gel stains

lam702February 16, 2014

I have 2 bathrooms I plan to paint/stain the current cabinets in. Thanks for all the help on the painting questions. The ones I want to stain are currently the dreaded honey oak. I've read a lot of good things about general finishes java gel stains, and seen the beautiful results of using it on old cabinets. But I think the java is a bit darker than I want to go. I'd like a shade lighter, perhaps the walnut stain. Some things I've read say the java is best because of the tendency of gel stains to streak and look uneven, but the darker java color doesn't show it as much as the lighter colors. Had anyone used a lighter color, and did you find this to be an issue? Sorry to post on the kitchen site, but I tried the painting forum and got no response.

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2 or 3 years ago I used Minwax mahogany gel stain on my golden oak bathroom cabinets (as I didn't want the deep dark contrast of java) and even with 3 coats plus a touch up coat it's a bit streaky and an imprefect appearance. I'd like to paint over them but I don't know what kind of paint adherence I'd get with gel stain underneath (and stripping is quite unlikely to happen). Good luck with the GF, I haven't tried it but I'm pretty well over the gel stain as it is.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 1:10PM
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Gel stains are essentially paint.
If you want something a little lighter, I'd go in search of Jacobean (next darkest, I think) Early American, Provencal, Special Walnut (no red in it at all. Nice.) Dark Walnut.

As someone who has stripped (Citristrip -- no other!) and restained more cabinets than I care to count, I suggest getting that finish off them and using regular stain. You have much more control over your color. I gotta quit changing my mind or buy stock in Citristrip.

However, if you're thinking of covering everything, just get the gel stains. Beware the color and thickness are far more intense.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 1:11PM
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I'm in the process of using the General Finishes gel stain in java on my laundry room cabinets, which are a natural maple. I have mixed feelings about it thus far. It definitely behaves differently than regular stain. You do need to put several thin coats on to get the best results and you need to be more aware of leaving marks from the applicator that you use (I used an old cotton sock and a foam brush). It doesn't penetrate the wood like regular stain but I have found that really rubbing it in well gives pretty good results. It's kind of a learning process...

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 1:22PM
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I used GF java and freaked out after the first coat because it was all streaky and blotchy. After coat no. 2, it was fine. I also used it on the laminate sides of the honey oak cabinet without primer, and it dried like paint.
Also used American Wheat (?) on maple, which worked out very well; however, it was close to the natural color.
I worked with regular liquid oil stain on a table that had three different woods to start with and ended up with three different colors afterwards.
I find gel stain easier because it is more like paint, thus you achieve a more uniform finish. The flip side is that the grain won't show as much; however, no major sanding is required (I didn't do any), and the honey oak doesn't have that great grain to preserve to begin with.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 1:49PM
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I had a bad experience with GF gel stain on a golden oak desk. I used Brown Mahogany (which is the most beautiful shade ever). The first coat went on okay. The second coat DISSOLVED the first coat in places and I was left with part gel/part original wood. I ended up stripping it down to bare wood, using a good oil stain (also GF) and multiple topcoats.

I can't tell you what went wrong, nor could GF when I talked to them. Some people rave about gel stain, but my experience was really bad.

I wouldn't want to paint or strip/restain my own kitchen cabinets, but I would tackle a small to mid-size vanity on my own.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 3:26PM
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