Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations

rustoleum cabinet paintingI was among the first group of journalists to test the Rust-Oleum’s new product — Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations — when it was first introduced in early 2011. On this page, I gather together all the stories I’ve done about this project since then — with the goal of helping potential users can see it easily.

Disclosure: Rust-Oleum has not paid me for this review. They did pay for my trip to test the product and for a kit that I later used on my mom’s vanity. They also advertised on my site at one point but are not currently. Opinions are my own, and those of my readers — my goal is to lay it out as we find it.


Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformations is a kit that includes a number of the key products that you need to repaint your kitchen cabinets in pretty much four steps: (1) Clean and degloss, (2) Paint / usually two coats, (3) Glaze / optional, (4) Topcoat / usually two coats. Rust-Oleum provides ample instructions, read them carefully before starting.

In early 2011, I attended a two-day program in New Orleans, where design bloggers heard all about the background of this new product’s development then, had the chance to test it ourselves. Read my full report here. Our tests were not exhaustive — we only painted a cabinet door. Even so, it was pretty clear to me from the start, that this was going to be a very popular product, for several reason:

  • First, we’re now living in the “New Normal”, so who wants to spend money on new kitchen cabinets if they don’t absolutely need to? This kit helps you achieve professional-quality results on your own — at a dramatically less price. At the same time, I thought the quality of the finished cabinets looked very good — and in particular, the glazed cabinets have that high-end look.
  • This system does not require that you strip and sand your cabinets – what a pain that is. Instead, you use a liquid cleaner and deglosser provided in the kit.

On to the reviews….

Mom’s bathroom vanity “before”:
(Stock cabinet from Lowe’s):
before rustoleum cabinet transformations

Mom’s bathroom vanity “after”
Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformations:rustoleum cabinet transformations review

Painting my mom’s bathroom vanity — transforming a Lowe’s cabinet from brown to black

Two months after the product was introduced, I was helping to renovate my mom’s bathroom. We found a vanity we liked at Lowe’s — but it was the wrong color. So, I decided to paint the vanity using the small Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations kit. DISCLOSURE: Rust-Oleum paid for my test kit.  It turned out very well. I found that the tinted paint went on very smoothly, it was a great texture to work with. And I also had no problems with the topcoat. I did not use the glaze. Based on my experience, I would highly recommend this product, with a few additional tips from my experience:

  • Close the heating and air conditioning vents to the room you are working in, so that the blower does not send dust particles onto your project while any of the finishes are drying.
  • Be very careful to know whether you are working on real wood or wood veneer — or on laminate. There are different processes depending on which you have. I say this, because as it turns out, I am pretty sure the side of mom’s vanity was laminate; it got kind of scratchy after I used the kit sponge on it. It still was “all right,” but I could see the difference.
  • Always try to complete each step for the entire project at the same time. I got “off” in my sequencing of doors at one point, and it was real pain. For example: Use the tops on how to be able to turn over doors and get both sides painted in the same wave.

See more photos from the renovation of my mom’s bathroom here — it was black-and-white 1940s style.

Connie’s kitchen — Before (right), and After(left):rustoleum cabinet transformations before and after

Connie was very happy:diy painting kitchen cabinets

Connie transforms her kitchen and two bathrooms using Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations

I’ve also heard from several readers who have used Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations and have been very happy with it.  Connie’s story was one of the first — she was literally exuberant about the experience, including both the results and all the money she saved. She used the kit to paint her entire kitchen — and then, her two bathrooms, too. Did I say “exuberant?” Seriously, here is what she wrote me:

What a great, great product.  Tell Rustoleum they’re welcome to come over and shoot a commercial here if they want to.  I wouldn’t want to be in it – I’m 59 years old and well past my expiration date.  That’s what actressess and spokesmodels are for!  I love the Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations – I swear I’m about ready to buy stock in the company.

Connie also converted her doubting Dear Husband into a believer. By Room 2 of painting, she said, he made her drying racks and was taking down all the doors.  Connie was a very early user of this product. It was based on her feedback — along with feedback from other customers, I am sure, that Rustoleum added more glaze to the kits.

Read Connie’s detailed story here — and see many more of her before-and-after photographs.

Jon & Trixi’s 1970s kitchen “before”:1970s-kitchen

The kitchen “after”
Two-tone Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations:1970s kitchen rustoleum cabinet transformations

Jon & Trixi made a 1970s kitchen using this DIY kitchen cabinet painting system

kitchen cabinet colors

Rustoleum offers a variety of “stock” tinting colors. But, you can tint their base any color — you’ll have to work with a patient and trained paint department, though, as every paint base takes color differently.

I am pretty darn sure this isn’t what Rustoleum had in mind: But Jon and Trixi used the product to create a 1970s style kitchen with “new” brown base cabinets and avocado wall cabinets. Their key tip:

  • If you buy the large kit, which has two cans of paint, you can tint each can a different color.
  • You do not have to choose only from the colors that Rustoleum offers. You can custom-tint the base paint color any color you wish. However, if you do this, you are going to have to work with a paint store that will fuss with you. Also:  You will likely need to be “forgiving” of the final color you get — because, unless Rustoleum has exactly formulated the color, you won’t “really” know how your test will turn out, as every paint base takes tint colors differently. So, talk to your paint department about the risks before moving ahead with a custom tint.
  • Idea for how to choose the paint color for your kitchen cabinets if you are going for a wood tone: How about matching the color of the wood trim elsewhere in the house?

Lots more photos of Jon & Trixi’s 1970s avocado dream kitchen here.

If you are using a light color kit

All of the readers who reported back to me used relatively dark colors on their cabinets. Surfing around looking at some other reviews, I see some reports that “coverage” using the solid white (as one example) may not be as good as when you use the darker colors. Apparently, this is not such a “problem” if you are going to use glaze. But if you want a solid light color, read on. My two “source stories”: DIY painter who was not happy with solid white… and DIY painter who was happy with white with a glaze.

I know the folks at Rust-Oleum, so I reached out and asked them about this issue. Here is what they said:

Hi Pam,

Thank you for your inquiry. There are certain woods, like severely worn oak, that we do recommend priming first when using the light tint-base kits. Some woods produce high levels of tannin oil which interact with the water-based bond coat. These directions are outlined on the packaging and state: “In rare instances on severely worn or bare oak, some discoloration may occur to the painted surface when using Pure White, Linen or Frost. To prevent this from happening, prime first with an oil-based stain blocking primer.”

Please let me know if you have any additional questions. – PR Manager, Rust-Oleum

Bottom line: Be sure to read all the instructions.

Note: This product will not cover up the grain of the wood. The grain will show through. So, if you want a “smooth” cabinet with no wood grain showing at all, you probably should consider another process.


Small kit for painting furniture

Do you want to paint just one piece of furniture using this system? Rust-Oleum continued with their line extension with an even smaller kit with the products sized to paint furniture (rather than an entire kitchen). They also have some different, kind of wilder colors — like Apple Green (I like!), shown above. Again, though, I think you can tint colors to any color you want, although you will need to work with a helpful and experienced color-tinter. I have not written about or reviewed the furniture painting kit – you can read about it on Rust-Oleum’s website, though.

diy wood refinishing

Reviving the finish of your wood kitchen cabinets

Finally, if you have wood cabinets — and you want to freshen the wood finish (rather than paint it), Rust-Oleum has introduced a kit product to do that, too. It’s called Rust-Oleum Wood Refinishing System, and you can read about it here. No reviews yet from any readers.


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  1. Bethany says

    Hi there,

    I am thinking about redoing my kitchen cabinets and they look like they’ve been painted before (at least twice) and the doors/drawers just look thick to me. I don’t want to have to strip them but I don’t want to just add more coats of primer/paint/glaze/etc if I already think they’ve been painted too many times. Pictures on here are all wood to color, are there any pictures of color to color? I’m going creamish to white. Cabinets were put in in 1987, and were painted at least once a month ago.

    • Jackie says

      Was there ever a follow up response to this question. My cabinets I believe have been painted once already ( they are currently an off white )

  2. ash says

    I’m about to close on midcentury bungalow that has an a********** [edited] updated honey oak 80s kitchen. Words cannot express how much I h*** [edited] it. I’m going to try rustoleum’s cabinet makeover! Wish me luck.

  3. Donna McClanahn says

    Can I use this kit on my old bathroom vanity that it mostly laminate. So maybe parts of the drawers are wood but basically stuff on top of particle board to be made to look like wood. I would like a darker color using the glaze. Can this work?

  4. kari says

    I want to paint my kitchen cabinets but do not want to see the oak grain. What product would you recommend to use with the rustolium cabinet transformation kit to hide the grain? Also, in what order would I apply? Thanks,

    • pam kueber says

      Kathleen, you should contact Rust-Oleum / look at their product specs to get the answer to this…

    • Annie says

      I have vintage GE metal cabinets I hope to refurbish with the Rustoleum kit. I am hoping to find out others’ experiences before I start! I hope you will share your experience Kathleen!

      • pam kueber says

        Talk to the folks at Rust-Oleum.

        I don’t think there is any way you will get the smooth finish of the original with the Rust-Oleum product, though.

        See our Kitchen Help / Steel Kitchens subcategory, we have a number of stories in which readers have shared their experiences repainting steel cabinets.

        Finally, be aware of safety issue, for example, the potential for lead paint. Consult with your own properly licensed professionals to make informed decisions.

  5. Len says

    I have mobile home cabinets that came with factory cabinets, those with factory made faux wood design(wallpaper overlay) on particle board. Will your product work on those types of cabinets and material? If not, your suggestions please because mine need re-finishing and I cannot afford to replace them. Thanks for your help and advice.

  6. Andrew says

    I’m wondering if you would recommend using a sprayer at all or if that creates a problem? I have a basic sprayer that I have had good success with in the past and would like to save time and use it.

  7. al says

    may run out of bond protector varnish. must I buy a whole kit or can I buy it separate? can I buy any water base varnish to finish job?

  8. Ruth says

    Can you do the cabinet transformation twice? I did the Rustoleum transformation in a dark color 2 summers ago and would like to do them again in a lighter color. Do you know if the prepping process is different to do it a second time?

  9. pam kueber says

    Folks, I am closing comments on this as they are getting redundant.

    If you have questions about how to use this product, contact Rust-Oleum directly.

    Good luck!

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