Transforming My Bathroom Vanity With Gel Stain

November 2, 2015

how to gel stain cabinets

With outdated hardware and a yellow-ish finish, all of my bathroom vanities needed a makeover.Seeing what an ordeal it was to paint my kitchen cabinets with oil paint, however, I was looking for an easy way out.Thank goodness I stumbled upon a new product called gel stain( here is the one I used).

*This post contains affiliate links. That means if you click on one of those links and buy something, I may receive a small commission, but you won’t pay a dime more.

After some intensive research and a few tutorials, I decided I would take the leap and try the  gel stain. So glad I did. The application was super easy and after two years, the product has not even one scratch.

Here is what the vanity looked like before the gel stain application.

gel stain vanity diy

Here is the vanity after 3 coats of  Java Gel Stain
and some new chrome hardware.

gel stain bathroom vanity

The color I went with, Java, deceptively appears as black in these photos. However, it is more like a super dark wood finish.


Materials Needed


How I Gel Stained My Vanity

1. Remove existing hardware and tape off your working area.

2. If desired, remove doors and drawers. I took the lazy way out and omitted this step.

3. Lightly sand your surface with sandpaper. The beauty of  gel stain is that you don’t have to make a big to-do of this step.

4. Put latex glove on your working hand (hand you want to apply stain with). Then, place sock over your latex glove and start applying your  stain. I know it sounds weird, but application of the stain with old socks is really the easiest way I found. Because the stain will bleed through your sock, latex glove is necessary to avoid getting stain on your hand.

5. Don’t freak out after your first or second coats! It will look pretty bad at first. Here is how mine looked after the second coat. Also, be sure to let each coat dry completely between application.

IMG_20150307_095204988_HDR (1)

6. Use small foam brush for touch ups or hard to reach areas.

8. After you are happy with the finish, let dry overnight. Then apply wipe on polyurethane. It is best to apply 2-3 coats. I only applied one coat and I still havent had any dings or scratches.

9. Re-install hardware and enjoy your new vanity!!!

Here is the finished product.
gel stain bathroom vanity

Like I said, I would highly recommend this particular gel stain and no one is paying me to say so. I found it so much easier than using actual paint.

Now get out there and design some good vibes !!!

how to gel stain cabinets
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More about Designing Vibes

    1. I like the way your vanity turned out, was looking at it and was thinking the sink looks new, then I went on and realized you painted it. Is it holding up well? I am definitely drawn to your taste, classic with a the pop of color. You have done some really nice work!

      1. Thank you so much Joan. So far the sink has held up, but then again we have not even been in our home for a year. We shall see how it does. I think the painting over the sink is really just a temporary fix until we can afford to replace the countertops, but it works for now. Thank you so much for the kind feedback!!!

    1. It looks great! How long was the wait between the coats?

    1. Has this Gel stain been around for very long? 16 years ago I tried stripping my kitchen cabinets. (I don’t recommend anyone try stripping they kitchen cabinets.) The door and drawers ended up being from different types of wood. I tried to stain them dark, but nothing worked. So I painted them. This would have been so much easier.

    1. Forgot to add that this looks great and thank you for sharing. I’m going to try this at my mothers home in her kitchen.

      1. Thank you so much, Jean. Honestly, I am not sure how long it has been around but I am pretty sure it is a relatively new product.

    1. Did you not clean the cabinets before starting? And if you did, what did you use to clean them?

    1. What size can of java gel stain did you use? 1/2 pint, pint, quart???

      1. Hi Sue. I bought the quart, but it was enough to use on all three of my vanities and I still have some left over. Thanks!

    1. OMG This was amazing. Such an inexpensive do it yourself project. Along with the garage door makeovers, this was, by far, the best thing I’ve seen in recent time.

      1. Thank you so much, Dan. Yes, it is a very simple, inexpensive solution and I am thrilled with how it has held up. I love hearing you found this useful.

    1. It looks beautiful! I would like to redo my stairs which are hardwood, do you know if this would work? I do realize I would need a harder finishing coat, any suggestions??? Thanks in advance. 😃

      1. I am not sure, Lisa. I am sure it could work, but it may be easier just to use a stain specifically for flooring. Thanks for stopping by!

      1. We just recently did this for our stairs! We painted white risers and gel stained the treds. 🙂 Turned out fabulous!

    1. Absolutely stunning! Our vanities are painted. Would the paint need to be stripped prior to applying this gel? Or will a light sand work?

      1. Thanks, Mimi. I am honestly not sure how the stain would do on a painted surface, but I would think the surface should be stripped before application.

    1. Hi! This looks amazing! What kind of polyurethane did you use on top? Thanks!

    1. Great job – you’ve given me the solution for our master bathroom!

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