Java Gel Stained Banister: One Year Update

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Hey guys!

So if you saw my last post, I’m catching up on catching YOU up on some past projects. Did that make sense?! I thought it’d be helpful if you saw how some of the updates I’ve done around here are holding up. I talked about the beadboard wallpaper first, and today it’s the banister’s turn!

Remember what my banister looked like last summer? (Click here for the entire post)

old banister


I picked up this little thing of General Finishes Java Gel Stain…

banister makeover

…and it ended up looking like THIS:

banister makeover

WHOA. <all the heart eye emojis> Such an improvement, right?

All I did was a light sand, applied some gel stain with a small foam brush, and touched up the white spindles. No top coat or anything.

So how’d that all work out, over a year later?

gel stain

Pretty well. Everything looks exactly the same to me except for the round shaped topper thing on the posts – maybe called the finials?! I have no idea what the terminology is, but this ball thing in the photo below:


And honestly, they don’t look that bad – this is with the door open and bright sun blasting on it. It’s more subtle in real life, and I actually had never noticed them before.

gel stain update

java gel stain

The kids hang (swing, dance, all of it…) on that part the most, so it definitely gets the most handled. So I guess a poly top coat would be the ideal. But the railing and bottom pieces look like I did them yesterday. I’m SO happy I took a day last summer and tackled this project and would do it again in a heartbeat.

general finished java gel stain

If you want to grab one of these game changers in a can – you can click right here (affiliate link): General Finishes JQ Gel Stain, 1 quart, Java

Are there any projects I’ve done in the past that you’re curious how they’re holding up? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and maybe I’ll write up a post about it! I was thinking about my cabinet trim molding…that’s one of my all time faves and it’s almost been TWO YEARS?! What the what?!

(And yes, that’s more beadboard wallpaper for the backsplash;)

adding trim to cabinets

Anywho, off to soak in what’s left of this Summer day – talk later! XO


  1. Love the look and how easy the transformation is! Also, I love the carpet on your stairs. Can you tell me the brand and style?

  2. Roxann Loughlin says:

    Would it be possible to touch up frequently touched places that appear a bit “worn” with the Java gel stain? I have read a lot about this fabulous product but not about being re-applied later to touch up faded areas.

  3. Do you think this would work on cabinets?

    • I don’t see why not! But I can’t say for sure, having never done it. Maybe test a tiny inconspicuous spot first?

  4. What white paint did you use on your balusters/spindles? Did you sand or prime first? My railings are all that red oak color. I want to paint the tread and balusters white and the railing and newel the java color.

  5. I love your staircase. Would you recommend using this product on the steps or should I just cover them with a runner?

    • I can’t really say for sure – you might be ok if you did a poly coat on top – but I’d still recommend a runner just in case – sorry, never tried it on flooring before!

  6. This is incredibly helpful, thank you! I have the exact same color red bannister. We just had our hardwoods replaced but left the wooden stairs and bannister with the hops they we could update the paint/stain ourselves.

    I am going to try to do the tops of the stairs with this stain as well, and the front/face of each stair white, like the spindles. Can you recommend a poly top coat for the stairs? I am a total newb so any advice is most appreciated! Love your blog.

    • Hmmm, maybe a floor finish clear poly? I’ve never done that on my floors, so can’t say for sure, but I love the one I used on my countertops, if you want to search through a couple months back for that post – the link is in there! Good luck!! And thank you!

  7. Jody Kuznik says:

    Hello, just curious how toy applied the station as I’ve seen different methods… Did wipe after you applied the stain or just let it dry?

  8. I love the after!!!! I noticed the numbered steps… what’s the reasoning for the numbers?

  9. I am going to do my oak banister. I don’t want it really dark, just a medium warm brown. Which colour would you suggest? Yours turned out amazing.

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