LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to head over to North Carolina where Shelly needs some help with a kitchen cabinet project. What can we do for you?
Peeling or Discolored Kitchen Cabinets Need Help
SHELLY: We have about 12-year-old white thermafoil cabinets and at this point they have started to discolor unevenly, so some are sort off-white and others are whiter.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) And some are kind of yellow.
SHELLY: Yes. And in other places, like over the stovetop, they started – the plastic coating has peeled away a little bit …
SHELLY: … and we were wondering what our options are; whether we need to – we’ve talked to some refacers who would replace all the doors and drawers completely or is painting them an option? We just wanted to know what are options are for correcting this.
TOM: You know, it’s probably possible to paint the thermafoil. I would use an oil-based primer. But I’ve got to tell you, it’s a very difficult cabinet type to work with because it’s a fairly economical type of cabinet type; not – and I know this is not what you wanted to hear – not designed to last, you know, like a lifetime. (chuckles) It’s …
TOM: … fairly a short-term product. The cabinet refacers – where they’re going to reface the entire front of them – is definitely an option or you might just want to think about replacing all the cabinets. I mean, the second one, where you do the refacing, is usually about 60 to 75 percent of the cost of doing the whole kitchen over again.
SHELLY: The problem is we have already done the granite work and that’s in place and we’re hoping …
TOM: Oh, boy.
SHELLY: … not to have to rip that out.
TOM: So you put expensive granite on top of the (Shelly chuckles) thermafoil cabinets.
SHELLY: Not smart.
TOM: Yeah. Well, listen, why don’t you try the painting and see if you like it?
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) But Tom, on the box – on the thermafoil cabinets …
LESLIE: … is it – is the box the same material or is the box more of a solid wood?
TOM: No, the box is typically some sort of a composite board, like a wafer board or something …
TOM: … of that nature or a chip board. Sometimes medium-density fiber board but typically it’s not solid wood.
LESLIE: Hmm. The painting, I think, with the thermafoil – I mean, everybody who’s ever attempted this just has major adhesion issues.
TOM: Yeah. And especially if you’re telling us that the cabinet is delaminating. I mean, basically, the doors and the fronts are so damaged now that you couldn’t really paint it because that’s not the issue; what you’re painting is going to peel away.
SHELLY: Yeah, those doors in particular would have to be replaced …
SHELLY: … even if we did.
TOM: Yeah. You might just want to think about new fronts or replacing the cabinets to begin with. I mean, the granite counter can be pulled very carefully and re-installed as long as …
LESLIE: And it’s not like you’re going to change the layout.
TOM: Yeah, as long as you don’t change the layout. There’s no reason you can’t use the counter again; you’ve just got to be really careful about taking it out.
TOM: Make sure they reinforce it from the top, especially around the sink because that’s the weakest part. I bet you if you remember when it was put in, they were probably very careful around the sink opening.
SHELLY: Yes, I think that’s right.
TOM: Yep. So it’s got to be reinforced before it’s taken apart.
SHELLY: Right. Well, that’s really helpful. Thank you very much.
TOM: Well, you’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. If we had a dollar for every time someone called us about ratty, thermafoil cabinets, we’d be rich people right now, Leslie.
LESLIE: Aw, it’s terrible.
TOM: It is terrible.
LESLIE: And it’s always the discoloration and everybody …
LESLIE: … thinks, “Hey, I’m getting a good deal; look at these snazzy, white cabinets.”
TOM: Yeah, well, they’re only white for like, what, five years?
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) But let’s talk in five years.
LESLIE: And we’ll talk about your snazzy, yellow …
TOM: Yellow cabinets.
LESLIE: … not-so-great-looking things.
TOM: (chuckling) (overlapping voices) Yeah, go with peach walls; that ought to make a (inaudible at 0:13:33.8). (Leslie chuckles)
LESLIE: Embrace it.
TOM: Let them match it. (Leslie and Tom chuckle)
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Sorry we’re bring up bad news.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Alright. Let’s get back to the phones.