Thermofoil vs. Wood Cabinets

WSL72March 29, 2012

Planning to reface my cabinets -- remodel guy quoted me a price for both Thermofoil and wood (which I believe would be wood veneer) -- $1k more for wood. Not sure what to do. Of course I would like to save the money but not if I am going to hate my kitchen! My fear is that the Thermofoil would look cheap (I am one of those people who, for example, hates the look of vinyl siding and loves old homes because they're built with "real" materials). Ayone have any thoughts or advice on this? BTW, still vascillatng between white and walnut cabinets, which might also be a factor. Thanks!

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I have thermofoil and can't wait to get rid of it. It looks cheap in my opinion. It also peels when exposed to high heat and can't be repaired. Avoid it.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 8:36PM
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I agree--thermofoil looks cheap. Have you thought about asking for a price on painted MDF? We opted for it instead of thermofoil and love it. It's in the laundry room, but I could very easily have used it in the kitchen and been very happy.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 12:30PM
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Debbi Branka

We have white thermofoil. It was an insurance repair and we replaced with "like kind and quality." It is a nicer thermofoil that what we had. The doors are smooth no orange-peel-texture to them. They look similar to paint except there are not joints/miters. They've been installed for 1.5 years and so far no issues. My husband didn't want paint because he didn't want the miters to expand and contract - which would be very noticeable with white. If we had the money and were doing it again, I'd go with the painted wood, just because I'm not happy with the quality of these cabinets (Aristocraft), but so far the thermofoil is holding up well.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 1:35PM
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with a creative bent and tweaking around the space,thermofoil can be fine. What else do you have going?
Thermofoil can blend in....depends on what you do. If you want a showcase look from your cabinets,do something else. I've seen raised panel,white or cream thermofoil with detail and a crisp/smaller spaced/traditional kitchen turn out and keep the budget down. This all depends on your situation.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 1:45PM
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I think thermofoil isn't what it used to be ... like deb says above, they aren't the orange-peely texture of yesteryear, and the styling is definitely more upscale than it used to be.

familyreno's recent kitchen reveal thread is linked here, and she used themofoil cabinets that are just gorgeous:

Here is a link that might be useful: familyreno's kitchen reveal

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 1:54PM
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Looks cheap. Not repairable.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 1:57PM
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Ditto what marcolo said! Personally, I wouldn't even put it in a bathroom or laundry...unless it was some kind of modern slab foil. Even then. I would probably opt for natural materials.

I also dislike 'pergo' and vinyl siding!!!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 3:54PM
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Mine definintely do not look cheap, or feel cheap for that matter. But to each their own. I say do what you can within your budget. I am thrilled with my kitchen.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 5:08PM
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You actually can repair thermofoil. A company in my area often does reno's on these cabinets. They us a hot gun to loosen and shrink and it scrapes off. Then they use denatured alchohol to clean and do tons of prep and other magic and paint with special paint and then coat with sealer. They look amazing and the finish holds up. The giveaway with thermofoil is that the corners in the detail are rounded and not squared and mitered. These rounded corners are why some people don't like the look of them. They have a molded look. I think thermo would look better if a little more off white rather than bright white. I have them in my bathrooms only and had them painted by the company in our area and they look great. They painted over the thermo they only take it off if it is really in bad shape. Using all of their products they seem to hold up really well. I went with an off white custom color. So far so good.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 9:44AM
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We moved into a home that the PO freshened up with some sort of thermofoil cabs. . . ours were not good quality. We knew that we would be doing work to the kitchen when we bought the house (as tiny as it is!) We actually cut our fingers on the edges of the doors and drawers because it was lifting from the mdf. I ended up peeling off all the covering myself which was a shame as they were a very pretty light honey color, not white.

I opted for painted white all wood maple cabs for my reno. They are not yet installed and I like all things old so the expansion and/or view of the joints would not be troubling to me.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 10:02AM
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personally... i like my "cheap" cabinets...

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 10:18AM
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We have white slab style thermofoil cabs (Ikea Applad) and just love them. It suits the look we wanted. They are not a very bright white, which worried me at first, but we liked the style of the doors with no seam better than their Abstrakt line, which was a glossy pure white.
We like the slightly softer edges on our doors and they clean up like a breeze. There will be no contracting or expanding and if one were to be damaged, we'd just slap a new one on. In fact, I was thinking the other day that we should buy some spare drawer fronts and doors "just in case". The cost would be small and it would be good to have some spares like when you put down tile and save the leftover box. The beauty of Ikea is that it is reasonable enough to do that and still be way ahead of the game.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 11:35AM
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>We have white slab style thermofoil cabs (Ikea Applad)

Applad is polyester paint, not thermofoil. It's the same finish as Stat and Lidingo, just a different style. Adel White is thermofoil, and the Abstrakt/Rubric colors are a kind of foil finish.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 11:58AM
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From ikea's page on applad door:

Product description
Fiberboard, Polyester paint

Here is a link that might be useful: applad door info

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 12:00PM
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You don't like the plastic know that :). You will not like thermofoil. I have quality thermofoil in this house and it is going to the free cycle ASAP. I also don't like surfaces which aren't somewhat natural. You will never like them, I guarantee.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 12:20PM
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Thanks, all, for your help and input! This is the first time I am doing any sort of remodeling so I'm a little skittish.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 1:22PM
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Reading the responses to this question have convinced me that the thermofoil industry has not done a good job of making the public aware of what is available. I have had white thermofoil doors on basement storage cabinets for over 15 years and they're still as solid as can be. Yes, they look plastic because they have a heavy matte texture. However, thermofoil is now available in a satin finish that really does look like a high quality paint job.

Also, check out the link below for an example of some 5 piece thermofoil doors. This is not my company, nor do I work for them. I'm just convinced buyers don't even know this stuff is available.

Here is a link that might be useful: Five Piece Thermofoil Doors

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 7:37PM
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Bill3D Wow you are correct! Those are not your mama's thermafoil doors. They look great!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 10:35PM
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I was quite surprised at one cabinet shop when I was told the cabinets that I was looking at were Thermofoil. I had to look very closely to see that they weren't painted maple. My niece has older Thermofoil cabinets that don't look remotely as nice as the new ones can look.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 10:48PM
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Thanks, writersblock. I always thought ours were Thermofoil, but I guess they are "polyester paint". It isn't as catchy a phrase, but we like them no matter what the name is, lol...

Those Thermofoil examples just above are amazing. Color me impressed. I'd love to see them in person just for the heck of it.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 11:33PM
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There are some nice thermofoil. This is what I'm getting.

You do need to make sure you get the heat shield for next to the range. But it really because of the self clean cycle.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ultracraft Thermofoil Slab

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 7:18PM
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Now that I have seen the new styles of thermofoil doors I would not hesitate to use it especially since it is just so much more affordable and holds up so well. I admit that I didn't know it had come so far even from just a few years ago. It's neat that it comes in the darker colors now and also squared corners. Again, your kitchen is lovely, I love your granite and everything else. What a transformation!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 8:34PM
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