Over the Thanksgiving holiday we visited family who lives out of state. Our niece had recently refinished her bathroom vanity. And let me tell you it looked terrific. She had found a tutorial on Pinterest (who doesn't love Pinterest?). The woman had used a gel stain from General Finishes. My niece liked the way it looked and figured she had nothing to lose, so she gave it a try. My husband and I saw her completed vanity and loved it. We decided that would be the most budget-friendly way to update our wood--and best of all it sounded easy.
Normally at this point I would just direct you to her tutorial, however, we did things a bit differently, so I’m writing my own instructions. I have linked up my niece's blog post at the bottom of this post so you can see her vanity also.My niece bought her General Finishes Gel Stain online, but when we looked it up there was a store not far from us that sold it. So we decided to pay Woodcraft a visit and picked up several colors to play with and test on our wood.
We chose four colors and then used the back of a drawer to do some test swatches. In the end, we decided on Brown Mahogany.
This was our original wood color. We have honey oak wood throughout our entire house, and we've wanted to change it for a while, but what a daunting task to undertake. But our powder bath vanity is small, so my husband was willing to try it.
- First tape off the area.
- Sand the surface, going with the grain. On the other blogs that use this gel, they suggest just scuffing the surface. My husband sanded the finish off our vanity. It took him about two hours for the entire vanity, doors and all. As I mentioned above, we used the back of a drawer to do some test swatches to pick our color. And when we just scuffed the surface we didn't feel we got good coverage--even with multiple coats.
- Then wipe it with a clean cloth.
- Use two white cloths (per coat) and a pair of disposable gloves. The cloths we used were like white T-shirt material. One to put the stain on and one to wipe it off.
- Go with the grain and be sure to wipe the stain in strokes from one side all the way to the other. You’ll notice there are no messy drips, runs or splashes-Yeah! That's because this is a nice thick, gel. It goes were you put it. Wait about 2-3 minutes and then with the second clean cloth wipe away any excess--smoothing it across the surface with the grain.
- Your first coat is not going to give you the effect you’re looking for--I doubt your second coat will either. But don't worry. You will achieve the color you’re after with additional coats.
This is the second coat. Not really much of a difference from the first coat. But wait...
The difference between the second and third coat is amazing. This was where we stopped. Three coats of stain and two coats of poly.
Drying time between coats: 8 hours for each coat.
The salesmen at Woodcraft told us we could apply up to seventeen coats of Gel stain to a project until we reached our desired color. However, most people only use two or three. Also, you can use more than one color of stain. Making your own custom color. But they have a whole selection of colors to choose from. I read on other blogs that the Java color is the only color that works. We used the Brown Mahogany and I love my new vanity. Believe me, these photos don’t do it justice. So I can attest to the fact that other colors do work.
Here's the link to Woodcraft General Finishes Gel Stain: WoodcraftHere's the link to my niece’s blog and tutorial: DIY Mamas