Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformation Steps and Tips

$85-$250

Before – See Below for After!

I have always loved white cabinets, but I didn’t have the budget to purchase all new cabinets and counter tops. I started researching options on how to refinish the existing cabinets in my kitchen.

I found that the Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformation Kit is the best option for a beginner. Rust-Oleum is a well known brand, so I figured I couldn’t go wrong with a popular brand with so many great products

I thought the pure white would really pop off the existing counter tops and brighten up the space, which it definitely did. It only took a weekend to totally transform my kitchen for a couple hundred dollars!

It has been 3 years since I painted my cabinets, and they are still holding up great. Even with a toddler that “fixes” the cabinets with a toy drill and drive cars along the cabinets.

If you are looking for other alternative to a cabinet kit, I recommend Behr Interior Semi-Gloss Enamel or Cabinet Coat Semi-Gloss. We have a post on how to use these paints and why we recommend them here.

Shopping Checklist

Must Read- Do Not Make These Common Mistakes!

Mistake 1 – Panic

The first coat has been applied you begin to panic, and instantly regret your decision. Don’t be alarmed if the first couple of coats look terrible (as seen below)! I almost cried when I finished the first coat of paint because I thought I made a huge mistake by painting my cabinets. After a few more coats of paint, the cabinets will start to look much better.

Mistake 2 – Brush Strokes

You only purchased a brush to paint the cabinets. I made this mistake and it took me a lot longer to apply the paint. If, I had used a high density foam paint roller and a Wooster angled brush I could have saved myself from buying an extra cabinet kit to finish the project. Using a high density foam paint roller for cabinets allows for a much smoother and even finish. 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.

**A friend of mine took my advice to use a high density roller and painter pyramids. She saved a ton of time using the pyramids and roller, and only needed a max of 3 coats of paint.**

Mistake 3 – Incorrect Roller

You purchased a roller and an angled brush, but you purchased a roller used to paint walls. Make sure to purchase a roller made for smooth surfaces or your cabinets will have a weird texture from using the incorrect roller. Purchase a high density foam roller that is meant for smooth surfaces. Since I only used a paint brush for the entire project, it took me a total of 8 coats of paint!

Mistake 4 – Not Protecting Surrounding Areas

Cover your counter tops and floors with drop cloths! I skipped this step because I thought the paint would easily peel off (wrong), and I was thinking of replacing the counter tops.

I didn’t end up replacing the counter tops because of the expense. So, it ended up taking me forever to clean up paint splatters from the counters and floor. Next time I would use cardboard, newspaper, or a drop cloth under cabinets and for the floors for an easier clean up.

Mistake 5 – Not Removing Doors

To save time you decided it would be easier to leave the cabinet doors on instead of removing them. WRONG!!

I highly recommend removing the cabinet doors. I choose to leave the cabinets on, and paint around the hardware inside of the cabinet with a small paint brush. I thought this would save time, but this took a lot of time and I ended up getting paint on the hardware.

I also, noticed that the clear coat gathered around the grooves of the cabinet and dripped down the sides. This caused the cabinets to turn a slight yellow in some areas, as you can see in the below picture.

Slight Yellowing of Cabinets

How to Prevent White Cabinets from Turning Yellow

Clear Coat

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 clear coat is an Acrylic/Urethane resin that will not yellow.

Do not apply a thick layer of clear coat! A thick layer of clear coat will dry in the grooves of the cabinet doors, and may leave drips. The drips will dry yellow on the white cabinets.

Properly Take Care of White painted Cabinets – How to Clean Painted Cabinets

Grease and smoke from cooking may make white cabinets appear slightly yellow. Do not use any abrasive cleaners or brushes to clean the cabinets.

To clean the cabinets simply use dish soap mixed with water and a cloth or sponge. Gently wipe down each cabinet door one by one with the soapy water then dry each cabinet after it has been cleaned.

Items Required to Clean Painted Cabinets:

Cabinet Update:

It has been 3 years since I painted my cabinets, and they are still holding up great. Even with a toddler that “fixes” the cabinets with a toy drill and drive cars along the cabinets. I only noticed a very slight yellowing of the cabinets in areas that I applied a thick layer of clear coat.

I am really happy with how my cabinets turned out, and I highly recommend this Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformation Kit. You really can’t go wrong with any product made by Rust-Oleum!

If you are looking for other alternative to a cabinet kit, I recommend Behr Interior Semi-Gloss Enamel or Cabinet Coat Semi-Gloss. We have a post on how to use these paints and why we recommend them here.

The Rustoleum Cabinet Kit Includes:

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

Note: Be sure to watch the instructional DVD included, so you do not miss any important steps. Also, make sure you don’t make any of the common mistakes listed below!

How to Apply the Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformation Kit

Step 1 – Rust-Oleum Deglosser

First begin by wiping down all surfaces of the cabinets with a damp soapy sponge. Then apply the deglosser with the white rag that is included in the kit to all surfaces that are to be painted. Then wipe down the cabinets with damp soapy water again.

If you are not using the deglosser that is included in the Rust-Oleum cabinet kit, this is a really good alternative to prep your cabinets. Krud Kutter removes grease, mildew, stains, and lightly etches the cabinet surface to prep for painting.

Wood Grain Cabinets

Cabinets with wood grain can either be painted right over the grain or fill the grain. If you don’t mind the look of the grain, you can simply just paint the cabinets and the gain will show through.

Luckily my cabinets did not have wood grain, so I was able to paint my cabinets without filling them. I don’t care for the look of grain, so if my cabinets had wood grain I would have filled them in using Wood Grain Filler.

The filler would be applied to the cabinet wood grain just like you would apply spackle to a wall. Lightly smooth the putty over the surface and scrape away any excess. Once the filler has dried, lightly sand the surface to prep for painting.

Wood Grain Filler

Step 2 – Labels

Label all cabinets with a post it note and label a plastic cup or bag to place the hardware from each set of cabinets. Then remove the cabinets and place all hardware in the necessary cup or bag.

Step 3 – White Paint

Once the cabinets have dried, you can begin applying the first coat of paint. First apply the paint with an angled brush into all areas that the roller cannot cover then cover the entire surface with a roller and smooth out any brush strokes.

Step 4 – Second Coat

Wait at least a couple hours in between each coat. I applied all paint to the front surface of the cabinets before flipping the cabinets and working on the back.

The cabinets might feel dry to the touch, but they are not fully cured. So, I would wait 12-24 hours before flipping the cabinets over to paint the other side.

If you would rather not wait this long because you want to get this project done, I recommend painter’s pyramids. Painter pyramids prop up cabinet doors, so you can paint both sides of the cabinet even if it is not dry.

Painter’s Pyramids

Painter pyramids save so much time and prevent paint smudges. After painting the front side of the cabinet door, flip the cabinet door over and rest onto painter pyramids.

Inside Cabinets

I choose not to paint inside the cabinets because I thought it looked fine as is. I painted all surrounding areas and doors. See below:

Here is a look inside of my cabinet to see where I painted.

Step 5 – Rust-Oleum Top Coat

After the cabinets have completely dried, you can begin applying the final protective top coat. I used an angled brush to apply one layer or protective coat to the cabinets.

I noticed a slight yellowing on my cabinets in areas that I applied the clear coat too thick. So, do not apply a very thick layer of clear coat. A thin layer is all you need to protect your cabinets.

Cabinet Bumpers

After everything completely dried, I placed bumpers on the back of the cabinet doors and the doors.

Hardware

Updating existing handles and hinges can make a huge difference! Make sure to measure your hardware before purchasing new hardware.

See below for ideas to change the entire feel of your kitchen:

After!

It has been 3 years, since I painted my cabinets, and they are still holding up great. Even with a toddler that “fixes” the cabinets with a toy drill and drive cars along the cabinets. I am really happy with how my cabinets turned out, and I highly recommend this Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformation Kit.

How to Paint a Bathroom Vanity

I upgraded my bathroom vanity and mirror frame under $100! View our post to see how they both turned out.

Alternative to Rust-oleum Cabinet Kit

After reading about several different types of paint and their best usage, I came across a really great product. This paint is perfect for any cabinet project. Rust-Oleum’s Cabinet kit is definitely a great product, but there are other options that can get you just as good of results.

My Favorite Paint Products

I’m a paint fanatic and I literally painted my house top to bottom, which includes the ceiling. I also painted my vanity, kitchen cabinets, and furniture. It’s safe to say I am also particular with my products (after a lot of trial and error) so I listed my favorite ones here.

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23 thoughts on “Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformation Steps and Tips

    1. Hi! I did not paint inside of the cabinets. I painted the inside of the doors and the cabinet frame. I just updated this post with a picture of the inside of my cabinets, so you can get a better idea of how it looks. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Lacey

  1. Not sure if this is a silly question but how did you tint the bond coat or does it already come tinted? Sid you purchase this kit from a home depot and then have the bond coat tinted there? I am slightly confused on this step. Thanks!

    1. Hello! I purchased my cabinet kits at Home Depot a few years back. The Rustoleum cabinet kits that I purchased required that the bond coat be tinted at the store. However, there is a newer version of this kit that is already tinted and can be purchased online. Here is a link to the kit that is already tinted: https://amzn.to/2Vs9GGq Let me know if you have any other questions :)- Lacey

    2. I picked one of the colors shown on the box and had Home Depot tint it to that color. I haven’t used my kit yet but looking forward to it. This site has answered several of my questions.

      1. Hi Patricia,

        I’m so happy to hear that you found our site helpful! We’d love to see how your transformation turns out, if you’d like to share before/after photos. Let us know if you have any other questions 🙂
        -Lacey

  2. We are about to do this to our kitchen and i have read that sometimes the top finishing cost can leave the pure white cabinet with a yellow tint. Have you noticed that at all?

    1. Hi Melissa! I painted our cabinets 3 years ago, and I just now started to notice a slight yellowing. I only notice the yellowing in areas that I applied the clear coat too thick. Try applying a thinner layer of clear coat to prevent the cabinets from yellowing. We typically respond within 24 hours or less, so let us know if you have any questions. Good luck with your cabinet project!
      -Lacey

  3. I’m new at painting cabinets. I appreciate your clear instructions and suggestions to help make this an easier task. This may seem like a silly question but when painting the frame of the cabinets and the cabinet box did you go through the same steps to prepare them for painting – washing down drying, sanding, etc…

    1. Hi Sandy! I’m glad you found the instructions helpful. Yes, make sure to clean the frame of the cabinets and doors. Any area of the cabinet that is going to be painted should be cleaned and dried, so the paint sticks properly. Let me know if you get any other questions 🙂
      – Lacey

    1. The bond coat is step #2, the decorative glaze is step #3, and the protective top coat is step #4. So, the bond coat is consider the cabinet paint and the decorative glaze is an option step (I did not use the decorative glaze for my cabinets). Are you looking to use an alternative to the bond coat? If so, I recommend either of these options: https://amzn.to/36j5spH or https://amzn.to/2WClSWJ. We also, have a post about these cabinet paints on our site title, My Favorite Cabinet Paint Alternatives.
      Let us know if you have any more questions!
      -Lacey

    1. Hi! Yes, you can swap our the bond coat for an alternative. These paints do not require a top coat, but if you would like to add extra protection to your project the protective top coat will work well with these other options.

      I recommend either of these options: https://amzn.to/36j5spH or https://amzn.to/2WClSWJ. We also, have a post about these cabinet paints on our site title, My Favorite Cabinet Paint Alternatives.
      Let us know if you have any more questions!
      -Lacey

    1. Hi Donna,

      I did not sand my cabinets. I first cleaned my cabinets with soap and water then I used the deglosser that came in the kit or you could use Krud Kutter. Let me know if you have any other questions 🙂
      -Lacey

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