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Monday, January 21, 2013

gel stained vanity

I apologize for not sharing any projects in the last few weeks.  I have been extremely busy, and I am so excited to share what I've been up to.  Remember what our half bath looked like when we moved in/up to last week? Here's a pic if you don't. Just like all the other cabinetry in the house (except the laundry room), this vanity is builder-grade oak, and I cannot stand it.
Well, if you have perused the Home Decor pages on Pinterest, you may have heard of gel stain.  After looking over a bunch of tutorials in the blogosphere, I decided to go with General Finishes in Java.  It's hard to find locally, so I ordered it from Amazon for $27.49 (including shipping).  I chose to get the quart because I'm using it in the kitchen too, but if you're just doing a vanity, you could easily buy just a pint.
 To prep the vanity, I started by removing the doors and giving them a quick sanding.  I'm talking about 1.5-2 minutes per door. From all the tutorials I've read from others using this product, this is all that is necessary. You should only need to remove a bit of that shine on these. *crosses fingers*
 I sanded the actual vanity next, and after it was de-shined, I swept up the dirt and grime so that it would reduce the amount of dust that could get onto the cabinet while the stain was drying.
Next, I taped off the floors, counter and walls.  I discovered that I really didn't need to tape down this paper because I tend to work pretty clean.  But, if you are more of a messy diy-er, you can pick up this brown postal paper up at Dollar Tree to save you some clean-up and/or your floors.
Quick Tip: If you do accidentally get this stain on your floors or counter (mine are linoleum and formica), try cleaning it up with a Magic Eraser. My wonderful friend Jennifer turned me on to this guy, and he cleaned up my little gel stain mistakes perfectly!

 I applied a quick coat to the vanity using very small amounts of the stain.  This stain is interesting because it really doesn't have too bad of an odor, and it looks just like pudding.  You only have to use a little bit to cover the oak with a light layer, and you do not wipe it off. Here's what coat one looks like on the both the vanity and doors.
P.S. I didn't want to spend any additional $$ on those little cabinet triangles that prop them up so your edges aren't touching the surface, so I improvised by using the hinges on one side, and a roll of duct/painters tape on the other side.
 The can says to wait 6-8 hours for drying in optimal conditions, and up to 24 hours if it is cold or really humid.  It waited about 8 hours on these and everything dried quite nicely.  I alternated between front and back of the doors.  Then, our pieces looked like this after coat 2.
 I waited another 8ish hours, and applied coat three.  It was really perfect because coat three just evens out the beautiful java/espresso color.  You still have some small bits of red that show through, but we really love that.
After the third coat on both the vanity and doors, we let them dry for about 24 hours before drilling for the hardware.  We really wanted to upgrade them not only with the color change, but also by adding modern hardware.  We chose a simple bar from Home Depot, they are $5 each, but we actually found a 6-pack special buy for $12.88.  We are going to use these in the other bathrooms and kitchen as well, so we picked up a few packs.
We also picked up this awesome set of templates to make drilling these holes easier. 
I purchased this Polyacrylic from General Finishes as well.  There are other options available locally, but I read good things about this one in particular, so I went ahead and ordered it from Amazon for $28.49 (including shipping).
After the holes were drilled, we touched up the stain with a small brush, let it dry for about an hour, and then we applied three coats of poly to the whole thing, allowing about 3 hours between each coat (as per the directions on the can). About three hours after the final coat of poly, we added the hardware, and hung the doors.  I stood outside the room, just looking at this beauty for a good five minutes before grabbing the camera.
 And here's a close-up on the door.
Who's ready for some before and afters??

Isn't that just great?  And the best part is that it was just so easy. The only problem is that the vanity is really upstaging the rest of this room, now.  I need to get some design decisions made and get going on this space!

27 comments:

  1. Hi Erin, great cabinet transformations on both kitchen and bathroom. I like your dark color choices, they look like brand new cabinets!!

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    1. Fantastic Idea! Question though is it more brown looking up close?

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  2. This is great! Thanks for posting your choices of stain and finish, and outlining the whole process...three coats of each--good to know.

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  3. Would you recommend the gel stain over the Rustoleum cabinet products based on your research? I can't decide which to use.

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    1. Hello! I have a friend that used the Rustoleum kit and really likes the results, but it was time consuming. I would recommend the gel stain because it is cheaper, very simple, and required little sanding. If you are doing a whole kitchen, I recommend a quart of gel stain. For a vanity, I used about 1/4 of a quart.

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  4. Would you recommend the gel stain over products like rustoleum for cabinets based on your research?

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  5. I found your post on pinterest and ordered the java gel and the top coat. I put in what says cherry plank flooring (looks like dark walnut) so hopefully the cabinet and flooring wont blend together...but looking forward to this project!

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    1. The gel stain will change your life! It is so easy to use, and I bet it will look great! Let me know if any questions come up!

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  6. Erin,

    I'm considering this project in a bathroom of mine. However, this bathroom also has honey oak trim and doors. Does the java colored vanity look okay with unmatched trim and doors? I'm nervous to try it, afraid that it will look weird with mismatched woods. Thoughts/opinions anyone?


    Thanks!

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    1. Hello! No, I do not think it would look weird with a complimentary wood tone. However, I do not care for honey oak, so I just updated this all to white, and added beadboard: http://magentaandlime.blogspot.com/2013/03/beadboard-in-bathroom.html?m=1

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  7. Erin, I love this blog and your projects. We moved from Colorado to our Honey Oak Hell 2 years ago and I'm finally to the stage where I can do something about it. Thanks!

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  8. I am planning on mixing cherry with the java on my vaniity and cabinets. I will let you know how it works out

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  9. I have ordered the java and the cherry and plan to mix them together. I will take pictures to show how it comes out

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  10. BeaUtiful, Erin! I love projects that have magnificent results and combined with little effort it makes the end result that much better :)

    Cha? Did you get your project finished? I had the same thing in mind and ordered both gel stains. I'm 'bout to get all crazy up in here and mix 'em up ;) Love to see pics of your project, too!

    Laurie

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  11. Erin, Thank you so much for sharing your projects! I am half-way through our kitchen re-do. Just put coat 2 of 3 of the poly on my cabinets. It has made such a difference on our 30 year old oak cabinets! Thanks for your recommendations of gel stain and poly. It worked beautifully!

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    1. Hi Stephanie,

      So happy to hear it! Enjoy your "new" kitchen!!

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  12. Erin,
    Did you sand in between coats? I am currently waiting for the first coat to dry (12+ hours) and it looks terrible. So happy to see that yours turned out beautifully.

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    1. Hi Margaret!

      I did not sand between coats. The first coat doesn't look great, the second coat looks considerably better and then the third looks awesome! Let me know how yours turn out!

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  13. You did an excellent job.
    Love your pictures.
    I want to re-do my old oak vanity. I do not want brown.
    In some of your pictures the color looks like a brownish tone not espresso - blackish.
    Can you tell me exactly what the color stain looks like.
    Thank you.

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    1. Hi Chris! Thank you!

      The stain is very dark, and can look pretty black in certain light, but it's definitely still brown.

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  14. Hi Erin,

    Love this look! Quick question though, I am looking at doing my kitchen cabinets which are the honey oak but they already have the polyurethane on them. Do I have to strip the current polyurethane off or can I just sand down to get the shine off?

    Thanks!

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  15. Thank you! Ours had the shiny finish, but I just sanded it off a bit for about a minute on each side of each door. It doesn't take a lot and it's holding up incredibly well!

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  16. Hi came across ur pic on pinterest and this is exactly what im looking for u did an awesome job..do u mind me asking what u used to sand them and what brush or method did u use to apply the gel stain and poly thanks in advance

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    1. Thank you! To sand, I used a sanding block, and I just used a foam brush to apply the gel stain and poly. Good luck!

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  17. They are beautiful. Thanks for sharing!!

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  18. I love that this only takes minimal sanding, I have kitchen cabinets SCREAMING for a gel coat just like this! Thanks for the tutorial!

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