It’s time for the ubiquitous post that every lifestyle blog must have. You guessed it…
Java Gel Stain
LOL. I’ve seen so many great Pinterest pins leading to major overhauls on cabinetry, and it ends up looking amazing. But I don’t ever trust myself to start with something that big, because while most things I try work out well, some just don’t. At all. And since I was afraid the gel stain would fall into this category, I decided to do it on my dining room chairs.
We’d just decided to streamline down to one table, and turn the dining room into a sitting area, since we rarely use the other table. So out went the old kitchen table – and by old, I mean it came from Service Merchandise. Remember them? (They still have an online presence but no stores.) Anyway, out it went, and the dining room table moved into the breakfast nook. Now I have 4 dining room chairs I don’t need…perfect guinea pigs!
So yeah, I’m refinishing chairs that I may end up throwing out. Who knows!
The great thing about gel stain is that you barely do any sanding at all, just enough to rough up any gloss. These chairs are 20 years old so there wasn’t much gloss, but I may have decided to sand off some gunk that probably should have been washed off instead. I didn’t want to wait for it to dry. After that, there are basically two methods for application. The first one uses a white sock over a rubber glove, as described in the tutorial here. The other option is to use foam brushes.
I’d read a lot of people saying they liked the brushes better than the sock, so I tried the brushes first. Unfortunately they left streaks, but that white sock did a beautiful job! At least it did after I realized I’d forgotten to stir the can of stain. See, this is why I do chairs before cabinets.
I won’t rehash the whole tutorial since the method I linked to above worked great. I will add a few tips:
- Stir before using. (Duh)
- Put on VERY thin coats. At least in Florida heat and humidity, this stuff takes forever to dry and cure
- Add more coats if it’s not dark enough, but let it dry completely between each coat.
- If you press your arm or leg against a piece and it comes away java-colored, it’s not dry. 😀
In case it’s not obvious, I had some trouble getting it to dry in places. Fortunately it was a small section, so I took a paper towel and wiped off what I could, then touched it up with a REALLY thin coat. Very very very thin.
This picture shows the progress on the chairs. The one on the left is the original color with the seat still attached. The one in the middle is after two coats of stains, and the one on the right is after three coats but before applying the polyurethane finish.
Also here’s a composite photo comparing the colors up close, with no stain on the left, 2 coats in the middle, and 3 coats on the one on the right. You can see that the grain becomes less visible with each coat, but it doesn’t go completely away. What does go away is that awful orange-y color.
Already they are starting to look better. The color is richer and more closely matches the deep color of our farmhouse table. They look fresher and less shabby.
So that’s part one of a two-part series. I’m sure you can tell what’s next – reupholstering the seats. Coming soon to a laptop near you!