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How to Paint Thermofoil Cabinets

Painting Thermofoil Cabinet Doors – Although thermofoil cabinets are easy to maintain, they can be difficult to paint. The material is usually not meant to be painted but it can be done with the proper preparation.

People are often a bit confused as to what thermofoil actually is and how they’re different from laminate cabinets. Thermofoil is created by heat-fusing a thin layer of laminate vinyl to a base material like a particle board. It is intended to portray the look of being painted but without brush strokes or any paint used.

FAQ’s About Painting Kitchen Cabinets

As we said earlier, thermofoil cabinets consist of a thin layer of vinyl that is vacuum-pressed onto cabinet doors and the fronts of drawers. The cabinets themselves are usually constructed of MDF (medium density fiberboard). It’s actually pretty cool how they’re made. The door and cabinet bases are laid in the press and a flexible layer of 100% vinyl is positioned on top of that. Secondly, when the top is closed, air is completely expelled from the chamber. With the work of the high pressure as well as an adhesive, the vinyl is fused to the surface.

Though more and more people seem to be staying away from thermofoil cabinets nowadays, they often do exist in kitchens from the 90’s. And from that, they luckily do clean up well and can be painted for a quick and inexpensive kitchen refresh. Furthermore, if you decide that you don’t like the colour of your cabinet doors, here are some steps to take to paint it yourself!

prep for painting, house painting, painting thermofoil kitchen cabinets

Step #1: Prep work

  • Clear all objects from your cupboards.
  • Detach your kitchen cabinet doors if you want to paint/prime them separately. Use a screwdriver to do this.
  • Clean off any dust, dirt or debris from the cabinet. Use a clean and warm damp cloth. Make sure you target the corners.
  • Using a sponge, clean the cabinet with your home cleaning solution. Solution should be made of warm water and liquid soap.
  • Dry the cabinets with a dry washcloth or paper towel.

Step #2: Sand

  • With the use of sandpaper, carefully smooth it out. Focus on any rough areas. This creates a smooth surface that your paint and primer will be able to stick to properly.
  • Thermofoil cabinet doors are generally sensitive to quick and rough sanding. Make sure you are as gentle on the surfaces as possible.
  • Clean the cabinets again with a damp cloth. Use painters tape to seal off the surrounding area of your cabinet. This protects it from paint/primer drops.

Step #3: Prime

  • Before you prime, look at the primers packaging. Make sure that the primer can be used on thermofoil kitchen cabinets.
  • Open the closes windows and doors. You will need proper ventilation.
  • Using a paintbrush, apply the primer to the cabinets in wide, even strokes.
  • If you are painting the cabinet doors individually, put them on a small tarp, towel or blanket. Apply the primer.
  • Allow the first coat of primer to dry. Apply the second coat using the same process.
  • Throw out the tarp, towel or blanket.

Step #4: Time to paint! 

  • Make sure the second coat of primer is dry.
  • Use a paint brush or roller to apply latex paint. Use wide, even strokes. Foam is usually optimal for applying paint to thermofoil.
  • Wait for the first coat of paint to dry. Apply a second coat. If needed, apply a third coat.
  • When your last coat is fully dried, use a clean cloth to wipe a coat of polyurethane varnish on the cabinet surface.
  • When the varnish has dried, proceed to remove your painter’s tape.
  • Lastly, using a screwdriver, put together your cabinet doors to the cabinet frame.

Painting Kitchen Cabinets

What about paint colour? 

When you’re thinking about different interior painting colours, especially in terms of kitchen cabinets, don’t be afraid to have fun with it. One interior painting colour that’s really fun for the 2021 season is blue-green. Aegean Teal fits that bill perfectly and it’s actually the Benjamin Moore Colour Of The Year. Additionally, another popular colour to consider for your kitchen cabinets is Hunter Green. This deep green is not only gorgeous to look at, but it goes really well with marble or light countertops as well. Finally, if you want to check out even more of the popular kitchen cabinet colours of the season, visit this blog here for all the details.

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If you feel overwhelmed at the thought of painting your kitchen cupboards, consider hiring Home Painters Toronto and our expert interior painters to assist you through this process. Call us now at 416 494 9095 OR email us at [email protected] to get your free cost estimate! Furthermore, don’t forget to check us out on our social media channels below.

Brian Young - Home Painters Toronto

From The Owner & Founder


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Since 1987 when I was at York University simply earning my way through school, I’ve had the privilege to meet and work with thousands of amazing homeowners like yourself.

Besides the birth of my daughter, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing a homeowner’s life change when we have transformed their dream home into a masterpiece. For that reason, we take our jobs very seriously and are committed to our cause.

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