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Cabinets: Painted, Stained, or Thermofoil

During a remodel or home build, choosing your cabinets throughout your home can be exciting. There are so many options in terms of color, texture, and material. This blog is going to give some insight into painted, stained, and thermofoil cabinets.

First, there are two main types of material typically used for cabinets: solid wood and MDF, which stands for Medium-Density Fiberboard.

Solid Wood

While wood has been the primary material for furniture for decades, there are two types of interior wood used: solid wood and engineered wood. Solid wood is just natural lumber, and engineered wood refers to other types of wood-based materials, which includes MDF, and is made of a mixture of real wood with other materials like veneers, fibers, resin, and adhesives.

Solid wood is certainly strong and sturdy, but be sure to research the different types of wood and their level of strength before making a decision. The professionals at Fortin can help with this. Solid wood also features that beautiful grain that so many home owners seek, and the possibilities are endless when it comes to design choices. Solid wood can also add value to your home.

On the negative side, unless the wood is covered with a finish, wood is not waterproof and can be damaged or warped over time when near moisture sources. Wood can tend to crack, as well, and is more vulnerable to pests or bugs.


While MDF is commonly referred to as the cheaper alternative, it is important to note that there are varying types of this engineered wood. They vary by thickness, wood types, density, size, glue type, and moisture content. The thicker and denser the MDF board is, the more it will cost.

MDF is made of thin panels made from wood fiber, resin, and wax, and is a strong alternative to solid wood. It’s often considered a step above plywood, and is more durable because it is denser and stronger. The way MDF is made allows it to move as a single unit, so it doesn’t warp or crack. Different from solid wood, there is no noticeable grain as it’s made of very fine particles, which makes it a great option if you’re planning on painting your cabinets.

On the down side, MDF gets easily scratched, and cannot be repaired. Depending on your design choices, the cost of replacing over time may still be the best, affordable option.

Keep in mind, the type of cabinet you have in your kitchen can be different than the ones in your bathroom, laundry room, and other parts of your home. Cabinet choice depends on several factors including: type of use, what they’ll be near (i.e. oven, showers, etc.), how often they’ll be accessed or used, and your budget.

Painted Cabinets

Painting cabinets is one way to transform your home. From cherry yellows to into the woods green, or even two-tone contrast, painting your cabinets can give your home even more personality. The professionals at Fortin Construction can help you choose the best materials and colors for your home, but here are some pros and cons to painted cabinets.


  • Allows cabinets to be more colorful
  • Offers a clean aesthetic
  • Durable & shows strength that resists heat, dents, and dings
  • Can be refinished rather than replaced


  • Typically more expensive
  • Paint is thicker than stain, so it may hide character features of your cabinets
  • Harder to touch up, as you may not always have the exact color to match
  • The process can be tedious. Allow the experts at Fortin Construction to paint and install your cabinet doors.

Stained Cabinets

When staining interior wood, there are three types of stains: water-based, oil-based, and gel stains. Stay tuned as our next blog covers these three types of stains, but until then, here are some pros and cons to stained cabinets overall.


  • Shows natural wood features
  • Easier to touch up when there are scuffs or scratches
  • Usually costs less in terms of finishes, not the solid wood material itself


  • Can only be applied on real, natural wood
  • Shows nearly all of wood’s blemishes, like uneven wood grain or color inconsistencies
  • Doesn’t hide dust well

Thermofoil Cabinets

You may be asking yourself, “What is thermofoil?”

Thermofoil is simply a type of vinyl. It is fused to a wooden or veneer surface using heat. Think of it like a wrap for your car. Thermofoil results in a smooth, seamless finish. Whie typically it is most often seen in white, or off-white, some manufacturers offer many color varieties or faux wood finishes.

Now that you know what thermofoil, let’s explore the differences between painted, stained, and thermofoil cabinets so that you can determine which is best for you and your home.


  • Easy care and low maintenance
  • Tend to be less expensive and affordable
    • Though this depends on the color or faux finish you choose
  • Moisture resistant (Great choice for bathrooms)
  • Easier to clean or wipe down


  • Low heat resistance
    • Meaning if your cabinets are too close to a heat source, like your oven, the laminate may pull away from the veneer core.
  • Yellowing
    • As the vinyl ages, white or off-white vinyl can turn slightly yellow.
  • Water damage
    • If there are scratches or dents on the vinyl coating, water may get into the core resulting in buckling, bubbling, or deterioration.
  • Installation can be a bit trickier as thermofoil cabinets can be heavier
    • Contact the experts at Fortin Construction when thinking about new cabinets for your home.

Your home is an extension of you and your family’s personality and fortunately, there are many options when it comes to designing or remodeling a home. The professionals at Fortin Construction are ready to help you with those decisions, and to build the home of your dreams.

Have questions? Give us a call at (207)-786-8737 for advice or a quote.

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