Monday, November 26, 2012

How To Gel Stain Your Cabinets

I am not handy.  At all.  Home improvements are not my thing.  We hire someone for everything, or we make our family come and help us like some wanna be Amish. 

pinned a guide for staining oak cabinets and I read a few other tutorials by bloggers who did gel stain.  They all seemed like people who were good at DIY home improvements.  I was nervous but was also all hot and bothered over the before/after results they got.  We decided that I could experiment on our upstairs bathroom because we want to redo it eventually anyway, and all of our guests use our half bath downstairs so the upstairs bathroom rarely gets any traffic.  If it looked terrible we could cover it in Hello Kitty stickers or something.

As previously discussed, we have a lot of builder-grade stuff in our house.  We are also on a budget since I quit working.  This project, total, cost me just under $60 and made a big big difference. 

Here is where we started:

This is an old picture that is low resolution, because I forgot to take a before picture.  Best I can do.  And here is the after:

Also: new hardware and faucet.
To come: new mirror, new rugs, new shower curtain and rod.
And probably bye bye crappy over-the-toilet storage!
 This really, really was an easy project.  If you can paint, you can gel stain cabinets.  The gel stain was really easy to work with because it wasn't drippy like paint.

Here is what you need:

General Finishes Java Gel Stain (Buy It Here): I bought the quart because, if I liked the bathroom, I planned to do the kitchen.  For the bathroom, I only used a quarter of the can.  So if you have one cabinet to do you could just get the 1/2 pint for under $9.

General Finishes Poly/Acrylic Satin (Buy It Here): Same here - a little goes a long way.  I bought the quart but definitely could have done the 1/2 pint.

Foam Brushes (Like This): I bought a ton of two inch brushes.  It is a complete pain in the ass to clean the gel stain from the brushes, so I just used a new one for each coat.  The poly/acrylic is really easy to clean out of the brushes.  I probably bought 15 and used 10. 

(Some of the guides that I read recommended using a sock to stain, and I didn't try that.  The foam brushes worked great for me and were easy to put down when I had to wrangle my children.)

Angled Sanding Sponge, Fine Grit (Buy It Here): Or any fine sanding tool.  Just make sure you don't get a coarse grit.  The angles made it really easy to sand the panes on the doors and around the edges of the drawers.

Frog Tape (Buy It Here): This stuff was kind of an accidental miracle purchase.  I really only bought it to make a pumpkin project for my daughter's preschool Halloween party.  I will never use regular painter's tape again!!  This stuff is fantastic - it seals the paint and creates super crisp lines (and I am not being compensated at all for this!) just as promised.  It is more expensive but most definitely worth it!

Drop Cloth (Like This): Whatever kind you prefer.  I bought a big plastic drop cloth that I taped to the floor. 

Hardware  (Optional)

Instructions and tips to follow tomorrow morning!  I am out of time for tonight! 

Our creeper Elf on the Shelf is in this pic, too.
He likes to watch ladies pee, I guess.


Kate said...

Jenn the after is absolutely GORGEOUS!!!

Joanna @ said...

Looks fab! Great job!

Wendy said...

If you want to dress up the mirror for now, you can buy trim and glue it to the mirror glass. You measure your mirror and have the Lowes Depot guy cut it to size.

Amy said...

can you include how long it took to do this project? We bought a forclosure and re-did a bunch of stuff but decided to keep the master bath cabinets. I hate them now that we have tiled all around the jacuzzi tub and painted. All the upgrades really make the cabinets look cheap. Yours look pretty awesome! amy

allthesunforyou said...

WOW! Impressive!

cms9613 said...

I love it! That's just what I've been needing to see, so I can do something with all my 80's oak! It's hard to tell in your pic, but can you still see the wood grain? The pics on amazon show a lot of wood grain still.

Caroline said...

Looks awesome - I've only stained a few things - and have had to do it out in our garage. Did this make your bathroom stink forever? Or did you just get high on fumes every time you peed? No wonder the elf likes hanging out in there!

JP said...

Totally awesome. Terrific job.

alison said...

This is freaking amazing! And yes, yes, yes frog tape is the best tape EVER MADE.

Niki said...

We must've seen the same Pinterest post. We did the same exact thing (same hardware, too!) and LOVE it!

Please post kitchen pics - were talking about doing those, too.

Kate Feuerstein said...

This looks great! And it looks similar to my light oak bathroom. Question for you. What did you do with the trim & hall-door & linen door(if you had one)?

Was the toilet side of the vanity the thinly finished board? Did you sand first?

Looking forward to your experience/input!