We have used this easy to apply stain for several projects and are sharing our top 20 Java Gel stain tips.
Home is not a place…it’s a feeling.
A little while back, we shared a cabinet that we turned 1990 honeylicious dated bathroom vanity to a more modern look with Java Stain.
It was such a bargain and a dramatic change, we have done several more projects and have now decided to use it on a full cabinet makeover.
Plus, I love the ease of application.
Here are some things we have done for this room already:
- Less Expensive Shade Option for Large Window
- Turning a Carpet Remnant Into Rug
- Reclaimed Wood Planked Wall
We have many more to go but for now, we are updating the cabinets in the room above the garage “Game Room” aka Man Cave.
20 JAVA GEL STAIN TIPS
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STAIN SUPPLY TIPS
- Some tutorials advise using java stain with an old sock and some say use sponge paintbrushes. We have tried both and a few more. Our advice: get the best sponge paintbrushes in different sizes. We got some that were flimsy and they lasted for all of about 5 minutes….if that! The wood-handled ones seemed to work better for us.
- A nice paintbrush can also be used. The Mister preferred that. However, the brush may not be salvageable after the project.
- Silly…BUT wear old clothing and put down a drop cloth where you are working.
- Take an old clean container to place some gel in and close the main jar up. You use a little at a time and it will develop a skin on it if you have the whole container open.
- Wearing thin gloves, like medical gloves, may help because if you get the stain on you, you will have it for a while.
- A very small craft paintbrush comes in handy for doing the cabinet lines against a wall and/or little corners.
BEFORE YOU STAIN
- You will need to lightly sand!!! We used THIS.
- Make sure the cabinets are clean and dust-free (tack cloth).
- If you have lots of cabinets, number them so you know where they go. (Sometimes the hardware doesn’t match up the same on all the doors). You can use masking or painters tape to label everything.
- This project will take time. Since you have to apply the stain in light coats, you will need time, and space, to lay out all the doors and let each stage dry for the proper amount of time.
- Make sure you open up some windows or turn on a fan.
- Keep all the hardware in a zip bag. Even if you think you are changing out the hardware, keep it. It’s good to take an example to the store for size comparison and such. Plus, if you can’t find new hardware to fit you can paint your old hardware.
- Do you have pets? All pet hair is attracted to gel stain. It’s a proven fact. You may need to vacuum the room and keep pets away. And even then you may have little hairs married to the stain so keep an eye out!
STAIN PROCESS TIPS
- Do one side completely, before turning and doing the other side. One of the mistakes we made was applying one layer and flipping the cabinet doors over to start the other side. Since so many layers are required it became complicated to figure out which ones were in what stage. We did a lot of unnecessary flipping. Have them all the same side and the same stage means less guessing.
- You DO NOT want to rush the process and apply thicker coats. Slow and steady wins the race.
- BEFORE you clear coat, check, check and re-check. You will think all is okay until you start that top coat and then you will see every missed spot.
- If you will have anything set on top of your stain (eventually), keep in mind the cure time..approx 30 days.
- You can lightly sand any globs, hair/fuzz, or drips; then just apply some more stain, lightly, if needed.
TOPCOAT GEL TIPS
- When using a clear coat, it has a tendency to foam especially when warm. Again, small doses.
- Don’t be too critical. Honestly, people don’t look at it with eagle eyes like you do when you are working with it. Take a step back and look. Isn’t that pretty?
Note: This took about one and a half quarts of the java stain and not a full quart of the topcoat.
If you prefer to paint your cabinets, you will want to check this out.
MORE HOME DIY PROJECTS
Here are a few more budget-friendly projects we think you will enjoy:
- Under $500 Thrifty Kitchen Makeover
- The Building of Our DIY Walk-In Pantry
- First Time Furniture Painting and Lessons Learned
Thanks for stopping by today. Our goal is to help make the most with whatever you have by sharing budget-friendly, time-saving, and reusing/DIY ideas for all parts of your home and life. If you enjoyed these 20 java gel stain tips, we would appreciate a share on any social media: Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. Plus, don’t forget to follow us as we share even more ideas on each account.
I have a question about flipping over the cabinet doors. You mention to completely finish one side before flipping to do the other. When you flip them over is there any problem with “marring” the finished surface on the other side? I have painting cabinets before and that’s always a concern because it takes paint so long to completely cure. Thanks in advance. Ugly 90’s oak cabinets in a rental. I want to do something with them to update but hubby says it’s too much work.
Salvage Sister & Mister says
There’s always a chance, you just have to be careful