Recycling old kitchen cabinet doors is a project that I take on with gusto. Look at the 1950s cabinet style that is straight and made from solid wood. Although 70 years old and counting, the quality is usually still good.
My friend Helen recently purchased an older home with kitchen doors and drawers painted over several times. Her first thought was to pull out the old and replace them with new. Although many do not share my love of saving vintage items, I felt the need to try. I was hoping to talk her into learning how to wrap kitchen cabinets with my sneaky approach. I began by giving her some suggestions.
You will learn how to wrap your kitchen cabinets from our very own experience.
Table of Contents
- Reface Kitchen Cabinets
- Repaint Kitchen Cabinets
- Vinyl Cabinet Wraps
- How to Apply a Sheet of TFL to Cabinet Fronts
- The Finished Product
- Affordable Options
- High Quality Options
Reface Kitchen Cabinets
As long as the bones to the kitchen cupboards have no cracks, warps, or appear worn, the cabinet fronts are a viable option to remove and replace. Because they make cabinet fronts in standard sizes, fitting against a base is easy. The framework will need to be painted to match new doors and updated hardware can give you a new kitchen look.
Repaint Kitchen Cabinets
If there have been several coats of paint used on the existing kitchen doors, stripping and sanding will be in order. You want the surface to be smooth and accepting to paint and a clear finish. Older cabinets will have a lovely wood grain that can benefit from highlights with stain and finish for a traditional look. Or, any selection of cabinet paint will cover the entire cabinet and trim.
Vinyl Cabinet Wraps
Vinyl wrapping is a fairly new way to cover old cabinet fronts and provide a modern and seamless finish to any type of cabinet door. Before looking into the kitchen wrap, I had the impression that this type of procedure was nothing more than the use of contact paper. I soon learned that heat-activated vinyl was a cost-effective way to create a professional-looking style without adding new cabinets.
Stormy blue cabinets that mirrored the space made for a perfect solution to add a bright color without appearing tacky. This was also the perfect time to try out a kitchen cabinet wrap. I can do professional wraps and kitchen sprays or DIY (do it yourself) at a low cost. Helen was excited about putting our crafty skills to the test and we began searching for a supplier of good quality material.
The abbreviation for thermafoil, a strong quality piece of vinyl, is TFL or RTF. Because we didn’t want to destroy our kitchen units with practice, we located a few old medium kitchen cabinet fronts in the garage.
How to Apply a Sheet of TFL to Cabinet Fronts
The doors and drawers will need to be prepped in insure a smooth surface to work with. Helen thought a shiny surface would be a little too modern, so we ordered both a shiny and matted blue. In the meantime, we collected all the tools necessary to begin our project. In terms of styles, we started with flat cabinet fronts.
Tools and Supplies
- Tape measure and straight edge
- Utility knife and razor blade
- Wood filler and carpenter glue
- Cleaning solution
- Hair dryer or heat gun
- Remove all hardware from the cabinet doors.
- Using gloves, clean the cabinet surface with soap and water and allow it to air dry.
- Check for any uneven spots that need to be sanded down.
- Fill any holes with filler and sand down to make the surface even.
- When the laminate arrives, allow the sheets to get accustomed to the temperature in your work area. The recommended time is overnight for two days.
- Measure and cut the material with an overflow of two inches on the length and 1/2 inch on the sides.
- Remove the film and press into place, forcing out air bubbles as they occur. The edges of the door will be tricky. Use heat to flatten the seam and use extra glue if needed.
- Using your straightedge, carefully trim excess material to make a perfect fit. Be careful not to create vinyl wrap scratches, as you cannot remove them.
The Finished Product
We set the finished product upright and looked at our handiwork in different directions. The transformation was amazing. We compared the different styles and, surprisingly, Helen chose the shiny version for her kitchen cabinet makeover. She was already ahead of me in choosing modern walnut chairs for the bar and bright yellow and blue blocks in a black frame.
New hardware was a definite addition that was needed. Long straight silver handles seemed to fit with the glossy blue nicely. We also chose matching soft-close hardware.
We pondered other affordable ways to use thermafoil (TFL) .They have lovely stainless steel wrap that look like the real thing for counters and appliances. While we thought our workmanship was okay, we let an experienced contractor perform the work in these areas.
Covering cabinet fronts on our own was an ideal solution to picturing the finished product in real life. Many manufacturers of cabinets are now offering this fascinating finish on any type of cabinet material. I can cover any style of cabinet for easier cleaning. Besides being an affordable way to update your kitchen, the process is quick and professional.
High Quality Options
Helen was very pleased with the look and feel of Thermolaminate. I was also taken aback by the appeal of a high-class material that was nothing more than processed vinyl. I had not thought of wrapping my kitchen because my husband and I were preparing it to put on the market. TFL would be perfect for putting modern touches on my kitchen. They might even increase the value of our home and attract potential home buyers.
Don’t let the price fool you. TFL is a luxury product and it may surprise you to learn that it was a recent discovery! I consider it a step above the laminate that is used on the MDF (medium density fiberboard) board. In fact, it is more compatible than a laminate. If simplicity or a small kitchen has you thinking that you have to live with drab, try your hand at this new material that is taking the decorating world by storm. We can update any style with the multiple choices in color, wood, or metal surfaces that it portrays.
This hassle-free cabinet wrap is useful beyond the kitchen. Its applications is well beyond kitchen renovations and improvements only. Baths, bedrooms, or dens can become an impressive display of a new modern look that takes little effort. Different sizes and a choice of backings make creating your own wrappings possible. Helen and I are now busy looking for new projects that can benefit from TFL. Countertops are my favorite choice while Helen is eyeing the built-in bookcases in her den.
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Karen Garton, Senior Writer
Experienced Writer with 20+ years. Demonstrated writing experience includes technical writing, magazines, story writing, and journalist projects. Karen has a powerful media and communication background with academic training from LaSalle University (architecture, interior design) and business college courses. She loves editing novels and contributed to a national art journal. See her detailed profile on Our Team page.