The Pros & Cons of Thermofoil Cabinet Doors
There are so many options for kitchen and bathroom customers to choose from in the area of cabinet doors. Thermofoil (or, “MDF”) cabinet doors pros and cons are something that you need to be aware of before you make your decision. What is an MDF door? Well, the term stands for medium density fiber board. When refereed to by cabinet makers, it means a vinyl wrapped door. MDF and vinyl wrapped doors are both the same as “thermofoil cabinetry doors.” There are basically four price categories that I feel cabinetry doors fall into. The MDF style falls into a medium price range cabinetry doors category with a high end look. Eventually, I will be adding an article about the different types of doors and the price ranges of each category.
The Benefits of Thermofoil Cabinetry Doors:
Below is a comprehensive list showing the pros of MDF doors. I have added an explanation, further below, about the disadvantages of thermofoil cabinetry doors.
- Cheaper than the traditional style painted door
- Less expensive than real wood with a similar look
- Easy to clean
The MDF (or, “medium density fiberboard”) doors fall in a medium price range (cabinet door price ranges). They were originally designed as an alternative to the traditional five piece painted, real wood doors.
In comparison to the traditional option, the MDF doors do not have any seams. Painted doors with seams will eventually show cracks in the paint due to the expansion and contraction of the wood. This is why the thermofoil cabinet doors gained such popularity when the were first introduced to the market. The cost of them is about two thirds less than having a painted traditional door.
With the rising demand, manufactures began to get creative and simulate a real wood door with the natural finish or stained look. At first, the styles had the grain running in one direction and several years later the thermofoil doors took on the five piece look, with wood grains running in different directions. Among the benefits of having thermofoil doors is that they are easy to clean. The round inside corner style option separates them and gives them a unique look as well.
The Disadvantages of Thermofoil Doors
Here’s a short listing of the disadvantages of thermofoil doors. There may be other problems but, these are the ones that I have encountered the most.
- Possibility of the glue letting loose of the core underneath
- Not heat resistant
- After long periods of time the colors change
- Doors are not easily replaced for several reasons
The cons are certainly something to consider but , it really has been my experience that people go for this style because it is very good looking and the price is right. Many people in my area, who buy houses to remodel and sell, use these doors often.
Most manufactures of the MDF doors will have a five year guarantee against thermofoil problems such as De-lamination and discoloration. It’s an inconvenience when all of the doors have to be replaced because the glue coating was not thick enough to hold the plastic for longer than a couple of years. With thermofoil a very common problem is people are not informed that the doors are not heat resident.
So, when they self clean the oven, the extreme amount of heat effects the vinyl and it peels away from the core. Installers can place a heat shield between the stove and cabinet doors but many companies do not. In fact, manufactures of the doors recommend a 5” spacer to be installed between the two.
After long periods of time doors that need to be replaced are hard to match colors to. The reason is because some of the lighter solid colors have a tendency to yellow. Also, the vinyl colors vary with different batches that the doors are made with. Sometimes there is just a shad difference in color from doors manufactured within a year from each other.
How Are The Vinyl Doors Made?
There are two machines that are used for fabricating these specialty items, CNC router and a vacuum press.
- The door specifications are entered into the CNC machine’s computer and the MDF panels are cut.
- Once the medium density fiber board has been transformed into a raised panel look, it is placed on the vacuum press table.
- Glue is applied to an oversize piece of vinyl and then placed over the board. The vacuum press presses the plastic to the board and heat is used to accelerate the drying of the glue.
These thermofoil style cabinet doors are an excellent product for the person who is looking for the high end look but does not have a large budget. Although there are problems with heat sources, now that you understand this disadvantage you could guard against it ever occurring. There are advantages and disadvantages to every type of cabinetry door. My personal opinion is that the pros far out weigh the cons.