Painting Thermofoil Cabinets

Lead Image
  • 6-24 hours
  • Beginner
  • 100-200
What You'll Need
Thermofoil-safe primer
Liquid soap
Paint roller
Latex paint
Breathing mask
Rubber gloves
Safety goggles
Polyurethane varnish

While thermofoil cabinets are very easy to care for, painting them can be somewhat tricky. Although thermofoil is typically not meant to be painted, you can successfully complete this job with a handy instructional guide and some basic painting tools.

Step 1 - Wash Your Cabinets

Before applying your paint and primer, you will need to remove any dust, dirt, or debris from your thermofoil cabinets. Begin this step by using a lightly-dampened washcloth or paper towel to thoroughly wipe down the cabinets and remove any large pieces of filth. Next, use a sponge, washcloth, or paper towel to vigorously clean the cabinets with a homemade cleaning solution of warm water and liquid soap. Once the cabinets have been completely purged of filth, proceed to dry them with a washcloth or absorbent paper towel and allow them to air dry completely.

Step 2 - Prep Your Cabinets

a pile of misc. sandpaper pieces

Now that you've administered a thorough cleaning to your thermofoil cabinets, use a sheet of sandpaper to very carefully smooth them out, paying special attention to any rough areas. This will help create a nice, smooth surface to which your paint and primer will be able to adhere to easily. Thermofoil generally cannot tolerate rapid sanding, so when performing this step, take care to be as gentle as possible. Follow up by once again wiping the cabinets with a damp cloth. Next, use painter's tape to seal off the area surrounding your cabinets, thus shielding it from paint and/or primer drops. Also, while not essential, you may use a screwdriver to detach your cabinet doors if you wish to paint and prime them separately.

Step 3 - Prime Your Cabinets

Having prepared your thermofoil cabinets to be painted, you're ready to apply your primer. Before proceeding to do so, however, take one last look at the primer's packaging to confirm that thermofoil is among the materials with which it can be used. Next, open up any nearby doors and windows to ensure that the area in which you're working receives proper ventilation, then put on a breathing mask, safety goggles, and a pair of rubber gloves to protect yourself from any drips, splashes, or fumes.

Now that your work area is secure and you're donning your protective gear, use a paintbrush to apply your primer to the cabinets in broad, even strokes. If you choose to paint the cabinet doors separately, make sure to place them on a small tarp or an expendable towel or blanket before beginning the primer application. Once your first coat of primer has been given ample time to dry, apply a second coat in the exact same fashion.

Step 4 - Paint Your Cabinets

rolling paint onto a cabinet

With your second coat of primer dry, it's time to begin painting your thermofoil cabinets. Using a paintbrush or roller, proceed to apply your latex paint in the same fashion as your primer. Foam is typically the best material for applying paint to thermofoil, so try to find a foam-based paint brush or roller for this job. Wait for your initial coat of paint to fully dry before applying your second and, if need be, third coat. Once your final coat of paint has fully dried, use a clean cloth to wipe a single coat of polyurethane varnish onto the freshly painted cabinets. Once the varnish has dried, you may remove your painter's tape. Dry it completely before reattaching the doors.