Revamping a 1960s Beauty Without Sanding or Priming

This post is sponsored by Rustoleum.

When I received word that Rustoleum had come out with a furniture painting product that required no priming, no stripping, and no sanding of the previous finish, you better believe that I was over the moon.  I spend an extraordinary amount of my free time refinishing furniture, and I was very excited about cutting down on all the time it takes me to remove the finish off of a new/old piece plus priming if I was going to paint.  Last year, I tried the Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations kit that works in much the same way, and when I saw the bright, vivid colors they made available for their furniture kit, I was sold.  Who wouldn’t want to change the color of a piece all while avoiding the hot, messy work that comes with sanding?

My friends at Rustoleum offered to send me a Furniture Transformations kit, and I jumped at the chance.  I chose Midnight out of the available colors.  If you are into more traditional furniture colors, those are available as well.  But, you know how I had to go for bold and vivid.  The kit arrived at my doorstep pre-tinted from Rustoleum, but normally you’d get it tinted at the paint counter at Home Depot or Lowe’s where you buy the kit.

With the exception of some nitrile or latex gloves and a paint brush, the kit comes with everything you need.  There are essentially four steps: 1) Deglosser, 2) Color Coat, 3) Optional Decorative Glaze and 4) Polyurethene.  Only the Color Coat (or “Bond Coat”) has to be tinted in the store.  The kit covers 35 sq ft, which I found to be just enough for my project.

You may remember that I recently purchased a gorgeous early 1960s stereo cabinet from a consignment store.  I wanted to take her from an old, tired stain that had greened over time to a bright, vibrant piece for my kids’ playroom.

Because I didn’t have to sand, I was able to do the entire transformation indoors, which is a huge plus when you live in Central Texas.  I laid a few dropcloths down in my dining room and set to work.  I removed all of the hardware from the doors and drawers and removed the doors from the hinges.  I gave the hardware a good scrub with Krud Krutter – I wanted to remove any grease and dirt on them, but I still wanted them to maintain their pretty brass tarnish.  I labeled the doors so I would know which one went where when it was time to put it all back together.

The first step of the kit was to use the deglosser, so I squeezed a generous amount onto the provided scouring pad.  A lightly scrubbed all of the surfaces that I was going to paint, and I was surprised to see that both the shiny original finish and a little bit of the old stain came off.  I wiped it down with a wet cloth and let it dry, per the instructions.

Once that was dry, I used a good quality Purdy brush and applied the Color/Bond Coat.  The instructions call for two coats, and this is what it looked like after the first one.  I’m showing you this so you don’t freak out.

There are definitely visible brush marks and the coverage was uneven.  Most of that disappeared once I applied the second coat.

A note about the Rustoleum Transformation products:  The glaze you can apply on the piece is optional.  However, the Color/Bond Coat is formulated in such a way that there WILL BE SMALL BRUSH STROKES.  That is because the brush strokes give the glaze something to get into.  You can roll or spray your piece ONLY IF you will not be glazing it.

Given my obsession with glaze, you will be surprised to learn that I decided to only glaze the decorative details on the cabinet doors.  I followed the instructions provided, but I fell back into my own tried and true methods – apply with a brush, wipe off with a dry cloth, wipe off with a wet cloth, wipe off with a dry cloth.  It just works better (for me).  I’m not going to lie – it was a HUGE pain to glaze these doors, but it had nothing to do with the product.  There were just so many crevices, but in the end, I’m glad that I did it.  I think it gives the bamboo detailing a lot of dimension.

After the glaze was dry, I was able to move on to the polyurethane (or the “Protective Top Coat”).  Unlike most other polys, it is formulated in such a way that it is thick and dries hard enough that you only need to use one coat.  I was excited by the prospect.  But, I was disappointed in the way the poly dried.  Even when I applied more that I thought I should, it dried so quickly that I couldn’t maintain a wet edge and the product became gummy.  Once that happens, it dries streaky like this.  Yuck.

So, I quickly sanded it down with a 220-grit sandpaper and reapplied the poly.  I had the same problem again, even when having more poly on my brush.  I talked to my friends at Rustoleum and asked if I could instead use two coats of my favorite poly (Rustoleum Ultimate Polyurethene in a satin finish).  They said that would be fine.

I’m really not sure what happened with the poly included in the kit.  I was indoors in the air conditioning, so temperature and humidity shouldn’t have been a factor.  I know that I was applying it with the correct amount of product with a good quality brush.  I even tried to roll it, and the poly bubbled very badly.   The last I heard, Rustoleum was looking into whether I received a bad batch of the poly.  I’ve never had any problem with their products before, so it won’t keep me from trying again.

Once the top coat was dry, I was very happy with the kit (other than the poly which I’ll probably end up redoing in the future).  I think the transformation is beautiful, and the fact that I could do it all indoors and in just a few days was a huge win for me.


Even with the problems I had with the polyurethene, would I still recommend it to you?  Absolutely.  If the color you are wanting to use is available in the Furniture Transformations product, then I would say to go for it.  The kit is $35, which is a steal when you consider the cost of sandpaper, primer and paint.  Plus, your time is worth something, too, y’all.  I would not use the included top coat and instead use two coats of the Ultimate Polyurethene.  That runs you about $10 a can.  So, for under $50 and about 3 days, you can have a gorgeous piece of furniture.

I will update you in the coming months on how well it is holding up.  Tom has already dropped a heavy, iron candle holder on top of it, and there’s not a ding to speak of.  He’s lucky.  Ahem.

In the meantime, here’s a little sneak peek of the mood I’m going for in the kids’ playroom.  It’s going to be bright and colorful and have a vintage carnival feel.  This is just a little mock up of the wall where the cabinet is going to go.  I obviously hasn’t accessorized it yet, as accessories in a playroom should be pretty sparse.  The snazzy beaded chandy will go in here, too.

Have you tried the Rustoleum Furniture Transformation (or Cabinet Transformation) product?  Interested to try it?  Questions?  Let me know.  I am looking forward to trying it again myself!

Rustoleum sent me the Furniture Transformations Kit for the purposes of reviewing it on my blog.  All opinions expressed here are my own.

Filed Under: Giveaways & Product Reviews, Project Gallery, Transform Your Furniture

About Lindsay Ballard

Lindsay Ballard is a former college mascot turned political geek turned DIY fanatic who is conspiring to live in a Technicolor dream world. Her designs are bold and graphic, while her spirit is fun and full of color. Lindsay chronicles her projects and design ideas here at Makely, where she shares daily tutorials and inspiration. Lindsay lives outside of Austin, Texas with her husband (Tom), children (Zack and Emma) and dogs (Jack and Duke).


  1. Lindsay, your cabinet looks lovely…I love the color! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Jessica says:

    The cabinet looks so good!!

    I’m beyond thrilled to hear of this product! I recently got an old Rice bed from my parents and the dark stain is not my cup of tea, but the huge four poster bed is! I knew there was no way I wanted to go through stripping and sanding with all the carvings on it. So, I figured I’d just have to work with it as it was. Considering time and the supplies to strip, sand, prime, paint and poly, I think the $35 kit is actually a great deal.

  3. Love the color, and the piece is gorgeous! But I have to ask would you use it again, provided that there are just as many steps to it as using say something like a Zinzer primer + a gloss paint? (given the problem you had with the poly)

    • Yes, I would use it again if the color was right for my project. Rustoleum makes the Zinsser primer, so I bet it’s something similar to that that’s in the kit. I always use a poly on furniture, so I’d still have to do that if I used gloss paint. The kit saves me a step, since I’d have to do primer + 2 coats paint + poly instead of just 2 coats “bond” paint + poly.

  4. I used the Cabinet Transformations on my kitchen last summer, and I loved it! A year later, the cabinets still look brand new and fabulous. I found the poly really easy to apply and extremely durable (I’ve scrubbed and wiped up all kinds of spills and banged things into the cabinets with no harm to the poly), so maybe you did just get a lemon in your kit. I applied the poly outdoors on a hot July weekend (in the shade though) and had no problems.

    • Oh, good to know! I think I’ll try the poly again. It really surprised me that it didn’t work for me, because Rustoleum products are some of the best out there.

  5. Have you heard of Annie Sloan’s paint? A friend of mine took a class on it last week and has already transformed several pieces. What I like about it is how simple it is. This is a lot of different steps and a lot of different containers of stuff. This is chalk paint, so no stripping or sanding is necessary, and it’s pretty simple to use.

    It is a bit more expensive, but you don’t need much of it. Anyway, thought I’d bring it to your attention if you hadn’t heard of it. I’m eager to try it out myself because I hadn’t really heard of anyone in the blogosphere using it. We’ve been hunting the streets of our historic neighborhood since then to find cool things we could transform.

    • Kimberly says:

      I am really surprised that you have just recently heard of Annie Sloan. I have been seeing it a lot in the last year. If you are interested centsational girl has several pieces that look great and rhoda at southern hospitality did a good review on it. Google the words “chalk paint blog” if you would like to see more ideas. You will be pleasantly surprised. :)

  6. Amazing. Must give that a go. I used their Countertop product a few months back, you can see the “transformation” on my blog :) I am going to review it in a bit….

  7. It looks great, Lindsay! I just love the color you chose!

  8. The AFTER pictures are just stunning. Keep up the good work!

  9. So pretty! I’ve been holding onto this $10 bench I got off of CL and now I cannot wait to get my paint on! This color might be the perfect fix for my blue/green monochromatic office! Thanks!!!

  10. I’m so glad to see this in action. The guy at Home Depot suggested it to me, but they didn’t have the color I wanted for the dresser I’m painting. However, I desperately need to paint a table and chairs we have at our shop, but have been putting it off because I have to strip the stain and sand………this might be worth looking into. Thanks for posting!

  11. would you use satin or semi on a table top? different on legs and side?

    • I use Satin on everything, but it’s really just a matter of personal preference. Either should work just fine.

      • for a table? also will it look okay with wood chairs??
        am new at the idea of painted furniture

        • Like a kitchen table? Hmmm…maybe I’d go with semi-gloss on that. It doesn’t so much matter about the hardness – just the look you want. I never want my furniture to look shiny, but that’s my own personal aesthetic. Definitely do an oil based poly, though. It will look great with painted chairs!

  12. I was all ready to go buy a kit (we have plenty of poly from some other projects around). Alas…no yellows. Guess it is back to the spray paint (smile). Love how you took the poly debacle in stride. I’d be so miffed that we got through all those days of drying and color just right only to have the top coat go haywire.


    • It’s a new zen-like thing I’m trying. It’s my personality to get mad and freak out, but I’m trying my best to not get mad at things that are beyond my control. It works…sometimes. :)

  13. thank you. it is to go with Ligne Roset chairs, white back wood seat.
    have moved from traditional 4 bedroom home in suburbs to townhouse with open first floor townhouse.
    do not want it to look like my grandmothers home, even though am at that age.
    Love your blog and would like to see more on updating, especially for those of us who are baby boomers and do not need more, just updating and getting rid of clutter, while still keeping memories.
    ie the table is small without leaves and round, so perfect for space but looks dated.
    as so some other pieces. want to keep but change.
    wake up call occurred when my two grown sons, on different occasions, commented I had too much stuff
    love to see more ideas about this problem as I am not alone, but top of baby boomer generation.
    thank you again.
    if you like can send before and after photos.
    love to see how others handle this problem

  14. Mara Greenwald says:

    Dear Lindsay,

    My name is Mara Greenwald and I am reaching out to you on behalf of Procter & Gamble. I really enjoyed reading this post. We would love to have you join our blogger outreach program.

    If you are interested, please reach out to me at I look forward to working with you!

    Mara Greenwald on behalf of P&G

  15. Thank you for your recommendation — I tried the Rustoleum Cabinet Transformation kit on a inexpensive melamine Target desk – LOVED the lines, but needed a black desk, not white. Tried this and it was great — now I’m looking for more things to paint black since I have about half of it left! Kitchen cabinets are next!!!

  16. Trina Shultz says:

    I just bought two pieces of furniture that I need to redo but I want to paint them white. Do they not offer white as a choice?

  17. Michelle says:

    I love this! I was searching for some pointers about painting laminate furniture, which led me to you. I have heard about the Rustoleum Transformation kit, but had never seen the result. Looks fabulous, can’t wait to try it. Only problem is…now I’m thinking of EVERYTHING I could do with it :) Thanks!

  18. Hi Lindsay,

    I love your transformation and your step by step review gave me the courage to try it on my son’s dresser, which doesn’t fit in his room at our new house. I painted it “Federal Gray” and am really pleased with the results. I am toying with buying a smaller dresser/chest of drawers that WILL fit in his room and giving it the same paint treatment (though a different color). Now that it’s been a few months, how’s the finish holding up? Is it prone to chips? How hard are your kids on it? My son is 7 and things don’t survive him intact for long, lol!

    Thanks for all of the awesome inspiration!!

  19. Rustoleum should be happy to know that not only did I try this product because of your blog post, I *fell in love with it*! I blogged about it myself here – that glaze is the BOMB!

  20. Hi… Thanks for the pictures and your explanations. I just re-did a bedroom dresser. It looked really great till that last step! Now, it has like bubbles. I tried to wipe it off to no avail. I was afraid to sand it as i would sand off the color…black. Do u have any suggestions? Im not a full time DIY, but i loved doing this and was psyched how easy it was and how great it looked. It was the top coat. I’ve gotta do something tomorrow as it is just sitting in the garage and hubby wants to park there again. 😉
    Any suggestions?

    • Hi Cindee!

      Yeah, that top coat does present some issues. Did you apply it with a roller? Just trying to figure out what caused the bubbles.

      You will need to sand, but you don’t have to sand so much that it takes it down to the color layer. I’d use a really fine sandpaper, like a 400-grit, and very slowly remove the bubbled top coat. After that, you can recoat it with a different poly if you’d like – I love Rustoleum’s Ultimate Poly.

      Good luck!

  21. Mary Busby says:

    Any suggestions as to where I can buy this product….other than HD, not a BIG fan of them?

    • Hi Mary,

      I know that Lowe’s also carries this product. I read your comment on another post, and I think you should try the Cabinet Transformations kit. You’ll want to glue down any parts of your laminate that’s peeling up, but I think you would be happy with the final results!

  22. I have a question on glazing in general(not using the rustoleum kit). I have spraypainted my piece and it looks great. I would like to do a glaze but the piece is smooth-no nooks and crannies for the glaze to settle in– but I would like to add glaze anyhow. Any reco on the best way to approach?

  23. Christine says:

    Thank you so much for this and your previous post about refinishing laminate furniture. I have a bada$$ but super cheaply made laminate piece from the 30s that my inlaws gave me and I want to redo it. Does this Rustoleum product also work on laminate?
    – Chris

  24. Hello, My husband and I used the cabinet transformation kit and we love it!! I’m wondering though, what retailer sells the furniture kit? I have looked everywhere and cant seem to find it. I have a table that needs to be refinished. I love the fact that you dont have to sand anything down. That saves you so much time! Thanks

  25. I am wanting to re-do my daughters dressers. They are white laminate, and we are wanting to make them a fun color to match their new room decor, my only concern is if it doesn’t turn out as we hope what can be done to change it? Do we just have to paint over it again, or will we just have to deal with it or buy new ones? I’ve painted over laminate in the past, and sometimes it turns out well, other times I ended up throwing the pieces away. I don’t want to mess the dressers up. Is the Rustoleum product the most fool proof method?

    • Yes, fool proof. This is very different than just painting laminate. Take your time, read the directions, and you will be confident in your results.

  26. Erika Layne says:

    I’m thinking of using the furniture transformations on my sons dressers. What to do about deep scratches and nicks in the wood. My sons have been very hard on their furniture.

    • If you don’t want to see the nicks in the wood, you’ll want to fill them with wood filler before painting. If you are planning on glazing it, though, the glaze will look awesome down in the nicks. If it were my piece, I’d glaze the heck out of those nicks, but you may have a different design plan for your room.

  27. Thanks so much Lindsay for your before and after! I love the fancy blue! And I think you may have finally inspired me enough to go for it! For the last 6 months I have been going back and forth ~ “to paint or not to paint” my 1990 oak bedroom set ~ I really want to remove the old brass hardware, fill in the carved oak leaves with wood filler, and paint the bedroom set a gorgeous espresso color with the Rustoleum Transformations kit and update the old hardware. I have actually been to Home Depot about 4 different times and have had the kit in my cart and then I chicken out!!! What do you think Lindsay…should I go for it?? I am just so scared that I won’t like it when I get it finished and then my once expensive oak furniture will be ruined. Please Help!!

    • Hi Brandi!

      Here’s how I always look at it. Do you like your furniture now? Probably not or you wouldn’t be considering redoing it. Was it expensive when you bought it? Sure! But what do you think you could get for it on CraigsList now (I’m assuming you’ve had it a while)? Enough to buy furniture you love? If the answer is no, then it’s time to break out the paint brush. :)

      I’m big into transformations since there’s no use living with something you don’t love if you can change it.

      I hope that helps!

  28. Hi,

    I’m thinking about using this product on an IKEA bookstand and end table that has laminate. From what I gathered, it should work fine. Have you used this on an IKEA products?

  29. Blue is a trend! Nice!

  30. this is zoo lovely. Can you share what color you used to have it tinted?? I love it!!

  31. Emily Gould says:

    Hi there!

    I know this is an old post, but I just discovered it. I have an old set of side tables that were recently gifted to me that are glorious in their terrible 80s style with brass handles and gold etched glass and all. I think the tables are functional and would like to use this product to refinish them, but what to do with the tacky glass? I had an idea to decoupage textured wallpaper on the glass and paint it all the same color… Do you think this product could be used on textured wallpaper?

  32. I had same problem with the rustoleum top coat. I too had thought about sanding and redoing it and now will. With a Polycrilic or urethane


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