Using Java Gel on a Table Top

Java Gel for the top of an antique parlor table that we got at an estate auction..

I heard all the hype about General Finishes (aff link) Java Gel. People kept saying it’s the best thing since sliced bread. I had to try it. And now I’m in love. I fell hard and I fell fast.

I’m not the type of DIY’er that jumps in with both feet and throws caution to the wind. I walk around a project sometimes for weeks before I attempt it. I need to know exactly how and what – I don’t want to mess my piece up. I won’t proceed until I’m fairly sure how to do it and do it right.

So, to help you with your first attempt at using a new product, this new product, I’ll give you a line by line tutorial that will allow you to jump in where I feared to tred. Then you won’t have to dance around the can for weeks, or watch a dozen YouTubes.

The Table Top Before

Java Gel Table Top {Love My DIY Home}

1. Sand or strip your table top down to the bare wood if you want to see the grain through the stain. You will want to put a wood conditioner on the bare wood if you want a better chance of an even stain. You can use 50/50 Shellac and Denatured Alcohol as a DIY wood conditioner. You can paint on Java Gel over other finishes, but the beauty comes out when you stain bare wood. Be sure your table top is clean before you sand or it may glob up.

Painted Antique Table {Love My DIY Home}

2. Stir the (aff link) Java Gel to make sure all the pigment is evenly distributed. It is a very thick gel.

Java Gel Table Top {Love My DIY Home}

3. Grab yourself a (aff link) sponge brush and get it good and soaked with the (aff link) Java Gel. Apply it just like paint. It has good open time, so you can work it to the point that it is evenly distributed. Once you have it covered well…

Brush the Java Gel till it Squeaks. from Val Frania on Vimeo.

4. Keep brushing until the sponge brush squeaks, letting you know it’s drying. Use a very light hand, not pressing down with ANY pressure. Let it glide lightly over the wood over and over until the entire top is squeaking.

5. Let it dry on its own and recoat – same procedure each time. Two or three coats depending on the look you want.

Java Gel Table Top {Love My DIY Home}

6. Finish off with a topcoat. If you apply a water base topcoat, you must wait 72 hours because the Java Gel is oil based. Otherwise, you can use an oil base sooner. I have tried and liked (aff link) Zar satin topcoat but it was a bit difficult to work with. The top got three coats of the Zar and then after that I applied another 3 coats of (aff link) General Finishes High Performance Top Coat in satin. I wanted a tough protective surface.

If you decide to apply a water based topcoat after an oil based, you must wait 72 hours. If you live in a humid climate, you might want to wait longer than 72 hours. The oil based topcoat must be completely dry.

Java Gel Table Top {Love My DIY Home}

I forgot to wear gloves.

On the back of the table top, I tried using a staining pad to apply the Java Gel and it worked great. Java Gel is an oil stain. Always wear gloves or you’ll have a mess all over your hands.  Or will you….? I did forget to use gloves so I got it all over my hands. But, I used Young Living Orange Essential Oil to get it off – and it worked perfectly. Any of the citrus works – I’ve used Lemon and Lime too.


Painted Antique Table {Love My DIY Home}


Java Gel Table Top {Love My DIY Home}

Java Gel Table Top {Love My DIY Home}

(aff link) Java Gel. Try it. You’ll like it.

I used Old Fashioned Milk Paint for this table along with the (aff link) Java Gel. To see the tutorial on the table and my tips on using the Old Fashioned Milk Paint, check out: Side Table Given New Life – Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company.

If you like chalk paint for such projects, I have some recipes for you – a FREE PDF of 5 Homemade Chalky Paint Recipes. Click the picture below if you’d like it sent to you via email. It will also put you on my mailing list, but feel free to unsubscribe at any time:

Homemade Chalk Type Paint Recipes {Love My DIY Home}

Many thanks to DIY’ers who shared their experiences, especially Christopher Casey on YouTube. It was after seeing his tutorial that I felt the confidence to jump in. I know. Silly. I like doing it correctly the first time. Welcome to my world.

Any of you live there with me?

VAL signature

Free eBook

* Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you buy anything after clicking on one of the affiliate links, I receive a small commission of the sale. The cost to you is the same, and I only link to items that I think would benefit my readers. Your support of this blog is greatly appreciated!

7 thoughts on “Using Java Gel on a Table Top”

  1. What a beautiful makeover!  I really appreciate the detailed instructions–especially about the gel paint itself.  I would have been wondering if it was supposed to be that thick, so I'm glad you put that worry to rest.

    The milk paint gives the table a little character while the gel stain on top keeps part of the original character.  I love the fusion of old and new on this piece.  Great job, Val!


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Love My DIY Home