How I Transformed My Kitchen Cabinets for Under $100

9 Materials
$100
4 Days
Medium

Find out how I transformed my kitchen cabinets from old and dated to modern and fresh with the Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations Kit all for under $100.

To tell you a little more about the Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations Kit, it's a 4 part kit that allows you "transform" your current kitchen cabinets into they style/finish of your choosing. For me that mean going from my golden oak color to a dark espresso finish. The kit isn't too daunting to understand...
Step 1: Pre-wash the cabinets to remove the finish
Step 2: Base Coat
Step 3: Glaze Coat (optional, I skipped this one)
Step 4: Final Glaze coat

Once I was ready to get started I headed to Lowe's and purchased the kit. When we purchased our kit it cost $79 for the Small Kit. They have a Large Kit for $149 as well. Just like regular cans of paint you would buy, you take it to have your Base Coat tinted to match the finish you would like. I decided on the Espresso color, but there's a variety of colors included in the "Dark Kit". On the flip side, if you would like your cabinets to be lighter, there's even a "Light Kit" too. Now let's get started with the transformation...
How I Transformed My Kitchen Cabinets for Under $100 with the Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations Kit!
Here's what's included with the kit: From left to right: Decorative glaze cloths, Deglosser (Wood Cleaner), 2 cans of Bond Coat (gives it the color), 1 can of Protective Top Coat, a DVD and instruction booklet, 2 cans of Decorative Glaze, paint stir sticks, and 2 scrub pads.

Step 1: Take off the cabinets and hardware.
Step 2: Next we set up a space in our garage for all the cabinets to go so they could have space to be painted and room to try, not to mention stay in order. Here's a view of the cups under a cabinet, and the number/letter that named where it would go when we put it back...very important!
Step 3: Clean the cabinets. So this is not a very fun part. No real action. No changing colors. Just cleaning. This where you use your own soap and scrubbing sponge to clean any extra dirt, food, and grease off your cabinets before you start with the project. Don't spend too much time on this step, just get off hardened food or other greasy spots.
Step 4: Deglosser. This step is designed to remove the shine and previous finish on the cabinets so it is prepped and ready for the painting coat which comes next. Here's the steps to complete it: apply a generous amount of the deglosser solution to one of the scrubbing pads, now scrub the cabinets, being sure to follow the "grain" of the wood, meaning up and down in the middle, and side to side on the bottom sections. I also made sure to get in all the cracks and crevices. Next I used a wet cloth napkin/towel to help remove the residue of the deglosser, apparently you don't want any left on the cabinets or it will interfere with the bond coat. So I would get the cloth wet, wipe down the cabinets, then get it wet again and wipe them again in case I missed any of the solution. Then I dried off the cabinets with a dry cloth napkin.

Then it was time to flip it over and do the other side! I repeated this for all cabinets and also for all my cabinet frames and drawers which I set up on my kitchen table. ...and for my drawers too (which took a new home on my dining room table for a few days as you can tell). 
Step 5: Tape off the cabinets and walls.  With painter's tape.
Step 6: Apply the bond coat. For this step we broke out or 2" synthetic brushes and got to work painting the cabinets dark. This was my favorite step because you could literally see the cabinets start to change before your eyes!

We started with the cabinet frames inside...As noted by the instructions, you want to be sure and paint in nice even coats that follow the grain of the wood. So on the cabinet frames here, we made sure to do up and down strokes, but on the bottom portion of the cabinet frames we went side to side.  As noted by the instructions, you want to be sure and paint in nice even coats that follow the grain of the wood. So on the cabinet frames here, we made sure to do up and down strokes, but on the bottom portion of the cabinet frames we went side to side. 
Next up were the cabinets themselves outside in our garage. Now just as with the cabinet frames we painted inside, we made sure to go with the grain of the cabinets, and to be sure and get all the little grooves and indentations. Once one side dried, we applied a second coat, waited 2-3 hours, and then flipped the cabinets over and painted the other side. This was by far the most time consuming part (since the cabinets had two sides!). Once one side dried, we applied a second coat, waited 2-3 hours, and then flipped the cabinets over and painted the other side. This was by far the most time consuming part (since the cabinets had two sides!).
Step 7: Apply the Final Coat. There is an additional step called "Applying the Decorative Glaze" but I skipped this step because I thought the cabinets would look nice, dark, and textured without it. Plus, I did not want to add an additional step at this point. So then it was onto the "Final Coat" this is what will help protect it from chipping and give it a slight sheen. The key is to start in one area and finish that area before moving onto the next one. I made sure to go with the grain once again, and I had to be very cautious if the glaze pooled in any locations as it would dry and harden like that.
Next my Mom started on the final coat of the cabinets outside. She found it
worked best to use the  foam brushes. Here she is going with the grain of the wood. Once we completed the back side, we waited 12 hours and flipped them over to paint the front side. She found the grooves on the front of the cabinet were a bit tricky because you had to be careful to get enough coverage of the final coat, but not too much that would cause it to pool. 
Step 8: Remove the tape. Once everything was finally dry, I couldn't bear to wait any longer, I started to pull off the painter's tape to see how it had turned out...
Step 9: Install the hardware and cabinets. Then it was the moment we had been waiting for, it was time to install the hardware and cabinets to complete the project!
Here's the finished project! Ready to give your cabinets a try?!
Want to see how they turned out white? Check out this project: http://www.hometalk.com/30418280/how-to-paint-your-kitchen-cabinets-from-dark-to-white
Watch the whole transformation step-by-step here!
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Have a question about this project?

3 of 31 questions
  • Jannvan
    on Feb 12, 2020

    This is a great product and we had similar success with a much larger kitchen project a few years back. The only thing I found was that it was a little stingy on the glaze product included. Looks great!

  • Carmine
    on Feb 15, 2020

    I wonder is this kit only comes in dark color?

  • Chuck
    on Feb 20, 2020

    What if the cabinets are already painted white?

Join the conversation

3 of 128 comments
  • Lisa West
    on Feb 19, 2020

    Beautiful. I checked put the white cabinet transformation to and they are lovely as well. Great job.

  • Angela Bauguess
    on Feb 19, 2020

    I would like to doy wood cabinet a real color. Do they make a kit for that. Mine now are 50 years old they are dark wood. So glad no one ever painted over them just like my base boards and window seals

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