Java Gel Stain vs. Antique Walnut Gel Stain – Choosing the Right General Finishes Gel Stain

Java Gel vs Antique Walnut Gel Stain

It’s a popular choice to restyle light cabinets and furniture into darker statement pieces. If you own pickled pink oak, honey colored maple and golden oak cabinets, those are some of the many of the colors that are now going to the dark side. One easy way to achieve a darker look is to use General Finishes Gel Stain.

How to apply General Finishes gel stain - Java Gel vs Antique Walnut
Antique Walnut vs Java Gel Stain

When my clients are looking for a deeper brown with lots of dimension, I like to suggest either General Finishes Java Gel Stain or General Finishes Antique Walnut Gel Stain. Whether you are a confident DIY’er or you are hiring someone to do it for you, it’s helpful to compare and contrast the two colors before making a final decision.

Java Gel Stain

Java is definitely darker, almost a deep espresso color. It’s quite a rich color. When applied over wood with visible grain, the gel stain creates a lot of depth and interest. In fact, this particular color has been dubbed the “one coat wonder.” On some already darker stained projects, that is an absolute fact! However, I find that the warmth of the Java color really comes out after 2 to 3 coats on lighter colored projects. Here are some examples of what Java can do for you.

Java Gel Stain on Dining Room Table
Java Gel Restyle on a dining room table. 2 coats of Java Gel and 3 Coats of General Finishes High Performance Top Coat in Flat.

Once several coats of Java gel have been applied, the wood will have a more solid appearance. However, one of the most attractive attributes of this product is the illusion of texture. You can play up the textures, depending on how you apply the gel stain. Either way, Java is a deep rich brown color. If you are really going for a solid brown look, you may want to consider General Finishes Dark Chocolate Brown Milk Paint instead.

Antique Walnut Gel Stain

Perhaps you’re starting to think Java gel stain is too dark. If you want that warm, dark wood but don’t want to go too dark, Antique Walnut gel stain maybe what you are looking for.

Antique Walnut Gel Stain Kitchen Before & After
Antique Walnut Gel Stain Kitchen using 2 Coats

In this kitchen, Antique Walnut gel stain was applied with a staining pad and finished with Satin Gel Top Coat. In this photo it looks dark, but it’s still not as dark at Java. If you’re thinking about transforming your light cabinets, furniture, built-ins or doors to dark, but are looking for a color that is more brown instead of espresso, I’d recommend trying out the Antique Walnut. It allows for more grain to show through than Java. Even with 3 coats of Antique Walnut, it still shows the grain of the wood and does not have a solid appearance like applying 3 coats of Java.

Antique Walnut Gel Stain Restyle on Front Door
Antique Walnut Gel Stain Restyle on Front Door

Changing from light to dark may seem like a fad or trend. In my opinion, it isn’t and really makes a lot of sense in many homes. Look how the custom stained glass feature goes from drab to fab in the Antique Walnut gel stain restyle on this door. Want more? Looking for step-by- step instruction? Check out our DIY Video Tutorials for the exact process and supplies we use here at Restyle Junkie.

Or purchase General Finishes products here.

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