Pros and Cons of Using Rigid Thermofoil Doors

Cabinet Refacing

If you’ve already decided on refacing your kitchen cabinets instead of replacing them, you’ve probably been researching the kinds of materials available for doing this. You may have even come upon some terms that are totally foreign to you, like “thermofoil”. As a matter of fact, thermofoil doors are very popular in the cabinet refacing world, so you’ll want to know what they are before making a choice.

What is thermofoil?

Thermofoil is a plastic material which is “thermoformed” to match the profile of an underlying engineered wood core, quite often a medium-density fiberboard. Thermofoil generally has a high-quality sheen and may incorporate metallic elements in its finish, which provides this extra shine.

That’s kind of a technical explanation, so it’s best to break down the use of thermofoil doors in kitchen cabinet refacing into a pros and cons list so that you can make the most educated decision.


There are a number of excellent reasons for choosing rigid thermofoil doors for your refacing project.

  • You can use it with any style cabinet – Technically speaking, thermofoils are made of flexible, flat layers of vinyl. That makes it easy to mold into just about any shape, so it’s easily used for any style or type of door. Whether you choose flat doors or raised or recessed panels or even embossed designs, thermofoil will work.
  • They are water and stain resistant – Because thermofoil doors are basically doors coated with plastic, they are non-porous. That means water and other liquids won’t penetrate the plastic and stain the door. So, if you’ve got kids who are spillers or if you tend to be messy, you’ll avoid staining issues if you choose thermofoil, even with liquids like red wine or grape juice.
  • The color remains consistent – Thermofoil doors are painted with coats of colored vinyl. Common kitchen cabinet doors are coated with paint, which can mar or fade over the years. As such, the color of the traditional cabinet changes over the years. However, that’s not the case with thermofoil doors. The color essentially remains the same.
  • They are very easy to clean – Nothing is better than a kitchen that doesn’t take hours to clean. Thermofoil cabinets can simply be wiped with a dry microfiber cloth to remove dust or any other surface grime, or you could use a damp cloth to remove grease, if necessary. A mild soap and water mixture is okay too if you find the damp or dry cloth isn’t getting them clean enough for you. But because they’re non-absorbent, there shouldn’t be much to clean.


Thermofoil doors aren’t for everyone and there are a few drawbacks to choosing them.

  • These doors are sensitive to heat – If you’ve got a kitchen where there’s always cooking happening and it’s not unusual for it to be hot and steamy in there, stick with traditional re-facing materials. Thermofoil can be very sensitive to heat. Too much heat means the glue underneath the vinyl could begin to melt and it could become detached from the fiberboard. In addition, blistering could occur. You should be super careful about exposure when these cabinets are close to the stove or other heat sources.
  • Other damage can occur – Thermofoil cabinet doors that are already compromised due to heat exposure tend to scratch, chip, or dent very easily. Once they are compromised, things like slamming the cabinet doors or opening them with force can cause further damage. Also watch for pets who might scratch at lower cabinets.

Rigid thermofoil doors might be a good choice for your kitchen refacing project, depending on the activities in your house, the amount of use they’ll receive, and how careful you are about avoiding damage. Talk to your cabinet refacing expert about what’s right for your needs and budget.