General Finishes Satin Topcoat Gel Review

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Review by pashley posted 07-27-2014 02:51 AM 14764 views 1 time favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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On a recent clock order, the customer wanted a satin finish. I have always had semi-gloss as the preferred finish, but satin was his choice.

I’ve seen General Finishes products on the better woodworking websites and magazines, so I thought I’d give it a try, as finishing is not my strong point.

What I was looking for was a finish that would go on easily, evenly and not hide the wood, so I selected the General Finishes Oil Based Gel Urethane Topcoat.

This product delivered in spades. I was very, very pleased. You just rub on the gel with a clean cloth. Goes on smoothly, easily…doesn’t set-up quickly. Excellent clear satin finish.

It’s a bit expensive, at about $13 a pint, but for the results and the time and effort saved, it’s well worth it. I will investigate more of their finishes in the future for sure.

Unfortunately they do not make a gel topcoat in semi or gloss; for that, you need their Arm-R-Seal Urethane Topcoat product.

-- Have a blessed day!

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1047 posts in 4937 days

12 comments so far

View ColonelTravis's profile


1976 posts in 3113 days

#1 posted 07-27-2014 04:58 AM

Been sold on Arm R Seal for a while, but just because of my ignorance why did you pick the gel?

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21055 posts in 4023 days

#2 posted 07-27-2014 12:23 PM

Good to hear. Thnx for your review. I’ve used the Arm-R-Seal Satin Poly, and really like everything about it. I’ll give the gel a try one o these days.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View pashley's profile


1047 posts in 4937 days

#3 posted 07-27-2014 01:05 PM

I tried the gel because that is supposedly the in thing now and would try it; they also make stains in gel which I might try. I bought the Arm R Seal too, will try soon.

-- Have a blessed day!

View CharlesA's profile


3467 posts in 3017 days

#4 posted 07-27-2014 02:25 PM

I use both Arm-r-Seal and the Gel topcoat. They’ve both been out for awhile. The Gel Topcoat is even easier to use than the Arm-R-Seal. they have a very subtle difference in how they bring out the colors of the wood. I primarily use satin finish, so I like it a lot.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View paxorion's profile


1107 posts in 3265 days

#5 posted 07-27-2014 03:43 PM

I tried Arm-R-Seal this past weekend for the first time, and have been very pleased with the results. Definitely a believer now.

-- paxorion

View Oldtool's profile


3310 posts in 3410 days

#6 posted 07-28-2014 01:17 PM

Arm-R-Seal is my favorite easy to use finish, with excellent results – despite my lack of expertise. I’ll have to try the gel next time if it’s easier than the oil varnish mix. Can’t make finishing too easy as far as I’m concerned.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 3589 days

#7 posted 07-28-2014 01:51 PM

I use Arm-R-Seal almost exclusively and love it. I recently tried GF’s Candelite Gel Stain on a high-chair, and had mixed feelings about it. It gave a nice,uniform stain, and was easy to apply without having to worry about it running on vertical parts. The only downsides I saw were a.) it’s a little messier than normal liquid stain and b.) it can be annoying to wipe out of crevices.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View oldnovice's profile


7742 posts in 4587 days

#8 posted 07-29-2014 07:25 PM

When I lived in Illinois I used GF products almost exclusively but here in California it is mail/web order only but I did like the results then so I guess it’s time to get on the web and order some.

I used GF’s Arm-R-Seal and one of the rub on polyurethane on a table that I built in about 1976 and it still looks as good as new. Not bad for a daily used end table!

-- "Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." -- Aldous Huxley

View TexasOak's profile


18 posts in 2818 days

#9 posted 08-06-2014 05:23 PM

I spoke to a GF Rep at a home builders show last year and this is what he told me about the Arm-R-Seal and the Gel Top Coat:

The Gel Top Coat is formulated to give the same appearance when cured as just the gel stains by themselves. You do not HAVE to put a top coat over the gel stains but it is recommended. So, this is why they have the Gel Top Coat in satin….the stains give a satin look.

The Arm-R-Seal can be used over any stain but it will alter the appearance of the gel stains more than it would their regular polyurethane stains. Since it is typically used for more than 1 type of stain, they offer it in different finishes. He also said that the Arm-R-Seal is quite a bit more resilient than the gel top coat so it is recomended over the gel top coat for things like tables, counters etc. that will see a lot of wear and use.

I’ve been using GF exclusively for about 5 years now and can’t think of using anything else.

Hope this helps.

View CharlesA's profile


3467 posts in 3017 days

#10 posted 08-06-2014 05:26 PM

Thank you—that is really helpful. I’d never seen in print the distinction in use between them.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View Hawk_Guy's profile


84 posts in 2866 days

#11 posted 06-04-2018 10:53 PM

I’m about to use this on some Maple that I stained using the Java. Does this level out pretty well?

View pashley's profile


1047 posts in 4937 days

#12 posted 06-05-2018 01:40 AM

absolutely…excellent product

-- Have a blessed day!

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