Rustoleum Cabinet Transformation Review: One Year Later

Last week Matt reminded me that it had been a year since we had refinished our kitchen cabinets with the Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations kit. (See our review and before and after photos.) Two thoughts went through my head: one, it’s held up well and looks good; and two, I’m glad I don’t have to do a large project like that for a while!

I thought I would update my review for those considering the product. It’s turned into one of our most popular posts to date and I’m glad people have found it to be an honest and comprehensive review. (I’m not comped in any way for this or past review. I was interested in the product and wanted to share my experience for other people to decide for themselves if it was something they wanted to do.)

Before and after -- you still see the wood grain.

In all, we are pleased with the final product. The color hasn’t faded, the top coat seems to have stayed true, and we get compliments on it all the time. Unlike the cabinets I have refinished with traditional paint, they don’t stick. The only sign of wear is on the edge of our cutting board (see below), but we expected it since we use and scrub that area almost daily. When closed, you don’t see any of the wear.

Previously we had no hardware on our cabinets, but adding them has updated the cabinets as well as (I believe) preserved the finish since our messy hands don’t come in contact with the finish. For the money spent, it really did bring a cost-effective update to our home.

The question is, would I do it again? The answer is probably not. If I were doing light colored cabinets and I wanted a glaze, I would be more likely to consider it. I also would likely skip removing the doors and paint carefully, since I’ve read that others have had success in this and it would cut down on total project time.

Does my reluctance to use this product again mean this kit is bad? No. The quality is good, but there seems to be a perception that it is some magic non-paint product or has some special chemical composition. It’s just your standard deglosser, paint, glaze and topcoat, with stir sticks, cloths, etc. For me, I feel comfortable in the paint department and the hardware store in general, so I would rather have more control over the amount of each item we bought. For someone else who doesn’t feel comfortable, this kit would probably come in handy. I imagine the cost could have been lower for us mostly since we didn’t use the glaze, stir sticks are free and we found the cloths (used for glazing) to be low quality (linty).

I’m curious to know your experiences with the product or with painting your kitchen cabinets. What did you think? Would you do it again?

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36 thoughts on “Rustoleum Cabinet Transformation Review: One Year Later

  1. Wow! I am glad to read this 1 yr later review. I have just started the project. My kit I think is different from the one you used– Rustoleum seems to have 2 kits. Mine is for Wood enhancement and allows the grain to show. It was $50 vs the other one that was still Rustoleum but $80. My kit is 3 steps, I noticed yours was 4 steps if opting for the glaze. You left the glaze out so the wood grain would show (paying for an item not used). My kits is meant for wood cabinets only–I think yours would do melamine & other surfaces too. I guess what I am trying to say is that you don’t need to buy something you won’t use. I priced it out individually & here’s what I came up with (without buying the glaze-I didn’t want). Step 1: TSP cleaner–$4.98, Step 2 Minwax Stain (but you must sand) $8, Step 3 top coat $18 (my kit came with 2 so $36), Lint Free Cloths $13 (included in my kit). I also got a step by step DVD how to with professional style tips. So pricing my kit out individually it would cost $62 without the DVD. Also the kit has all Rustoleum products so you know that are compatible. So that’s my price analysis.
    I just hope I can do the awesome job you did.

  2. Charlyle,
    What is the name of the Rustoleum kit you got for wood enhancement?

  3. Sorry my reply took so long–I was spammed & had to weed through. I used Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations Wood Refinishing System–Renew and Protect Your Stained Wood Finish (Home Depot Price $49). Home Depot tints the stain as you choose. I liken it to hair coloring–best to keep it 1 or 2 shades from the original color.
    The one I think you used was Rustoleum Transformation Cabinet Coating System (Home Depot $75).
    My cabinets were in very good shape–they were just dull & dirty looking. Now they look very clean & “glow”. Wear marks on the most heavily used door are still there–but blend in well. IMO Older/ more used/abused cabinets would probably not give the result folks are looking for. This process was extremely labor intense–I doubt I’d do it again. In hindsight I think I would have been better off buying new doors. Saved money–but paid heavily in time.

  4. I have white oak wood cabinets that over the years changed colors. Some areas darkened others yellowed. I want to make sure the finished product is basicelly the same color as I have now but I want to make sure it covers. .I want to use Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations Wood Refinishing System–Renew and Protect Your Stained Wood Finish (Home Depot Price $49). Do you think I will have a problem if I don’t go darker? I appreciate your tips and advice, it is a scary undertaking, because it comes out bad I can’t afford to replace them. Thank you for you advice.

  5. Hi Ann, the product that I used isn’t the same, so I can’t give you a definitive answer. If I were to guess I’d say that the cabinet transformation kit I used was like a paint and this one sounds like it’s a stain. I’ve done stain before, and the key to controlling your outcome is to get rid of whatever is currently on the wood (sealant, paint, whatever) so that the wood can really soak up the color. Then, it’s a matter of picking the correct stain. I’d rely on the pros for help in choosing the best one. Stain is fairly easy to control if you do it gradually. If you want them to be white white wood, though, maybe a whitewashing treatment would work? I’m rambling at this point… I’d say if you’re apprehensive about the kit, see if your store would take a return if you were unsatisfied and then try a small section on the back of a door or something and see what happens.

  6. Ann here are my thoughts about this. Not sure the shape of the cabinets. If they are in good physical shape, just need a color refresher the Rustoleum $49 would probably work for you.
    Here’s what I would do. Clean them very well with TSP (tri sodium phosphate- Home Depot carries it). Take a look at the darkest color that remains after cleaning. Either match that color or go a shade darker. Going lighter may cause it to looked 2 toned (perhaps like it looks now). I felt the same way about the risk–I was however in the position to buy new doors if push came to shove. This was very labor intense–keep that in mind–you really have to take your time to get a good result.
    Good Luck!

  7. I think leaving the glaze off of any of these kits makes the cabinets look painted. I always opt for the glaze.

  8. Hi Eric,

    I agree. We were pretty disappointed when the glaze didn’t show up when we were doing our cabinets. I’m not sure if it was the dark color or the oak cabinets. At least our wood grain still shows through enough to make it not look too painted.

  9. Are the painted cabinets near your stove easy to clean? Someone suggested that I not paint the kitchen with this kit as grease and food spatters will mark up the paint. However, it is made specifically for the kitchen and they must have had this in mind when designing the product. What is your experience? Do the cabinets wipe clean with a little dish soap and water?

  10. The splatters from the stove/oven don’t really seem to get on the cabinets, mostly the countertop, microwave or the oven button area. If you’ll look at the post I did about the cutting board edge, you’ll see that it shows signs of wear from constant (daily, multiple times a day) scrubbing with the gritty side of a sponge as well as the softer side. I don’t imagine the stove area would have that much scrubbing involved, but it depends on your situation. In general, it is a paint product with a clear top coat. It should stand up like any painted cabinet would.

  11. Hi Emily,
    I, too, live in Northern Calif, Modesto to be exact, and am considering doing the Rusteoleum kitchen cabinet transformation. I appreciate you blogging about the steps and following up with your “year later” post. I read online that many people were saying the top coat is “tricky,” have any tips for that? Thanks!!

  12. I have used this kit on two different projects. It is VERY important to be extremely thorough with regard to step one. I had a spill 10 days after I had finished, and when I wiped it off, all the paint wiped off down to the wood. I was told by Rustoleum that I probably had not spent enough time on step one. They said you really have to scrub vigorously with that green pad in order to prepare the wood so that the new paint will adhere.

  13. Great review of the product. I was thinking about trying it out, but I was really wondering what the difference between this product and just cleaning/deglossing/priming/painting was. I think we’ll be trying our hand at just deglossing/painting/top coat.

    Thanks for writing about your experience! VERY helpful!

  14. Thank you for the tips. I am getting ready to do a small kitchen and didn’t want to remove the doors. I am going over laminate cabinets. I will keep you posted. This is a rental that I manage and the dark cabinets make the tiny kitchen look so small. Hopefully it will brighten it up. Thanks again for posting.

  15. Hello!

    I too have done the espresso cabinet transformations and love it! I was wondering if you know what color your wall paint is. It looks perfect with the espresso, and my spring project is to paint my kitchen green. Thank you :-) It looks lovely!

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