps, make a note of what you did so you know what to do for next time.  With that many coats and two sides, it is easy to forget how many of what you have already done.
I stained my kitchen a different color and I used two colors to get it depth and I love it!  I would never go back to plain ol’ Java.  But it depends on the look you’re going for.  Make sure to check it out. You can see that HERE.  If you want to see a sample of the colors you can view my video of that HERE.
I loved the General Finishes Gel Stain and Poly!  It was easy to work with and did not have a strong smell!!  It doesn’t drip and applies evenly.  I won’t use a different kind ever again!

Feel free to comment with any questions and I will answer them the best I can.

P.S.  I plan on getting hardware for them, but I haven’t settled on which ones to get yet.

So here is my favorite part – the Before and After Pictures:

 After Coat 1:
  After Coat 2:
  After Coat 3:
  After 3 Coats of Stain and 3 Coats of Poly:
 My Before and After!!  I love it!
My Theatre Shelves  (Unfinished Wood)
After 2 Coats of Stain and 4 Coats of Poly:

I really liked the color variation with two coats, I felt that three coats would have made it too uniform.  Feel free to do more coats if uniform is what you are going for.


What do YOU think!?


219 thoughts on “Staining – The EASY Way with Professional results!

  1. Fabulous! You did a great job! I've never used Gel but have heard lots of good things. Will definitely try this on my cabinet I've been putting off! Thanks for sharing! I found you via Pinterest and would love for you to stop by The Vintage Milk House!

  2. I just ordered the General Finishes last Monday and it arrived on Friday. I am trying to syc myself up to do the Kitchen. I have 19 cabinet doors and four drawers.Big job but I know it'll be worth it.

  3. Taz, that is a great question! I used Satin. It got a lot shinier with the third coat. (But I really liked the results!) I figured that it would need three coats since I have 4 kids and don't want it scratched! The more protection the better!
    Thanks for asking!

  4. Was your cabinet real wood? I'm trying to figure out if this will work on my cabinets I have. We have new builders cabinets in our house we just bought. I'm pretty sure the doors are real wood, but I cant say for sure if the rest of the cabinet is or not. Would this technique work on roughed up particle board with a very smooth finish?… it might even be laminate, but I can't be certain. Its really hard to tell because I always pictured laminate being the bad wood grain on your grandmas kitchen table, lol. My cabinets look like real wood, are very smooth and are decieving. I'm scared to start this incase it ends up not working out on the sides of my cabinet, like if it wouldnt stain it right or adhere correctly because of the type of "wood"/finish I have.

  5. Andrea, my cabinet is mostly pressboard with laminate over it. The only things that are real wood are the front face of the cabinet and the doors. The side, kick, and inside are all laminate. I roughed it up just like the wood and treated it like it was wood. The only difference is I rubbed on the stain the way I wanted my 'grain' to go instead of going with an obvious grain. It still turned out great! The secret to the gel stain is to not wipe it off. Use a small amount that is enough to cover. Wipe off any lumps or excess but leave it on the cabinet. You should be fine! Good luck with your project!! I hope this helps!

  6. Thanks for clarifying that! How well does it clean? Have you had any problems with it wiping off? I frequently wipe down the outside because the cabinet in my guest bath is so close to the toilet.

    Thanks again,

  7. Andrea,
    I got my stain from here (In the 'Java' color): http://www.woodcraft.com/product/2005555/16545/general-finishes-java-gel-stain-quart.aspx

    That is the exact one I got. My poly was this one:

    If you are only going to do a small bathroom get the smaller size. If you are doing an entire kitchen (or like me, 4 bathrooms AND an entire kitchen) you will need the largest size. But a little goes a LONG way.


  8. That is one of the GREAT things about this! It DOES work on laminated cabinets. I gave detailed instructions on how you can do it on your laminate parts. The cabinet in the picture is only wood on the doors and the front face. The entire inside, side and kick are all laminate! It turned out great!! Give it a try! You'll love it too!

  9. Really great blog and one of the best blogs I have visited with excellent responses to viewers questions, outstanding!! I will definately be a follower and appreciate your talents and for sharing them!!

  10. I have an older house and would like to redo my bathroom cabinets. They are dark already but are in bad shape(scuffed, worn) and they look like shutters. There are 3 of them and then the outside of course, what would you recommend for these? I really love how yours turned out!! We have wood paneling in the bathroom to so I would ideally like to brighten the bathroom so what about a lighter color? Your thoughts and feedback are really appreciated!!

  11. If you want them to still be dark like this tutorial, I would suggest sanding them in the areas that they look fairly worn and just roughing up the rest of the cabinet. You know, kind of just smoothing it out but making sure the whole thing was done so the stain will apply evenly.
    As to the wood paneling, that is totally up to you. I hate wood paneling so I personally would rip it down, texture the top half of the room and wainscot the bottom half. If you like it and it already looks the way you want, then I would think about either painting it off-white (creamy). I would then probably glaze it. (I have not used a lighter stain so I cannot suggest which one to use.)
    It is really hard for me to tell you though since I really can't see what you have or your taste for decor. Good luck! I hope it turns out great!

  12. Ok so I decided to be brave and try this out because my restroom console looks just like yours, seriously identical. I had an Elmer's glue glaze on mine from the previous owner so of course I sanded that off. I've done two coats of stain so far. When I went back the second time, I noticed that in one section the stain came off… any idea why? Also the groves from the grain aren't accepting the stain as well. Anything will help me at this point!

  13. It sounds like you are treating it like regular stain and wiping it off. If that is the case, that is the problem. You apply the stain in a light coat and leave it on. It kind of goes over like a paint would. There really shouldn't be an area that doesn't 'accept' it because of that. Or a spot that comes off. I'm hoping that solves the problem! Let me know if you have more troubles!


  14. I have a table that is already stained a light color and it has a coating over it (like a sealer I guess) I want to stain it this dark color- do I need to sand down the table to the real wood? It is in very good shape and does not have scratches or anything- I just want it a darker color. Also, I have a buffet that I am wanting to stain the same as the table, however it is nit in very hood shape and is stained a different color- still pretty light- and it may also have some type of sealant. If I want these two pieces to match, do I need to sand them both, or just use the sanding block like you mentioned? I am just worried that the stain won't turn out right since the table and buffet are Already stained and sealed… And btw I've never done this before! Lol thanks for any help you can offer!!! 🙂

  15. It will work just fine on both your table and buffet. They should even turn out the same color despite the difference to start with. You will need to use the sanding block to rough them up, but no, you do not need to "sand" them! This tutorial along with Monica's will give you great results no matter what you're staining! Good luck!

  16. I just did my powder room ala Monica and I am THRILLED with the results. I used the Cherry Gen. Finish Gel and it is a close match to my cherry kitchen cabinets. I see more of the grain in my cabinet than the tutorials and I wonder if that is the Cherry vs. Espresso but it is the look I was going for. I probably could have waited longer between coats but got impatient only 12 hrs between coats. And I didn't wait long enough to let them dry and when I put them in I scratched the finish on one. SO time is money, don't do what I did, wait! That said I love the outcome and friends think the old honey oak is in the dump.

    What I haven't seen anyone mention is how it seems to "heal" the wood. My cabinets had no knobs and after 25+ years of opening drawers with wet hands the finish was gone, ruined and rough in places. Now you can't see where that was, the gel filled in the areas.

  17. Your cabinet looks great! I also have honey oak cabinets and used the General Finishes Java gel stain to redo all 3 of my bathrooms. It looks like I purchased new vanities. My kitchen is next. This product is great!

  18. Carrie, thanks for the information! I'd love to see a picture of your cherry color. I do have to say that in person you can see a lot more grain than in the pictures. (Which I love.)
    Sharon, I'm glad it worked great for you as well! I love it too. I plan on doing my kitchen too!
    I did some research and it looks like black stain is available. With the ease of applying and the detail after, I would recommend using the stain instead of painting. I am sure it will look way better than paint!
    Janae, NO! Do not sand between coats! I hope I told you in time so you didn't do that. Just wipe it on and leave it. The do it again for the other coats. No wiping off or sanding between coats.
    Thanks for the feedback and questions, ladies!
    Don't forget to check out th rest of my blog for lots more great stuff!

  19. THANKS for your reply! I started sanding and then decided against it! I'm about to start the poly! Yikes! Do you have somewhere we can post our finished products using your method? 🙂

    LOVE this blog!

  20. Janae, I have looked and looked on how to be able to post pictures in the comment box. I can't figure out how to do it!! Just email me your picture and with your permission I will post it in a blog post! 🙂 (I am going to try to keep looking, but I'm not sure I can do it.)

  21. I had this same issue with the third coat also. Did you finish it and did you figure out how to avoid it? I let my coats dry for 24 hours but, it still lifted part off in spots.

  22. Because of the weather and temperature right now it will probably need at least 72 hours to dry if you are having lifting problems with 24 hours. What I would do is leave it to dry and after 72 hours I would go over any problem areas. It is hard for me to troubleshoot when I can't see what you've done or what is happening, but that is what I can think of. Good luck!

  23. No, it is not black. I am not an expert photographer so my pictures really don't do it justice. It does look java brown and you can still see the grain. It really does look beautiful. They do have a black color stain if that is what you are going for.
    Good luck!!

  24. I bought a hutch a few years ago in a garag sale an painted it black to match my dining table. I love the black but seeing your pics I wish I would have stained it instEad. Would you suggest roughing it up and staining black over the black paint or do you think it would even make a difference?

  25. I applied my poly the same way as the stain. Light coats put on with a sock. I still went with the grain.

    If you have already painted the piece and want to do the same color, I wouldn't bother. That is just me though. It is a lot of work to look very similar. Had you not done it yet, I would highly recommend doing the stain instead of paint, but it seems unnecessary to do it all over at this point.


  26. I had the same question, but the previous owner used an oil based paint over latex(i may have the backwards) and the paint peels off in parts so do you think I could still just stain over or need to sand all of it before?

  27. Do you by chance have a picture of your whole bathroom with the cabinet completed? I'm just trying to picture how the Java color looks with accessories in the room, to see if this color is for me.


  28. I don't currently have a picture of the whole bathroom. It is really small and I'm not sure I could even take a picture of the whole thing. I will work on it and add it to the post later if I can get it.

  29. I'm working on this this weekend! Ty 🙂 can u tell me the brands that you used because I'm on my way to lowes! 🙂

  30. Good luck! I'm not sure Lowes will carry this and I cannot recommend any other kind as I have no good experiences with what the box stores carry. I bought mine of off WoodCraft.com
    Only use General Finishes Java GEL Stain and General Finishes GEL Polyurethane.

  31. Chelsi, I see that I never responded to you! Sorry for that.
    I have to say that it COULD work over the paint if it was roughed up enough. BUT if they were my cabinets I would strip them and then stain them. I wouldn't want to risk having my stain chip off because the paint under it did. I also don't think you would get the nice looking grain through the paint. So personally I wouldn't.

  32. I can't wait to get started on my project. I also can't believe my good fortune. There's a Woodcraft location practically around the corner from my house. SCORE!

  33. Kathryn, that is awesome! I'm kinda jealous! 😉 I wish I had one around the corner. (But my husband is probably glad there isn't one! I have enough projects as it is!)

    No, I haven't started on my kitchen yet. I cannot afford all of the things I want to do to it so I am waiting until I can. It may be a little while.

  34. Great blog…looking at doing this on my bathroom cabinet this weekend! Quick question – when you say 3 coats and 48 hrs to dry for each coat, does this mean for the doors you will need to wait 48 hrs for each coat on each side, or do you mean 24 hours for each coat, each side, which would then equal to 48 hours, based on there being two sides to the door?

  35. Since it is cold outside I would do 48-72 hours per side. The colder and more humid, the longer it takes. I did 48 hours per coat, per side and it was in the 90s outside. Don't rush it or it will get bad results. Good luck!!

  36. Also followed Monica's tutorial and mine turned out perfect too. next bathroom then the kitchen. I used the other Poly, (not the gel) in the Satin and got a great finish.

  37. I'm on the first coat in my Master bathroom vanity and it looks pretty good. The Gel works great! It's easy to use and the gel goes a long ways-
    same here next the second bathroom and on to the kitchen..

  38. Andrea,
    What's the main differences between gel and liquid stain? I've only stained a few times so I'm not too sure. Just wondering why you chose to use gel on your project?


  39. My bathroom cabinets are dated and I want to try this. Mine are light stained and have polyurethane finish. Can I still just slightly rough up or do I need to strip them?

  40. Love this!!! I should try it on my bathrooms both have the same cabinet colour and i don't like that colour at all. But one project at a time. 🙂 Just finish bulding a laundry room in my unfinished basement and now i am finalising my walk in closet( well not me, we have someone doing for us when it's big projects). Can't wait to show it on my new blog ( I am a new blogger). I am a new follower on yours. Great stuff. 🙂

  41. I've worked with both gel and liquid and there are several reasons why I like it WAY better.
    1. It doesn't run and get all over everything. It only applies to what you put it on and doesn't really make a mess.
    2. It doesn't have a strong odor.
    3. It applies easily and you do not have to wipe it off. You put it on and let it dry.
    It was MUCH easier to work with and I really like the results. I will never use the liquid kind again.

  42. I have used the Java on one bathroom cabinet, turned out great! I have also used the Antique Walnut on a bathroom vanity, and am currently working on my kitchen (25 doors, 7 drawer fronts). 5 doors left to go!!!!
    Looks SO MUCH better than the old 1980's red oak cabinet. We built in a Wine/beverage area, and got rid of the dreaded desk in the kitchen, and finished the "raw wood" to match the pre-finished. I just did one less coat.

  43. I'm curious how this holds up over the long term. Does anyone have experience say 2 years later? Does the stain wear off or does it stay? it seems that putting it over the existing and only roughing it up may impact long term results. Thoughts?

  44. I am going to do this on my bathroom cabinets and i bought the stain tonite and realized your blog says to use gel stain. I got minway wood finish stain. It doesn't say gel on the label. Can i still use this kind or do i need the gel kind for into work?

  45. You do need to use a gel stain to follow these directions. I have never had luck just roughing anything up and then using a liquid stain. You also need gel polyurethane. Good luck!

  46. I stained my bathroom cabinets around 6:00 pm yesterday and its now 5:17 pm and they still feel odd, maybe tacky but not wet. Im not sure if they are going to feel super dry before I start the Poly? Im only doing one coat of the stain because my husband likes how the wood grain shows. Is it too soon to put the Poly on?

  47. Recommend future use tiny eye hooks on the side you want see – like the bottom of door edge or shelf back edge. Then hang and do all sides at once.

  48. This is a great blog. Im ready to paint!
    Approximately how many cans of each will it take for a kitchen with 24 cabinets and 8 drawers. Thank you!

  49. This is awesome! Thank you for posting…It has planted a seed in my head…What are your thoughts of using General Finishes gel stain to stain an oak banister? I read your post thoroughly, and think it might work, and maybe easier than painting? (since I won't have to strip the shiny stuff off first).

  50. I don't know how many cans it will take to do that size of a kitchen. I would start with two quarts and get more as needed. It depends on the size of your cabinets and how thick you put your coats on!


    I can't post a picture of the stain (it is stain and not paint) but this is where I bought it and it has a picture there (I bought the 'Java' color):


    That is the exact one I got. My poly was this one:



    I would TOTALLY do an oak banister! My mom did hers with regular liquid stain and it was the worst EVER! Seriously took like 100 hours. This would have been WAY easier! We kick ourselves for not finding this sooner! And yes, I would agree that it would be easier than painting as well!


  51. I'm sooo excited that you shared this info to all of us women that hate our ugly light wood cabinets!!! I have the same ones in my kitchen, and I'm going to try it! One question, can I stain over my hinges? Taking them all off sounds like a lot of work! And it would save me money not having to buy dark hinges?


  52. Hi there!
    I have a question – I have stained my bathroom cabinets as well as most of my kitchen. I have done 3 coats and waited 24 hours in between coats for it to dry. Looks great! Monica's post says to wait 5 days before sealing. Do you think this is necessary or could I seal after 4 days? I really want to get the doors back on before we move into our new house! Thanks for the blog – it's great!!

  53. Amanda, I would not recommend staining over your hinges. It will goop them up and they won't work right. It really was easy to take them out and put them back in though. I dreaded that part too but it was no big deal. Just a couple short screws. Only took a few seconds. And if you did do it it would scratch off and look bad eventually. Also. You shouldn't need to buy dark hinges, I didn't and you can't tell at all! It doesn't even stick out when I open it. It should be fine to use what you have. Good luck!


    Anon, I think that if your cabinets feel totally dry and you've already waited four days, that it is safe to poly coat them! Yay!


  54. Yay! thanks so much for the quick reply…and for all of the freezer recipes. I now have an even longer to do list! 🙂

  55. Do the extra coats hide the first coat imperfections? Although I tried to do long even strokes all the way across the surface, some areas don't look too good, like on the edges and where two pieces meet.

  56. Christie, yes they will. Just add more there on the second coat and it should hide it and even it out. You could even do 4 coats if you still feel like it needs it. Good luck!

  57. I got my stain today! Love the color. In your instructions you say to was 48 hours between coats but on the container it says 6 to 8. Why do I need to wait 48?

  58. I got my stain today and I love the color! In your instructions you say to wait 48 hours between coats but on the stain container it says 6 to 8. Why is there such a difference in time?

  59. It really all depends on the weather. If it is cold and rainy it will take days. Maybe even 4-5 days. If you are doing it outside in Las Vegas in August, it would be done almost as soon as you applied it. I said 48 because that is how long I waited and it is a fairly safe length. If you can rub the wood with your fingers without it feeling tacky or fearing that it might rub off, then it is dry and ready for the next coat. I hope that helps!

  60. We are in the midst of painting our bathroom cabinets and they currently have a coat of white primer on them. Would this technique work over the coat of primer?

  61. It should. You'll still need to rough it up with your sanding block and you will need at least 4 coats to get good coverage, but it still should look great in the end!

  62. There were a couple of small spots that I failed to cover when taping off near the bottom of my vanity. What is the best way to fix this now that I have 3 coats on? I haven't put the poly on yet.

  63. If you haven't put your poly on, it shouldn't be a problem yet! I would use either my finger or a q-tip and triple coat the missed spots. After you like how it looks, then you can apply poly.

  64. I want to do my kitchen but I'm so nervous plus the drying time kind of scares me, especially having 4 y/o hands running around. I also have an oven and microwave that are enclosed on the sides by my cabinets and it's going to be a huge job…I'm scared…LOL!

  65. It is kind of scary! But this gel is pretty forgiving. If you need to, you can take it one section at a time. If you do your doors and drawers in your garage your kitchen will only be out of use for one week. (Those will take about two weeks in the garage before you can out them back on.) I have a built in oven and microwave too but I'm going to tape around them. But in just a couple weeks you can transform your kitchen!! It is a really big job but I am really looking forward to it! (I just need a larger budget before I can take on the task. I'm doing some re-modeling while I'm at it.)

  66. I just stained an old desk with the java gel stain and it turned out amazing!! But then I decided to cheap out and do a regular lacquer from home depot and I brushed on one coat on one drawer front and it took the stain off in places and gummed up the finish. Aaaaahhhhh!!!!! So now I'm thinking I should have gone with the gel poly you and Monica recommended. My question is how did you apply the poly? The same sock method? BTW, I let the stain dry for 6 days!!

  67. Oh no!!! I would sand off that drawer, re-apply the stain and then do it again with the gel poly! That is terrible!
    Yes, apply the poly the same way as the stain. Just with a sock.

  68. Hi !
    I am reading thru the comments to see if I can answer my own question but guess not.
    In what order did you do the Gel Stain and Gel Poly ?
    Does the Poly get applied after all the coats of gel stain are done?
    Or do you apply the Poly after each coat of Gel Stain?

  69. I have the same question as Laura. I just applied my first coat of stain and was reading the comments as It wasn't clear if you did one coat of stain then one coat of poly or if you do 3 coats of stain then 3 coats of poly? I also wiped off my first coat of stain 🙁 – next coat I will leave on until dry, hope I did't ruin it. So please clarify if we do 3 coats of stain then 3 coats of poly or is it stain then poly then stain, poly and stain poly Thank you !

  70. Laura & Kim,
    You do three coats of stain and then three coats of poly. If it wipes off it is easy to fix. Just re-apply to that area, let completely dry and then do your second coat. My mom had that happen and it still looks fabulous! The key is to make sure that it is completely dry before doing another coat of anything. That is why I waited so long between coats. Monica waited even longer.
    Good luck!

  71. you said this:She says that any other color does not work. My aunt tried a different color on her bathroom vanity and she LOVES her results.
    and i wonder if that's what you meant to say cuz it doesnt make sense …to me!

  72. Danielle,
    No I haven't tried the liquid sander but with the fumes that it probably has and the fact that the sanding block only took me a few minutes and was easy, I won't be trying it. It really is just roughing it up and not sanding so it was quick and easy.

    Monica said that the other color gel stains don't work. But my aunt tried a different color and it DID work for her. So I was de-bunking the 'other colors don't work' myth that was out there. I hope that makes more sense.

  73. I read Monica's blog also, I was wondering why she said it wouldn't work on unfinished wood. The store that sells General Finishes where I live is an Unpainted Furniture store. They sell the products so you can use on their unpainted furniture .

  74. You are a LIFESAVER!!! I have never done anything like this before but I am moving into a home that needs a complete makeover so I will definitely try this before I buy all new cabinets! Thank you!!!

  75. Hi! I really want to do this with my bathroom vanity and also a wooden step that goes up into our tub. However, we only have the one bathroom and obviously we need to take showers at some point. I'm worried the moisture will effect how the stain dries. Do you think I could do the woodwork tonight and be able to take a shower tomorrow morning? If you think this will be an issue with the step can I at least get the first coat of the cabinets done?

  76. Will this work on interior doors that are painted? I was going to paint them black, but really like the look of this.

  77. It depends where you live. I live in the desert so I could get away with staining (both the cabinet and the step) after showers in the morning and then waiting until the next morning to shower again. If you live in a really humid area, you may need to not shower except for every other day. (Maybe keeping your door open while you shower would help.) It is hard for me to say. It holds up great after it is dry but I've had people say that when they go to put the second coat on the first coat wipes right off. That will happen if you try to re-apply while it is still wet. That being said, you cannot touch it while it is not completely dry either. So you would need to be really careful as you got out of your shower.
    This is probably what I would do; I would let it dry for 48 hours between coats. So – Day 1- shower and then stain. Day 2 – shower but don't touch anything. Day 3-Shower again then stain.
    Keep repeating that pattern until it is done. That should be a safe enough time to do it even with the moisture levels. (Just don't drip water onto your stain.)
    It is a pain during the process but SO worth it when it is done. And it does hold up well in a bathroom with the moisture and abuse after it is dry.
    Good luck!

  78. Hi. I am remodeling my house to get it ready to put on the market. I live in Texas and ordered the GF Java Gel Stain. I sanded by cabinets and applied the first coat of stain with an old sock. I am currently panicking. First of all the stain has so many streaks and doesnt look smooth AND many areas look cloudy. Is this normal!?!?!?! Am i putting TO much stain on the sock causing the streaks? Somewhere I read that is goes on like paint and thought i might be applying to thick but even with thin coats i have streaks. I have used various socks but still streaky. Please help!!!!

  79. I know this sounds scary but the problem is that your first coat is too thin. The first coat is supposed to be applied liberally with any excess wiped off. To fix it you will need to wait for it to dry and then put a liberal coat over it. It should even it out. Even if it doesn't on the second coat, just do 4 coats instead of 3. It isn't a problem. It WILL look the same as mine in the end. Just keep going.
    Let me know if you have any other problems. Also, make sure you let each coat completely dry before applying the next one so you don't have additional issues.
    Good luck! You can do it!

  80. Hello! I really want to do with the bathroom vanity, and a wooden step in our bathroom. But of course, that there is only one bathroom and take a shower at some point. Affected moisture will affect how the city dry.
    Ben Linus,
    Cheap Taps Manchester

  81. This is probably a dumb question, but how exactly do you use the sock? Do you put the stain onto the sock and then rub it onto the door/drawer? And if so, do you just dip it in there? I don't even know how to ask this question! I hope you understand what I'm getting at.

  82. It will affect how it dries, but you can still do it. You just need to not touch it and give it a longer drying time if you are using the shower while it dries. See above comment for what I recommended for the same thing.
    Good luck!

  83. That isn't dumb. It may not be instinctive. Yes, you just put the sock on over your arm, dip your fingers in the stain and rub it around with your fingers. I felt that it was much easier than a brush because I can completely control it with my fingers and it doesn't leave the brush marks. Just remember to go with the grain or on linoleum parts, go the way you want your 'grain' to go. If you apply in circles or crooked motions, it will not look good.
    Good luck!

  84. I am still having issues with this. I have figured out how to apply the stain so as not to have streaks. My issue now is the poly. No matter how I apply it it has streaks in it, as if I used a comb to put it on AND some parts are shiney others are cloudy. I am having to redo half of my cabinets because the first ones look horrible from the stain being streaky, as in not smooth. I have tried putting the poly on thick, thin, and everything in-between. I have tried lightly sanding between coats, not sanding etc. I actually love the cabinets BEFORE i put the poly on but need a little bit of shine to them. I am so frustrated. ALso need to mention if you are doing a big kitchen mark your cabinet and hinges. I was trying to hang some of the cabinets and none of them are lining up right. I am going to hire someone to come in and hang them.

  85. I am sorry that you are having problems with the poly! I never had those problems so I don't know what to tell you other than to call the manufacturer and ask what they suggest. I know a LOT of people that have used it and this doesn't seem to be a common problem so I would see what they have to say. Good luck! I hope you end up happy with the results.

  86. This was a really great tutorial, you explain exactly how I think, thank you for taking the time to do this!

  87. What size can do you suggest to buy for the General Finishes Java GEL Stain and General Finishes GEL Polyurethane. My bathroom cabinet is small just like yours and I also have the same wood around my mirror, so want to stain both.

  88. Loved your tutorial! I have my Java Gel stain and can't wait to get started. The only thing holding me back is how my dark cabinets will look with my honey oak trim. What color is your trim and how does it look? I really don't want to have to stain all of my trim as well. Let me know what you think. 🙂

  89. Hi, washed and sanded my bathroom cabinet and mirror, now going to purchase the classic gray stain I want to use. My question is can I still use the glove method to apply regular stain since they do not have my color in gel? Thanks.


  90. YES!! The stain that I did YESTERDAY looks wonderful on my LAMINATE (I didn't use the gel-it still looks WONDERFUL)kitchen cabinets-I DID NOT rough it up at all.. I did wipe down before I began. To my surprise it was still slightly somewhat-tacky- so I THANK YOU for saying it took 48 hours to dry! I'm glad I read that before I put on my polymer! THANKS SO MUCH!!!!!

  91. Hi! I bought a bathroom vanity that has the cherry wood with the java finish. I would like to do the bathroom and bedroom trim to match. The trim will be oak so do you think it would turn out darker than the vanity without the cherry wood? Should I do an expresso or cherry coat prior to the java gel? Also, I know you said the gel works on unfinished wood. So it would be ok to use on the unfinished trim as soon as I get it in correct? Thanks!

  92. Hi, I have the Java gel stain and I read where you used it on laminate. How did it turn out on the laminate? Do you have a pic of the laminate with the gel stain? I want to do a laminate top on an old French Provincial dresser. THANK YOU so much for your time and for this great informative post!

  93. You could probably get the Pint. Mine is the Quart and I didn't use it all. If you want to make sure you have enough and possibly have enough for a small project later, I'd go ahead and get the Quart.

  94. Personally, I would stain the trim. I don't like two totally different wood colors together, so I would either not use the Java (maybe the Candelite is your best bet) or I would paint the trim white or stain it. That is my personal opinion and you may just love the way it looks.

  95. Yes you can, regular stain is messier and will need to be wiped off and not just on. You may need to use a slightly different technique. Your wet sock won't be able to wipe off like it may need.

  96. Yes, Yes and Yes. Unfinished wood takes stain totally differently than the cabinets. It sucks it right in. Because of that one coat of stain will make it dark. I would stain it with the Georgian Cherry and then lightly coat over it with the Java to tone the red down to the color you need to match. But if you are looking for a color that is in between you may consider just using the Brown Mahogany. It has a slightly red tone, not much but it is more red than the Java. I am going to do a new tutorial coming next week on the different colors and I show them all so feel free to come back then and check them all out!

  97. That cabinet is laminate. The only parts that aren't are the face and the doors. The inside and the side and the kickboard are all laminate and they turned out great! Just remember to go the way you would want your grain to go. If you apply the stain in swirls it will look like you did and will look crappy.

  98. I want to attempt this java gel stain on my hardwood floors. They just have a coat of minwax stain on them right now and are not dark like I expected. Do you think this gel stain will hold up on my floors? I would obviously follow up with the clear coats. Also, do you think I could roll this on since its kind of like a paint??
    Thanks in advance!

  99. Yes, I have had people email me that they love it on their floors. I personally don't have it on my floors but I've seen pictures and it looks amazing! I would not roll it on as it won't rub in like you want. I would still apply it with a rag or sock. Good luck!

  100. I applied the java gel stain to my hardwood floors yesterday! It took me 4 hrs to do by hand with a sock on my hands and knees. It cane out amazing though! Id like to apply another coat but dont know if I have it in me to tackle that project again lol if I decide to apply another coat, how long do you think I should wait? The floors are still a bit tacky today. Also for the clear polly coat should I use oil based or water? And how long should I wait to apply that?

  101. It depends on the humidity and the weather, but you should be safe to apply another coat after about 72 hours. You should do at least 3 coats of poly. Use the General Finishes Gel Poly. Here is a link to buy it: http://www.woodcraft.com/product/2005555/16557/general-finishes-clear-satin-topcoat-gel-quart.aspx
    You will need to apply it just the same as the stain.
    I'm glad you love it!! I would love to see pictures! You could email them to me at MamaDoesItHerself@gmail.com

  102. Hello!
    I am so happy to have found your website!
    We are moving into a ten year old condo and have cabinets that look just like yours. Both kitchen and bath I believe are the same as what you have!
    have a question….you wrote that you didn't "sand it", but that you "roughed it up" or something. What does that mean? I have no idea!
    I am so excited to do this project.
    Is there anyway you can break it down step by step. I am so confused!
    Thanks so much. You have a wonderful website.

  103. Hello. I have been wanting to stain my cabinets for the longest and you have now given me the courage to do it. Do I let the first coat (stain) dry for 48 hours, then apply the second and so forth? Would I also do the same for the poly (applying one coat let it dry 24 hours then apply the second)?

  104. Have you had problems with the heat from the shower ruining or messing with the stain over time. This is after everything is dry and completed.

  105. I used a sanding block and just rubbed it over the entire surface. It only took me a minute one each side of the door and less than 10 minutes for the whole cabinet. You just want to scuff up the finish so the new stain has something to grab on to.
    Thanks for commenting! I hope your project turns out great! Let me know if you have any other questions.

  106. Nope. I have had no issues with it either. I have also been emailed by people that say that they have never had any problems with that either so I know it isn't just me.

  107. THANK YOU for this wonderful tutorial, and for answering everyone's questions (I had many of the same questions myself). I will be "repairing" a bed, armoire, dresser, mirror, and nightstand with the Brown Mahogany; and will be doing my kitchen cabinets, kitchen table top, and an end table in the Java. I have read so many great things about this General Finishes Gel Stain and wipe-on polyurethane that I am just going to dive right in!

    As for how it holds up: I did read somewhere where a woman with 3 kids had a bathroom vanity done in the GF Java, and it was still holding up great 2 years later. What I love about this product is that you can reapply the stain over the poly with no problem, so it should be easy as pie to repair any faded or worn areas that develops in the future.

  108. Hi Andrea, I believe I can answer your question (I just gel stained a dresser, chest of drawers, end table, coffee table, large kitchen table, 6 chairs, 24 cabinet doors, 8 drawers, and all kitchen cabinet facing). If you use the wipe-on gel stain and follow-up with the wipe-on urethane called "Topcoat" (it's satin finish), then you won't have any problems. *IF* the clear coats wear down and your color starts fading from all the scrubbing, you can just paint on one more coat of stain and 3 more coats of topcoat. The stain is simply the topcoat with color pigment in it, so you can apply one on top the other with no issues. You don't even have to rough up the surface when you're touching up like that, although you do need to wipe it down with mineral spirits just to make sure that the surface is free of gunk and oils (allow the mineral spirits to completely evaporate/dry before applying more gel stain). I'm so thrilled with General Finishes Gel Stains and Topcoat, I can't sing its praises enough — it's foolproof.

  109. Additionally, do not wash with Dawn or any other kind of soap. Simply rub off the gunk with the sanding block, then scrub it well with low-odor mineral spirits — that's all the prep work needed for an awesome finish. Once mineral spirits completely evaporates/dries, it will not leave any kind of a residue like soaps will.

  110. First of all thank you very much for the step by step. I am so excited to transform my oak cabinets. I decided to start in my laundry room. Yikes, I am so nervous!!! I did the first coat but it seems that the gel was a bit harder to apply to the laminate sides of my cabinets. I'm wondering if I did not sand/rough up the sides enough? It seems like it is not absorbing as well as the wood surfaces. Any suggestion? Thanks Again!!!!!

  111. Hi! Thanks for all of this awesome info! I just finished my 4th coat of Java on my bathroom vanity -our first coat we wiped off too much – and I was wondering if I need to wait 5 days before I start my poly…Monica's tutorial says to wait 5 days in between but we live in Colorado- dry , dry, dry! Are 5 days really necessary between stain and poly??

  112. First of all, thanks for the tutorial! Now I'm excited about refinishing everything. I used the Java gel on an old unfinished chest we found at a garage sale. Everything was going according to plan, but then I decided to do a 4th coat of stain. I noticed after about 12 hours of drying time that along the wood grain, the wood started to lift or buckle. It did that in only one spot. Have you ever seen that happen before? What do you think I should do about it?

  113. I'm not sure how it would last. However, I had someone email me pictures of the floor they did and it looked amazing. I do not know how durable it was though.

  114. I've never seen that happen. It obviously is a veneer. If you put some glue down in there and leave something heavy on it or a few days it may fix it. But you'll need to be careful with water on the table from now on. Good luck!

  115. Hi there. I am looking to finally stain my kitchen cabinets after 8 years of wanting to but not having the guts to do it. And I have tackled many, many diy projects. This one just scares me. I am looking to have a solid creamy/stone color. Do you have any recommendations for me? I was going to paint them, but I am afraid they will not clean up as well.

  116. Hi -Thanks for your blog! I am loving this product- currently redoing a table and 6 chairs ( with caning backs!) that I found on Craigslist- I am finally done with my 4th coat of stain on the table top ( Was a veneer top that we had to strip down- we also decided to sand as the entire set was this ugly brown color and I was wanting to get down to the wood) ( only needed 2 coats of stain on the chairs) I like the color and the tone ( Java) My question is – and maybe I am being a bit picky but did you have any little fuzzies in the stain from the socks.? I am hoping that the poly will make it a non issue or should I sand this final coat lightly with a 220 grit before I apply my first color of poly ( I also have the same satin gel coat poly to use) I plan on doing 3 coats of the poly … thanks again!

  117. i'm excited to see that someone successfully stained over white paint. i've just bought a beautiful 1933 craftsman home, but someone has painted white over all of the built-ins, door lintels and doors. i'd love to know if you think it would work in this case? thanks!

  118. There isn't a stain that is a color like that. At least not what I think you mean. I would look here: http://www.woodcraft.com/search2/search.aspx?query=general%20finishes%20gel%20stain and see if any of those are what you're looking for. If not you will have to go with paint. BUT they do have good polys and you could poly over your paint to protect it. Just remember that they have a slightly yellow tint and will slightly change the color of your paint.

  119. I have white painted wainscoting on the lower half of a small guest bathroom. Tired of the white paint after 10 years. Question…if I try staining the wainscoting and the base boards, is it recommended that the door jam and door interior are done as well? I am nervous about staining the door, especially knowing how much of the door jam to do (just the part that is in the bathroom itself, or the inner parts as well…same question with the bathroom door) Any insight on how far to go with the door jam and door? Are there any rules or door painting etiquette out there on this? Thanks in advance!

  120. Wow it turned out so well! Im staining my vanity this week tok. We opted out for an unfinished oak vanity (saves me a prep step) 😀 and going to stain it a dark oak to go with our new bathroom. I love the way yours turned out 😀

  121. Fantastic job.
    Want to stain my old oak vanity to a blackish color.
    Not sure if the java is more on the brownish tone side or has a black undertones.
    How would you describe the color….Thanks in advance!

  122. I would not stain the door or the door jam. I think just doing the baseboards and the wainscoting should be fine. That is what I would do in my home. Also, you should not stain right over paint. You need to sand or strip it off. 🙁 Good luck!! (I'd love to see pictures!)

  123. The Java is a brown color BUT when people walked into my room they normally thought it was black because it was so dark. If you did a full three coats like I did it will be very dark. If you are familiar with Ikea, it matches the black-brown furniture they have there.

  124. Can you gel stain over painted cabinets or do you need to remove the paint first? Also can you stained over poly? The wood I want to stain is old and have a thick seal over it and some is painted white.

  125. Hi, about to try doing my entire kitchen – about 17 cabinet doors and 5 drawers. I could also do other projects but wondering if you think the quart or gallon would be more appropriate for this project. Don't want to get halfway through and not have purchased enough. Thanks!

  126. I am ecstatic to find this!! I want to do my kitchen cabinets, but have been questioning the fact they are only partially real wood. Thanks so much for the detailed process, I can't wait to try this!!!!! Your work looks great, hope I can pull off the same!!

  127. So I'm super excited about trying this, but I'm searching for the brand General Finishes and guessing I'm going to have to order it on-line, but not seeing a black??? Any suggestions on where to buy this in black?

  128. Ok, so called the customer service and they do have a black but it is the General Finishes Wood Stain, WATER BASED, Black Stain, DO YOU THINK THE WATER BASE WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

  129. You need to remove the paint and the poly. If it is more of a lacquer than you will need to strip it. If it is just a regular finish on wood you can just rough it up.

  130. Get the gallon. Especially if you are planning on doing the insides of the cabinets. You may have a little extra, but you will be much safer to have all of it come from the same can so there are no variations in color with two cans if you run out.

  131. Yes, it will make a difference. BUT it will only be different in the application and not in the results. It will be liquidy and you will need to be very careful to not get it everywhere. You will also need to sand better than just roughing it up because it will need to soak into the wood. It will be more labor intensive, but it will have a MUCH better result than if you painted the cabinets black.
    Good luck!

  132. I just went with Java Gel! lol Thanks for the input though. I think I got a big job on my hands, but sure it will be worth it!

  133. Been planning this for awhile. Went with your blog for instructions before I do a "test" cabinet (which will end up in the garage) and if its what we like we'll do our bathroom!
    Want to make sure, and I'm sure you addressed it somewhere,
    ~~Do I put a coat of poly on after EACH coat of stain?
    a 3 coats of stain and THEN 3 coats of poly ? Thanks!!

  134. OK, another question. So I thought what I wanted to do was glaze my red oak stained with minwax (golden pecan) cabinets. I started in the laundry room as my test. Used Valspar mocha glaze. Barely a difference. I do not want my cabinets as dark as your….even though your vanity is beautiful. So I purchased brown mahogany. Do I need to completely remove the glaze or just rough it up? Thanks!

  135. Thanks for the blog. I've read your blog and have watched the general finishes videos on youtube. On the video after applying the stain they wipe it off. I tried this but it seems dry very fast and leave blotches. I have done this with the first two coats. Do you think applying a third coat and not wiping it will fix it or should I sand lightly and apply a third and maybe even a 4th coat. Just afraid a 4th coat will be too dark. Thank You in advance for the advice.

  136. Hi there, I just bought some GF Java Gel Stain and was scouring the internet for tips before I get started when I came across your blog. I'm really curious to how your bathroom vanity is holding up against use?!?! I'm thinking about doing our kitchen cabinets, but I have kids and our kitchen gets USED! I'd like to have some idea of how the product holds up after time and use. Thanks so much! I appreciated all your tips 🙂

  137. I am in love with this look and the apparent ease of the product. Thank you for both the tutorial and all the time you take answering people's questions. I think I have a new question. I have a kitchen that was put in in 2009. My kitchen cabinets' doors and front frames are solid wood, and most of the exposed sides have a thin piece of wood on them (1/4" wood veneer is my guess). Around the desk area and underneath each cabinet (where one would put under-cabinet lights) the builder didn't use the wooden veneer. Instead they are covered in a peel-able sheet of "something" that matches the current wood color and "grain." It's really cheap looking. I don't think this is what others mean when they say they have "laminate." In one corner the peel-able plastic-iky paper has started to pull off. Underneath the paper, there appears to be a sort of particle board. This "particle board" is made from tiny particles of wood, not the big pieces of wood used to make particle board for say, a subfloor, so it's quite smooth, but not as smooth or uniform as MDF. The paper treatment I'm trying to describe also seems to be the same or similar to what is inside of the cabinets. I need to figure out how to handle this, if I indeed can, in order to use the gel stain. Any advice? Thanks! — Susan

  138. It is holding up great!!! I have 4 kids and it still looks new. I am doing my entire house, kitchen, laundry room, banister, other bathrooms, everything. It looks amazing.

  139. Your cabinets loom great! I'm planning on purchasing the General Finishes Java gel stain for 2 nightstand my dad is building for me. Should I expect to see a rich expresso color like I'm looking for or will it be mistaken for more of an ebony or black color? Also did you use the traditional "wipe on, wipe off" method like you would need to with standard oil stains or did you simply paint the stain on? Should I sand in between coats and poly coats?

  140. Hello — thanks for your detailed instructions on how to do this. I am planning on doing the same job to my kitchen. Curious of how many cans of stain and poly to get? We have a ton of cabinets that are the same color wood as your bathroom before pics.


  141. It might be too late now, but I saw a professional who was staining a door and he put a single nail in the top and bottom centers of the door – like on the top and bottom edges so they stuck out like antennas. He rested the nails on the sawhorses so when he was finished staining/painting one side, all he did was rotate the door on the nails to the other side. It was a revolving system that worked flawlessly and he could paint the entire door at one time. I know…hindsight. 🙂

  142. No I didn't wipe off. Just on. 🙂 It is an espresso color but does look blackish from far away. Do not sand between coats. To see how I did it, please read through the whole post.

  143. I love these tips, it is a great and inexpensive way to update a bathroom. Keep up the good tips and don't ever be afraid to try something. You can always redo it again!

  144. How did you do your bathroom in a weekend? I thought it takes 3 coats of stain and 3 coats of poly and 24hrs in between each coat so you would need like 6 days…

  145. How did you do your bathroom in a weekend? I thought it takes 3 coats of stain and 3 coats of poly and 24hrs in between each coat so you would need like 6 days…

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