Tag Archives: general finishes java stain

Powder Room Update

Finally, the Powder Room is ready for the big reveal.  What did we do during this update:

1. Painted the walls

2. Put up a new mirror (Lowes)

3. Installed new lights (Lowes)

4. Refinished bathroom cabinet

5. Refinished over the toilet wicker cabinet

Before and After:


Sorry for the funky photos.  The powder room is so tiny that you have to try to take the photos from outside the room and walk around to try to get both cabinets.

I love our house, I truly do.  The only thing I hate about our house is the builders grade, press-board with a very thin veneer, crappy, yellow, oak-ish cabinets.  Do you get the impression, I really don’t like them!?!  Unfortunately, these same cabinets adorn our kitchen, powder room, master bath, and second bath!  ARGH!

We really can’t afford to replace them, and they are in pretty good condition.  So, I set out to find a way to make them look better.  Paint?  Well, I am from the old school of if you have exhausted all other options, then paint.  I knew with the cabinets not being real wood, once I paint them, there is no going back to a wood look.

Stain, that would have worked on the wood veneer, but the sides of the cabinets are just basically a big sticker.  Stain would not work there.

I tried Minwax Gel Stain several years ago, it had a very glossy finish and two years later was chipping like crazy.

I kept seeing General Finishes Java Gel Stain on Pinterest.  Always one to check reviews, I could not find one bad one!  Sounded like a plan to me.  I figured I’d try to refinish the powder room cabinet since that is the smallest one and would be the easiest to replace if it didn’t look nice.

This has to be the easiest stain I have ever worked with!  Here are the steps I followed:

Buy your supplies:

  1. some old white socks (raid your drawers)
  2. Good rubber gloves 
  3. 320 grit sandpaper
  4. Tack Cloth
  5. Throw away sponge brushes
  6. Painter’s pyramids
  7. GeneralFinishes Gel Stain – Java
  8. General Finishes Gel Topcoat in Satin Finish
  9. 002 (4)



Prepare to stain the cabinet doors:

  1. Remove the doors from the cabinet
  2. Clean the cabinet doors (I could not use anything too strong or watery, so I used my favorite all purpose cleaner “Awesome Cleaner” from the Dollar Tree.  It truly is Awesome and works on everything.  Best $1 I spend on the house!
  3. Lightly sand the cabinet doors and frame.  Make sure you sand very lightly since it is just a crappy veneer.  Make sure you sand with the grain of the wood.  I did this outside.
  4. Rub the cabinet door and frame with the tack cloth to pick up any dust that is on there.
  5. Rub the cabinet door and frame with the tack cloth again.
  6. Prepare your area for finishing.  I taped two layers of garbage bags to my countertop.  I used masking tape and made sure I had two layers everywhere.001 (4)
  7. Put your cabinet doors on top of your painters pyramids (they allow the cabinet door to get up off from the surface so you can get the sides easily.  They also allow you to do both sides of the cabinet doors without letting the first side completely dry.
  8. Open the can of gel stain.
  9. Put your cabinet door on the painters pyramids.
  10. Use the sponge brush to stain any decorative trim on your cabinet doors.
  11. Put on your rubber gloves, then put the white socks on your hands.
  12. Get a generous amount of stain on your sock.  Put the stain on the door.
    1. You don’t want to go to thick.  It is better to do several coats.
    2. Don’t overwork it!  Once you have it on, leave it alone.  This exceptional Stain is self leveling so don’t worry that you don’t have it completely smooth, it will smooth out, trust me!
  13. This is important: Wait for 24 hours between coats.   Sand lightly and use your trusty tack cloth between each coat.  This helps the gel stain grab on to the previous coat.

How does each coat look?

Lightly sanded door (that took the yellow off!)

Lightly sanded door (that took the yellow off!)

First Coat

First Coat

Second Coat

Second Coat

Third Coat

Third Coat

Fourth Coat

Fourth Coat

The cabinet came out so well, that I decided to use the General Finishes Gel Stain on the horrible wicker cabinet above the toilet.  I was not sure it would work, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.  I was amazed at how well it came out!

The Painters Pyramids were invaluable for this!

The Painters Pyramids were invaluable for this!

The Painters Pyramids were invaluable for this!

The Painters Pyramids were invaluable for this!

How did the cabinet over the toilet come out?


It is going to live to see another day! I could not believe the General Finishes Gel Stain worked on the wicker too!

How does the Powder room look now?  Well, it is so hard to photograph cause it is so small, but here it goes!

after only

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