Melamine, laminate and thermofoil kitchen cabinets

by Shannon Lee 
Face Your Kitchen Columnist 

Though many homeowners immediately think of wood as the best option for their kitchen cabinet refacing, the sticker shock on real wood doors can nip those plans in the bud. There are many budget-friendly options out there, but how do you know which one is best? Understanding the differences between the most popular suspects–laminate, melamine and thermofoil–can help.Your zip code:

Laminate kitchen cabinets

Laminate is a plastic product formed by fusing resin and paper together under pressure and heat. The result is a virtually indestructible covering for cabinet boxes, cabinet doors and countertops. Low pressure laminates are more affordable yet are prone to chipping or cracking over time. High pressure laminates are a more expensive option but they are very resistant to any damage, including scratches or bubbling.

Melamine kitchen cabinets

Melamine is a plastic-based product that has proven to be highly durable and affordable. The resin and paper are bonded under high pressure and then attached to particle board or some other type of backing. This is a very popular material for ready-to-assemble cabinet kits and other affordable cabinet options. The popular Formica brand is made of melamine.

Thermofoil kitchen cabinets

Thermofoil begins as a thin, rigid film that is heated and shaped over a substrate material. Thermofoil kitchen cabinets offer the bright, clean appearance of freshly painted cabinets without the telltale brush strokes. Since thermofoil adheres well to almost any material, homeowners can opt for new cabinet doors made of thermofoil or to simply have their old cabinet doors covered with the material.

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