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

  1. If you like Rust-Oleum’s Cabinet Transformations, you are going to LOVE Stainable Primer. This is a new product that makes any surface (cabinets, MDF, PVC, thermofoil, metal, fiberglass and more) stainable. Yes, it is magical.

    Unlike Rust-Oleum, Stainable Primer is a single step one-coat process with no special mixing or measuring. No sanding, stripping, deglazing or other preparation. In addition, you can use ANY oil, water or gel stain (or paint) product on top of the primer. Stainable Primer contains actual wood, so when you brush or spray it on you are applying a thin layer of wood that can then be treated just like wood. That’s the magic.

    Beyond cabinets, Stainable Primer can be used for other great DIY projects, including outdoor PVC furniture, picture frames, planters, and more. You can learn more at

  2. Hi, I have been reading through all of the comments and am still unsure. My cabinets are an oak color and I want them to be black. what product do you think would work best for me? Is paint a terrible choice? PLEASE HELP! I am trying to make as many updates as possible with a small amount of money. lol

  3. To avoid removing the existing finish while making sure your new finish bonds, use Stainable Primer ( Simply clean off any grease/grime and apply the Stainable Primer as a base. After an hour or so, you can apply any paint or stain of your choice. This assumes your oak cabinets are not peeling.

  4. I recently used the cabinet transformations and am very happy with how it turned out (not so much about the 3 days it took)! But once I put the doors back up, I noticed one has a top coat issue. I can’t tell if it’s not enough or too much, but there’s a white streak. It’s right by the window and catches a ton of light making it stand out more. Any tips on how to correct it?

  5. You can correct any mistake by putting one coat of Stainable Primer (TM) over the streaked finished. You do not have to sand off of the existing finish or go through 3 days of steps. Simply brush on the primer, wait 1-4 hours (depending on humidity) and put your final finish back on. The primer leaves a thin layer of actual wood on your cabinet that you can then finish as you like to match the rest of the cabinets. You should experiment with color on scrap wood to make sure you are happy with the result.

  6. This is my second kitchen painting cabinets. The first I did the traditional way~sanding, prime coat, then paint. This time I used the Rust-Oluem kit. I absolutely love it. It’s so much easier. My bottom cabinets I painted dark. My top cabinets I’m in the process of painting white. They are taking three coats. Where the dark only took two. Make sure you do the protective coat. It makes it look so finished. I would highly recommend this product!

  7. Next time you may want to consider using Stainable Primerâ„¢. I just used it to take a white cabinet to an stylish gray stain. I put one coat of Stainable Primerâ„¢ right on top of the existing white cabinet (no sanding), then wiped on one coat of gray stain. The nice part is once they are primed, I can use any stain or paint product on top!

  8. SheQuita – There is a gentleman on YouTube that has some how to videos on how to paint kitchen cabinets black with an HLVP sprayer… His name is Rickafix. He used Benjamin Moore Advanced paint with Kilz as a primer. Quite a bit of prep work involved, but it would be worth while if you are willing to invest in an HLVP sprayer (you can get one for about $100). The finish is supposed to be very very smooth. I personally have had horrible luck with Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations. I purchased the kit in Chocolate and cannot, absolutelty CANNOT, get a smooth finish with the included top coat, unless it is on a tiny area, like a mantle or small cabinet door. If you have large wood areas or cabinet doors, forget it. I have tried putting it on super thin – it doesn’t coat enough, so you have to go over it again, which gives you streaks. I have tried putting it on a little bit thicker – I still get streaks when I go back and slightly overlap the previous brush stroke with another brush stroke. I had to purchase Minwax Polycrylic, which gives a much smoother finish… But, you have to sand between coats, which is time consuming and I was having a lot of issues with the bond coat coming off when lightly sanding. Which meant having to touch up areas where the bond coat came off. I also had issues with the bond coat itself. Once you paint your second coat of bond coat, you have to get the top coat on as soon as it dries. You cannot touch it, because it leaves fingerprints or marks on the bond coat. I do not know if this problem occurs with other colors besides the chocolate. Also, I have Oak cabinets, so maybe people with other types of cabinetry have better results. I purchased an HVLP sprayer and am hoping to finally finish my kitchen after weeks of work. The transformation kit has been a complete waste of money for me… And to be honest, the time it takes to scrub and degloss the cabinets, you could take a piece of sand paper and rough up the finish. Whatever route you choose, good luck! :-)

  9. I just refinished my white bathroom cabinets. They were white and I wanted them stained driftwood gray. I did not sand off the existing finish, nor did I use a “deglosser”. All I did was clean them with Windex, apply one coat of Stainable Primer (, waited for it to dry 1-hour, applied 1 coat of stain, and a poly coat on top. It was easy, came out smooth and looks great.

  10. I purchased the Rustoleum Kit in White last year for only 49.00 at Home Depot, this year it is 79.00, that’s a whole lot of markup, I have written to the company to find out how to get just the paint since I don’t need the glaze, which was 14.99 and is now 29.99, double, anyway the paint is just not available, it’s not just latex it is more of a milk paint and with a sponge brush comes out beautiful, I love how my kitchen came out and am planning on doing farmhouse style pieces for the rest of the house using the white on the bottoms and staining the tops, so far the kitchen table has come out gorgeous and unbelievable since it is just standard 2×4′s and 2×8′s, I have ordered some milk paint to see how it compares with their white, could be the same thing, who knows??

  11. I used the Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations kit in July of 2013 and went with the light porcelain color and used the stain. More than a year later my cabinets look brand new. They are so easy to clean with just a little soap and water. The product was easy to use and I did it in a weekend. I had 19 cabinet doors and 10 drawers. This was after I did sand down my cabinets because of years of bad paint jobs and to many layers of paint. I would recommend this product to any one.

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