Rust-Oleum Wood Refinishing System — revive your wood kitchen cabinets without sanding or stripping

My stories on repainting old kitchen cabinets with Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformations continue to be among the most popular on the blog. Clearly: A lot of people are looking for products that make it easy to revive their old kitchen cabinets. Now, responding to folks with nice wood cabinets who want to keep the wood but just freshen it up (not paint it), Rust-Oleum has introduced their Rust-Oleum Wood Refinishing System. The video above shows how it’s done. Retail price is $69.97 and will cover a kitchen with about 40 linear feet of cabinets.

I asked the team at Rust-Oleum whether this product would work to revive the finish on older maple and birch cabinets — the kind that were ubiquitous in 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 1960s kitchens — and they replied:

There should be no problem using the Transformation Wood Refinishing System on older maple cabinets.

I also asked if it could be used on wood paneling — I get lots of questions about bringing wood paneling back to life. They said:

It should also work well on real wood basement paneling, as long as its properly cleaned — but beware of trying to use it on paper wrapped or laminate paneling.  It’s formulated for use on real wood only.

Re basement paneling, I’ll also add that you are going to go through 100 s.f. of product really fast — this may not be an “affordable” solution for an entire man cave. Rust-Oleum’s entire press release and FAQ are below. You can also read all about it on the Rust-Oleum Wood Refinishing System web page.

Read on for Rustoleum’s complete news release and FAQ on their new Rust-Oleum Wood Refinishing System:.

Rust-Oleum News Release:

The rich, warm beauty of natural wood has made it a popular choice for kitchen cabinetry. Unfortunately, wood cabinets can become faded and discolored due to normal wear and tear, grease and household cleaners – making both the cabinets and the entire kitchen look tired and outdated.

But now there’s an easy, affordable way to renew the original color of worn, faded wood cabinets and bring them back to their like-new condition – Rust-Oleum® Cabinet Transformations® Wood Refinishing System. The do-it-yourself refinishing kit rejuvenates the color of old cabinets without stripping or sanding. It conceals marks, scratches and water stains associated with daily wear and tear. Plus the tough, durable finish protects the surface for years.

“When we introduced our original Cabinet Transformations kit, many homeowners expressed an interest in a product that would rejuvenate their faded wood cabinets without completely changing the look,” said Rust-Oleum senior brand manager Ann Gearty.  “The newest addition to our Transformations line, Cabinet Wood Refinishing System, utilizes state-of-the-art technology to make refreshing wood cabinets so easy, most projects can be completed in just one weekend.”

Cabinet Transformations Wood Refinishing System restores wood cabinets without stripping or sanding in three easy steps:

Step 1:  Apply the Wood Cleaner with a cleaning sponge and wipe down the surface.
Step 3:  Apply two coats of the Protective Top Coat.  It’s that simple!
Step 2:  Brush on the Color Enhancer and wipe-off with the Lint-free Cloth.

To ensure homeowners find the best match for their existing cabinetry, Cabinet Transformations Wood Refinishing System is available in six tintbase color ranges. Simply pick the color group that best matches your cabinets: Pickled, Light, Medium, Dark, Light Red and Dark Red. Formulated for all types of wood, it’s also ideal for trim, interior doors, vanities and other wood furniture providing superior stain and scratch resistance with tack-free durability. It offers a permanent long-lasting solution and eliminates the need for continuous maintenance. The low odor formula cleans up easily with soap and water.

The Cabinet Transformations Wood Refinishing System kit comes complete with Wood Cleaner, Cleaning Sponges, Lint-free Cloths, Color Enhancer, Protective Top Coat and Stir Sticks. It also includes step-by-step instructions (in both English and Spanish) and an instructional DVD to make the wood refinishing project even easier.

Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformations Wood Refinishing System is backed by a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee and is available in the paint and stain aisles of major home centers and hardware retailers. A dedicated Product Support line is also available for assistance with projects, if needed.

Frequently Asked Questions — Rust-Oleum® Cabinet Transformations® Wood Refinishing System

Note, this FAQ is as-of Jan. 4, 2012 — to see any updates, see the Rust-Oleum homepage for this product.

Q.  Does Cabinet Transformations Wood Refinishing System work on laminate, metal or melamine cabinetry?

A.  No, Cabinet Transformations Wood Refinishing System only works on real wood cabinetry that is stained in natural wood colors.

Q.  Can I use Cabinet Transformations on damaged cabinets?

A.  Yes.  Holes and nicks can be filled with plastic wood filler.  When the filler dries, sand the area until it is even with the surrounding surface.  Once repairs have been made, follow the normal application process.

Q. Can I use Cabinet Transformations Wood Refinishing System on surfaces other than kitchen cabinetry?

A.  Cabinet Transformations Wood Refinishing System is not limited to cabinetry. It can also be used to transform all woodwork including: islands, bath vanities, interior doors, and more.

Q. Can Cabinet Transformations Wood Refinishing System transform dark cabinets to a light color using the lighter tint base color?

A. The Wood Refinishing System is designed to restore the original color and beauty of your wood stained cabinetry. To completely change the color of your cabinets, the original stain color would need to be removed by sanding down the surface to bare wood, and then refinished with a traditional wood stain and polyurethane protective top coat.

Q. Can Cabinet Transformations Wood Refinishing System be used on new bare wood cabinetry?

A.  No, Cabinet Transformations Wood Refinishing System is designed specifically for use on previously stained wood finishes, not new bare wood.

Q.  Do I have to strip or sand the surface as part of the preparation?

A.  Stripping and sanding are not necessary with Cabinet Transformations Wood Refinishing System.   Simply use the Wood Cleaner and sponges provided to prepare your cabinets prior to applying the Color Enhancer and Protective Top Coat.

Q.  How does room temperature and humidity affect the application process?

A.  Higher humidity will cause the coating to dry more slowly while lower humidity will cause the coating to dry more quickly.  Apply when air (ambient) temperature is 50 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (10-32 degrees Celsius) and relative humidity is below 60 percent.

Q.  How do I refinish around stoves, sinks, and other appliances?

A.  Simply mask the sink, stove or other appliances with smooth painter’s tape.  Be diligent about pressing in the edge to ensure none of the coating will bleed through. Place drop cloths over countertop surfaces and floors.

Q.  Do I need to remove cabinet doors and hardware?

A.  For the best results, removing cabinet doors and all cabinet hardware is recommended.  It will be easier to get a smooth finish when coating the doors while they are lying flat.

Q.  What can I use to prop up my cabinet doors during the application process?

A.  Drive two drywall screws into a two by four. Set two of these on your worktable to support each door and to make the sides of your doors easier to coat. Please reference the instructional DVD for further details.

Q.  Should I finish the inside of my cabinet frames or drawers?

A.  It is recommended that all cabinet frames, doors and drawers be coated with two even coats of the Protective Top Coat. There is not, however, enough Protective Top Coat included in the kit  to cover the inside of the cabinet frames or drawers. To ensure a clean, even look, tape the insides edges of each cabinet frame with smooth painter’s tape.  Be sure all edges are pressed down to ensure that none of the coating will be able to bleed through.

Q. How can I avoid potential appearance problems?

A.  Start by thoroughly cleaning the surface with the Wood Cleaner and rinsing well with clean water and a sponge. Be sure to remove the Color Enhancer with lint-free cloths in the direction of the wood grain. Finally, use a new or clean premium quality brush to apply two coats of Protective Top Coat.

Q.  Can I spray or roll on the Cabinet Transformations coating?

A.  It is not recommended to spray or roll on the Color Enhancer. The Color Enhancer needs to be worked into the surface with a foam brush, and removed with a clean lint-free cloth. The Protective Top Coat has been formulated and designed for optimal application with a brush, but can be sprayed with the proper equipment. To spray the Protective Top Coat, reduce up to ten percent water and use a HVLP sprayer at 35 psi. Ideal spray temperature and humidity conditions are 78 degrees Fahrenheit with 35 percent humidity.

Q.  How long should I wait before installing my cabinet doors, drawers, and hardware after using Cabinet Transformations?

A.  Cabinet doors, drawers, and hardware can be installed as early as 12 hours after the final coat of Protective Top Coat has been applied. Keep drawers and doors ajar until the Protective Top Coat is completely dry.  The Protective Top Coat will be completely cured after 24 hours.  Dry times will vary depending on your weather conditions.

Q.  How do I safely maintain my Cabinet Transformations surface?

A.  Caring for your resurfaced cabinets is easy.  To clean the surface, use a damp cloth or sponge and a mild soap or detergent. Avoid using cleaners on new cabinetry for seven days.

Q.  How long will Cabinet Transformations last?

A. With normal use and proper care, your refinished surface will last for years.

Disclosure: Rust-Oleum is currently an advertiser on the blog. This story isn’t part of the deal or anything, though. See my Disclosure policy (how I make money by writing this blog) here.

  1. Shawn says:

    I read through this post and the Q&A and it was a bit confusing as to which product was being discussed, and I didn’t see an answer to my main question. My house was built in 1989 and the cabinets, frames and one side of my island are wood, but the ends are laminate. Which product will work better on these areas for a total make-over, the paint transformation or wood re-finishing?

    1. Shawn,

      Rust-Oleum Transformations Wood Refinishing System only works on wood, therefore it would not work on the ends that are laminate. Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformations does work on wood, melamine and laminate. Since you have both, I would recommend using Cabinet Transformations for the total makeover.

      You can learn more at rustoleumtransformations.com. Please let me know if you have any additional questions.

      Rust-Oleum Steph

      1. Shawn says:

        Thanks. I went to Home Depot and Lowe’s and they gave the same answer. I picked up a couple of brochures with all the color choices since we are definitely interested in the Cabinet Transformation. Cut out several different colors and taped them to the cabinets to see which one we can live with.

  2. Nancy Richardson says:

    My son and daughter in law just bought there first home. It has the solid wood cabinets of the ’60’s in the ktchen the house is 100 years old.. They want to keep the cabinets do to funds being tight but how to redo or paint them is the question. Normal paint won’t stick unless they sand down the cabinets etc. They would love to try the product you mentioned in this blog.

  3. Amanda says:

    We bought a foreclosed home and the kitchen was installed in 2006 and I dont particularly care for the color but cant afford to redo the kitchen because of other more important projects. The cabinets are a red cherry color like the ones in the presentation and I was wondering if I could use this product in a darker color to make them go towards a browner tone?

    1. Amanda,

      Rust-Oleum Transformations Wood Refinishing System does not have the ability to completely alter the color of the wood. It essentially brings life back to the original cabinets, it’s like a face lift for wood. Therefore you would have to choose a color group that best matches the color of your cabinets. Since your cabinets are cherry we would recommend the Dark Red color family. However, its sister product, Cabinet Transformations allows you to completely change the color of the cabinets so you could go from lets say cherry to espresso. I encourage you to visit rustoleumtransformations.com to learn more about both products.

      1. pam kueber says:

        FYI, readers: Stephanie is my PR contact at Rust-Oleum. Thanks, Stephanie, for the response!

  4. Vern fleshman says:

    We would love to volunteer with this system. We are in the process of updating. My wifes parents home.

  5. Cynthia says:

    I was just looking into this but can’t find it locally. Seems to be just the product i need! Our home was built in 1958 and had a minor update in the 80s. Thankfully the kept the cabinets (a huge selling point for me!) but they need some help. We are replacing the countertops and backsplash, which I’m still unsure about. The one thing I want to keep is the cabinets. Our contractor thinks I’m nuts for keeping them and I so want to prove him wrong by bringing them back to there former beauty.

  6. Patty says:

    Most of the examples on the “wood refinishing” page go from one color to another totally different color (one goes from dark wood to white for example),

    Now that I finally figured out the difference between the 2 products – maybe Rust-Oleum need to distinguish better between the 2 in their marketing/packaging – and not use the exact same “before and after” shots on the 2 different product webpages.

    I plan to use this on some furniture — I will make double sure I have the correct package.

    1. pam kueber says:

      Lots of confusion here. There is a Painting kit … and now, a Wood Refinishing (not painting) kit….

      1. Patty says:

        Two seconds into the “wood refinishing” video I see “cabinet transformations” so I guess I am confused.

  7. Jackie says:

    I would be really interested to know how this product does or does not differ from the Howard’s Restore-a-finish.

    1. Susan at Rust-Oleum says:

      Transformations Wood Refinishing System is a different kind of product than Howard Restor-A-Finish. The Wood Refinishing System’s Color Enhancer brings the wood back to its original color and then the Protective Topcoat (included in the kit) locks it in so its a more permanent refinishing solution.

  8. Christa says:

    Wow, what timing. I was checking your site today to see how others had handled refreshing their wood cabinets. My kitchen plus another 60 linear feet of built-ins are all in need of refinishing as they are chipped and the finish has worn off in places.

    The frames are solid mahogany, the doors are plywood (with chipped veneer). I would love to try this stuff out on my kitchen, and go on from there. I sanded and sealed the kitchen before moving in, but now I am ready to tackle getting all the built ins to have the same finish, as I’m sure that is how it was originally. I was planning to start next week!

    You can see the house here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/62309207@N07/

    1. TappanTrailerTami says:

      Hi Neighbor! Noticed you are in the Oakland/Berkley area….I’m down by Fremont/Milpitas – GREAT house you have! Maybe someday Pam can do a “where are we all from” post 🙂

      1. Christa says:

        Hi Neighbor! Yes, that would be fun to see where everyone is from and also maybe their top 3 projects.

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