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cabinet transformation espresso color streaky after top coat applied

After many days of prep and painting I had some lovely dark espresso cabinets...but after applying the protective top coat they are all now streaky and uneven. I cannot understand why this has happened as I followed the directions exactly please help!

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Posted 2011-10-31T12:11:19+0000  by tpnix tpnix

I am in the same situation as everyone else. And I am going to use the sand paper as suggested, then reapply with a better top coat. But first I am writing a review on Home Depot to help notify potiental new customers about this defect. I feel your pain.

Posted 2014-01-24T03:28:33+0000  by mburandt

Oh how I wish I had read this before wasting hours of precious vacation time to destroy my kitchen.  I cannot possibly understand how this product gets such good ratings, unless of course employees of Rustoleum and/or Home depot are putting in false reviews.  I like everyone else was pretty pleased up to the point of applying the top coat.  Then all that time and hard work was wasted.  There should be a class action lawsuit for this product, and I find it completely ridiculous that even Home Depot suggests you go purchase another product for the top coat.  If Rustoleum knows the product has these issues, it should at the very least tell you to go buy a water based polyurethane, remove the top coat from the product and lower the price accordingly.


Before I attempt to fix this, has anybody that has already applied the topcoat actualy tried lightly sanding off the topcoat and applying minwax or some other water based polyurethane product with any success?  I really don't want to waste more time and money if I can avoid it!   

Posted 2014-01-08T20:48:26+0000  by Scootr
I'm almost having the same problem... is there some sort of refund that I can get? I also only used the deglosser and the base coat... thanks
Posted 2013-12-29T03:31:50+0000  by jcooks17

The "STREAKINESS" you refer to is most likely gumming that occurs when the latest coat somewhat dissolves the previous coat that is not completely dry. My daughter asked me to help her with this product as she wanted to do it herself. Everything was fine until the top coat. Having chose Espresso, we opted to not use glaze. Most people who are not professionals will attempt to put the first coast of bonding base on too thick. Then they wait the recommended amount of time and put the second coat on. As a professional, I have to say that the thickness of the coats has a LOT to do with proper drying time. In my case our conditions were near perfect: 70 degrees F. at 40% relative humidity. We followed the directions to the letter. My experience led me to give a fine "scuff" sanding between the first and second coats of base.

Now the problem. After allowing 10 hours for the second base coat to dry, when we started to apply the top coat I instantly knew something was wrong. It applies like thinned white glue and dries so quickly that even an experienced professional could not get acceptable results. It simply dries too quickly. One cannot even brush over itself twice causing one to tend to put it on thicker than needed (another mistake). Shame on Minwax and Rustoleum for putting such a horrible product inside the box.


Okay, enough manufacturer bashing. Here is the damage-control solution: 

1. Get some 220 grit sanding pads. These are the ones that look like a thin flexible foam pad with grit on one side.

2. Do you still have quite a bit of bonding base left over? If yes fine, you can skip step 3A.

3. Purchase some Minwax water-based Polycrylic Semi-gloss Protective Finish or other water-based acrylic of your choice.  You will need about the same amount that came in the Rustoleum kit.

3A. Have the acrylic finish tented to match the bonding bas that you took to the store to have matched. If the folks give you trouble, you are at the wrong store, try a paint store where professions shop. Completing this step means you can skip step 6.

4. Very lightly sand with very slight pressure the areas that you previously applied the Rustoleum top coat to. Be sure to get rid of most of the built-up top coat that appears to me foamy milk white residue. I use a very sharp chisel or razor knife with extreme caution and a steady hand. Do not worry about accidental going through the bas down to the original wood or finish, we will take care of this in the next step. It is important to understand that you are not sanding off the finishes, just de-glossing, or slightly roughing up to surface so the new finish will adhere better. If you are seeing a lot of original finish then you are sanding to much or too hard.

5. Touch up all "exposed" areas that you sanded through the base coat with more base coat. You do not need to recoated the entire project, just the areas that you could see after the light sanding. Allow at least 3 hours to dry in perfect conditions. Much more if the relative humidity is high (60%-80%) Forget it if the humidity where you are working is above 80%, wait for a drier day.

6. Take the leftover bonding base from the kit and mix it with the the new water-based acrylic finish at a ratio of 1 part base to 3 parts finish. Stir with a stick until you think your arm will drop off (about 4 minutes) to ensure proper blending. Tip: do not blend in the can, use a suitable container using a small measuring cup to make sure you are blending batches consistently. If you had your acrylic finish tinted in step 3A above, you should skip this step.

7. Get a good brush - not the cheap economy brush mentioned in the kit instructions. You don't have to spend $2o, you will be fine with a good quality $7 brush. I would recommend a angled trim brush. alk to you paint supplier he/she should be able to point you to the right brush for the job.

8. Afterr the bonding base touvh up has completely dried and you have taken care of any dust, cat hairs or other imperfections, you are ready to start appliing the new top coat. Do not put it on too thick. You WILL need more than one coat. Follow the grain of the wood if there is a grain and try to be very consistant, precise, and contolled. OCD works well here. Remeber, this is cabinet finishing, not painting the old fence out back. Neatness counts.

9. After 3 to 4 hours, very very very lightly scuff sand the finished parts to prepare them for the next coat. Do not sand through anything. Pretend you are sanding your own nose. All you are doing here is de-glossing the previous coat and sanding off the protruding pieces of dust stuck in the finish. I mention 3 "verys" for a reason.

10. Apply the second coat of tinted finish exerting even more brush dicipline. Dont stir up any dust cleaning up.


Following the above "not-so-easy" steps may help rescure a project, it rescued my daughters. If you have not applied the top coat supplied in the Rustoleum kit, DON'T!!! Just use a better water-based untinted clear finsih. The basic problem with the Rustoleum kit is very poor (unacceptable) quality of top coat acrylic finish. If I were to do this again using the Rustoleum product, I would spray, but not everyone is equiped to do that. So practice your brush technique and good luck. -Randy H

Posted 2013-12-14T20:16:02+0000  by demoman357
I also tried this kit with the expresso color and the sad thing about it is I purchased two kits. Rustoleum should stop selling that kit the top coat is horrible, all my work and I have to redo the cabinets. Did anyone try urethane, and how did it work?
Posted 2013-11-23T22:52:28+0000  by Mizark
I would do them over with polyurethane oil-based clear coat in satin finish. My top coat did,unfortunately, streak, so that is what I went over it with. Way nicer finish and far superior protection!
Posted 2013-11-04T02:52:48+0000  by VG123456




Additional coats of clear coat will not give additional protection against chipping. It will give a thicker coat which will take longer before normal wear from fingers, etc. wear through the surface. However, should you want to proceed, Minwax recommends a light scuff sanding with 220 grit sandpaper between coats.

Posted 2013-10-30T00:11:14+0000  by ordjen

I applied the top coat that came in the kit I purchased. However, I would like to do one more top coat on my cabinets. They didn't streak but the top coat does not seem to prevent anything. Do I have to sand on the current top coat or can the Polycrylic topcoat just be placed over the existing topcoat?

Posted 2013-10-29T17:39:12+0000  by Remodeling

 Minwax Polycrylic is carried at my local Home DepotIf customers run short of the RustOleum clear coat in the kit, Polycrylic is what is recommended. It is available as either spray or in brushing form. The name is a little disceptive. It sounds like acrylic, but is actually a urethane product.

Posted 2013-10-08T16:08:23+0000  by ordjen

Hopefully this will help someone before they apply the topcoat. I put the topcoat on one door back and realized there was a problem, luckily I had not done any fronts. To make it look as professional as possible go to "the other home improvement store" and buy Minwax Polycrylic in a spray can and buy one of those handles that clip onto the top... about $12 for both. Spray the topcoat on and it will look great. I used the Rustoleum topcoat for the backs and the Minwax spray for the fronts. One can did 3 coats on 11 cabinets and took about 2 hours. Professional results in much less time.

Posted 2013-10-07T20:41:59+0000  by HTD
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