Painting Thermofoil Cabinets

Painting thermofoil cabinets are easy to maintain. Some people are confused as to what thermofoil is and its difference from laminate cabinets. Thermofoil is basically a thin layer of vinyl through an intense heat and pressure-bonding process. In the end, it is easy to clean and is durable. However, because of the smooth finish and that it is a vinyl surface, it is a popular opinion that it is extremely hard to paint. Not to mention that if your thermofoil chips or peels, it is practically impossible for it to look the same as it was prior. Nonetheless, painting thermofoil cabinets is completely doable, but with the right paint, materials, and preparation. Even getting help from interior painters would be a good idea.

Things To Do Before Painting Thermofoil Cabinets

As mentioned previously, thermofoil cabinets consist of a thin layer of vinyl that is vacuum-pressed onto the cabinet doors and the fronts of the drawers. Then, the cabinet bases and door are laid in the press and 100% vinyl is positioned on top of that. Secondly, when the top is shut, air is removed from the chamber. With a high pressure system and an adhesive, the vinyl is fused to the surface. A lot of people try to stay away from thermofoil cabinets, but they do still exist in kitchens from the 90s. They clean up well and painting it can give your kitchen an inexpensive refresh. So, if you are planning on painting thermofoil cabinets, you can do so with these steps.

  1. Painting preparation
  2. Sand using sandpaper
  3. Prime
  4. Painting thermofoil cabinets
Supplies Needed For Painting
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Supplies needed

  1. Zinsser 1-2-3 Primer: This primer in particular works best on laminate and thermofoil cabinets
  2. Paint tray
  3. 4 ” foam roller
  4. A foam brush
  5. Painter’s tape: for taping off your walls or countertops to avoid messy troubles
  6. High quality paint brush: this makes all the difference in the world to have a smooth finish
  7. Sanding block (medium grit)
  8. Benjamin Moore Advance Waterborne Interior Alkyd paint: this paint has excellent self-leveling and hardens like enamel. The finish is extremely durable and makes for a beautiful surface.


First, you will have to clear all objects inside your cabinets. Detach all your cabinet doors if you want to paint and prime them individually. You should use a screwdriver for this step. Clean off any dust and debris you see. Use a warm damp cloth to target all the corners. Then, use a sponge to clean the cabinets with a home cleaning solution. This will be warm water and liquid dish soap. Lastly, dry all the cabinets with paper towels.

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Kitchen Cabinet Painting


Using sandpaper, carefully smooth out the cabinets and focus on the rougher sections. This will allow you to create smooth surfaces that your paint and prime will stick to correctly. Thermofoil cabinets are sensitive to rough sanding, which is why you should do this process slowly and gently. Clean the cabinets again with a damp cloth, after sanding. Then, use painter’s tape to protect the surrounding areas of your cabinet, in the event that paint drops. Now, we are at the priming stage. Before priming, look at the primers packaging. You should always make sure that the primer you are using, is specifically for thermofoil kitchen cabinets. When you have sorted that out, open all your surrounding windows to give yourself proper ventilation. Use a paintbrush to apply the primer to the cabinets in wide and even strokes. If you are painting the doors separately, put them on a small tarp or blanket. Then, apply the primer. Allow the first coat to dry, then apply a second coat. Throw out the tarp at the end!



Painting Thermofoil Cabinets

Before doing anything else, the second coat of primer needs to be dry. Use a paint brush or roller to apply latex paint and once again, use wide and even strokes. You should consider using foam for applying paint to the thermofoil. As mentioned previously, wait for the first coat to dry, then apply a second coat, and so forth. When your last coat is fully dry, use a cloth to wipe a coat of polyurethane varnish on the cabinet surface. Once the varnish is dry, you can remove all the painter’s tape. Lastly, you can attach all the doors to your cabinets frame using your screwdriver. Remember that not all paint is made for painting thermofoil cabinets. Check with your local hardware store to find out which paints work best for your individual needs. 

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