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Kitchen DIY: Rustoleum Cabinet Transformation

These kitchen DIY tips will leave you with smooth lasting paint cabinets. Learn from my mistakes, so you can save a ton of time and money on your project.

Must Try Kitchen DIY Project

I always loved the look of white cabinets, but I didn’t have the budget to replace the existing cabinets.

So, I instead I decided to take on a few kitchen DIY projects to update the space.

kitchen diy

This was my first big DIY project, so the Rustoleum cabinet kit was a great option for a beginner.

At the time I didn’t know much about paint, so this kit made me feel confident that I could take on this kitchen DIY.

Before Painting Kitchen Cabinets

Even though I read the instructions included in the cabinet kit, I made a few common painting mistakes.

Painting cabinets is easy, but can be a tedious process and there are a things you should avoid doing.

To simplify this project and end up with a smooth finish, read the common mistakes listed below before you paint kitchen cabinets white!

rustoleum cabinet transformations

Cabinet Painting Mistakes!

Make sure to read the common painting mistakes listed below before you start painting cabinets. Learn from my mistakes, so your cabinets come out better than mine did.

Prep Your Kitchen First

Cover your counter tops and floors with drop cloths because paint will splatter everywhere.

I skipped this step because I thought the paint would easily peel off of my counters and flooring.

The paint did not easily peel off like I expected and it to me forever to clean up paint splatters.

Even 5 years later, I still find tiny splatters of paint from my cabinet painting project.

So, I highly recommend that you properly prep your space for painting because the paint will splatter.

Remove Doors and Doors

I looked around my kitchen and thought it would take me a long time to remove all of the cabinet doors.

kitchen diy
My Painted Cabinets!

To save time on my kitchen diy, I decided it would be easier to leave the cabinet doors on instead of removing them.

This turned out to be a terrible idea because it took me more time trying to paint around the doors and hardware.

Leaving the cabinet doors is a common mistake and does not make your cabinet painting project any easier.

Avoid Paint Drips When Cabinet Painting

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

rustoleum cabinet transformation kit
Painted White Cabinets Turned Yellow

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.

Do Not Panic After the First Coat of Cabinet Paint

Do not freak out after brushing on the first coat of cabinet paint because the cabinets might terrible at first.

If you are painting your cabinets a lighter color, you will notice a lot of uneven paint coverage on the doors.

Don’t worry you didn’t ruin your cabinets, so remain calm and keep going with your project.

After a few more coats of paint the cabinets will look much better and the brush strokes will blend in.

I almost cried when I finished applying the first coat of the Rustoleum Cabinet Transformation kit because I thought I made a huge mistake by painting my cabinets.

rustoleum cabinet transformation kit
After 2 coats of paint

How to Avoid Brush Strokes when Cabinet Painting

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

If I used a high density foam paint roller and a Wooster 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.

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.

Using the Correct Roller for Your Cabinet Painting Project

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 painted cabinets.

A paint roller with texture on the roller will leave your cabinets with the same textured, so you should avoid using this tip of roller.

Since I only used a paint brush for the entire project, it took me a total of 8 coats of paint, and almost 3 Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformation kits.

kitchen diy

Cabinet Paint Alternative

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

Cabinet kits are definitely helpful for beginners, but there are other options that can get you just as good of results for less money.

If you do not want the extra work, you can even use this to paint kitchen cabinets without sanding.

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

Will Painted Cabinets Chip?

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

Well it’s a busy place for me because I eat too many snacks and I have 2 toddler boys that enjoy running laps around the kitchen.

Fixing a small paint chip is easy with a few cabinet painting steps.

rustoleum cabinet transformation kit

How to Fix Chipped Cabinet Doors

I have a few small chips around my hardware because I used babyproofing clips that went over the hardware.

Don’t worry though because a small chip can easily be fixed with these tips and tricks.

The clips scratched against the paint and over time caused small chips.

I recommend using baby proofing hooks that go inside your cabinet doors to prevent nicks in the paint.

Coffee Station on Wheels

This isn’t your typical coffee station, this is a functional piece of furniture.

Our bar cart can be used as a mini bar, console table, prep space, craft station, storage, and much more!

A bar on wheels will add additional entertaining space and storage wherever you need it.

To simplify your project and take out the guess work, we created plans for this exact mini bar.

coffee station

Items Needed for Painting Kitchen Cabinets:

Included in Rustoleum Cabinet Transformation 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)

Painting with Rustoleum Cabinet Transformation Kit

The Rustoleum cabinet transformation kit makes it easy to paint laminate kitchen cabinets white without sanding.

Before you start your project, make sure to read the common mistakes when painting cabinets listed above!

Even though I read the instructions and took my time with this project, I still made these mistakes when painting cabinets that I regret.

Label Cabinet Doors and Drawers

First prep your work area with drop cloths, painters tape, and remove all cabinets doors and drawers.

Label all cabinet doors and drawers with a post-it note, so you can easily hang the cabinets back up.

Also, label a plastic cup or bag to insert all of the hardware for each cabinet or drawer.

Then remove the cabinets and place all hardware in the label that matches the cup or bag.

painting kitchen cabinets

Prepping Cabinets

Wipe down all surfaces of the cabinet, doors, and drawers with a damp soapy sponge.

After prepping the cabinets, you can get started with your Kitchen DIY and apply the deglosser.

The deglosser should be wiped on all surfaces that are going to be painted.

Then clean the cabinets with damp soapy water again before cabinet painting.

How to Paint Cabinets Without Sanding

If you are not using the deglosser included in the Rustoleum cabinet transformation kit, this is a good alternative.

You can paint kitchen cabinets without sanding, and they will hold up really well but a light sanding is always best.

I always recommend a light sanding with fine sandpaper before any project, so the paint sticks really well.

If you would rather not sand before cabinet painting, you will be okay using the deglosser or Krud Kutter.

rustoleum cabinet transformation kit

Why Can I Paint Kitchen Cabinets Without Sanding?

The Rustoleum cabinet transformation kit was designed, so you do not have to sand your cabinets.

I did not sand my cabinets before painting them with the cabinet Kit, and they are holding up nicely.

Krud Kutter or the deglosser included in the cabinet kit removes grease, mildew, and stains.

Both of these items lightly etches the cabinet surface, so the paint adheres to the cabinets.

I have since painted other cabinets, and I noticed that a lightly sanding is the best option.

Sanding just to roughen up the surface with fine sandpaper allowed the paint to really bond to the surface of the cabinets.

My kitchen cabinets held up pretty well considering I did not sand, but I did get a couple small chips on the door and drawers.

Here are a few tips and tricks to fix your cabinets, if your painted cabinets chip!

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.

How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets

Once the cabinets have been cleaned and dried, you can brush or roll on the first coat of the Rustoleum Cabinet transformation paint (bond coat).

First apply the paint with an angled brush into all areas that the roller cannot reach.

Then use a cabinet roller to blend the bond coat over the entire surface for a super smooth finish.

Rustoleum cabinet transformation

Second Coat of Rustoleum Cabinet Paint

Wait at least a couple hours in between each coat of Rustoleum cabinet paint, so it soaks into the cabinets.

I applied all paint to the front surface of the cabinets before flipping the cabinets and working on the back.

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

Save Time with Painter’s Pyramids!

I recommend waiting overnight before flipping the doors over to paint the other side.

If you do not wait this long because you want to get this project done, you can use painter’s pyramids.

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

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

kitchen diy
Save time with painter’s pyramids!

Inside of My Painted Cabinets

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

Even if it didn’t look that great, I wouldn’t spend the time to paint the inside of the cabinets because it would take forever.

how to paint kitchen cabinets white

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 an angled brush for a smooth painted kitchen cabinet.

I noticed a slight yellowing after painting cabinets because I applied the clear coat too thick.

So, make sure to use a thin layer of clear coat on your painted cabinets.

Think of painting your cabinets like you would paint your fingernails.

You do not want a thick layer of nail polish and clear coat on your nails or they will be smudged instantly.

PDF Guide to Cabinet Painting

Everything you need to know on to cabinet painting is now simplified into a PDF guide.

All of the instructions to achieve a smooth painted cabinets are in this post, but it is a long read.

This guide helps simplify this post into a PDF that you can access anytime you want on your phone!

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!

Updating Hardware for Cabinets and Drawers

Updating existing handles and hinges can make a huge difference in your kitchen!

Make sure to measure before purchasing new hardware.

Rustoleum cabinet transformation

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, if you follow these steps.

The Best Cabinet Paint

My Rustoleum cabinet transformation came out great, but I found a great alternative for less.

If you do not want to use a kit for this kitchen DIY then you will love this cabinet paint.

How to Clean Painted Cabinets

Grease and smoke from cooking may make white cabinets appear slightly yellow.

Do not use abrasive cleaners or brushes to clean painted cabinets.

To clean the cabinets follow the steps we have provide here.

Over time you might notice a few small nicks in the paint, so I follow these tips to touch up the paint.

How My Painted Kitchen Cabinets Are Holding Up

It has been 3 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 this Rustoleum cabinet transformation kit

Replacing Cabinet Doors

Painting cabinets will give your kitchen a quick and affordable transformation.

One thing to note is that a coat of paint can only go so far.

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.

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DIY Home Improvement Ideas to Save Money! - Rock Solid Rustic

Wednesday 30th of March 2022

[…] price. Before you decide to gut your kitchen you should consider this diy home improvement project. If your kitchen layout is decent and your cabinets are in good shape than painting cabinets will […]


Tuesday 8th of February 2022

Thanks so much for this! What did you do to correct the yellowing? I used the same kit but for some reason the clear coat actually caused it to turn yellow over time. It looked great for a year, but now it's been 4 years and the cabinets are much more yellow. You can see where the clear coat pooled a bit in the corners so there are yellow drips now. I'm thinking about just lightly sanding and then applying the Behr semigloss enamel that you recommend. Unless you know of a better way to fix it?

Brian & Lacey

Wednesday 9th of February 2022


Unfortunately, I don't think there is any other way to fix this. To correct the yellowing on my cabinets, I lightly sanded the cabinet doors. The doors looked the most yellow because of the pooling of the clear coat.

The cabinet boxes looked fine, so I applied 1 coat of the Behr semi-gloss enamel and the cabinet boxes and doors. If you have the motivation to sand everything that is always better, but I was feeling lazy and wanted to get this done quickly. So, I only sanded the areas that looked really yellow or had paint drips.

I only needed 1 coat of the enamel to refresh my cabinets. You could get away with only purchasing a quart of the paint, if your kitchen is about the same size as mine.


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[…] Everything you need to know to paint cabinets! […]

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Wednesday 20th of October 2021

Is there a way to get more Rustoleum cabinet paint without purchasing the kit again?


Wednesday 20th of October 2021

@Brian & Lacey, Does that include the top coat or is there something else I need to do for that?

Brian & Lacey

Wednesday 20th of October 2021

Hi! I asked someone in the paint department at Home Depot about buying a similar cabinet paint to rustoleum. They didn’t know a good alternative to buying another kit. I ended up buying another kit bc I couldn’t figure it out either. I have since taken on more cabinet projects and found a really good cabinet paint. I had to touch up my cabinets recently so instead of buying another kit this time, I just lightly sanded and painted over them with Behr Interior Semi Gloss enamel. You could have this behr paint tinted the same color as rustolem. Home depot can match colors, so bring the rustoleum paint to the store can and have this paint tinted to match. Below is a link to my post on this paint to learn more.

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