Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

November 1, 2013

How to Refinish Bathroom Cabinets Easily: Review of Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformations

Although refinishing the bathroom tile proved tricky, modernizing the oak cabinetry was a cinch.  Again I turned to the folks at Rustoleum, eager to try their Cabinet Transformations System.  The colour choices were a smidge limiting (I chose Castle, unglazed) but I was eager for an all-in-one, guaranteed-to-last product.

Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformations Review

The kit was straightforward and easy to use (with no sanding or priming!).  After removing the doors fronts I cleaned the cabinet doors and bases thoroughly with the included Deglosser.  This took a few hours because the Deglosser also needs to be wiped clean with a damp cloth and I tried to make sure I did a thorough job.

After the cabinets dried (1 hour), I applied three coats of the included paint (called a "Bond Coat") with a 2" angled brush.  I applied the coats really thinly, starting with the backs of the cabinet doors, making sure I wasn't dripping on to the other side.  Each coat took 2-3 hours to dry so this project took a few days to complete, even though actually applying the Bond Coat was straight forward.

Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformations Review
How to paint wood cabinet doors

For the cabinet frames, I found that using a small artist's brush (really love that thing for home DIYs) helped me skip the taping step and just get straight to painting.  I just wiped any mistakes off with a damp cloth right away, but after practicing on these cabinets I now have quite the steady hand!

The trick to painting cabinet frames
Bathroom makeover in progress

The instructions say two coats should do it but after two there were a couple of spots that needed a touch up.  I had plenty of paint left so I just went ahead with a third coat.  Because my doors are so ornate, it took some extra patience wiggling the paint in there but it was worth the time.  I think a door with a smoother profile might not need the third coat.

Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformations One Coat

After that, I skipped the optional Decorative Glaze (which is created to give the cabinets an antiqued look) and applied the included Protective Top Coat, formulated to work with the Bond Coat to provide maximum scratch and stain resistance.  After it dried, while the doors were still on the floor waiting to be installed, my Mom noticed a few spots less shiny than others so, again, with tons pf product to spare, I applied a second coat but then there were new areas that were less shiny.  We re-installed the doors anyway and once they were in place I couldn't see any difference in sheen.  Sweet relief.

Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformations in Castle, Unglazed
Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformations in Castle, Unglazed
Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformations in Grey

Definitely an improvement! 

Coverage on Solid Wood vs. Melamine

This system covered wood beautifully, but was a touch less cooperative with the melamine cabinet frames.  For lack of a better word, it was "slippery" on melamine, sometimes refusing to adhere neatly so the first coat was really sheer and had poor coverage.  Happily, it adhered to itself well and by the third coat it looked perfect.  To double check, I painted the cabinet doors that are behind our firewood cubby (you can load the wood from the storage room behind the fireplace to avoid tracking gunk through the house).  They are melamine and the white really popped after the fireplace was painted dark grey.  I applied some leftover Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations Bond Coat and although, again, the first coat was more sheer than when I applied it to wood, it adhered perfectly.  And the doors only needed two coats, because they are so smooth and plain.  Photos soon!

Can Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformations Cover Melamine?

I partnered with Rustoleum to update the bathroom cabinets but was not prompted or asked to provide a positive review of the Rustoleum Cabinet Transformation System.  If you try this system, there's even a video DVD included (see a video tutorial online here) and extensive instructions with a helpful FAQ section.  I would 100% purchase this product myself because of the ease of application and the uniqueness of this paint product  - this is more like a mix between a stain and a paint, and it really seems to sink in to the grain to create a super smooth, professional-looking finish.  


  1. I'm so impressed by what a difference you're making in that bathroom for so little money. Nicely done!

    On a completely different topic--have you defended yet? If you have, a big ol' congratulations! And if not, break a leg. :)

    1. I'm trying :) Mostly because I HAVE no money, lol.
      I defend at the end of this month. I received my reviews. Although two were positive, the other two made my consumption of baking chocolate and wearing of pajamas all day increase dramatically. But now I've gotten down to business preparing and hope it goes well! Thanks for asking, that's really nice of you to remember it was upcoming.

  2. Do you think you're going to use Rust-oleum's countertop refinishing product? I thought I was going to replace my bathroom vanity but I decided to work on the kitchen instead. I'd like a temporary fix and painting the cabinets AND countertop might be an option. Thoughts?
    p.s. Good luck with the defense prep! And don't forget to fully enjoy the day. It's a big moment! It went by too fast for me.

    1. I am not going to be using the countertop refinishing (although it sounds awesome). A neighbour used it, and the results were nice - it didn't feel "painted," the same way the tile doesn't. It cured to a very hard, smoothly textured surface. The only reason I didn't use it is because with the grey cabinets, I grew to like the mint. The dark grey/black colour they have is pretty, but it would have made the beige sink pop a little.

      I think you'll be happy with painting the cabinets and countertop. Just follow the instructions carefully!! The Rustoleum stuff is very sensitive. Good luck! And thanks for the reminder :)

  3. Wow! What the amazing bathroom cabinets! These are looking so much brighter.

  4. i know this is an extremely old post but im curious as to whether the rustoleum paint held up on the melamine. I have used it on wood but never on melamine and my sister in law is thinking of using it for her cabinets. Any feedback is appreciated!

    1. The only melamine I used it on is the cabinet frames and the doors to my fireplace (at the back). It held up really well on both of those areas, but that's not as much wear and tear as on a whole set of kitchen cabinets. I did find this grips wood really well - better than paint and primer - so I'm confident it would work for melamine just as well because it's intended for both, but I cannot say with certainty.


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