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Review of General Finishes Java Gel Stain

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I recently used General Finishes Java Gel stain on my dining room table and chairs and I am here to share my review!

I have refinished a lot of furniture in my day but this was the first time I used a gel stain, and I just might be hooked!

Dining room table set with cream plates with a gold rim, a navy runner with a wood box and flowers with a general finishes gel stain can next to it with text overlay.

*This post contains affiliate links. For more details see my full disclosure.

What is gel stain?

Gel Stain is much thicker than traditional oil-based wood stain. It doesn’t penetrate the wood as much either.

Typically it’s best to use gel stain on vertical surfaces because it is thick and won’t run like traditional stain. But it’s also great for pieces that you don’t want to (or can’t) sand down all the way to bare wood.

How to apply gel stain?

Using a chip brush or foam brush you apply to the wood then using a lint free rag lightly wipe off some of the stain off.

Wiping the stain off is more art than science. You can wipe a little off or a lot, it all depends on the look you are going for.

General Finishes Java Gel Stain

I had a dining table that was just too light for the space and wanted to stain it to coordinate better with my buffet but when I refinished it for some reason there were multiple areas that wouldn’t accept the traditional stain.

The top of the dining table where the stain didn't penetrate the wood.

This is why I tried General Finishes Gel Stain. They have many colors but the color I chose that closely resembled the color of my buffet was Java.

General Finishes is a great brand. They are very well known for their high-quality products and are typically what professionals use. So it’s a no brainer to choose this brand.

It took a few tries for me to figure out how much of the stain I needed to wipe off but once I did the process was really very simple.

The dining table, half stained with gel stain and half not stained yet.

As I mentioned before, this process is more art than science and if you are new to gel stain I recommend you trying it out on a scrap piece of wood first. Just to get the hang of it.

I also used this color on my dining chairs I purchased from Facebook Marketplace. On one of the chairs we removed the arms and had to do some touch up work. Using gel stain covered where we did the work better than traditional stain ever could.

The finished dining table and chair with a blue table runner, dishes, and a wall that is white board and batten.

Pros and Cons of General Finishes Java Gel Stain

Positives on General Finishes Java, I thought the color was great. It was exactly what I needed to match it with my buffet.

The quality of the product was great. It is very thick so be careful how much you apply. I think I was pretty heavy handed with it, I could have done a little lighter of an application and then I wouldn’t have had to wipe so much off.

The negative of this product is the price. General Finishes is a bit pricier than the ones you find at Home Depot or Lowes. But like I say all the time, you get what you pay for. If you want a good quality product you will have to pay a bit more.

Another negative of this product is its availability. The only place in Columbus where I could find General Finishes products was at the Woodcraft store which is a solid 30 minute drive for me.

You can order from Amazon or the General Finishes website but I am not the best at planning. I needed the product immediately so ordering online wasn’t a great option.

In the photo above you can see how well the stain color matches the buffet. I am so extremely happy with the results!

Would I use this product again?

You bet it would! I thought it was a very good product and plan to use it on a rocking chair in the future to get rid of that orangy 90s wood color.

If you are on the fence of whether to use gel stain I say give it a try! It’s different but also kind of fun to use. You don’t have to worry about splotchy or maybe a water stain that might show through.

Gel stain is a great product and General Finishes does it right!

Other furniture posts you might like:

A blue pin for pinterest with a view of my dining room with the Java stained table and chairs to match the wood buffet on the wall.
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As a licensed Real Estate Agent and an avid home decorator, I strive to give my clients the very best I can when it comes to staging, selling, and decorating their homes. I have lots of experience with paint color choices and love to DIY my home so I can have everything just the way I want it. I share my ideas and projects with the world in the hopes that I can help others have their homes just the way they want as well.

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