How to Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets From Dark to White

Ashley's Green Life
by Ashley's Green Life
10 Materials
4 Days
Two years ago I transformed my kitchen cabinets from a dated-oaky color to a dark espresso finished all for under $100 (click here to see that). I was extremely happy with the results and how I was able to make such a dramatic change to my kitchen for such a low price (compared to buying all new cabinets). But this summer we decided to finally replace our tile and carpet on the main floor for dark bamboo hardwood floors. With this in mind I knew I needed to do something the change the look of my cabinets since dark floors and dark cabinets would have been too much darkness for my smaller kitchen. So I tried the Rustoleum Cabinet Transformation Light Kit in the color Linen. Let's see how it went...
Supplies needed: From left to right: 2 drop cloths for all the cabinets to go on. 1 pair of rubber gloves (to wear during the first step), a drill to remove all the hardware and cabinets, Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations Kit (I ended up needing 2 small kits), various sized roller brushes and a paint tray (I later decided not to use these, but you could use a roller brush if you like) 2-2" synthetic angled brushes, 2 smaller paintbrushes, 2-2" foam brushes (I also did not use these), cups to prop up under your cabinets, 1 roll of painter's tape, and a putty knifeto remove cabinet bumpers.
Now that you know what supplies you need, the question you may be asking is "How long is this project going to take?" My guess is about 3-4 days. That's about how long it took me this time around and I'd say it was probably fairly close to that time when I painted my cabinets the first time. And just in case you're wondering, the 3-4 days it took me were days I didn't have to go to work. I'm a teacher and I was off for summer break. So it may take longer if you are trying to do this project while still working your 9-5! The project time may also vary based on your ability level. Where as beginners may take a little longer to complete it, those that are advanced in their painting/hardware skills may get done faster. Here's the schedule that I used for my cabinet transformation process this time around:
Day 1
Step 1: Make a map of your kitchen and label your cabinets. See the map int he video that I made of my kitchen and  cabinets. I then assigned a number and letter to each cabinet and drawer, which helps you keep track of them all and make sure they get put back in the right place. After that I used blue painter's tape to label the cabinet doors with the letter and number that corresponded to their location on the map.  2. Start removing cabinet hardware and remove the cabinets and drawers from the kitchen. I used a power drill for this to speed up the process. Also, when I took off the hinges and handles I had a cup set aside just for that specific door, which stayed with that door so I didn't lose any of them.
3. Then set up your workspace. For me my workspace was in my garage (as you'll see in a later step). I laid out the canvas drop cloths and then I laid out the cabinets making sure to put the piece of blue tape with their number and letter next to them and then propping up the cabinet doors with cups. 4. Tape off the cabinet areas inside, such as above the cabinets and on the floor so that no paint gets on the wall, ceiling or floor.
5. Start the Deglosser (aka Step 1 of the Cabinet Transformations Kit). It's a soapy solution that helps remove the protective finish on the cabinets and prepare the cabinet doors to be painted in the step that follows.  For this step you'll want to wear your gloves and be sure to scrub the doors in the same direction as the grain of the wood.  After scrubbing in the Deglosser, you'll use a wet cloth to remove and rinse the Deglosser from the cabinet doors. I then take off my gloves and use another wash cloth that is somewhat dry to get the cabinet door nice and clean. You don't want any bubbles or residue remaining otherwise the paint won't stick. *The cabinets need to dry for 1 hour before applying the next step: the Bond Coat (the color).*
6. Next apply the first coat of the Bont Coat Paint (aka Step 2 of Rustloeum Cabinet Transformations Kit). Start by painting the backs of the cabinets. Since it probably took you an hour to complete the entire deglosser step on the cabinet doors, frames and drawers...start right back with the cabinet doors or whatever you did first and start to apply the bond coat.  I put my paint in a small cup and used the 2" synthetic brush to paint the cabinet doors making sure to get all sides and watch for drips! Next, move inside and start the first Bond Coat on the cabinet frames and your kitchen island. And don't forget those drawers!
Day 2:
That was a busy first day of prepping the cabinets and getting that first coat on them, and for Day 2, we will do several more coats and finish up with a protective top coat.  1. Start by doing Bond Coat #2 on all surfaces.  
Then it's time to come inside and paint the cabinet frames and cabinet walls. And then it's time for those drawers again! 2. Depending upon how your cabinets look, add another coat or move on to the next step. For me, since I was painting my cabinets from dark brown to white, I found that two coats just wasn't enough, I needed three. So I continued the steps listed above once again making sure to wait 2-3 hours for the surfaces to dry before painting the 3rd and final coat.
3. Apply The Protective Top Coat (I skipped the Decorative Glaze). This top coat will give a bit of shine and protection to the cabinets. You could choose to do 2 coats of the Gloss Coat, or just one. I did one coat when I first painted my cabinets dark, and it chipped over the years, so I did two coats this time.  And last up, paint on the Protective Top Coat to the drawers as well. 
Day 3
1. Now you can pull up the tape inside the kitchen since it's completely done and start reinstalling the hardware on the drawers and putting them back in their place.  2. Next it's time to flip over the cabinet doors and start on the front side. I did 3 coats of the base coat, followed by 2 coats of the final gloss coat. Time to paint...paint...and paint some more. Being sure to wait 2-3 hours between coats.
3. Time for the Protective Top Coat on the fronts of the doors. 
Day 41. Now install the handles and hardware back onto the doors and then using a drill, put them back where they belong in the kitchen.  This is where that map is helpful so you know where to put everything! This was my favorite step because once they were back on it meant I was done!
The finished look! Other changes were made to my kitchen, so check out the video to see links to those other projects (such as: countertops, floors, appliances, and barstools).
Watch the video to see other tips and tricks I used while painting my cabinets!
Suggested materials:
  • 2- Small Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations Light Kits (mine was the color Linen)   (
  • 2-3 drop cloths for all the cabinets to go on   (
  • 1 pair of rubber gloves (to wear during the first step)   (
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Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
3 of 17 questions
  • Bailygirl Bailygirl on Jun 20, 2018

    I love the floor....... can you give me some details on it?

  • Michelle Corigliano Michelle Corigliano on Jun 25, 2019

    How have they held up overtime?

  • Joan Joan on Feb 10, 2023

    Has anyone out there ever painted Formica cabinets successfully? Thanks in advance for any help out there.


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2 of 94 comments
  • Jen Jen on Feb 23, 2021

    For who? Currently doing mine white..I think classics never go away

  • Patricia Patricia on Feb 23, 2022

    I am in a fifth wheel camper with all dark stained cabinet and woodwork. Was thinking on changing colors. If this works on stained wood then I will diffently try it. Thanks for the idea