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.

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 thermofoil cabinets are 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. So, if you decide that you don’t like the colour of your thermofoil cabinet doors, here are some steps to take to paint it yourself!

prep for painting, house painting, painting thermofoil kitchen cabinets

Step #1: Prep for painting thermofoil cabinets

  • Clear all objects from your cupbaords.
  • 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: Painting thermofoil cabinets

  • 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.
  • Using a screwdriver, put together your cabinet doors to the cabinet frame.

Painting Kitchen Cabinets

More interesting blogs related to ” How To Paint Thermofoil Cabinets “: 

  1. How To Paint Laminate Cabinets
  2. How To Refinish Oak Cabinets Without Stripping
  3. The Best Paint For Kitchen Cabinets
  4. 3 Reasons You Should Paint Your Kitchen

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. If you still feel overwhelmed, consider hiring Home Painters Toronto to assist you through this process. Call us now at 416 494 9095 OR email us at and we will be happy to assist you with painting (or spraying!) your kitchen cabinets and a free cost estimate!

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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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