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Gel Stain - General Finishes - Java

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Gel Stain - General Finishes - Java Gel Stain - General Finishes - Java How to Use Gel Stain: Preparation How to Use Gel Stain: Applying as Stain How to Use Gel Stain: Applying as Paint How to DIY Golf Bag Organizer
Gel Stain - General Finishes - Java

The foolproof finishing system! Just wipe on with a clean cloth and you're ensured of professional quality results without brush marks. Stains dry to the touch in minutes. If you want a darker color, apply another coat of stain in only 6 hours. Once you're satisfied with the color, apply General Finishes's satin gel topcoat finish. Special formula repels dust between coats. No sanding needed between coats and no unpleasant smell. 

Note: Coded as a flammable substance by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Can not be shipped by air or through the postal system

How To Apply the Oil Base Gel Stain

Applying the gel stain is a simpler process than traditional stains that require sanding between coats. Before you apply your stain however you should prep your piece to ensure the stain covers correctly.

  1. Clean the surface you plan to stain
  2. Sand the surface. The suggested grit is 120-150 grit, you want to make sure that any existing finish that might be peeling is removed so the stain applies to the actual project surface.
  3. Apply the gel stain liberally with either a cotton cloth, natural bristle brush or a poly foam brush. (Be sure to test a small area of your project to make sure it is the finish you want and that the application method you've chosen is working well for you.)
  4. Wipe off the gel stain going with the grain using a clean dry cotton cloth or high quality paper towels.
  5. Let it dry, between coats give your project a chance to dry. Drying time varies based on the size and nature of your project as well as the environment location. Normally drying time ranges from 6 to 12 hours.
  6. Repeat Steps 3-5 IF you want more coverage or you want a deeper/richer finish.

Suggested Topcoat

Topcoat can be used as a sealer over paints and stains or as a clean finish. If you want to use a top coat the recommended topcoat is Oil Based Arm-R-Seal Urethane Topcoat (sold separately).

  • Shipping Restrictions: Ground Transportation Only
(1) Gel Stain - General Finishes - Java
More Information
Brand No
Manufacturer Part Number No
Weight N/A
Tech Spec
  • Use: Interior and Exterior
  • Coating Needs: Normally 1 to 2 (additional coats can deepen the stain color)
  • Ideal Drying Conditions: 70° and 70% humidity
  • Cure Time: 14 Days
  • Application Method: Wipe on, foam brush, natural bristle brush or paint pad applicator.
  • Clean-Up: Mineral Spirits
  • Coverage: 200sq ft/qt
  • Recommended Uses: Any wood project or fiberglass doors
Tech Docs
Coverage 200 sq ft
Dry Time 6-12 hrs
Size Quart
Species Java
SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION: This is a combustible product, dispose of product soaked rags in accordance with local ordinances.
4.9 / 5.0
251 Reviews
5 Stars
4 Stars
3 Stars
2 Stars
1 Star
I Love General Finishes Java Gel Stain!!!
This stuff is amazing and so forgiving. Just go with the grain of the wood. It requires no skill at all to look good. Excellent coverage after 3-4 THIN applications with a foam brush! I used it to stain a maple vanity and a white laminate vanity(small amount of bubbling occurred, because it was old and chipped but it’s not very noticeable. It took4-5 coats in some spots.). Both vanities look brand new considering. Great product over all. Cleans up easily with mineral spirits! Used 1 small can for both vanities with a little left over. I could go on, I won’t.
September 19, 2018
1 month ago
Woodworking Experience:
Grandson found feet & pedestal on trash pickup day.
We made checker/chess board to fit them.
“Hippy Dan” Rockler in Richardson, TX matched stain for red oak frame.
User submitted image
Added Aug 4, 2018
August 4, 2018
3 months ago
Great product.
Chest of drawers with Java GF gel stain. White oak
White oak draw fronts. No top coat yet.
July 5, 2018
4 months ago
Woodworking Experience:
Gel stain is easy!
Simple to use. Recommend wiping instead of brushing. You can recoat for added color. Allow extra time for drying and use ventilation.
July 3, 2018
4 months ago
Woodworking Experience:
Very easy to use...great results
User submitted image
Added Jun 11, 2018
June 11, 2018
4 months ago
Woodworking Experience:
Never disappoints me!
I Love this product! I have been using java gel for many years.
June 9, 2018
5 months ago
Woodworking Experience:
Amazing !!!!
I was not sure of this product....a gel stain really?? Well let me tell you I live in an RV full time so I wanted my RV to be as home like as possible. This stain was so easy to use and it went on as smooth as silk. I had ordered the Java stain its almost black in color and it totally transformed my kitchen. It looks so rich in color and style. Everyone who comes into my home raves about the cabinets and wants theirs done as well. I also used the Arm r top coat but I wanted a light shine so I only did 1 coat of the top coat. I did over 200 sf of cabinets with 3 coats of stain and I had stain left over...I only ordered a Quart !!!!...and I have some left. This is very economical. I don't have anything bad to day about this product.....It is amazing. Teresa B.
June 5, 2018
5 months ago
Woodworking Experience:
I love the gel stain I purchased--no more drips--it's the berries or the nuts --which ever you prefer--it's the best
June 1, 2018
5 months ago
Love Java Gel Stain!
Java Gel Stain was so easy to use. This was a major project and first time using gel stain. Now, I will use this product again and it!
May 23, 2018
5 months ago
Woodworking Experience:
Outstanding product with beautiful results.
Amazing product makes staining so much easier than traditional, runny stains. I did two kitchens and four bathrooms and everyone thinks I bought new cabinets. The application is dependent upon the finished desired look and the wood. I tried foam applicator, hand in a sock and lastly Purdy brushes which worked the best. I can't recommend this product enough. Don't hesitate, make your project amazing today
May 17, 2018
5 months ago
Woodworking Experience:
Start typing your question and we'll check if it was already asked and answered. Learn More
Browse 124 questions Browse 124 questions and 202 answers
Why did you choose this?
Rockler Store
A beautiful shade, covers well, enhances old wood.
Kimberly S on Aug 17, 2018
Have used the gel stain before and loved the way it works.
P R on Aug 5, 2018
A beautiful shade, covers well, enhances old wood.
Kimberly S on Aug 17, 2018
Look like it will be easy to use.
Linda B on Aug 11, 2018
Have used the gel stain before and loved the way it works.
P R on Aug 5, 2018
Used previously with excellent results
Laura G on Aug 3, 2018
I saw amazing before and after pictures. I've been wanting to update my woodwork and trim
and I did some research. GF has the highest ratings over all the other brands of gel stain. So I figured I would give it a try and your prices were the most reasonable on the internet.
LINDA M. B on Aug 2, 2018
Highly recommended in Pin Interest
Yvonne R on Jul 27, 2018
I’ve used this before
Randall on Jul 22, 2018
Have used many times and LOVE it!
GLENDA T on Jul 5, 2018
Have used this stain before. Very pleased with the results.
Marje D on Jul 4, 2018
Wanted to try gel stain Liked the color
Doug R on Jun 26, 2018
because it is oil based and reviews were good
Carol S on Jun 14, 2018
I don't want to use minwax.
Christopher J C on Jun 13, 2018
Java Gel is just the best stain I have ever used. Usually dry to touch the next day with a slight sheen. It is simply awesome!
Betty M on May 30, 2018
customer requested.
Thomas J on May 17, 2018
We stumbled upon this stain and I am so glad we did. The General Finishes Gel Stain is the only stain we use when we give the furniture "New Life". This stuff is amazing and by far the best product on the market!!
Maria H on May 14, 2018
To update a bench for our bedroom
Kelly M on May 12, 2018
Heard great reviews and love the color.
Jennifer M on May 11, 2018
my go to stain for coverage
connie c on May 7, 2018
client request
Darren C on May 5, 2018
Have seen many projects with this finish that turned out beautifully. I am looking to cover honey oak cabinets in kitchen and 2 bathrooms and maybe a dresser and nightstands.
Cynthia P on Apr 10, 2018
Love this stain
Tim C on Apr 10, 2018
Refinishing kitchen cabinets
John B on Apr 9, 2018
These gel stains are the very best I've ever used.
JCM Upstate NY on Apr 8, 2018
I have used this Gel stain many times I find it very easy and love the color. It is worth the money and will continue to use it.
Lorrie S on Apr 3, 2018
doing a shiplap wall in ranch house
Kathy H on Mar 20, 2018
Henry M on Mar 18, 2018
best gel stain I have ever used
DWAYNE F on Mar 14, 2018
Blanket Ladder Project
Edward M on Mar 12, 2018
General finishes online site.
Donna C on Mar 12, 2018
Great product
Lester G B on Mar 10, 2018
Recommended by a friend
Kesha B on Mar 8, 2018
Love General Finishes products
Dorane P on Feb 23, 2018
My husband & I refinish vintage furniture and give it new life. This is by far the best stain we have ever used and we tried several before we found the Java gel stain!!! This is the only stain we use!!!
Maria H on Feb 22, 2018
Saw it on pinterest, got good reviews, and decided to try it

We will see!!
Thomas S on Feb 22, 2018
Awesome product. Great Coverage and Easy application.
Natasha W on Feb 20, 2018
Lizabeth L on Jan 26, 2018
I have used this dark Java stain for a little over a year now and I love everything about it. It covers very well, is easy to clean up, is blends well with almost all wood types, and it is much easier to apply than regular stains that are thin.
Louis B on Jan 26, 2018
Looks like what I need to stain my kitchen cabinets based on the videos I've seen.
Anthony M on Jan 21, 2018
its an excellent product that is easy to apply and looks great when finished
Thomas D on Jan 18, 2018
Want to try gel stain
Jennifer W on Jan 7, 2018
We are going to refinish our oak cabinets to make them darker. After researching on line, General Finishes looks to be the best option
MARCIA H on Dec 28, 2017
This stain got high recommendations and covered well.
Andree L on Dec 9, 2017
Saw someone use this to stain their cabinets on a youtube video and it looked amazing. So I thought I would give it a try!
Taneesha P on Dec 3, 2017
looks interesting and wanted to try it.
Robin F on Dec 2, 2017
Awesome product!! LOVE this color!!
Maria G on Nov 16, 2017
Michelle W on Nov 15, 2017
recommended by a friend.
Ronald W on Oct 5, 2017
high ratings for stairs
LARRY R on Sep 22, 2017
I use this product a lot.Great stuff!!
David F on Sep 21, 2017
its the best, high quality, makes furniture looks expensive.
shatari b on Sep 19, 2017
Look like it will be easy to use.
Linda B on Aug 11, 2018
Used previously with excellent results
Laura G on Aug 3, 2018
I stained my stair banister with Java, but feel it's too dark- looks almost black. If I top coat it with antique walnut (which I used on my basement stair rail and love), will it even work, or is the java base just too dark?
Mark L on Feb 8, 2016
Gel Stain - General Finishes - Java
Gel Stain - General Finishes - Java
Gel Stain - General Finishes - Antique Walnut
Gel Stain - General Finishes - Antique Walnut
BEST ANSWER: A light stain over a dark stain will not show through. Had you done a light stain then a coat of dark over you would get a layered look or you could have mixed the light and dark stain together before using. At this point I would tell you to sand the banister and start over. You may have to sand to bare wood to get the look you want.
What kind of top coat do u need over oil base gel stain ?
tommy on Jan 12, 2016
BEST ANSWER: I always use a clear coat of poly as a layer of protection and I like a little more sheen than the gel stain itself provides.
How long before u wipe off stain?
R S on Aug 19, 2016
BEST ANSWER: I personally don't wipe it off! But it all depends on how dar you want it. I consider wiping if off a waste of Gel stain. But thats my personal opinion. I like it very strong dark rich brown.
Some spots are wiping off when applying another coat. I thought I prepped well. Is this going to be a problem going forward? I plan on added a clear finishing coat. I'm worried!
Sara F on Apr 11, 2016
BEST ANSWER: It will not be a problem on the long run. The only problem that might cost is, you will have to apply some extra coats until covered. I personally, just apply a stronger coat on the area and wipe it off very softly.
Can you use this over painted white cabinets, or would you have to strip them first?
Whitlwe on Sep 15, 2015
BEST ANSWER: That's the beauty of this stripping is necessary as long as the paint is not chipping off you should be able to go right over the top. A light sanding would be good though to allow the gel stain to adhere well. I LOVE this product!!
Can I use gel stain on hardwood floors?
A shopper on May 28, 2015
BEST ANSWER: I would most definitely not recommend applying any type of stain on floors without consulting with a professional and insuring the proper steps are taken from start to finish and final top coat. Consult with the manufacturer to confirm this type of stain is condusive for heavy weight traffic areas such as flooring.
I want to darken a night stand that has a Formica top. Will this cover Formica?
A shopper on Apr 17, 2015
BEST ANSWER: When I am using gel stain on formica, I really rough it up with 5o or 80 grit sandpaper first. Clean it with denatured alcohol after sanding and apply the stain. Let it dry without wiping, a good 12 hours or more. I use a water based polyurethane over the gel stain . I like to use Varathane waterbased low odor quick drying poly.
Will this work on the laminate ends of cabinets? Cabinet doors are wood but cabinet boxes are laminate.
Jayne S on Jul 16, 2016
BEST ANSWER: Yes it will! Give it a like scuff and you are good to go! It might take more coats, but it will definitely work.
Can I apply Java Gel over a very dark wood, either cabinets or furniture? Can I have a color match? I'd like to use a lighter color on my cabinets and some furniture. Please let me know.
Bob C on Jun 17, 2016
Do I use a wood conditioner using this java oil on pine wood.?
A shopper on May 19, 2015
BEST ANSWER: Yes, by all means! Pine( softwood) will absorb way too much without a conditioner coating. Maybe two conditioner coatings. Also conditioner first on any scratch/sanded areas and end sides.
Consider mixing Java with your choice of lighter stain at 25-50% Java.
Also use Java over clean, slightly sanded finish coat. Wipe off quickly.
If I want to refinish cabinets, do I need to sand down the bare wood or try to have a smooth sanded finish? In the video, it looks she is applying the stain over the original finish.
Stephen S on Apr 10, 2015
BEST ANSWER: Hi, I did a light sanding just to scruff up the original finish a bit. I experimented with a couple of doors where I sanded down to the bare wood and in my opinion the lightly sanded ones turned out better. The gel glided right on and the finish was very smooth. Good luck!
Can I use gel stain on laminate furniture?
Maria V on Dec 4, 2016
Can I use the Java Gel Stain to pain over an alarde piante dresser,or can I use the waterbase top coat only over the old piano? The dresser is an old piece and has some cigarrete burnts.
Silvia F on Jun 19, 2016
Gel Stain - General Finishes - Java
Gel Stain - General Finishes - Java
General Finishes EF High Performance Polyurethane Top Coat-Satin
General Finishes EF High Performance Polyurethane Top Coat-Satin
After you take your cabinet doors off and you have the cabinet frame left I think mine are covered in skins will this work on the skin the same way it does on the solid wood doors?
donna b on Apr 10, 2016
Will this gel stain work on a garage door that is not wood?
tinker on May 19, 2015
BEST ANSWER: A blogger did this and she said it is holding up great. She started with a brown door though so you may to paint it first if it's white. Google Domestically Speaking.
How do you lighten an area that has come out too dark?
A shopper on Aug 26, 2015
BEST ANSWER: You can rub it lightly (with the grain) with OOOO steel wool.
Sould I sand between coats?
Tammy L on Mar 27, 2016
BEST ANSWER: Yes I use 600 sandpaper very lightly
I would like to use this on my metal garage doors. Any suggestions?
Dorene F on Nov 8, 2016
Do you have to use a top coat over stain?
Linda on Sep 2, 2017
BEST ANSWER: You don't have to. I would though. I used it over the gel stain when I did my bathroom cabinets. I used polyurethane. They have held up extremely well after a year. I didn't use one on a nursery glider and it has started to ware on the places used most.. like the arm rests. It was done over 2 years ago.
Can I use chalk paint over a gel stain? I don't like the finished look after using the Java gel stain, it is too dark and I would prefer something different.
Jennifer on Aug 7, 2017
BEST ANSWER: Yep chalk paint goes over just about anything. You can also try sanding it. And for future reference when you put the gel stain on use very small amounts and wipe off immediately it'll come out less dark.
Does the Arm R Seal satin finish need to be lightly sanded between coats? Applying over GF Java stain.
Brenda C on Feb 16, 2016
Gel Stain - General Finishes - Java
Gel Stain - General Finishes - Java
General Finishes Arm-R-Seal Urethane Topcoat-Satin
General Finishes Arm-R-Seal Urethane Topcoat-Satin
BEST ANSWER: Yes, it is best to lightly sand between coats. I finished a solid oak table top and applied the Arm R Seal with a clean cotton rag (I cut up old t-shirts). It applied very well, but by sanding between coats you can achieve a glass like top that is extremely smooth. Between the last couple of coats I used 0000 steel wool (ultra fine) between coats. That worked great. Also, be sure to vacuum and tack cloth after sanding each time.
I have put 5 coats of poly shades and still not achieving the proper color Can I just put your product over the poly shades ?
A shopper on Aug 23, 2015
BEST ANSWER: Yes it works great for this because its consistency very think unlike polyshades it actually works best for this dont wipe on and wipe off put amount your going to use in another container add just a little linsred oil this will give you time to work with mix and dab on area s o f your work then use brush to cover your work blending back and forth with brush in both directions to leave marks and if still not deep enough let dry brush another co at on rarely do I need to though and youll get the color you desire
What should I use to clean my natural bristle brush after applying Java Gel Stain?
Jami B on Sep 2, 2017
BEST ANSWER: you can use turpintine or paint thinner. it is an oil based stain. I used the next generation paint thinner and it worked really will. hope that helps.
It seems that most have used it over previously finished wood. My question is, does it work just as well over bare, unfinished wood? Or would it be best to apply a coat of poly first and then use the GF gel stain?
Lane R on Aug 1, 2017
BEST ANSWER: I haven't used it on unfinished wood, but have to say I'm still thrilled with how my 25-year old contractor grade, formerly ugly kitchen cabinets look, after 2+ years of use & abuse. I recently bought an equally ugly large wood framed light fixture & stained it to match the cabinets. Beautiful! Sorry I can't answer your specific question, but I highly recommend the product. Follow directions, allow the recommended time between coats - more if it's a high-humidity day, and your results should be excellent. Also - don't overapply or overbrush. You want to just lightly lay down each coat. Less is best with this product. It seems that I read somewhere about wiping after coats, like you would with other stains. Don't! Entirely unnecessary, unless maybe you're trying for a more transparent effect? I used dense sponge applicator brushes in varying widths, depending upon which section of cabinet or door. Zero brush marks. I'd rate my skill level as only slightly better than absolute novice, and my results were superior. Good luck with your project!
Was wondering I anyone has used Java jelly on whitewashed cabinets before?
Ellen G on Nov 18, 2015
BEST ANSWER: Need more info you looking to vintage or cover your white wash to vintage I would recommend add small amount of linseed oil to an amount of gel mix in container this gives you more time to work with the gel not very much just a little then lay jell on just spots of surface not over everything and usr brush to spread all over using brush strokes both directins so you dont see marks
is it water based?
A shopper on May 12, 2015
BEST ANSWER: No it is not, it has somewhat of a smell but great product, just keep windows open:)
Do you have to sand or could I just apply to oak cabinets?
Danowaite on Jul 18, 2018
BEST ANSWER: It depends on the look you are going for. If you truly want it to be done and have very good coverage and hold up well over time, do a thorough cleaning (extremely good scrubbing with something that leaves no residue) and a light sanding. It will help the stain adhere and soak into your wood.
Does General Finish Stain cover wood grain or can you still see the grain? Ex: oak has beautiful wood grains I wouldn’t want to lose.
Lisa L on Apr 25, 2018
BEST ANSWER: You can still see the texture of the grain. If the grain does not have texture to the touch, though, then it will not be visible under thickly coated gel stain. If you use a thin coat or wipe off excess stain, then the stain should be visible, regardless of if it has texture... much like painting vs whitewashing. I hope my explanation makes sense.
How much do you need to stain a front door and how many coats?
Lee F on Apr 6, 2016
BEST ANSWER: 1 Quart is more than enough i used about 4 cans and i did ny whole kitchen... you just want to make sure you scuff up the surface first then give it about 3 coats with a day of drying in between each coat maybe a 4th for some small touch ups if you are going to do a clear coat i make sure you let it dry for a few days before you do and do about 2 coats of clear
Do you have to use a sealer?
A shopper on Jun 30, 2015
BEST ANSWER: Yes you will need to usea sealer.
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