If that title sounds too good to be true, just hang on. It really IS true! I stained my bathroom vanity and I plan on doing my entire kitchen and other three bathrooms! It was easy and looks even better than the pictures show!
I found a tutorial on how to achieve this look. It gave me courage and hope. So I decided I would start with my bathroom and if it looked terrible I would buy a new vanity. Either way, I wanted a facelift. I was just hoping that staining would work since that is WAY cheaper!!
I am writing this tutorial as a companion to Monica's since I found several things along the way I thought I would share. Like she said, I only used General Finishes Java GEL Stain and General Finishes GEL Polyurethane. (In case you didn't notice the GEL is important.) I got my stain HERE. The poly I got can be purchased HERE. Original tute link is below.
- Tape off your area. Walls, floors and underside of countertop.
- Then you clean the vanity. The entire thing. I used a wet rag with a little bit of Dawn dish soap. Then I rinsed the rag out and wiped it with just water. Then I dried it.
- The insides of mine is the same golden oak color so I decided to do that too. If yours is white you could either tape it off and leave it white or you could stain it so it looks like it is wood! (You will probably need to do at least one extra coat of stain over white.)
- Note* Inside and on the sides is linoleum. And YES, I stained it!
- Then you rough up the surface. I did NOT say 'sand'. That is one of the things that makes this WONDERFUL! No sanding! Just rough it up. I always went with the grain. (Or on the linoleum parts I went the way I wanted my faux grain to go.) It took me about a half hour to do the entire thing. Inside, out, and both sides of doors. Use a sanding block. 220 grit.
- Then wipe it out twice. Vacuum the inside out. Mostly just around all of the edges.
- Use two disposible gloves and one men's sock. Yes, it needs to be men's so it goes up to your elbow! It keeps you cleaner! You will need a new sock for each application. I did not use a foam brush. I just used my fingernails through the sock and got in all of the grooves first. Then I did the flat surfaces.
- Use just a little bit of stain at a time. Do the edges first and then go across the surface. Make sure to use strokes that go from one side all the way to the other. Do the whole the thing in the same direction for the linoleum. (Pick the way you want the 'grain to go'.) Go with the grain on the real wood. It is going to look weird on your first coat, don't worry about it! You still have two more coats to go!
- Do 3 coats of stain and I did 3 coats of poly. Each coat of stain only needed 48 hours to dry and each coat of poly only needed 24 hours. I did wait 24 hours after the last coat of poly to re-assemble my cabinet. I live in Las Vegas, NV and did this in September. It is hot and dry. If you live somewhere humid or cold you will need to have longer drying times. Do not try to rush it or it won't turn out well. You will be able to feel it and see if it feels like it is completely dry. I did my doors in the garage on painters pyramids. I hate those things now. I would highly recommend getting the ones that screw into a board and doing that. I will be doing that next time. They flip all around when you are trying to stain!
- For this size cabinet it only took me about 15 minutes to stain the entire thing (per coat) and about 10 minutes for the doors. I did one side of the doors and then 24/48 hours (depending on which product I was applying) later did the other side. So your doors will take a lot longer than the cabinet. But you cannot flip it over just after you did the one side or it will ruin what you just did. Take it slow and you will have good results.
Monica says this does not work on unfinished wood. I put it to the test. I did some shelves for my movie theatre and I LOVED the results. Because they were unfinished I only needed two coats of stain to achieve my desired color and then did 4 coats of poly. Again, it takes a long time because I did one side at a time. I would do the front side and the top side and then flip it and do the back side and the under side at the same time. So I always knew which way to flip it so I never got confused. If it helps, make a note of what you did so you know what to do for next time. With that many coats and two sides, it is easy to forget how many of what you have already done.
So I would say, YES this DOES work on unfinished wood.
She says that any other color does not work. My aunt tried a different color on her bathroom vanity and she LOVES her results. You can see hers HERE.
I loved the General Finishes Gel Stain and Poly! It was easy to work with and did not have a strong smell!! It doesn't drip and applies evenly. I won't use a different kind ever again!
Feel free to comment with any questions and I will answer them the best I can.
P.S. I plan on getting hardware for them, but I haven't settled on which ones to get yet.
So here is my favorite part - the Before and After Pictures:
After Coat 1:
After Coat 2:
After Coat 3:
After 3 Coats of Stain and 3 Coats of Poly:
My Before and After!! I love it!
My Theatre Shelves (Unfinished Wood)
After 2 Coats of Stain and 4 Coats of Poly:
What do YOU think!?
HERE is the link to Monica's tutorial. I wrote this as a companion to hers.