General Finishes Java Gel Stain Dresser

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A Little Background

The before dresser
The dresser before, in my old bedroom

Before I get into the how to of the gel staining my dresser, I am going to tell you a little story.

My husband and I bought our first house when I was 19 years old and he was 21 years old.  At the time we planned on living in the house for 5 years and then selling.  It was the perfect starter house and what we thought was a perfect plan.  Because of this, we never had any desire to do any work to the house, as it was brand new when we bought it.  As our luck at the time would have it, our 5 year mark in the house was welcomed with the drop in the housing market which left us, along with several others in the country, upside down on our house.  We ended up sticking it out for another 9 years to get our equity back.  In the 14 years we were in our house we got married, got two cats, had four kids and got two dogs.  Our house that we intended for just the two of us and maybe one baby became a house of six with two cats and one dog.  We FINALLY sold our house last summer and bought a new house on the same day.

Our family of 6 went from an unfinished split level house with two bedrooms and one bathroom to a fully finished house with five bedrooms and four bathrooms.  For the first time in YEARS my husband and I have an actual bedroom!  We are no longer sleeping in a basement with concrete flooring and no walls or doors.  I can actually decorate MY bedroom!  In our old house I had no desire to decorate because we never intended to be there so long.  I couldn’t put anything on our mostly plastic covered walls in the basement where our “room” was, in the space we also shared with storage, an “office” and an additional “living room”.  Don’t get me wrong, I was thankful everyday that we had a house and a nice house (had we finished it) at that.  I just didn’t enjoy the house like I had wanted.

We have now been in our new house for a year and I absolutely LOVE it!  Although the house was fully finished, there is so much that I want to do to make it ours.  I have so many ideas and plans for this place that I enjoy calling home.  I am so very thankful for this house and all the opportunity that we have with it.

Back to My Bedroom

Finished Dresser with my Four Poster Bed
Finished Dresser with My Four Poster Bed

Sorry I got a little carried away.  I have never had matching bedroom furniture.  It was never high on my priority list for my none bedroom, bedroom.  I always wanted a four posted bed though, even though I had no good room to put it in.  As it happens, the week we moved into our dream house, I found a four poster bed, for sale, in my area!  I found it on a local garage sale site and it was only 2 miles from my house!  It was totally meant to be!  It’s beautiful with dark wood and a large headboard.  Now that I got my dream bed though, I wanted dressers to match my bed.  I had dressers, they were old, mismatched, hand me down dressers.  They worked though and I’m not overly picky and don’t need something brand new.  So I set about looking for new or used dressers to match my bed.

Why I Chose to Gel Stain

I was browsing Pinterest one day and found an article about Gel Stain for refinishing furniture.  After a little investigating I thought, hey, maybe I can do that.  I did some research about how to do it and what brand to get and decided on General Finishes.  I looked up where I could purchase it from that was near me and found nothing.  So I turned to trusty Amazon.  I purchased General Finishes Java Gel Finish and General Finishes High Performance Top Coat in Satin and had it within two days.  I also purchased some sponge brushes that were on the cheap side of sponge brushes.  I was all set to have dressers that match my new bed!

The How To

You’re probably wondering when I’m ever going to get to the How To.  Here it is, finally!

Starting to refinish the dresser
After washing and sanding the dresser.

I started by taking all the drawers out and the handles and knobs off.  I then washed everything with a rag and warm water.  My dresser was not all that dirty, there was no built up grime, just some dust.  Because it was not full of grime I was able to get away with just using some water.  Had it been worse I would have used a cleaner on it.  I then sanded all the drawers and the outside of the dresser. This was also something that I didn’t need to do a lot, just rough it up a bit and even it out.  I then washed it again with warm water to make sure the dust was off before I started with the stain.

Dresser Drawers

When I first opened the stain I noticed that it was thicker than any stain I was used to and was wondering how well this was going to work.  I followed the directions on the can and applied the stain evenly and in straight lines with the grain of the wood.  I was impressed with how easily the stain went on and how good it looked even with just one coat.

First coat of Java Gel Stain
First coat of Java Gel Stain
Second Coat of Gel Stain
Second Coat of Stain

I waited a day for the first coat to dry before I applied the second coat.  This coat went on just as well as the first coat.  I was absolutely loving the way it was turning.  I wanted it a bit darker though so I still wanted to apply one more coat.  I waited a full day for it to dry again before applying the last coat.  I absolutely loved it! It turned out exactly how I was hoping.

Now to apply the General Finishes High Performance Top Coat.  I waited another day for the stain to dry and went about the top coat following the instructions on the can once again.  This time though, it recommended sanding with an ultra fine grit sand paper before applying the top coat.  I started off sanding one drawer front with my electric circular sander and it was a huge mistake!  It took off the stain instantly!  I was so disappointed.  After that, I re-stained that drawer front with the Gel Stain and decided not to sand the rest of the dresser at all.

The High Performance Top Coat goes on with a slightly white tint when first applying.  This is how I could tell if I was putting it on too thick.  If it was more white in some areas I would brush it out a bit more with the sponge brush until it was thinner and more even.  The top coat went on just as well as the Gel Stain.  I followed the same process with this as I did the stain.  First coat, waited a day, second coat, waited another day and finally the last coat.  With all the coats I went with the wood grain and applied evenly with a sponge brush.  Even though the top coat goes on with a milky look, it dries completely clear and looks great!

During my waiting days with the stain, I washed all the handles and knobs with hot soapy water and sanded them a bit.  I then used Rust-Oleum Matte Hammered spray paint and painted them all.  I waited for them to dry and sprayed them again.  I found that two coats on those worked just fine.  I absolutely love the look of the Rust-Oleum Matte Hammered spray paint.  I have used it for several projects around the house.  I will share more about those in another post.

Black Beauty Dresser
Black Beauty Dresser

What do you Think?

Please let me know what you think of my finished dresser.  I would love to hear any feedback that you’ll offer.