Oil Based Gel Topcoat

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, runs or spills.

Need some oil-based finishes inspiration? Visit the General Finishes Design Center or Pinterest Board for project ideas.

Find A Store Compare Similar Products
General Finishes Oil Based Gel Topcoat


Step 1: Preparation Over Raw Wood

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.

Preparation for Raw Wood
See our video: How to Prep Sand Raw Wood

  1. The sanding schedule for wood that will be clear coated with an oil-based topcoat: sand up to 150-grit sandpaper.
  2. Remove dust with a vacuum, tack cloth or water-dampened rag.
  3. Do not over-sand with fine-grit sandpapers; this will close and seal the wood grain, preventing ideal color absorption.

Step 2: How To Apply General Finishes Gel Topcoat

General Finishes Gel Topcoat Application Steps

  1. 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.
  2. If desired, thin the topcoat with 10-15% mineral spirits.
  3. Use only with adequate ventilation. Open windows and doors, or use other means, to maintain fresh air flow during application and drying. 
  4. Apply 3 thin coats of Gel Topcoat using a cloth, acrylic bristle brush, foam brush, pad applicator or roller. Additional coats will not improve durability. Spread with a light polishing motion, removing a small amount of the finish. Let the applicator drag along the wood grain in smooth, even strokes. Avoid applying pressure and back-brushing.
  5. Dry 12-24+ hours between coats when applying over raw or stained raw wood, and dry 72+ hours between coats when working over an existing sealed finish in ideal conditions: 70*F/20*C; 50-70% humidity. Inadequate dry time is one of the top reasons for finish failures. 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%
    • 3+ coats are applied
    • Thick coats are applied
    • Applying over an existing sealed finish
    • 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 drying 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.
  6. Finish sand between coats with a fine-grade (220-320) foam sanding pad or 400-grit sandpaper to improve smoothness and adhesion.
  7. Remove dust with a vacuum, tack cloth or clean water dampened rag before re-coating.

Cure Time
Oil-based finishes cure and harden for full use after 30 days in ideal conditions. Avoid placing heavy objects on surfaces that have not completely cured. Treat gently, and do not clean with commercial products during the curing 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 of the manufacture date listed on the bottom of the can. 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. Allow 21 days for the 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.
  • 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

Limited Warranty
General Finishes products must be tested to your complete satisfaction before using, including compatibility with other manufacturers products. General Finishes will be responsible only for the cost of our products and will not be responsible for any costs such as labor, damage, or replacement costs.

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. 

Danger: Contents are COMBUSTIBLE. Keep away from heat and open flame. Application materials or other waste soaked with this product may spontaneously catch fire if improperly discarded. Immediately after use, place rags, steel wool or waste in a sealed, water-filled, metal container. Dispose of in accordance with local fire regulations.

CAUTION: Contains ALIPHATIC HYDROCARBONS. VAPOR HARMFUL. Use only with adequate ventilation. DELAYED EFFECTS FROM LONG-TERM OVEREXPOSURE. Contains solvents which can cause permanent brain and nervous system damage. Intentional misuse by deliberately concentrating & inhaling the contents can be harmful or fatal.

If you scrape, sand, or remove old paint, you may release lead dust. LEAD IS TOXIC. EXPOSURE TO LEAD DUST CAN CAUSE SERIOUS ILLNESS, SUCH AS BRAIN DAMAGE, ESPECIALLY IN CHILDREN. PREGNANT WOMEN SHOULD ALSO AVOID EXPOSURE. Wear a NIOSH-approved respirator to control lead exposure. Clean up carefully with a HEPA vacuum and a wet mop. Before you start, find out how to protect yourself and your family by contacting the National Lead Information Hotline at 1-800-424-LEAD or log onto www.epa.gov/lead.

Do not swallow; first aid: drink water to dilute product. May cause eye and skin irritation; first aid: flush eyes thoroughly with water.

FIRST AID: In case of eye contact, flush thoroughly with large amounts of water for 15 minutes and get medical attention. For skin contact, wash thoroughly with soap and water. In case of respiratory difficulty, provide fresh air and call physician. If swallowed, do not induce vomiting. Get medical attention immediately. 

This product contains a chemical known to the State Of California to cause cancer and birth defects. Do not swallow; first aid: drink water to dilute product. May cause eye or skin irritation; first aid: flush eyes thoroughly with water.


Basic Features
Product Colors Dries Amber
Base Type Oil
Ambering Yes
Sheen Satin (45-55)
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 100 sq. ft/quart, 400 sq. ft/gal
Technical Data
Viscosity Thick
Viscosity (cPs) 1000-2000
Weight Solids 34%
VOC <565 g/L
Durability (Highest, High, Medium, Low) Highest
Hardness (Koenig #) 49
Wear (Taber #) 82.60 mg loss
Water 5
Chemical 102

Design Center



Gel Stain Topcoat FAQs

How do I reduce the sheen of an oil based top coat?

Rub down the finish with 0000 steel wool and Orange Oil to lower the sheen. Never use steel wool with water based finishes. The steel wool particles can become embedded into your project and rust. Liberon 0000 Steel Wool is a good choice for steel wool, as it does not shred as easily as the hardware store brands. 

Relevant Videos

How can I reduce the sheen of an oil based top coat? I used Semi-Gloss and it’s too shiny.

You can rub down the finish with 0000 steel wool and 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 Products

Relevant Videos

How do I correct the haze that appeared when I applied Gel Satin Top Coat over 3 coats of Gel Stain?

The haze (the technical term is blush) is caused by too many coats applied too quickly - you mentioned a recoat time of 12 hours which is not enough over and 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 reapply the topcoat.

Future forward, allow more dry time when applying oil based products over an existing finish. Here are General Finishes recommended dry times for Gel Stain and Gel Topcoat.

These dry times related to Gel Stain applied over an existing finish. You must allow longer dry times when applying over an existing finish.

  • Dry-time to touch: 4-6 hours.
  • Dry-time to recoat with stain when "wiping off": 24 to 48 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": 48 to 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: 24 to 48 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 pourous surfaces: At least 72 hours or more. Test to your satisfaction before proceeding.
  • Cure time: 21 to 30 days
  • CURE TIME: Cure time for all General Finishes oil based products is about 30 days. Dry time and cure time are totally unrelated. During the curing process protect your flat surfaces and avoid placing any heavy items on horizontal surfaces or sliding anything across the surface. 


Relevant Videos

How do I reduce the sheen of an oil based top coat?

Rub down the finish with 0000 steel wool and Orange Oil to lower the sheen. Never use steel wool with water based finishes. The steel wool particles can become embedded into your project and rust. Liberon 0000 Steel Wool is a good choice for steel wool, as it does not shred as easily as the hardware store brands. 

Relevant Videos