May 20, 2011

Gel Stain over White Furniture

The After...

This king bed and two nightstands started out white and I was hired to 
repaint them for a young families second home here at the beach.

They were going to be out of town for a bit so it was the perfect time
to complete the project.

The owners want the bed and nightstands to have the same 
wood tone as this little desk that is also in the room....cute huh?

I started by sanding and base coating with a warm, nutmeg brown color 
and let dry overnight.

I used the colors in the desk undertones as my guideline to choose this warm, 
honey brown color from the paint swatches at Home Depot.
I chose paint that has primer built in and had Home Depot mix up a quart
of interior satin for this base coat.

The next day I rolled on General Finishes brand gel stain in Java. 
This is fun stuff, it's thick like pudding and super easy to use.

You can go to the General Finishes Where to Buy page to see if it is available in your area.
I had to order mine online.

After rolling on you immediately wipe off.
I used soft cotton t-shirt material.

Oh, and I forgot to bring gloves with me and the location was
about 30 minutes from my home or a store that would have
gloves so... I guess I'll have stained fingernails for a few days.

Wear gloves!

I worked in sections on the bed and nightstands...

I ended up with this wood grain-ish looking it!

The gel stain application is really simple and it went quickly. 

I will let dry 24 hours then seal with Minwax Polycrylic in satin finish.

I came back the next day and it wasn't completely dry so I decided to 
give it another day. This was a little odd for it to take so long to dry,
but I knew it would dry eventually and I had plenty of time
before the owners returned.

It's looks really good though!

I went back the next day after giving it more time and it was dry enough to 
apply the polycrylic coat using a foam brush.
General Finishes does offer a wipe on topcoat 
but I have not used it so I can't offer any advice on how it would work.

I have used Minwax Polycrylic for years as a topcoat on all kinds of 
finishes. I'm comfortable with using it so that's what I went with.

My only caution when using this, or any topcoat, especially if it if over
a dark finish like this color of stain, is to be careful of letting it puddle
or apply to thickly because it can leave a milky look, even when dry.

You also have to be a little careful of leaving 
"bubbles" when brushing on with foam brush. If you see bubbles, just quickly
brush over again with the foam brush to remove them and take your time.

I let the first coat of poly dry and applied a second coat and
it dried beautifully and smooth as silk.

I let the polycrylic dry overnight and went back to reassemble everything
 and put the room back together and it looked fantastic.

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  1. Lucy, I can't imagine the stress, but the finished product looks beautiful. So very proud of you and what you do. Love you, Mom

  2. I think that it's kind of cool that you HAD to make it work! Sorry about the stress, but honestly, if it had been me, I probably would have scrapped it and started over!

  3. Beautiful! I want to redo my old bedroom set for my 7 year old son to use. This seems perfect much more masculine than what it currently is. Thanks for the inspiration!

    About the whole "don't hate me because I live at the beach" the only thing keeping you safe is we love the quiet serenity of St George Island vs the hustle and bustle of your area ;)

  4. Awesome end results. I didn't see if you mentioned if the customers liked it or not. I am following in your paint tracks and am refinishing an Ikea effectiv cabinet w/file cabinet on bottom. Sanded, tack clothed, using Behr paint & primer in antique copper and walnut Minwax gel-stain. (It didn't come in espresso). Thank you for giving me the idea to do this.

  5. Which brand of nutmeg brown did you use on this? Also as a total newbie is the nutmeg paint oil or latex.

  6. they loved it! I used the paint and primer in one latex paint by Behr at Home Depot

  7. I have refinished all my kitchen and bathroom cabinets using this stain and I discovered that the warmer it is, the faster it will dry. When I did the first cabinet in my bathroom we still had the air conditioning on and I found out then that the lower the temperature the longer it took. So with the next cabinet I turned on a small space heater in our basement for a couple hours and it was completely dry and ready for a 2nd coat of stain in about 12 hours. I then waited a full 24 hours before applying the poly. I also switched to a water based poly (per customer helpline) and found it completely solved the problem of the lifting of the stain.

  8. Would it work if you used the gel stain right over the white paint but just do more than one coat?

    1. Hi Alison. Since you are applying over a painted finish and not a wood or raw wood finish, if you use more than one coat, it will more than likely take away the "wood look". It's pretty thick and it would end up being very dark, especially if using the Java color and would just have more of a painted look.
      That's my take on it. I painted the brown color to give it more of a stained wood look. If I had done it over white, it would have a completely different look.
      You could always experiment on a painted white finish and see how you like it :)
      Hope that helps!

  9. Hi Lucy, The pieces turned out beautiful. I plan on refinishing our 4 poster bed to match the IKEA black/brown finish on the wardrobe we plan on purchasing. What type of finish did you use for your brown paint..Flat or Satin? Thanks.

    1. Hi Tony, I used satin. It helps the gel stain glide easier over the painted finish. I used the paint with primer built in. Have fun!

  10. How did you apply the Nutmeg color? Brush, roll, spray?

    1. I was inside so did not use a sprayer, I rolled/brushed it on

  11. can you do this process over chalk paint?

    1. I have never used chalk paint so I'm not sure. I know chalk paint has a very flat/matte finish so I don't know if it might soak up the stain unevenly.

  12. When applying a top coat, did you find that some of the gel stain would rub off of the surface? Also, did you have to sand after you painted once dried to give the gel stain something to adhere to?

    1. In this case, since I was having "drying" issues for whatever reason, there were a couple of very small areas where the gel stain lifted when applying the top coat. But I was able to touch up and it was fine.
      I did not sand after painting, only before. I let the painted base coat dry overnight and then applied the gel stain.
      Here is another post on gel stain and I had no issues with drying or any of the gel stain lifting when applying the top coat...


I've moved to to focus on my mosaic art. I'm no longer creating dragonflies or mermaids.

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