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Thermofoil pros and cons for kitchen cabinets: remodel for less

If you're thinking about investing in new kitchen cabinets, remodel choices often start with the cabinet material. Thermofoil and medium-density fiberboard (MDF) cabinets are often considered together because thermofoil is typically wrapped around MDF. The flexible, adhesive vinyl of thermofoil creates a surface that's easy to maintain and clean.

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Thermofoil comes with strong supporters and detractors. Here's a look at its major pros and cons:

Thermofoil kitchen cabinets: remodel advantages

  • Cost effective--one of the least expensive cabinet options on the market, about $1,000-$3,000 for a full kitchen remodel. Perfect for rental houses and beach condos
  • Attractive--the seamless look gives thermofoil the appearance of clean, painted cabinets
  • Simple--easier to clean than porous woods and less likely to show smudges and fingerprints than glass or aluminum

Thermofoil kitchen cabinets: remodel disadvantages

  • Heat sensitive--keep thermofoil cabinets behind heat shields or you'll have to worry about warping and blistering
  • Wears down--chips and peeling are possible over time, particularly in areas of high heat or moisture.
  • Chemicals--because some MDF cabinets have been proven to emit urea formaldehyde, a number of manufacturers now offer low-formaldehyde or formaldehyde-free products

In short, the pros and cons of thermofoil cabinets change based on the way your kitchen is set up, your budget, and your maintenance preferences. For a low-maintenance, budget-friendly option with a few drawbacks, thermofoil cabinets can be a smart remodel choice.

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