Thermofoil cabinets are MDF or engineered wood covered with a thin sheet of vinyl or laminate- which give it the appearance of hardwood or veneer.
Generally, thermofoil cabinets have gotten a bad rep for being the cheap step brother of wooden painted cabinets. While thermofoil cabinets do tend to be cheaper in price than their wooden counterparts (a plus for those on a budget!) they also have many benefits.
Thermofoil cabinets are very durable. They are incredibly resistant to moisture- which can seep into your wooden cabinets and cause warping due to expansion and contraction. This is especially great for places in high humidity areas where warpage can become a real problem.
These cabinets are also more resistant to stains and are generally easier to clean. They only need to be wiped down once in awhile with a damp cloth and a non-abrasive cleaner. They also resist the chipping that can be common on a lot of painted cabinets (and we all know that the most popular type of cabinet is the white painted one).
Thermofoil used to be very limited in style, but now most companies carry it and it’s available in a variety of styles which can be made to look very high end.
One thing to keep in mind when ordering Thermofoil cabinets is that they are not resistant to heat. If you are going to be putting them near any ovens or stoves, you will need to make sure a heat shield is installed. If this shield is not installed, then the vinyl will start to peel. The heat shield is just a small piece of metal which gets installed between the appliance and the cabinet to protect it.
Thermofoil is resistant to moisture but not completely waterproof. In the unlikely event that water penetrates the vinyl, and seeps onto the MDF, the cabinet door could be destroyed and a new one would need to be ordered.
They are very durable- but if a dent or a scratch does occur on the surface of the vinyl than this can not be fixed by a refinisher like a wooden painted cabinet can. This can also leave them exposed to damaging elements.
Thermofoil cabinets tend to be heavier than their wood counterparts and can be harder to install. You would need to work with your contractor on this to make sure they are installed correctly. These should be installed by a professional to ensure this happens.
Posted by Jennifer Hubbard