Are Thermofoil Cabinets Worth Buying?

Published: 19th March 2009
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In my search for some quality white kitchen cabinets, I kept seeing companies reference them as white thermafoil cabinets, and this was something that I had never heard of before. I always thought that kitchen cabinets were either painted or stained. I decided to go to one of the local home and garden shows and talk to some of the cabinet companies that were there to find out exactly what thermafoil is and how to compares to stained cabinets.

Apparently the majority of manufacturers that make white cabinets use this thermafoil wrap on top of either plywood or engineered wood (MDF, particle board, fiber board, etc). My first concern was the fact that there was a wrap applied to the sides... what if this starts to peel off? Apparently this is a pretty common problem, which is why they are usually considered contractor grade cabinets. I liked the look of the antique white cabinets, but really didn't want to deal with the cosmetic issues of the finish starting to peel off.

The other fact that I wasn't aware of is that the door itself is not solid wood either. Most of the other cabinet styles that I looked at (a couple of maple, some oak, and even cherry), featured solid wood doors, with either veneered plywood sides or MDF/particle board sides. From what I know about fiberboard and particleboard, the screws do not hold as tightly as they would in plywood or real wood, so with repetitive use, wouldn't the doors become loose?

After weighing all of the options, I decided to go with maple cabinets with a glaze, rather than the white that I originally found. It was a good compromise between the white cabinets that I was looking for and the stained solid wood cabinets that are commonly available. While I am sure the quality is there on the white thermafoil cabinets, I didn't want to take the chance of something happening to the finish.

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