General Finishes FAQs









OIL BASED GEL STAINS - watch video here

The popular Java Gel stain that has been featured across the nation's social media for repurposing & upcycling furniture and cabinets. Gel stain that has the most "finishing feel" of all our products. Woodworkers love the lustrous finish that shows up when rubbing out the 2nd and 3rd coats. Gel Stains are formulated with a combination of pigments, oils, and urethanes to produce a durable and beautiful "hand-rubbed" finish.

Gel Stains are heavy-bodied, and so do not penetrate as deeply into the wood as liquid oilbase stains do. Because of this, they are often less affected by the condition of the wood, and can help you get a more even appearance on difficult woods such as aspen or pine.


1. Apply On/Wipe Off Method:
Work on one section at a time. Apply gel stain liberally with a cotton cloth, pad, brush, or Handi-Painter applicator. Wipe off excess stain with a cloth or high quality paper towels.  Wipe with the grain and blending any adjoining areas. Additional coats will darken the initial coat.

2. Painting Stain On:
This method is normally used if a very dark painted look is desired. Dry brush on sparingly the first coat. Brush on the second coat heavily with a bristle or foam brush and then dry-brush the excess stain off with a clean brush. Using the flat part of a dry bristle brush (slightly angled) brush across and feather out in the direction of the grain pattern. Additional coats will give a darker color.  

Can I mix Gel Stains together to achieve other colors? Yes, mix like products together to make more stain options. You can also mix with GF liquid oil base stains to obtain a slightly thinner stain than the normal gel formula.

Can I use GF Dyes Stains under Gel Stains? Yes, many use dyes to achieve a depth of grain, an even base, and to achieve deeper colors. Use Amber or Yellow for a golden glow under any gel stain.

How can I tell if the stain is dry? If the stain feels cool to the touch, its not ready. If it is raining, cold, or humid dry times will be longer. If in doubt, waiting longer is always better.

What is the best top coat to use over Gel Stains? Oil Base GF Gel Satin or GF Arm-R Seal.

Will Gel Stains darken with another coat? Yes, Gel Stains will darken with additional coats. See step by step photo instructions on how to layer Gel Stain Colors on the GF Blog.

Are GF products compatible with other brands? A good rule of thumb is don't mix brands. It might work, it might not. We can't troubleshoot results if you use another manufacturer's products with ours.

Can Gel Stain be applied over laminate counter tops?  The answer is no, not much adheres to laminate very well. Folks have successfully put Gel Stain on more surfaces than we ever dreamed of including fiber glass but if you want to proceed, TEST your procedure on a hidden area first and let cure for 14 days. Then further test the finish by duplicating normal wear and tear: washing, scrubbing, scratching, etc to see if the finish bonds to the surface. It might not adhere. The finish was developed for raw wood, and our concern is that some day in the future it would fail on you. We cannot vouch for application to other surfaces.

Can Gel Stain be applied over a high gloss paint finish on kitchen cabinets? Possibly but not recommended - the high gloss is an issue. Folks have successfully put Gel Stain on more surfaces than we ever dreamed of including fiber glass but if you want to proceed, TEST your procedure on the inside of a door first, let the door cure for 14 days. Then further test the finish by duplicating normal wear and tear: washing, scrubbing, scratching, etc to see if the finish bonds to the surface. It might not adhere. If you want to proceed with your testing, the cabinets need to be de-glossed and then sanded with 150-180 grit sandpaper before attempting to apply either the gel stain or Milk Paint. You can buy a De-Glosser solvent at any paint store. We think Milk Paint would be a better choice as paint is more flexible and tends to adhere well to many surfaces, but test that the same way also. GF has several brown colors you can try, or you mix any of them to create your own custom color

High Performance Top Coat is the hardest, most durable consumer polyurethane top coat on the market today.  It contains all the consumer friendly characteristics of PolyAcrylic Blend. In addition it contains a UV Stabilizer to protect it from breaking down in sunlight and to protect the underlying stains from fading. And with its pure polyurethane durability, it can even be used on floors. This is the most durable product.

Available in the following sheens, Flat, Satin, Semi-Gloss, and Gloss.















GLAZE EFFECTS - watch video here


Glaze Effects are translucent water based colors used to create beautiful decorative finishes such as distressing, marble, shabby chic, burnishing, color washing, rag rolling and wood graining. Use over Water Based Wood Stains, and Milk Paints. Glaze Effects can be inter-mixed or layered to create custom colors. They may also be layered over one another to create deeper, richer looks. It highly recommended to utilize Extender to increase open time and workability.


  • Apply glaze liberally using an acrylic bristle brush, poly foam
    brush, Handi-Painter applicator, or spray it on using a HVLP 2.0 needle.
  • If finishing a large area, add GF Extender to give you more open time to wipe glaze off.
  • Another option is to apply a coat of High Performance Topcoat before you glaze - this will give your more control in low humidity situations.
  • Work glaze over entire area and into deep nail holes with a poly foam brush.
  • Wipe off excess with absorbent paper towel. Let dry 1-2 hours before applying a top coat.

Frequently Asked Questions: The glaze dried too fast - what can I do? Remove existing glaze with a gray Scotch Bright pad and a little water. The glaze will dry fast on a non-sealed surface. If you want to slow the drying (especially in low humidity situations) the Extender should be used 10-15% by volume. A couple of ounces per pint of glaze. You can also use a coat of High Performance top coat before you glaze, it will give you more control. Also put the glaze on LIBERALLY using a Handi Painter applicator "this will make it easier to wipe off. Use Bounty or Viva paper towels, not cotton rags to wipe off. Cotton rags work great for oil products but paper towels work better with water based glazes.









Designed for exterior wood applications, EXTERIOR 450 outdoor varnish provides your wood with a tough, protective finish that will withstand the rigors of the sun, rain, and wind. It is suitable for fences, patio furniture, garage doors, entrance doors, outdoor kitchens and interior windows. It is not recommended as a deck finish. Fortified with UV absorbers to help minimize fading and maximize performance, Exterior 450's built-in mildewcide retards mold and mildew growth. Exterior 450 is tough and flexible, and will resist the expansion and contraction of the wood through hot summers and cold winters that typically causes cracking and peeling. Available in Flat, Satin, Semi-Gloss and Semi Gloss, it flows well and dries rapidly to a clear finish.