Kitchen Remodel with General Finishes Java Gel Stain

General Finishes Java Gel Stain Before and After

A few months ago, I shared that we had done a few home updates and were in the middle of a kitchen remodel.  These were our goals for the remodel:

1.  Replace our laminate countertops

2.  Add a backsplash

3.  Darker cabinets

4.  Keep costs down as much as possible

In order to keep costs down, we made the decision to take care of the cabinets ourselves.  I’ll admit, I was terrified of painting our cabinets…neither one of us had any real idea what we were doing.  So, of course I did what any good blogger would do, and took to Pinterest to look for help.  One product I kept seeing over and over again was General Finishes Java Gel Stain.  I read many tutorials, watched videos, and read hundreds of reviews on the product.  Pretty much everyone had amazing things to say about it, so we decided that this was what we were going to use.


Many people used the product more as a stain, where you apply the product by wiping it on.  There is a great tutorial on how to do this here.  We used it more as a paint, we basically followed the directions in this video here.

General Finishes Kitchen Remodel Materials

Materials needed for this project include General Finishes Java Gel Stain, General Finishes Gel Topcoat, painter’s tape, sponges, TSP cleaner, sanding blocks, tarp, disposable gloves, paint brushes, painter’s towels, and painter’s pyramids.

I’m not going to go into complete step-by-step detail, since I think the above linked tutorials did a fantastic job and I am by no means an expert, I’m just sharing what worked for us.  I will give a brief overview though.  This whole project ended up taking us over a month due to living in a condo and lack of a garage, basement, or backyard.  We had to paint the cabinets in small sections on our dining room table.

First, we cleaned all of our cabinets with the TSP cleaner.  My husband took all of the cabinets off and made sure to label all of the doors and put each door’s hardware in a separate labeled plastic baggie.  We taped off any area in the kitchen that we did not want the stain.  We then gave each cabinet a quick sanding.

painter's pyramids

Next, we covered up the table we were working on with a plastic tarp.  We placed the cabinet doors on top of the painter’s pyramids.  The pyramids allowed us to do both the front and back of the cabinet at the same time.  We put on gloves, then painted on one coat of the java gel stain.  This then had to dry for 24 hours.  The next night, we put on a second coat.  The third night, we put on a coat of the topcoat.  It is recommended that you use two coats of the topcoat, however we just did one because we were trying to save time.  I personally think that worked just fine.  Again, this project took us about a month and a half due to lack of space and the amount of cabinets we had.  If you have more space it will not take you nearly as long.  We did save a lot of money by doing it this way though.  Oh, make sure you have some sort of ventilation where you are working…we kept all of the windows wide open!

Darker cabinets

After the cabinets were finally done, it was time to finally pick out our countertops.  We knew we wanted something that was white with grey in it, kind of a marble-like look without the maintenance.  We looked into granite, but apparently it doesn’t come in anything that light.  After doing a lot of research, we decided upon quartz due to it’s durability and having the color options we wanted.  The color we went with was LG Viatera Cirrus.  We ended up purchasing it through Home Depot, as they were having a special on it at the time.  We had a great experience with our sales rep at Home Depot, but not so great of an experience with the company they contracted the work out to.  Long story short, they ended up measuring our kitchen incorrectly, so when they arrived for installation part of the countertop didn’t fit.  So they had to recut it and come out a few days later to install it.

LG Viatera Cirrus

Last was our glass subway tile backsplash.  We bought inexpensive glass tile online and had my friend’s husband install it for a decent price.  We saved about $1200 in installation this way.  We ordered several samples of glass subway tiles and were looking for a pure gray color.  We ended up going with this tile called True Gray.

true gray subway tile

Moen Kiran Faucet

Our finishing touches included a new light, the Rejuvenation Grandview 3-Light Chandelier in Brushed Nickel (it took me forever to find the perfect pendant look that I only need one electrical box for), bar stools that match our dining chairs, a new faucet (Moen Kiran Faucet), and bright teal mixer (color is KitchenAid Sea Glass).  I am totally in love with the end result.  When people come over, they are shocked to hear we painted the cabinets ourselves.  Seriously, General Finishes Java Gel Stain is amazing stuff!  If we ever have another kitchen remodel in our future, we might think about hiring one company to oversee everything, even though it would mean paying a decent amount more.  The entire remodel from start to finish went on for about three months, so it was a long, exhausting process…so worth it in the end though!


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19 thoughts on “Kitchen Remodel with General Finishes Java Gel Stain

  1. Lindsay Ava

    You did an amazing job, the kitchen looks gorgeous and modern! Love the style and look you went for. Before and after posts on redecorating are some of my favourites to read 🙂

  2. Nikki

    Your kitchen looks fantastic! The countertops look great, and that light fixture is fabulous. As overwhelming as home DIYs can be, it is really fun to do it yourself. We have done a lot around our house (and have a ton to do), but it is fun to get it done yourself.


  3. Jaime Costilow

    We decided to tackle our cabinets ourselves too, but used the Rustoleum Cabinet Restorations kit. I wish I would have know about this option. The project looks amazing!!!! So happy everything came together so nicely for you.

    XO, Jaime |

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  5. Sarah

    Looks like it has been almost a year since your post, would love t hear how the cabinets are holding up!

  6. Carla B

    Beautiful job well done. I’m about to challenge my kitchen and bathroom cabinets.
    Where did u find the subway tiles online my friend?


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