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General Finishes Java Gel Stain Reviews and Pictures!

General Finishes Java gel stain reviews and pictures! This is an easy and affordable way of updating cabinets.

One of the things I wanted to do when I decided to stay home full time was to update our bathrooms.  I wanted to do it very frugally and by myself. 

I couldn’t stand our ugly oak cabinets anymore.  I found this amazing product that I have used quite a bit and so I thought I’d share a General Finishes Java Gel Stain reviews with you.

I did not have very much experience with staining and I was a little skeptical after reading all the rave reviews, but let me tell you, I was not disappointed!  In fact, I am a total fan now!  

What is Gel Stain?

This is not like your typical stain that requires the wood to be heavily sanded and bare.  General Finishes gel stain is a heavy-bodied stain so it doesn’t penetrate wood as deep as the other oil-based stains.  Which means the wood does not have to prepped very much at all.  

Just a light cleaning and very light sanding are all you need!  I have recommended this product to friends and family and they all love it too!

Here is the color of all the wood cabinets in our house:

general finishes java gel stain reviews


The basic standard oak cabinets that tend to turn kind of yellow/orange. I first started off doing our master bath and I used General Finishes Antique Walnut for a slightly lighter color.  You can find my full tutorial on my master bath remodel by clicking here.  Here is the final product:

general finishes java gel stain reviews

An amazing difference, right???  The cabinets did take almost a week because I had to do about 4 coats and I let them dry for 24 hours after.

How to Apply General Finishes Gel Stain

There are a few different ways to gel staining cabinets or any wood piece.  You can treat it like a normal stain and brush some on and then wipe off the excess.

Or you can use java gel stain like paint and just paint it on.  I used this method on our bookcase and IKEA chair.  I only had to paint on one layer with this method of applying gel stain.

how to apply general finishes gel stain

You can see the before and after of applying the java gel stain easily with this picture.  This is only after one coat and a paint brush!

java gel stain bookcase

Even those shiny IKEA chairs can be updated with General Finishes gel stain.

general finishes gel stain ikea

using gel cabinets

This is how our game room came out after I made an upcycled coffee table and dartboard surround.


Gel Staining Cabinets the Easy Way

  • To start, first, take off all your doors and take out drawers.  I used TSP to clean all the wood and let them dry.  
  • Then lightly sand – I mean lightly!  I used a sanding block and maybe sanded each door for 30 seconds or so.  Wipe off all dust and then time to start staining!
  • I found the easiest thing for me to do was to use a sock.  I like using socks because I could maneuver into the crevices of the cabinet door more. 
  • I put on a cheap rubber glove and then put an old sock over that.  Gently dip into the gel stain and start wiping with the grain on the wood.  Just do light coats.  
  • The first one or two coats will not look great, they will be streaky!  Don’t dismay, it gets better by the 3rd coat!  You can stop after you like how it looks.  
  • Let it dry about 24 hours in between coats.  After it was all dry I put the doors back on and put the wax on it.  I did two coats of General Finishes Topcoat Satin and let coats dry 72 hours in between.  I just rubbed it on with an old cotton t-shirt.  That’s it!

I used the same method for the kid’s bathroom.  Instead of antique walnut, I used General Finishes gel stain Java which is a little darker color. Java ended up being easier to work with it.  

It didn’t take as much to cover and I only had to do 3 coats.  I liked the richer color for the kids’ bathroom.  Take a look!

general finishes java gel stain reviews

They needed extra space to store items so I got these spice racks from IKEA and stained them with the Java gel stain and put two on each wall.

general finishes java gel stain reviews

To add a little cute and easy touch to their counter I put a little wood crate with a turtle, candle, and shells.  I also made a shell picture frame.

 I used an old wooden frame and glued seashells all around it from the dollar tree.  I designed the word art on my computer in different fonts, printed it on blue cardstock, and put it in the tray for some good reminders!

general finishes java gel stain reviews   general finishes java gel stain reviews

After their bathroom, I moved onto the cabinets downstairs and used General Finishes JQ Gel Stain Java again.

general finishes java gel stain reviews


I also did our staircase!  It came out amazing!!  It was a bit of work but it made a huge difference.  You can check out my tutorial on a DIY Banister Makeover by clicking here!

General Finishes gel stain banister staircase tutorial

The oak color is finally all out of my house!  I ended up using chalk paint on my laundry cabinets to give an extra pop of color in there.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

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