White cabinets? What's the deal?

pesto_sauceMarch 22, 2007

Gone to several home centers looking at cabinets. We have a 100 year old house with small kitchen. Thought white cabinets would be better than natural wood finish. Was suprised to hear time after time that the only white cabinets were ones with "thermo foil" (i.e., shrink wrap plastic) finishes.

Why can't I buy wood cabinets painted white?

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Probably because no one wants them. Cabinet manufacturers aren't going to produce a cabinet that they can't sell. What's wrong with the thermofoil cabinets? They're white and dimensionally stable. If you want to see the grain, there are some cabinet companies that sell a white stained cabinet. Kraftmaid and Crystal are two I know of. Another choice is the local cabinet maker. If you really want white, get white.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 6:44PM
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Try posting this question on the Kitchens forum. There sure are a lot of people over there with white cabinets, a lot of them high end. I bet you'll find answers there.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 6:52PM
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There are lots of cabinetmakers and cabinet companies that sell white painted cabinets. Lower and mid-range cabinet companies who carry mostly stock cabinetry will carry thermofoil. Some of our cabinetry is painted white, and yes, we really did want them! ;) Kimkitchy is right...if you go to the kitchens forum you'll find lots of people with white painted cabinets. Painted cabinets definitely have a different look than thermofoil, IMO, but there is a market for both.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 9:20PM
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Lots of people have white painted cabinets - we have just ordered ours! It is often an upcharge on semi custom lines.
Go to the kitchen forum - despite what some people may think, there is a huge market for white painted cabinets!

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 9:32PM
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We had real wood cabinets made and painted them all white. No problem.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2007 at 12:26AM
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One problem w/ painted cabinets is that when the door is made of several pieces of wood, the natural movement of the wood (esp. the frame) will crack the paint "skin," and esp. w/ white, you'll see a dark line there, and the door will look cracked.

The only manufacturers who want to deal w/ the angst of that are those that are charging a little more money, whose customers are spending a little more time (and so they can be made to sign a waiver that says "I won't make the cabinet company replace my doors if the paint finish cracks"), etc.

Companies can paint the pieces before assembly, or caulk, but that's more money, so they only put it in their semi-custom line.

(if you want to avoid that ourself, there are one-piece MDF doors w/ designs routed in them to look like the molding/frame/carved doors, but you may have to buy those on your own)

    Bookmark   March 23, 2007 at 10:58AM
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I too painted my oak cabinets myself. They never split at the seams. Perhaps that is a result of wood that is not properly dried. I LOVE white cabinets, especially in old houses.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2007 at 4:34PM
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3 of 4 kitchens in the kitchen forum are white cabs, so someone must make them...

    Bookmark   March 24, 2007 at 1:23AM
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You could have gold plated steel cabinets with diamond and ruby knobs if you wanted. All it takes is money, and time, and a real understanding of what you're asking for. White painted cabines are popular with the more spendy type of cabinet companies, and yes, you do have to sign a waiver about the joints cracking. And they DO crack. And white paint, even the smoothest and hardest enamel, is still a more difficult finish to clean than is thermofoil. So, many of the manufacturers who do white paint also clear coat the top, making the eventual touch ups a lot harder to make look right. Thermofoil is tougher all the way around, but it has it's problems. It's more heat sensitive and you need to install heat shields next to oven or range cabinets. (You never see the thin plexiglass strips, but they do help dissapate the heat buld up.) THe "yellowing" problem with older thermofoil cabinets was mostly solved---except where heat is involved, like around the range cabinets. So, in 15-20 years time, the cabinets around the range may be yellow enough that you'd want to replace them. The repair issue is an issue, definately, but you'd be surprised at just how tough some of these cabinets can be in the first place. I had a friend use a porcelain repair kit made for ovens to cover a fairly deep ding left by her son after a major temper tantrum and throwing a few canned goods. The dent would have been made in any kind of cabinet door, and probably would have popped off the finish too. With thermofoil, the bond between the MDF and thermofoil held and "stretched" for the most part except at the deepest part of the ding, where the corner of the can cut it and you could see the substrate. That's what she covered with the porcelain repair kit, and although the dent still showed (as it would have in any cabinetry) the bottom of it was at least white. That's held up pretty good too, and thankfully, her son is out of that stage and the rest of the cabinetry has survived mostly intact.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2007 at 9:43AM
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