How to stain a kitchen table the easy way!

Let me preface this post by saying that I learned how to stain a kitchen table long ago!  I think maybe my Dad taught me how to use stain BEFORE he showed me how to paint.  Dad refinished pianos for a living back in the day.  So I am accustomed to stains and finishes.

What a surprise when I opened the little can of General Finishes Java Gel Stain.


It’s a gel!  What??!!  It’s not runny and it doesn’t spill, splash, or splatter during application!  I know the label says gel but even the gel strippers are sort of loose and can splash where you don’t want it to splash.  I had a brush ready since that’s what I usually use for stain.  But the can said to use a rag so I did.


Wipe on, wipe off.  That’s it…that simple…project done!  The instructions say you can sand between coats and apply additional coats for richer color but I am all about simple and quick.  After one even application, I had the rich color that I desired.  The application was not streaky.  The color was consistent.


I wore gloves because any type of stain can be messy and super difficult to get off of your skin.  This product requires mineral spirits for cleanup so the less you get on you, the easier the clean up.  I also used a soft cotton rag for application.  I just dipped the rag in the stain and wiped it on in the direction of the grain.  I used enough to get deeply into the grain.  I spread it evenly and then dipped some more stain onto the rag and continued the process until the first half of the table was covered.  Then I went back with the rag and wiped off any excess stain.

I turned the rag frequently and buffed gently as I proceeded.  Then I repeated the process for the other half of the table.  The gel stain spread evenly without blotching at all…a common problem with traditional stains.  Directions call for a 4-6 hours drying period and 24 hours in extreme cold.  Since the weather is calling for snow her (yup…in Alabama) tomorrow and we do not have heat throughout the entire building, I will wait to do a final buffing.

Why did I wait so long to try this product?  Who knows!  But, I am becoming a die hard fan of General Finishes.  Their milk paint is creamy, smooth and glorious.  The colors are rich and bold.  And this gel stain…yup…it’s the bomb!  Now onto the chairs and the leaf. Then the entire set goes onto the sales floor at The Blue Building!  I will post the finished picture on Facebook!


2 thoughts on “How to stain a kitchen table the easy way!

    1. I did NOT strip but I did sand the surface pretty thoroughly. Their top coat was amazing!

Comments are closed.