Painting Thermofoil Kitchen Cabinets

khayalamiMay 12, 2013

I have also posted in the Paint forum...

I am in the process of negotiating to buy a house which has white thermofoil cabinets. The market is rather tight and there are few listings, and this house will have to do.
While I have nothing against white kitchens, they would impractical in my household of three active boys in their tweens and teens. The constant wiping would drive me crazy.

Besides the color, the cabinets seem to be in good condition, no visible peeling or bubbling. So I would be painting over perfectly good cabinets to all to a complete gray or just the bottoms to a chocolate or black/brown.

Back to the questions :)
1) Is it possible to paint over thermofoil and get nice results
2) If so what primer would be suitable, and what special prep would be required besides (thourough cleaning, slight sanding)?
3) Any recommendations on the paint that would provide >5 years durability.

Thanks in advance.


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I have had thermafoil cabinets for the past 7 years (we bought this house, I didn't put them in) and I love them! We have two young kids. I can say that they are the easiest cabinets I have ever owned as far as cleaning. Nothing sticks to them and wiping them up is a breeze. They also don't seem to get that grimy "halo" that some painted cabinets can least mine have not. I wouldn't paint them just because you would probably risk scrubbing the paint off when you do try to clean them. Unless someone on the paint forum has a paint that will stick well to plastic which is basically what thermafoil is.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 9:51PM
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Stop! Do not paint your thermofoil cabinetry. I will reinforce what kam76 noted in all cases. Yes, white will show the dirt and grime but they are very easy to clean. Your chances of painting thermofoil (plastic) successfully and having it last are near nill. If you want to change the look you could try Renewing or refacing your cabinetry. You would be leaving the existing cabinets in place and purchasing new doors and drawer fronts. The countertops and all appliances will stay in place throughout this process, you will have the look you want when completed and a warranty.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 7:35AM
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I think painting Thermofoil cabinets should be a last resort as they are probably the most durable finish around. If you are worried that your kids will be too tough on the white Thermofoil cabinets, I imagine that painted cabinets would be a lot more problematic, especially since it'll be pretty much impossible to get a professional and durable finish.
I would live with, and enjoy, the cabinets until they are in such a bad shape that you either HAVE to paint or reface/replace.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 8:57AM
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Instead of painting the thermofoil, you might remove it and paint the cabinets. Bamaspice did, with great results:

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

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 9:21AM
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Thanks for all your responses.

So I hear it loud and clear, NOT to paint on top of thermofoil. Otherwise I would have a disaster on my hands :)

If I still want to paint the bottom cabinets, to a different colour lets say gray or black/brown. I would have to peel the thermofoil first right? Looks like that's what bamaspice did and her kitchen looks absolutely lovely. Thanks writersblock for the link.

I might have to consider peeling off the thermofoil (hopefully it's not too much work) as never saw myself with a completely white kitchen. So special primer, I could use, no ??

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 1:00PM
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Don't paint or peel them peel. Find another way to bring color into your kitchen...walls, window treatments, accent pieces. If they are a good quality thermofoil & properly installed, they are perfect for active families. A breeze to keep clean.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 8:19PM
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I have glued down thermofoil if wasn't peeling too much, and I have sanded them and sprayed them with an epoxy primer and then painted them faux finished and stenciled them, also I have peeled off the plastic foil and primed and painted and covered them with a very hard clear. The casings usually sand out and can be repainted easily.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2013 at 10:07PM
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I cannot imagine paint of any color being easier to keep clean than white Thermofoil. My wife has Thermofoil in her master bath, and it is trival to keep clean (and she is a mess, bronze makeup power, etc.). We haven't even moved in to my remodeled house yet, and the off-white / espresso cabinets are obviously much more of a cleaning problem.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 2:41AM
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