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5 Easy Steps to Painting Cabinets with Rustoleum

Thinking of painting cabinets, but don’t know where to start? Painting cabinets with Rustoleum is a great option because it includes almost everything you need to change the color of your cabinets.

Painting kitchen cabinets can feel overwhelming because it is a big DIY project that can take a lot of time. I felt this way when I started painting my own cabinets, but a kitchen cabinet paint kit is a great place to start for this project.

Pros and Cons of Painting with Rustoleum

A cabinet paint kit such as Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations will give you provide you with almost everything need to paint kitchen cabinets in one box.

painting cabinets with rustoleum

I share my mistakes, so you can save a ton of time and money on your kitchen project. So, don’t worry if you are a newbie to DIY projects because you will find everything you need to know here!

Pros of Rustoleum Cabinet Paint Kit

Rustoleum does not include everything required to paint cabinets, but they make a great product. This kit provides clear and detailed instructions to paint cabinets with no sanding.

Instead of sanding, you can use the included deglosser to remove shine from cabinets and lightly etch the surface.

Cons of Rustoleum Cabinet Paint Kit

This cabinet kit required a clear coat and the kit costs about $10 more compared to other brands.

Painting with Rustoleum Cabinet Transformation Kit

I went with the Rustoleum cabinet paint to update my kitchen cabinets. Rustoleum is a well known brand and everything they make is superior quality.

rustoleum cabinet transformations

When I started this project over 5 years ago, painting cabinets was a relatively new DIY project. There wasn’t a ton of information out there on cabinet paint or tips to make the project easier.

So, it made sense to go with the Rustolem kit, and I am glad that I did because my cabinets turned out great!

Painting Cabinets with Rustoleum

It has been 5 years since I painted my cabinets, and they are still holding up great.

My cabinets still look good, even with a toddler that “fixes” the cabinets with a toy drill and drives cars along the cabinets.

I am really happy with how my cabinets turned out, and I highly recommend the Rustoleum cabinet transformations kit.

Warning! Rustoleum Cabinet Painting Mistakes

Make sure to read the common painting mistakes listed below before you start painting cabinets with any paint kit. Learn from my mistakes, so you can save time and money on your project.

Mistake 1: Not Properly Prepping the Kitchen

I regret not properly prepping my kitchen because I ended up with tiny paint splatters EVERYWHERE!

Make sure to cover your counter tops and floors with drop cloths because paint will splatter more than you even realize.

The tiny paint splatters aren’t as easy to clean up after they dry, so it is worth the extra prep work.

Mistake 2: Leaving the Cabinet Doors On

Okay, so this might sound like a huge mistake but it isn’t the best way to go about this project.

I looked around my kitchen and thought it would take me a long time to remove all of the cabinet doors, so I left them on and painted them.

This turned out to be a mistake because it took me more time to paint around tiny grooves and hardware.

Mistake 3: Paint Drips on Cabinet Doors

Since I left the doors on during my cabinet painting project, the clear coat did not brush on evenly.

The clear coat gathered around the grooves of the cabinet doors and dripped down the sides.

This caused the doors to turn a slight yellow color over time and it looks sloppy because of the paint drips.

Rustoleum Cabinet Paint
Painted White Cabinets Turned Yellow

Mistake 4: Panicking After the First Coat of Paint

After applying the first coat of cabinet paint, I started to freak out because of how horrible my cabinets looked. The look on my husband’s face validated my sense of panic, so I started to question why I took on this project.

I kept going because I figured I couldn’t make the cabinets look any worse. The cabinets looked much better after 2-3 coats of paint.

So, do not panic after brushing on the first coat of the cabinet paint because the cabinets will look much better after another coat of paint.

Rustoleum Cabinet Paint
After 2 coats of Rustoleum Cabinet Paint

Mistake 5: Using the Incorrect Roller

I did not do enough research before starting this project, so I had know idea a roller for cabinets existed.

The roller would have saved me so much time because it would have taken less coats of paint to evenly cover the cabinets.

It took me a total of 8 coats of paint, and almost 3 cabinet paint kits!

Make sure to purchase a roller made for smooth surfaces or your cabinets will have a weird texture from using the incorrect roller.

Included in Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations Kit:

  • How to DVD
  • Instruction pamphlet
  • Deglosser
  • Rustoleum Cabinet Paint – Bond Coat (Tintable paint)
  • Rags
  • Scrub pads
  • Stir sticks
  • Protective Top Coat
  • Decorative Glazing cloths
  • Decorative Glaze (I skipped this optional step)

Additional Items Required:

  • Rustoleum Cabinet Paint or Alternative Cabinet Paint
  • High density foam roller
  • Angled brush
  • Pyramids
  • Drop Cloths
  • Screw Driver

How Do I use the Rustoleum Cabinet Paint Kit?

You read all about the common mistakes, the pros, and cons of Rustoleum cabinet paint. Now it is time to start painting your kitchen cabinets.

Even if you decided to use a different cabinet paint or cabinet paint kit, these steps are beneficial for your project.

What is the best roller for painting cabinets?

A high density foam roller is best for painting cabinets because it will leave a smooth finish. The foam evenly distributes the paint to prevent drips and decrease the amount of paint needed to cover the surface.

It is recommended to use a paint brush in tight spaces then follow up with a high density foam roller to smooth out brushes strokes.

best cabinet paint roller

Step 1: Label Cabinet Doors and Drawers

Prep the Space: First prep your work area with drop cloths, painters tape, then remove all doors and drawers.

Label Cabinets: Then label all of the cabinet boxes with a post-it note, so you can easily identify where the cabinets and door should be placed.

Label Hardware: Make sure to label a plastic cup or bag to hold all of the hardware for each cabinet and drawer.

Remove Cabinets: Then remove the cabinet doors and place all hardware in the label that matches the cup or bag.

Step 2: Cleaning the Cabinets and Doors

Clean the Cabinets: Wipe down all surfaces of the cabinet, doors, and drawers with a damp soapy sponge to remove grease.

Degrease: Then use either the deglosser that came with the kitchen cabinet kit or use Krud Kutter to help deep clean the cabinets.

The delglosser and the Krud Kutter help remove kitchen grease and shine from the cabinets by lightly etching the surface.

Dry: After using either of these options, the cabinets should be wiped again with a damp soapy sponge.

Step 3: Optional Sanding

Most kitchen cabinet paints kits like the Rustoleum Cabinet Transformation kit are designed, so you can skip sanding.

My kitchen cabinets are holding up well, even though I did not sand the cabinets. It has been 5 years since I painted my kitchen cabinets, and I only noticed a few chips in the paint that I was able to fix.

but I am a big believer in sanding now that I have taken on other projects.

The reason I think a light sanding is important is because it allows the paint to really grip onto the surface.

If you decided to sand, use a fine sandpaper and light pressure to roughen up the surface. The sanding does not need to be down to the bare wood, just enough to provide a deeper etch.

Step 3: How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets

Paint the Cabinets: Once the cabinets have been cleaned and dried, you can apply the first coat of Rustoleum Cabinet transformation paint (bond coat).

The first coat of paint or bond coat is the cabinet paint color, so if you are using an alternative this mean to brush on the cabinet paint.

Rustoleum cabinet transformation
Tip- Use painter’s pyramids to save time!

Use a Brush First: I prefer to use a paint brush to get into all of the small areas that a roller cannot cover. Use light pressure and do not overly saturate the brush to prevent paint drips and brush strokes.

Roll on the Paint: Then use a cabinet roller to blend the cabinet paint (bond coat) over the entire surface for a super smooth finish.

Do not use a roller that has texture or you will have this same texture on your cabinets. Make sure to use the recommend paint roller for a smooth and even finish.

Step 4: Additional Coats of Rustoleum Cabinet Paint

Allow the Paint to Dry: Wait at least a couple hours in between each coat of Rustoleum cabinet paint before apply additional coats on the same surface.

The Rustoleum cabinet paint (bond coat) might feel dry to the touch, but cabinets are not fully cured so you can smudge the paint.

2-3 Coats of Paint: It might take you 2-3 coats to totally cover your cabinets, if you are painting dark cabinets a light color. So, continue to follow these same steps until the cabinets are even and you are satisfied with the look.

Save Time: I recommend waiting overnight before flipping the doors over to paint the other side or use painter’s pyramids.

Painter pyramids prop up cabinet doors, so you can paint both sides of the cabinet even if it is not totally dry.

I have use these for repainting my bathroom cabinets and this saved me a ton of time and prevented paint smudges.

kitchen cabinet paint kit
Tip- Use a high density foam roller to paint cabinets

Step 5: Cabinet Top Coat

After the painted kitchen cabinets have completely dried, you can begin applying the final protective top coat. To apply the protective top coat, I used a paint brush and a high density foam roller for a super smooth finish.

kitchen diy

I noticed a slight yellowing after painting my cabinets because I applied the clear coat too thick. So, make sure to use a thin layer of clear coat on your painted cabinets then apply an additional coat if needed.

I decided not to paint inside the cabinets because I thought it looked fine as is with the natural wood tone.

Additional Cabinet Painting Tips

Below you will find additional tips to help you achieve a successful Rustoleum Cabinet Transformation. Be sure to read through these tips and tricks before you paint your kitchen cabinets.

Tip 1: How to Avoid Brush Strokes

I made the mistake of only purchasing a brush to apply the Rustoleum cabinet paint kit and it took me forever!

If I used a high density foam paint roller and an angled brush I could have saved myself so much time and money.

I probably would have been able to skip buying an extra cabinet kit to finish the project too.

A high density foam roller creates smooth painted cabinets that will last!

I could have got away with only purchasing 2 instead of 3 kits to paint my cabinets and save a ton of time, if I used this roller.

Painting Cabinets with Rustoleum

Tip 3: Cabinet Paint Alternative

If you are looking for an alternative to a cabinet paint kit, I used another good paint to update a bathroom vanity and desk.

A cabinet kit is definitely helpful for beginners, but there are other options that can get you just as good of results for less money.

This other cabinet paint went on super smooth, is moisture resistant, and did not require a clear coat.

Tip 4: Will Painted Cabinets Chip?

Yes, they probably will chip eventually because the kitchen is a busy place in your home.

Don’t worry though because a small chip can easily be fixed with these tips to fixing cabinet paint.

Tip 5: Do Not Forget to Replace Cabinet Bumpers

After I finished applying the Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformation kit, I placed bumpers on the back of cabinet doors and the doors.

The cabinet bumpers protect the cabinets, while allowing the doors and drawers to close softer. Do not forget to replace cabinet bumpers after finishing your project!

Tip 6: Prevent Cabinets from Yellowing

The clear coat included in the Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformation kit is made to prevent yellowing, so do not skip this step.

Rust-Oleum’s Cabinet Transformation kit clear coat is an Acrylic/Urethane resin that will not yellow.

Tip 8: How to Clean Painted Cabinets

Grease and smoke from cooking may make white cabinets appear slightly yellow. To clean and care for painted cabinets, follow our cabinet guide.

Tip 7: How to Fill in Wood Grain on Cabinets

If you have cabinets with wood grain, you can paint over it and have the wood grain show through or cover the grain with wood filler.

The wood grain filler should be applied to the grain on cabinets just like you would apply spackle to a wall.

Lightly smooth the wood grain filler, over the surface then scrape away any excess. Once the filler has dried, lightly sand the surface to prep for cabinet painting.

Luckily my laminate cabinets did not have wood grain, so I was able to paint my cabinets without filling them.

Tip 8: Replacing Cabinet Doors

One thing to note is that a coat of paint can only go so far. If your cabinets have a weird design or are in bad shape, the paint will improve this but not look perfect.

If the existing cabinet doors are not in good shape or are outdated then paint might not be a permanent solution. There is good news though because you can use the existing cabinet box, but replace the cabinet doors.


I painted my kitchen cabinets over 5 years ago and are holding up well even with busy toddler boys running around. Occasionally, I touch up a nick in the paint but I am still pleased with how the cabinets turned out. Let us know how your painted cabinets turned out!