What are Thermofoil Cabinets?

Thermofoil cabinets are the most recent addition to alternative cabinetry. They are MDF particle boards wrapped in a laminate that are heated at high temperatures to “shrink-wrap” right over the top. They are typically sold in mass quantities to rental spaces, hotels, and what we at Resurrect Wood Refinishing call, “Shoe Box Homes.” Shoe Box Homes are a familiar site in the central Florida area. Because of our themed attractions, the desire for vacation homes have skyrocketed our housing market into a seller’s market. These project managers buy and produce homes at incredible rates, cutting corners and costs where they need, following basic blueprints and using the most efficient means necessary to duplicate and produce, hence the introduction of the Thermofoil Cabinets. This was especially popular in the new construction of the 1990s up to today.

The great news is that Resurrect Wood Refinishing is able to offer a solution to redoing your Thermofoil Cabinets. What we typically offer our customers is new doors while preserving the original thermofoil box cabinets attached to your wall. We find this to be a better alternative to hiring someone to Re-Face, or to heat peel the Thermofoil coating off the cabinets and try to paint the very uneven and often “pitted” MDF pressed wood material underneath. This is a much more valuable service than just buying new Thermofoil Cabinets all over again, giving you a really dramatic new look.

Are Thermofoil Cabinets any good?

Thermofoil cabinets are good to an extent. We at Resurrect Wood Refinishing have a vendor that does supply superior thermofoil doors with a warranty. Unfortunately, most local vendors in the central Florida area do not. The Florida humidity and high heat in empty homes can cause those doors to peel overnight. A warranty is crucial.

The selling point for Thermofoil Cabinets is that they are cheap, durable, and easy to clean. They are the perfect candidates for rental and vacation homes since they require little upkeep. A simple swipe of a microfiber towel can take care of any spill a guest may have caused. Also, since the trend in the past couple of years has been contemporary Shaker Doors, millwork has not been desired which has allowed Thermofoil Cabinets to sweep the market with their basic and reliable design. 

Personally, we do not love Thermofoil. As will be explained below, thermofoil cabinets never have a life longer than about ten years. The quality of the wood inside is so poor and the weight of the materials SO HEAVY that the wear and tear is often not even fixable. The hinges have a hard time supporting the weight and There will always be a point that peeling occurs, whether it be on a larger scale or not. The prices for Thermofoil Cabinets are just shy enough of wood, especially when working with our Refinishing services, that we just recommend wood over thermofoil every single time.

How long do Thermofoil Cabinets last?

Thermofoil Cabinets have an average life of about ten years, and that’s if they are well made. If they are from a cheap vendor, they can begin peeling in three to five years. Rest assured, if this is an option you wish to pursue, we do use one of the best vendors out there for Thermofoil Doors.

The downside however, is no matter how good of a quality the cabinets and doors are, they will peel. Especially in hot, humid Florida. All that’s holding the vinyl laminate together is a heated, pressed, glue. If you work in a very busy kitchen and do not treat your cabinets kindly, they are susceptible to peeling at a higher rate. These risks include simple home appliances like coffee makers and toaster ovens. Once Thermofoil Cabinets peel, that’s it. You can pursue an option called, “Re-Facing,” where they will pull apart the laminate and glue a new one, however, we have found customers much more satisfied with pursuing new wood doors, an option Resurrect Wood Refinishing provides. 

Most problems with Thermofoil cabinets are focused on the doors since they are the most used. We offer a service where we will replace the thermofoil doors with real wood doors and refinish your existing thermofoil cabinets to match the new color. This way you won’t have to pursue new cabinets completely and you can definitely save much more money than attempting to repair the existing laminate. 

The great thing with getting new wood doors is that no matter the heat and length of time, your cabinet doors will treat you well if you pay them the respect they deserve.

Are Thermofoil Cabinets cheaper than wood?

Generally yes, thermofoil cabinets are cheaper than wood, but it really depends on the vendor. When we first started working in the Florida market, we noticed that local vendors did sell Thermofoil Cabinets at a cheaper rate than wood. However, our new vendors do offer thermofoil cabinets at a closer cost to real wood cabinets since they’re process and warranties are a little more superior. Still, the reason they are used frequently in the past couple of years is because project managers can get mass quantities at a cheap rate. The selling point is that they are easy to clean, but Resurrect Wood Refinishing’s polyurethane acrylic is just as easy to clean as well. It is definitely better to pursue real wood or keep your real wood cabinets. 

Can you drill through Thermofoil cabinets?

That vinyl laminate is wrapped out MDF. MDF, if you are not familiar, is essentially saw dust that has been compacted together so densely to create a board, hence the term, “particle board.” They are a one-and-done product. If you drill anything you have to be certain it is an accurate hole and you must be ready to leave the screw in. Once you start taking screws out and adjusting, the boards begin to disintegrate because the density has been breached. An expert craftsman is definitely required if you are not ready to accept the consequences of a poorly planned handle-drill. 

Resurrect Wood Refinishing does offer a drilling service to any refinishing project, this includes new doors, both wood and Thermofoil. We are familiar with what to expect and plan for with Thermofoil cabinet doors, and do accept any responsibility for repairing and correcting any errors. We understand that there is a lot of information as well as lack of information when finalizing which cabinet option you wish to pursue. Regardless of whether you decide to buy Thermofoil Doors or Solid wood doors, we are here to help assist, refinish, and install.

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