Gel Topcoat: Oil Based Urethane

Gel Satin Topcoat has been a long-time favorite finish of woodworkers, with a heavy-duty oil-and-urethane base that produces a beautiful, hand-rubbed look. Gel Satin Topcoat has a thick consistency, so there are no drips, or runs.Need some oil-based finishes inspiration? Visit the General Finishes Design Center or Pinterest Board for project ideas.

General Finishes Satin Oil Based Gel Topcoat, Quart


Step 1: Preparation

All wood projects require preparation sanding before clear coating with a topcoat. If you skip this critical step, your finish may be rough and uneven.

See our video: How to Prep Sand Raw Wood

1. Sand open grain wood with 120 grit sandpaper, followed by 150 grit, then 180 grit. Sand closed grain wood with 150 grit sandpaper followed by 220 grit. 

2. Remove dust with a vacuum, compressed air, a tack cloth or a water-dampened rag. 


Step 2: How To Apply General Finishes Gel Topcoat

General Finishes Gel Topcoat Application Steps

  1. Work in a well-ventilated area. Open windows and doors, or use other means, to maintain fresh air flow during application and drying. 
  2. Stir thoroughly. Even though General Finishes Gel Topcoat is thick, be sure to stir it well to reincorporate solids that have settled to the bottom of the can.
  3. 3 coats of topcoat are recommended. Additional coats will not improve durability. Apply thin coats with a cotton cloth, natural bristle or foam brush, staining pad or pad applicator with smooth, even strokes. Avoid heavy pressure & back-brushing. The larger the surface the larger the applicator needed. 
  4. Wipe off the excess evenly with the grain & with light pressure using a clean cloth or high-quality absorbent paper towel.
  5. Finish sand between coats with a 220-320-grit foam sanding sponge or '0000' steel wool. Do not sand final coat.
  6. Remove dust with a vacuum, tack cloth or clean water dampened rag before re-coating.

Dry Time

Dry Time Between Coats

Dry 12-24+ hours between coats when applying over raw or newly stained raw wood, and dry up 72+ hours between coats when working over a sealed surface. Dry times based on ideal conditions: 70°F/21°C; 50% humidity. The more layers of finish there are on a project, the longer it takes to dry. Do NOT rush the dry times!

Inadequate dry time can trap moisture & cause clouding.

You can tell if an oil-based finish is dry if it is no longer tacky, cool to the touch, and if you can press a cotton ball over the surface and nothing sticks. If in doubt, wait longer.

Increase dry time if:

  • Humidity is over 80%
  • Cooler temperatures
  • 3+ coats are applied
  • Thick coats are applied
  • Applying over products from other brands
  • Layering General Finishes water- and oil-based products:
    • Water over oil: Let oil-based products dry 72+hrs before applying water-based products
    • Oil over water: Let water-based products dry 24+hrs before applying oil-based products
  • To accelerate dry time in humid conditions, work in a space with good ventilation and air movement. If you decide to re-coat before the recommended time, test dryness. 

Cure Time Before Use
Oil-based finishes cure and harden completely after 30 days. Avoid placing heavy objects on surfaces that have not completely cured. Treat gently, and do not clean with commercial products during the cure period.

Cleanup of Oil Based Products

Clean up application materials and hands with mineral spirits or waterless hand cleaner, like Goop or Gojo. 

Take great care when disposing of product-soaked applicators. Application materials, such as brushes and towels, containing oil-based products may spontaneously catch fire if improperly discarded. Immediately place all application materials soaked with this product in a sealed, water-filled metal container. Dispose of in accordance with local fire regulations. 

Clean up spills with mineral spirits immediately while wet. If oil-based finishes dry, they are difficult to clean off any surface, clothes or carpet. Carpet may discolor if cleaned with mineral spirits.

Protect your workspace with a tarp, your hands with gloves, and your clothes with an apron.

Storage of Oil Based Products

Life of Product
General Finishes products do not last forever, even when unopened. They are best used within 1 year. The life of the product may be extended with proper care and storage.

Storage Tips
See our video: Tips for Storing Leftover Finishes
Oil-based products start to harden and cure when exposed to oxygen. The following best practices will increase the life of your product:

  1. Keep container tightly closed and sealed until ready for use, in the original container. Do not store in unlabeled containers.
  2. Pry open sealed lids with a paint can opener by hooking under the lid's rolled edge. The use of a screwdriver can disfigure the rim and lid, impairing a complete seal. 
  3. Keep lid closed while working. Decant what you will use into a bowl, paper cup, or plate, and close can lid as you work. Every minute the can is open, the product is curing.
  4. Containers that have been opened must be carefully resealed and kept upright to prevent leakage. Clean the chime of the can thoroughly with a paper towel before closing to create a complete seal. Product in the chime can be minimized by using a pouring lid, such as Fitsall. Avoid wiping used brushes on the lid.
  5. Pound the lid in place using a rubber mallet to avoid distorting the chime or lid. Dents in the lid from direct contact with a hammer can impair a complete seal. Alternatively, place a flat piece of wood over can lid and firmly pound shut.
  6. Avoid temperatures below 50°F/10°C or above 80°F/26°C. Frozen and heat-damaged product cannot be revitalized. Store in original container protected from direct sunlight in a dry, cool and well-ventilated areas.
  7. Do not store product in an attic, garage, in direct sunlight, or next to ignition source with heat and flames such as a furnace. 
  8. Store the can upside down to create a liquid seal, minimizing oxygen exposure from within the can. Decant remaining product from the can before stirring.
  9. Add Bloxygen can. Bloxygen is an argon gas system that prevents oxygen and moisture from hardening leftover product. Because Bloxygen gas is heavier than air, it sinks to the surface of the leftover finish, creating a barrier between product and air trapped in the container.
  10. Decant leftovers to a smaller, properly labeled container when the finish is almost used up to reduce the volume of oxygen in the container.
  11. Use appropriate containment to avoid environmental contamination.

Furniture Care and Maintenance

Cure First

You have just finished applying a fine furniture finish. Treat gently until the paint or topcoat have fully cured. Allow 21 days for a water-based finish to cure and 30 days for an oil-based finish to cure before cleaning.

Regular Cleaning and Maintenance
  • Remove dust with a water-dampened cloth. Dust can build up over time and may scratch or dull finishes if not removed regularly. 
  • Remove fingerprints, cooking fumes and smoking residue with mild soap and water. These contaminants will not harm the finish, but they accumulate on surfaces and dull the original luster. 
  • As with all fine furniture finishes, avoid using furniture polish, cleaners or dusting sprays that contain silicone, alcohol, ammonia and anything acidic. Exception: We have successfully cleaned with Clorox wipes for occasional cleanups.
  • Clean up water, alcohol and food spills in a timely manner and use placemats & coasters to protect the finish.
  • Future finishes or touch-ups may not adhere properly or perform as desired over a contaminated surface. Some contaminants, such as silicone, seep through finish into the wood and often cannot be removed.
  • Avoid excessive exposure to direct sunlight, high temperatures or high humidity. These can damage furniture and finishes.

Warnings and Warranties

Gel Topcoat Warnings and Warranties

Limited Warranty
General Finishes products must be tested to your complete satisfaction before using. General Finishes will not be responsible for color satisfaction, misapplication, nor compatibility with other manufacturers' products. General Finishes will be responsible only for the cost of our products, and not for costs such as labor, damage or project replacement.

Contamination and Compatibility
Our finishes are engineered as a system and are compatible with each other. General Finishes cannot guarantee an ideal refinish when applying our products on top of or combined with another company's products or over surfaces that have been in contact with waxes, polishes or sprays containing contaminants such as silicone. Test for adherence and aesthetics before beginning.

FIRST AID: Seek immediate medical attention if symptoms occur due to the following. EYE CONTACT Remove any contact lenses. Flush eyes with water for 20+ minutes while lifting upper and lower eyelids. SKIN CONTACT Flush skin with water. Remove contaminated clothing and shoes and clean before reuse. INHALATION Move to fresh air. Loosen tight clothing. If not breathing, if breathing is irregular, or if respiratory arrest occurs, trained personnel should provide artificial respiration or oxygen. INGESTION Call physician immediately. Wash out mouth with water. Do not induce vomiting unless directed to do so by medical personnel. Never give anything by mouth to an unconscious person.

Prop 65 WARNING: California to cause cancer, and Toluene, which is known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm. For more information go to


WARNING: Keep out of reach of children. Keep away from heat and flame. Use only with adequate ventilation. Do not breathe vapor or mist. Do not get on skin or clothing. Keep container tightly closed when not in use. Wash thoroughly after handling.


Basic Features
Product Colors Dries Amber
Base Type Oil
Ambering Yes
Sheen Satin (25-35)
Interior or Exterior Interior only
Type Oil & Urethane
Coats 3 coats
Application Method Brush, Roll
Brushable Yes
Usable over existing finishes Yes
Sprayable No
Dry Time
Dry Time - Touch 8+ hr
Dry Time - Recoat 12-24+ hr raw wood, 72+ hr existing finish until non-tacky. (Add more time with subsequent coats.)
Dry Time - Light Use 7-10 days
Dry Time - Cure 30 days
Can Sizes Half-Pints, Pints, Quarts, Gallons
Coverage 25-40 sq.ft./half pint, 50-75 sq.ft./pint, 100-150 sq.ft./quart, 400-600 sq.ft./gallon
Technical Data
Viscosity Thick
Viscosity (cPs) 1000-2000
Weight Solids 34%
<565.023 g/L
Durability (Highest, High, Medium, Low) Highest
Hardness (Koenig #) 49
Wear (Taber #) 82.60 mg loss
Water (5 max) 5
Chemical (105 max) 102

Design Center


Gel Stain Topcoat FAQs

*How Do I Reduce the Sheen of an Oil Based Topcoat?

Rub down the finish with 0000 steel wool and General Finishes Orange Oil to lower the sheen.

Liberon 0000 Steel Wool is a good choice for steel wool, as it does not shred as easily as the hardware store brands.

Never use steel wool with water-based finishes. The steel wool particles can become embedded into your project and rust.

Related Categories

*How Can I Reduce the Sheen of an Oil-Based Topcoat? I Used Semi-Gloss and It's Too Shiny.

You can rub down the finish with 0000 steel wool and General Finishes Orange Oil to lower the sheen.

Pro Tip: GF does not recommend using steel wool with water-based finishes because the particles can become embedded and rust.

Related Categories

*How Do I Correct the Haze That Appeared When I Applied Gel Satin Topcoat Over 3 Coats of Gel Stain?*

Haze (the technical term is blush) is caused by too many coats applied too quickly. A recoat time of 12 hours is not enough dry time when applying over an EXISTING finish. To remove the blush or haze, you can either wipe the area with a strong solvent, like xylene or lacquer thinner, or you can try sanding out the haze and then reapply the topcoat.

Always allow more dry time when applying oil-based products over an existing finish. Here are General Finishes recommended dry times for applying multiple coats of Gel Stain and Gel Topcoat over an existing finish.

  • Dry-Time to Touch: 4-6 hours
  • Dry-Time to Recoat with Stain When "Wiping Off": 72 hours. Do not recoat until you are sure the stain is dry. If in doubt, wait longer. Humidity or cold temperatures will increase dry times.
  • Dry-Time to Recoat with Stain When "Painting On": 72 hours. Do not recoat until you are SURE the stain is dry. If in doubt, wait longer. Humidity or cold temperatures will increase dry times.
  • Dry-Time to Apply Oil-Based Topcoat over Gel Stain: 72 hours
  • Dry-Time to Apply Water-Based Topcoat: 72 hours
  • Dry-Time for Light Use: 7-10 days
  • Dry-Time Over Laminate or Other Non-Porous Surfaces: At least 72 hours, likely more. Test to your satisfaction before proceeding.
  • CURE TIME: Cure time for all General Finishes oil-based products is about 30 days. During the curing process, protect your flat surfaces and avoid placing heavy items on horizontal surfaces or sliding anything across the surface.

Dry time and cure time are unrelated. In simplest terms, here is the difference between drying and curing: Drying is the evaporation of solvents in oil-based products, and water in water-based products. Curing is when the product hardens for full use.

Related Categories

*How Do I Reduce the Sheen of an Oil Based Topcoat?

Rub down the finish with 0000 steel wool and General Finishes Orange Oil to lower the sheen.

Liberon 0000 Steel Wool is a good choice for steel wool, as it does not shred as easily as the hardware store brands.

Never use steel wool with water-based finishes. The steel wool particles can become embedded into your project and rust.

Related Categories