HOW I TRANSFORMED MY KITCHEN CABINETS FROM DARK TO WHITE!

Two years ago, I posted a video about how I transformed my kitchen cabinets from a dated-oaky colour to a dark espresso finished, all for under $100 (click here to see that). I was delighted with the results and how I could 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 with 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.

HOW I TRANSFORMED MY KITCHEN CABINETS FROM DARK TO WHITE!

With that in mind, I remembered back to when I painted my cabinets before, and I figured, I’ve done it before, I can do it again. So I contacted Rustoleum, and they sent me a light kit to try in my kitchen. Then I watched and re-watched my video from the first time I painted my cabinets to remind me of what to do, and then I set off to do it.

Here’s a sneak peek at the transformation…

First it was oak
First, it was oak…

Then it was dark
Then it was dark…

And now it's white
And now it’s white!

In case you aren’t familiar with the Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations Kit, it’s a 4 part kit that allows you “transform” your current kitchen cabinets into the style/finish of your choosing. For me, that means going from my dark espresso finish to white. 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

Now, although this product doesn’t claim to be green, here are┬ásome ways I think it is…
1. Decreases potential waste going to the landfill because you get to keep the current cabinets you already have.
2. Helps save energy and materials that would have been required to manufacture, transport, and install a whole new set of cabinets
2. It Helps save you some green ($150 compared to $10,000+) that you could spend updating your appliances to Energy Star Certified appliances.

Don’t get me wrong, I wish they were a few fewer chemicals in the products, but to make the drastic changes I did to my cabinets and not have to replace them makes it worth it to me. Hardcore greenies, this may not be for you.

You can purchase this kit online or at your local hardware store, but just make sure you get it tinted before you leave. Some kits you buy online are already tinted, so you should be set. In case you’re curious about the price, it costs about $79 for the Small Kit. They have a Large Kit for $149 as well. To paint my cabinets white, I decided on the Linen colour, but there’s a variety of colours included in the “Light Kit”. And on the flip side, if you would like your cabinets to be darker, there’s a variety of dark colours that you can find in their “Dark Kits”, too.

Supplies needed for the project:

Supplies needed for the project
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, 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 knife
to remove cabinet bumpers.

supplies
Like I said above, the supplies I actually used the most were those 2.”
synthetic brushes and the 2 smaller paintbrushes…that’s it!

light kit
How many kits to buy? For me, it took 2 small kits to paint my kitchen from
dark to white. But back when I painted my cabinets from oak to dark, it only
took one small kit. So see what works for your cabinets. Again for this project
I got the “Light Kit” in the color: Linen.

Rustoleum kit
Here’s what you’ll find in the Rustoleum kit: From left to right: a DVD,
the Deglosser (Wood Cleaner), 2 cans of Bond Coat (gives it the colour),
1 can of Protective Top Coat, 2 cans of Decorative Glaze, Decorative glaze cloths,
paint stir sticks, instruction booklet, and 2 scrub pads.

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. Whereas beginners may take a little longer to complete it, those that are advanced in their painting/hardware skills may get it done faster. Here’s the schedule that I used for my cabinet transformation process this time around:

schedule

Follow along as I share how I did this project. Here’s the video format:

Day 1

Step 1: Make a map of your kitchen and label your cabinets. Here’s the map 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.

schedule

map 2

After that, I used blue painter’s tape to label the cabinet doors with the letter and number corresponding to their location on the map.

putting on tape

tape 2

tape cabinets

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.

drill time

3. Then, set up your workspace. For me, my workspace was in my garage. 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.

ready to start

garage set up

get drawers ready

This is also a good time to remove your drawers and take off the hardware for those
too. I like to set up shop for my drawers on my kitchen table.

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.

taping

taped and doors off

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.

cabinets step 1

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 washcloth 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.

cabinet walls

Next, move on to the cabinet frames and kitchen island if you have one.

drawer
Don’t forget to do this step to the drawers as well!

*The cabinets need to dry for 1 hour before applying the next step: the Bond Coat (the colour).*

6. Next, apply the first coat of the Bont Coat Paint (aka Step 2 of Rustoleum 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.

painting first 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!

painting little helper
My girls were eager to get started with the painting too!

painting first coat side one
The cabinet doors after the first coat of the Bond Coat.

painting first coat wall
Next, move inside and start the first Bond Coat on the cabinet frames and
your kitchen island.

painting first coat kitchen
How the kitchen looked after the first coat was completed.

drawer first coat
And once again…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 topcoat.

1. Start by doing Bond Coat #2 on all surfaces.

Coat #2 of the Bond Coat.
Coat #2 of the Bond Coat.

painting second coat

painting second coat done

What the cabinet doors looked like after 2 coats.

painting second coat inside
Then it’s time to come inside and paint the cabinet frames and cabinet walls.

painting second coat wall

drawer coat

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 topcoat will give a bit of shine and protection to the cabinets.

final coat cabinet

final coat inside

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.

final coat counter

final coat done kitchen

What it looks like after applying the Protective Top Coat.

final coat drawers
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.

day 3

day 3 image

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.

day 3 image 3

day 3 image 4

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.

then

Then

Day 4

1. Now install the handles and hardware back onto the doors and then, using a drill, put them back where they belong in the kitchen.

day 4

day 4 image

This is where that map is helpful, so you know where to put everything!

day 4 image 3
This was my favourite step because once they were back on, it meant I was done!

day 4 image 4
Here’s the finished look!

But that’s not the end of my kitchen makeover this summer. I also had bamboo floors installed by Lumber Liquidators. We finally upgraded our oven and cooktop, traded out the old textured white laminate for a new marble-look laminate countertop, installed new a backsplash with Smart Tiles, converted recessed lighting for pendant lights, and painted the barstools using Chalkworthy Antiquing paint to better match the lighter look. As you can imagine, I have videos to come on each of these projects in the upcoming weeks, so stay tuned for those! But in the meantime, here’s the finished look…

image 1

image 2

image 3

image 4

image 5

One thing I did differently this time was to paint not only outside the cabinets but also inside too. I thought it would give the kitchen a more finished look instead of white cabinets and with oaky brown insides. Here’s what they looked like inside before…

image 6

The only problem was that it was very time and paint consuming! It was taking 3 coats again to cover the inside of the brown cabinets. So if you don’t feel like using that paint, you can try to match the paint and just use a satin or semi-gloss latex paint from your local paint store.

cabinets coats
Just as it did with the outside of the cabinet doors, it took several coats to
cover the inside of my cabinets.

shelf painter
Avery helped me repaint my shelves too.

shelf painting 2
From oak to white shelves.

inside cabinet after
I also put down new white contact paper on the shelves to protect them a bit more.

final cabinet
I love how it makes the whole cabinet look much more finished than one colour
on the outside and a different colour on the inside.

So there you have it, how I transformed my kitchen from oak to dark and finally to white!

final 1

final 2

Have you ever tried painting your kitchen cabinets before? What paints or kit did you use? Share your results or any questions below. Happy Painting!

Ashley-Signature

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