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Bathroom Remodel DIY with General Finishes Gel Stain

Check out my bathroom remodel DIY. I redid my floor with vinyl tiles and used General Finishes gel stain on my cabinets to make them a beautiful walnut color.

When I decided to leave my career as an Optometrist and stay home full time, I needed some ways to update my house without spending a lot of money.  I had never done any major renovation on anything, but I knew I could figure something out.

After googling a ton and reading about refinished cabinets, I decided to take on the master bathroom.  No one ever sees if besides my husband and me, so if I  messed up on it, it really didn’t matter much!  We all have to start somewhere, right?

This is my first major room update and gel staining cabinets was so much easier than I thought.  I’m so excited to show you my new bathroom.  And I have to admit, I’m a little in love with General Finishes gel stain.  

This is my first bathroom remodel DIY style and I loved how it came out.  It was amazingly pretty easy but tedious.  I hope you get some inspiration and know that making some big changes can be inexpensive and easy!

bathroom remodel DIY

After 12 years of looking at the same ugly bathroom, I decided to take matters into my own hands and do a DIY bathroom remodel (well most of it!).  

I would have loved to demo everything and get nice new granite countertops and replace the tub but I knew that was way out of our budget and I didn’t actually need it, I just wanted a nice looking bathroom that was peaceful feeling.  

So I researched a ton of ideas and decided on the ones that I knew I could handle on my own (and the one I couldn’t).

Here are the before pictures of our bathroom with oak cabinets, ugly linoleum flooring, and small tile everywhere…

bathroom remodel DIY
gel stain cabinets before and after

DIY Bathroom Remodel

The things I decided I could do, were redoing the floor and refinishing the cabinets.  The hardest part of the whole project was pulling up the floor.  It was glued very well to the wood below.  

The easiest way that ended up working for me was using a heat gun from a friend and hovering it over in about 1-foot sections and then pulling it off.  I used a utility knife to cut the linoleum in squares first.

Usually, just the top part came off so then I heated it up again and scraped the glue/paper residue off with a putty knife.  Very time-consuming and back-breaking… It took me almost a whole week just to do this.  

(For the next bathroom remodel DIY (click here!) I just glued the vinyl tiles on top of the linoleum)

bathroom remodel DIY
refinishing cabinets with gel stain

For the flooring, I used a vinyl tile from Lowe’s.  These are so easy to use!  They have the look of tile but they are not hard and cold like tile and you can cut them with a utility knife, score!!  

I do not have a tile saw and did not have to run and back to the hardware store to get them cut.  The tiles come with peel-off back paper and an arrow on them so that you put all in the same direction so the flow goes a bit better.  

They are not all that sticky, so some of them I did use some liquid nails on the back to adhere them better if it seemed to not be sticking.  I used a utility knife and a long ruler to cut the tiles.  

I wanted the tiles so I could grout it to make it look more like tile.  Grouting is pretty easy – there are many YouTube tutorials on it.

How to Use Gel Stain on Cabinets

The really exciting part for me was refinishing the cabinets with walnut gel stain.  I read a lot of tutorials on using General Finishes AQ Gel Stain.  Let me tell you, this stuff is amazing! I absolutely love it!

I took all my doors off and washed the hinges in hot soapy water.  I cleaned the doors and cabinet with TSP and let them dry.  Then LIGHTLY sanded the doors and cabinet and wiped them down with a damp paper towel.  

gel staining cabinets

To add the stain, I put on a rubber glove and then a sock over that.  After you shake or stir the stain well, dip your gloved hand in and get just a little on the tip and spread it on the cabinet.  

Go with the grain of the wood and wipe back and forth until it looks pretty even.  I did one side then let them dry and then turned them over and did the other.  I did about 4 layers with this Antique Walnut Stain allowing them to dry for about a day in between.  

I did this DIY bathroom remodel before I started my blog so I don’t have step by step instructions, sorry!

I used almost the entire quart on using gel stain on cabinets of my bathroom.

After I did 4 coats on everything and let it dry for a few days I added General FinishesTopcoat, Satin.  I used an old cotton t-shirt and just rubbed on a light coat.  Wait a few days and you can add another coat.  This is how it turned out:

gel stain cabinets before and after

So here are gel stain cabinets before and after pictures that are side by side.

general finishes antique walnut gel stain before and after

Not bad for a bathroom remodel DIY, huh?  I was pretty impressed with the General Finishes Stain and have done a few other projects in my house already.  I’m trying to get all the oak color out of the house.  

For my kids’ bathroom, I used General Finishes Java which is the more popular color (it’s deeper brown) and it goes a lot further.  I’ve done the kids’ bathroom, another cabinet, and my banister and I still have a little left.  (Click here to see check out the kids’ bathroom remodel and here to read about my DIY banister makeover!)

I got some new decor for my counters and the wall to finish up the bathroom remodel.  Take a look!

DIY bathroom remodel

The one thing I will not attempt to redo is the shower.  When it comes to water and mold, I don’t mess around with it.  

We hired a contractor to redo the shower.  We picked an accent to make it seem like a waterfall and I absolutely love how it turned out.  We got the Ana Bath 5 Function Handheld Shower on amazon.

Now I have a bathroom that I could just sit in and relax (if I had the time!).  The only downside of a nice shower is now every time I shower, my 4-year-old wants to also!

Thanks for stopping by!  Have a great day!

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Monday 6th of January 2020

Found your post on Pinterest. Your bathroom looks beautiful! I think I may try to stain my bathroom cabinets. This may be a silly question but did you leave the drawers in when you stained them or remove the fronts?

Leap of Faith Crafting

Tuesday 14th of January 2020

Thank you so much! I just left them on but I removed the drawers. You actually probably don't need to remove them though!


Wednesday 21st of November 2018

Hi, Does the antique walnut have more of a reddish undertone? or would you say golden? I think jave will be too dark for me. Thank you!

Leap of Faith Crafting

Tuesday 27th of November 2018

Hi Jodi, It is really hard to tell and it depends on the lighting in your bathroom also. It will also depend on how many layers you put on the cabinets. I would say mine look a little more reddish if anything, but barely. Sorry, it's not a great answer! Yes, the Java is dark, like a deep brown. I thought they'd be too dark too, but I have come to really like the color. My sister in law did her whole kitchen and banister in it and it's beautiful!


Wednesday 21st of November 2018

Does the antique walnut have a slight red undertone or more golden do you think? it's always hard to tell from the pics, but I feel like the java is going to be way too dark for my kitchen.


Saturday 25th of March 2017

I have similar cabinets and am trying the General Finishes gel stain. I tried the foam brush and the sock technique, but with both I end up with a sort of gooey spot around the edges where the raised trim meets the flat middle of the cabinet fronts. Any advice?

Leap of Faith Crafting

Saturday 25th of March 2017

Hi Jessica! Those are definitely the trickiest parts of the whole process. I tried to use just a very little amount on the ridges and just kept gently rubbing it back and forth with the sock. Once it's totally dry you might be able to stand it a little. Or maybe try using a small tip craft paint brush and apply a thin layer by just brushing it on the ridge part. You can use this stuff like paint! Hope that helps some! Good luck! I'd love to see how they come out!


Wednesday 27th of April 2016

Love it Amy! is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to