The reader goes on to ask if she should buy kitchen cabinetry made of MDF and thermofoil.
MDF is often described as nothing more than sawdust and glue compacted into slabs under high pressure. That's not too far from the truth. Because the surface of MDF does not take paint well, it is often wrapped in thermofoil. Don't let the "foil" part of thermofoil throw you off. Thermofoil has no metallic content.
Kraftmaid describes thermofoil as such:
Flexible, 100 percent solid-colored vinyl. With adhesive on its underside, it is applied to smooth, engineered wood or MDF which has been formed into a door, drawer or
molding design. It has solid, semi-transparent coloration and is easy to clean and maintain. Ideal for durable areas.
Indeed, thermofoil cabinets are perceived as being like the vinyl siding of kitchen (or bathroom) cabinetry: a cheap, short-term solution. While often maligned, they do have a number of valid good points.
- Thermofoil is seamless.
- Impervious to most staining.
- MDF/Thermofoil cabinets help manufacturers put out a more cost-effective product, which can result in lower costs to the consumer.
- Smooth surface, consistent color.
- Thermofoil easily chips.
- It has the tendency to peel away all on its own--over time, though.
- Thermofoil-faced MDF cabinets cannot be re-thermofoiled. Difficult to paint, too.
- Older MDF may contain formaldehyde, though due to voluntary industry actions and legislation like the Formaldehyde Standards for Wood Composites Act this may not be the case with newer MDF.
- MDF itself can chip away quite easily.
After reading a number of comments, I have to agree with some.
Originally, as a good point, I said that "MDF/Thermofoil cabinets tend to be among the cheapest on the market." Inexpensive cabinets may use MDF/Thermofoil construction, but we see this on expensive cabinets, too.
I've updated information about MDF containing formaldehyde to reflect industry changes and legislation toward reducing emissions.
Commenter Jason says this is a "misleading article." Is it "misleading" because I show both sides of the story, instead of only promoting the good? I do say that these cabinets are "often maligned" but they "have a number of good points." Should I only have listed good points?