2017 Contest Rules by Category

Contest entrants will be able set up an account and submit entries starting July 7th through July 28th. Voting begins August 4th through noon Aug 11th, CST. Winners will be announced the third week in August.

You will be able to set up an account and submit entries from July 7th to July 28th.

  • Enter to win amazing prizes in any of our 28 exciting contest category themes for DIY projects and furniture, woodworking, and wood turning. All Merit category entries must be completed using at least one General Finishes product. Entries in the Popular Vote Upcycling category, Mad Scientist Custom Color Mix, must be completed using two or more General Finishes products.
  • Improve your chances of winning by providing well lit and staged photography, and show any details. You can upload up to 10 images - we recommend (but do not require) images of at least 1000 pixels wide to show off your work
  • There is 1 upcycling popular vote category, 26 merit categories judged by industry professionals, European Treasures contest for Mainland UK, mainland Ireland and mainland Europe and a video contest. This year's popular-vote category is THE MAD SCIENTIST, where entrants can enter projects finished in a custom color mix of GF paints. Four additional Best-Staged awards will be offered.
  • Entries accepted July 7 through July 28. Entries will not display until voting begins August 4 through noon Aug 11, CST. Winners will be announced the third week in August.

Upcyling Categories

Popular Vote Contest for Upcycling

  1. MAD SCIENTIST CUSTOM COLOR MIX (Popular vote) Enter a project finished in a custom color mix of General Finishes paints. Submit entries that mix multiple colors of General Finishes Milk Paint, Chalk Style Paint, or Chalk Style Paint mixed with Milk Paint. (For example, 2 parts Snow White Milk Paint and one part Patina Green Milk Paint, or 1 part Summertime Blue and 1 part Keywest Blue, or any mix of Chalk Style Paint and Milk Paint.) For the popular vote, use your audience and fans to your advantage - contact your customers and share your project across your social media channels. The project with the most votes by the end of the contest wins this category. 

Merit Contests for Upcycling

  1. JIVING WITH GEL STAIN- Show us your best Gel Stain refresh. Paint accents are fine. (Merit Award via independent judging)
  2. THE CLASSICS: BLACK OR WHITE - These are the bestselling colors! Show us your best black or white finish. Includes really dark grays and softer whites. Wood accents such as table tops, buffet tops or wood seats are fine. (Merit Award via independent judging)
  3. DIY HOBBYIST UPCYCLED FURNITURE - DIY hobbyist with NO formal resale business. If you are actively selling anywhere online, you must enter another category. This category was created as a safe space for hobbyists to enter and have a fair playing field to win; Resale entries will be be asked to move, or be removed. (Merit Award via independent judging)
  4. CREATIVE - Color washes, decoupage, hand-painted, stenciling, and embossing (no transfers). (Merit Award via independent judging)
  5. BLING IT ON U.S.A. - Gilding takes center stage with the use of lustrous finish adornments of any kind, including gold/silver wax, GF Pearl Effects, gold or silver leaf, copper, etc or other gilding or metallic finishes.
  6. MASTERPIECE TRANSFERS - Transfer of printed image onto furniture.(Merit Award via independent judging)
  7. CABINETRY: PAINT OR STAIN - Kitchens, baths etc. This can be a refinish of existing cabinets or a new finish on new cabinets. (Merit Award via independent judging)
  8. COUNTRY CHIC - Distressed, aged, chippy or just plain country. (Merit Award via independent judging)
  9. MID-CENTURY MODERN MAKEOVER - Bring on your best mid-1950s revival. (Merit Award via independent judging)
  10. DYE STAINS - show us how you bring out the grain, the burl, or the detailed inset patterns with a dye stain - your entire project, a table top, or drawer fronts.
  11. SMASHING SHADES OF GRAY - Enter a project completed mostly in gray - wood or color accents are fine.
  12. ANYTHING GOES: Open category for entries that do not fit into the other categories.
  13. REPURPOSED TO A NEW USE - Transformation project.
  14. PRE-MADE UNFINISHED FURNITURE - Best finish using pre-made unfinished wood furniture. To enter this category, your raw-wood piece must have been purchased from a business that sells pre-made unfinished wood furniture. You must submit both "before" and "after" photos to be considered for a prize. (Merit Award via independent judging)

Instructional or Demonstration Video Category for Upcyling and Woodworking

We will be awarding first place prizes to one upcyling video and one woodworking video. Short video tutorials have taken over social media and we want you to join the hype! Create an informative, Tasty style video about your process - some suggested topics include:

  • Teach your favorite GF technique
  • Use your favorite GF product and explain why you love it
  • Teach a secret not everyone knows about using GF products

To Win:
Your video should be short and simple, illustrating your task in a fun and beautiful way.
Videos will be judged based on the ability to meet the rules and requirements along with production values such as staging and lighting, storytelling, and general production quality. Our team of judges will consist of both General Finishes product experts and media professionals.

Video Rules:

  • Videos must be under two minutes in length
  • Videos must be new, created for the contest to ensure fresh content (made after April, 2017)
  • You must use at least 1 GF product and display the can within the video
  • Your content must be informative
  • You must upload your video to a third party website such as YouTube or Vimeo and use, "General Finishes" in the tags.

For inspiration, check out Tasty and Nifty on Buzzfeed and Facebook.

European Treasures Category For Our Friends Across the Seas

This category is a special tribute to our friends across the water, open ONLY to Mainland UK, Mainland Ireland and Mainland Europe residents.

Bring on the bling! Classic European treasures stand out for their fine use of metallics and ornamentation in furniture design. In this category, gilding takes center stage with the use of lustrous finish adornments of any kind, including gold/silver wax, GF Pearl Effects, gold or silver leaf, copper, etc or any manufacturers' gilding or metallic finishes. This is your challenge: You must use at least one General Finishes product, and your project must include a metallic finish or metallic accents.

Woodworking Categories

Handcrafted projects and furniture using the wood finishes of your choice, from any manufacturer. These pieces will be judged on the design and craftsmanship required to execute. (Merit Award via independent judging)

  3. STORAGE (cabinets, chests, boxes, dressers)
  6. OTHER

Wood Turning Categories

Wood turning, one of the most demanding and beautiful art forms. Hand-turned projects finished using the wood finishes of your choice, from any manufacturer. (Merit Award via independent judging)

  6. PENS
  8. SMALL TURNINGS: toys, ornaments, functional etc.
  13. JUNIOR WOOD TURNER (18 years or under)
  14. BEGINNING WOOD TURNERS (with less than one year of experience) 

Rules for all contests

  • Entries accepted July 7 through July 28. Voting begins August 4 through noon Aug 11, CST. Winners will be announced the third week in August.
  • You may enter all categories with multiple unique entries but may not submit the same project in multiple categories. For example, you can submit 4 pieces of furniture in the Creative category, but cannot submit any of those 4 in another category.
  • Entrants who win in multiple events will be awarded one prize - the top prize available. GF needs to share the fun!
  • All manufacturers' finishing products are welcome as long as ONE General Finishes product is included in the design, with the exception of the Mad Scientist Custom Color category, which must be made with ONLY General Finishes paints.
  • Projects that were entered in a previous GF Design Challenge Contest may not be entered again.
  • There is not time restriction on when the project you are submitting was created. It could be any year as long as it is your original work. (Video contest entries are an exception - they must have been created after April of 2017.)
  • Judges may not enter the contest.
  • Regarding the popular vote (Mad Scientist Custom Color Mix), only one vote per person will be accepted. Do not submit multiple entries using alternative email addresses. Multiple entries from a single IP address will be filtered out, so ask friends and family to vote from their own computer.
  • Regarding the popular vote (Mad Scientist Custom Color Mix), General Finishes will not accept entries where votes are promoted in exchange for a compensation of any kind. You are enouraged to use all aspects of social media to promote your business with this contest, including paid promotions on Facebook, etc. - just no compensation to voters.


Contest Entries
Friday, July 7 - Friday, July 28
Voting Begins
Friday, August 4th
Winners announced
Third week in August.

Contest Categories

Mad Scientist Custom Color Mix
Cabinetry : Paint or Stain
DIY Hobbyist Upcycled Furniture
Masterpiece Transfers
Country Chic
Mid-Century Modern Makeover
The Classics : Black or White
Jiving with Gel Stain
Re-purposed to a New Use
Pre-made Unfinished Furniture
Instructional/Demonstration Videos
Chairs & Benches
Storage (Cabinets, Chests, Boxes, Dressers)
Most Creative
Wood Turning
Natural Edge Bowls
Finished Edge Bowls
Hollow Vessels
Spindles and Legs
Creative Finish Color
Junior Woodturner

GF is advocating a fair playing field
Votes for the MAD SCIENTIST CUSTOM COLOR category should be based on the beauty of the color and the natural following of their friends. General Finishes will not accept entries where votes are promoted in exchange for compensation of any kind.

Due to shipping costs, contest prizes will be awarded only in U.S., Canada and mainland United Kingdom/Mainland Ireland.

With the exception of the MAD SCIENTIST CATEGORY, any manufacturers' products are welcome as long as ONE General Finishes product is included in the design. (We believe there is room for a variety of beautiful paints and finishes in the marketplace.) Entrants will be asked to provide a photo of their project and list the products and colors used.