Peeling thermofoil cabinet doors! Yes! It can be done!

GabbyMommyFebruary 7, 2011

We are in the midst of a small kitchen update. I have uploaded pics of the new Napoli granite countertop and was trying to save up about $900 for simple wood cabinet doors. While fooling around with the UGLY HORRIBLE RENTAL GRADE thermofoil cabinet doors (they were lifting and peeling) I decided what the heck ~ I am gonna try to peel this sucker! What would the loss be? I knew that sometime in the next few months I would finally have the money for new doors so I would JUST have to stare at it until then. Well let me just say this: THEY PEELED JUST FINE - that's right - the thermofoil peeled off and there is MDF board that can be primed and painted! The thermofoil was horrible - it absorbed oil and kids' fingerprints and was lifting and peeling at just eight years old. We bought this house a rental house but then decided to simply stay put and are now slowly renovating since the house has good bones. There are a few pictures of the cabinets before and after we peeled the thermofoil .... will be priming and painting in the next week or so and will upload pics then.

Here is a link that might be useful: Thermofoil Cabinets - peeling, priming and painting!

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Thermofoil -- Is that a plasticky covering? If so, that's probably what my bath vanity is. I have one door where the top edge is loose and I was wondering about just trying to glue it down. If others start popping up, though, it's good to know they can be stripped and painted. Great work!

    Bookmark   February 7, 2011 at 12:08PM
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Gabby, just to give me an idea, about how long did a door take to peal? Our thermofoil kitchen is in great condition but it's good to know that these can be changed out. I like the white in the kitchen but not so much in the bathroom. I'm anxious to see the after pics.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2011 at 3:42PM
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You totally can paint thermofoil cabinets after peeling it off. Use a heat gun (or a hair dryer) to loosen up the glue. A painter from Georgia mentioned it here, as well as some priming tips:

Here is a link that might be useful: Best paint for kitchen cabinets

    Bookmark   February 7, 2011 at 4:49PM
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I would be careful about making assumptions due to someone else's experience. If thermfoil peels that easily the doors were not manufactured correctly. Unfortunately many door manufacturers do not use the correct adhesive, enough adhesive or proper equipment. If the doors are made properly the thermofoil will not peel right off. Even using a heat gun you will end up with a sticky mess. The remaining adhesive will simply ball up when sanded and you'll end up with a gummy mess.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 9:15PM
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Bill3D - You are correct about making assumptions and I certainly didn't intend to mislead anyone into making a mess of their cabinet doors. All of my 31 cabinet doors peeled with very little effort - and all within about and hour. I noticed immediately that the glue was only around the outer edges and NOT in the middle panel area of the cabinets. I used a palm sander to remove any remaining glue off the board (MDF?) and very little glue came off - obviously these were NOT high-end thermofoil cabinets. :) They are no more than 8 years old and were ordered from Lowe's, so my natural assumption is that they were probably NOT the most expensive cabinets the store offered. I really only suggested this as a desperate last measure to anyone in the same situation as me to replace the cabinet door fronts. I am in the midst of priming and painting them and hope to make them last for awhile longer. Thank you for your post. :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Kitchen Update

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 9:58PM
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Can't wait to see the cabinets painted. The granite is very pretty.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 10:50PM
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How cool is that? Now you can have a painted finish you can live with without breaking the bank. If you have your heart set on good wood doors, you can definitely save up for them in the future. I can't wait to see how they turn out.

BTW, you crafty ladies, if you own a heat gun for stamping crafts (embossing), you can use that for home improvement projects like this. It's the same thing only packaged in a crafter friendly case.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2011 at 12:46AM
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Bill3D made me rethink the way this post came across .... I'm not necessarily recommending you peel your cabinet doors, but I was at a desperate point and it was PEEL THEM or replace them ASAP. Here is a link that further goes into questions/answers about peeling the doors .... :)

Here is a link that might be useful: MDF / Thermofoil Cabinet Doors

    Bookmark   February 9, 2011 at 10:57AM
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Fori is not pleased

Bill is correct of course in that peeling won't always work, but like you said, GMommy, at a certain point, there's no reason to not try! Congratulations on an easy peel. =)

    Bookmark   February 9, 2011 at 11:55AM
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GMommy, even if your "new" peeled and painted doors are an interim solution, you absolutely deserve the Grand Prize for Ingenious Recycling. I am awed.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2011 at 12:32PM
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