Friday, August 28, 2009

Painted Cabinets vs. Thermafoil

Oh the joys of thermafoil cabinets......just kidding.  Now that you know how I feel about them lets get down to business.  I cringe when I hear about thermafoil cabinets because they just are not real.  If you get to know me and read my posts you will start to figure out that I am a girl who likes wood, real wood.  I love the smell of sawdust.  I love walking into the shop and hearing the saws cutting the wood.  I enjoy touching the smooth wood just after its been sanded, and I love being able to see the character of the wood with the grain and knots.  Just call me old fashioned but I will give you specific reasons why thermafoil just doesn't work. 

Firstly thermafoil is essentially partical board with a thin coated veneer heat wrapped around it.  This is a profound invention and intelligent I might add because who would think to make a "foil" that "looks" like wood and stick it on to particle board.  Interesting and yet confusing because thermafoil costs more than real wood products.  It does take time and energy to create this type of material for use and the extra time costs money. 

Secondly, if you scratch thermafoil it cannot be touched up.  For example, wood is real so when you get a knick you can sand it and refinish it.  With the foil wrapped door you can't touch it up.  The foil is like a 1/16" thick of veneer which can peel off when its scratched.  Because it is not wood you cannot sand it and you will end up having to replace the door. 

Thirdly, the colors of the veneers of these foils change over time with the trends.  Just like finishes on different woods are more popular at different times these foil colors go in and out.  I have an example of a client that came into our shop last summer.  She had a small fire in her kitchen and the flames burnt up the foil quickly on some of the doors leaving the bare particle board showing.  She brought in the doors frantic to replace them.  When we found the foil samples we could buy, her color was no longer made and no longer in stock.  She was stuck with a kitchen of foil wrapped doors some that were damaged and no way to repair them.  This gives you the homeowner only one option; REMODEL.  You will have to gut out that entire kitchen of cabinets and start new, unless you can live with bare wood particle board doors. 

Lastly there is the cooking element to the problem.  When you boil water on the stove it emits steam from the pot sometimes causing humidity and water drops to accumulate on the cabinet doors above the stove.  I could see how over time that the foil wrapped around the cabinet door could start to peel from the seam. 

I saw a whole kitchen refaced with this type of laminate glued onto the frames of old oak cabinets.  The seams that appear at the corners were coming up only 2 months after the installation of the whole job.  This startled me to the least and made me think about how the cabinet is fabricated.  I just like it when things are made well, and durable.  I also like knowing that if one of my boys puts a hole or dent or scratch into my cabinet, I can still fix it. 

Until next time, this is the Girlfriend on your Side  April Morse 


  1. Thermafoil cabinetst are so bed. Feeling so panic.

    Kitchen Cabinet Doors

  2. Well, if I ever install that type of countertop I'll have lots of professionals to advise me. i wouldn't want to take a risk with that type of money. Thousands of dollars is nothing to handle loosely and professional advice always helps.