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Exploring Kitchen Door Types: Pros and Cons Unveiled

Updated: January 2024

Delving into the world of kitchen design reveals a diverse array of kitchen door types, each with its unique manufacturing process and aesthetic appeal. In this guide, we aim to simplify your journey through the myriad of options available, focusing on the key aspects of kitchen door types to consider.

Note: We recommend acquainting yourself with our article on selecting a kitchen style before diving into this one. A clear understanding of your preferred aesthetic—be it traditional, contemporary, or a blend of both—will streamline the decision-making process as you explore the 10 options we detail below.

Selecting the ideal kitchen style, door model, and opening mechanism marks the beginning of your design adventure. The next critical step involves choosing the material that best suits your needs in terms of durability, color, finish, and budget.

This article provides a comprehensive overview of the materials used in kitchen door construction, along with the pros and cons of each, to assist you in making an informed choice. While there are numerous materials available on the market, we have focused on those most commonly encountered in the UK, presented in descending order of cost for your convenience.

Table of Contents

Natural Solid Wood Doors (including tinted)

Solid wood kitchen doors are often crafted from hardwoods such as oak or walnut. Characterized by their sturdy framed construction, these doors are traditionally finished with a clear lacquer or a wood stain tint to enhance and protect the natural wood grain.

The aesthetic appeal of natural wood doors is undeniable, showcasing the unique personality of the wood’s grain, making each door distinct. Although they’re frequently seen in classic, rustic kitchen designs, solid wood doors with a simple Shaker frame can also complement and contrast with contemporary, minimalist door styles.

Exotic and redwood options exist in the market for those with a preference for unique, premium materials, reflecting a commitment to quality and distinctive design.

These doors are suitable for both traditional and contemporary kitchens.

Pros
  • Long life
  • Versatile
  • Timeless/ Natural
  • Aesthetic Appeal
Cons
  • 5-piece doors only
  • Can discolour/mellow in natural light
  • Higher initial investment
Availability
  • Framed (Shaker style)

Real Wood Veneer/Fluted

A real wood veneered door typically features a core made of MDF or birch-ply, which is then covered with a thin layer of real wood veneer. The standard thickness for these doors is either 19mm or 23mm, providing a balance of durability and elegance.

When compared to their solid timber counterparts, veneered doors are often a more economical choice. The process of veneering allows for a single piece of hardwood to be expanded into up to 40 times the amount of decorative surface area, presenting a more sustainable approach to utilizing wood—a natural and limited resource.

Veneers grant access to the visual appeal of exotic wood finishes, which are otherwise considerably costly if used in solid form. This makes the beauty of rare woods more accessible and practical for various applications.

The construction of veneered doors lends itself to a wide variety of design options, including the creation of intricate patterns, curved shapes, and book-matched panels that offer symmetry and visual interest.

Similar to solid wood, veneer surfaces can be customized with stains and finishes to suit personal preferences, allowing the natural grain to shine through. The final product is a door with a genuine wood appearance that adds depth and character to a kitchen, making it especially suitable for creating feature accents or a two-tone effect in kitchen designs.

Pros
  • 1-Piece (no movement)
  • Eco-friendly
  • Cost effective
  • Aesthetic Appeal
Cons
  • Can discolour/mellow in natural light
  • Softer than solid wood
Availability
  • Slab/Flat Panel
  • Fluted
  • Inset handle

Acrylic Glass

Acrylic glass doors offer a sleek and modern option for kitchen cabinetry, distinguished by their high-gloss acrylic front and a subtle 2mm chamfered edge. These doors are built on a sturdy 18mm MDF core and are meticulously edged with color-matched, ply-effect, or glass-effect PVC tape to ensure a seamless and refined appearance.

The design of acrylic glass doors is typically limited to a slab format, which enhances the clean lines and smooth surfaces favored in modern kitchen designs. They are commonly found in a range of monochrome and soft neutral hues, catering to a minimalist color palette.

The use of a 2mm clear acrylic layer, combined with precisely chamfered edges, mimics the upscale appearance of real glass doors, yet is more economical. These doors are particularly effective for making a statement when mixed with contrasting textures and materials, offering a dynamic and striking look in any contemporary kitchen.

In terms of maintenance, acrylic glass doors are low hassle; they can be easily cleaned with a gentle soap solution or a standard household glass cleaning product and polished to a high shine with a soft micro-fiber cloth.

Pros
  • Easy to maintain
  • Edging options
  • Luxurious look
Cons
  • Limited door colours
  • Limited door styles
  • Cheaper alternatives (though not as nice in the flesh)
Availability
  • Slab/Flat Panel

Smooth Painted Kitchen Doors

Doors made from 22mm thick Green MDF, known for its Hydrofugo properties, are engineered to withstand moisture, making them a practical option for environments where durability is key. They are carefully constructed with protective edging and undergo a meticulous lamination, priming, and spray-painting process that results in a resilient and smooth finish.

Crafted from a single piece of MDF and then routered to achieve the desired design, these doors maintain their integrity without any movement or expansion. This ensures a stable and unchanging appearance over time, sidestepping the common issue of visible joints or hairline fractures that can develop with other kitchen door materials.

While national retail chains may carry these doors in a select color palette, independent design studios often provide a wide array of custom finishes, allowing for a personalized touch in kitchen design.

Like other painted surfaces, these MDF doors have the advantage of being easy to maintain; minor damages such as chips can be conveniently touched up with paint. For a complete refresh, the doors can also be re-sprayed, extending their lifespan and adaptability to changing decor trends.

Smooth painted is a very popular kitchen door type.

Pros
  • 1-Piece (no movement)
  • Easy touchup/repair
  • Range of colour options
  • Can be re-painted
Cons
  • May exhibit wear over time, including potential chipping
  • Cleaning only with mild soap and damp cloth
Availability
  • Slab/Flat Panel
  • Slab/Textured Panel
  • Framed (Shaker)
  • Tongue-and-groove (T&G)
  • Inset handle

Solid Wood Painted Kitchen Doors

Doors fashioned from solid wood, such as ash, maple, or tulip wood, undergo a thorough priming process before being painted in a chosen color.

Painted solid wood doors strike a balance between the timeless charm of wood and the personalized touch of a paint finish. They are a fitting choice for a wide array of kitchen styles, from the classic to the modern.

The painting process may vary, with some suppliers offering factory-sprayed finishes while others provide hand-painted detailing. While both methods are of high quality, hand-painted doors often have a unique touch that can add character.

Color options can differ by retailer, with larger stores typically presenting a standard color selection and smaller, independent outlets offering custom color matching, often with the option to match the color to a particular brand, sometimes at no extra charge.

Maintenance of painted wood doors includes the possibility of touch-ups where necessary to address any chipping. Doors can be hand painted or factory re-sprayed as needed for a fresh look.

It’s worth noting that solid wood doors are subject to the natural movements of the wood, which can expand and contract with changes in temperature. This movement may affect the paint finish, potentially leading to paint lifting or flaking at the joints. Choosing woods with lower absorption rates, like ash, can minimize this effect. A minimal joint design approach can further reduce the risk, typically resulting in only fine hairline cracks that develop over time and are less likely to result in flaking or peeling of paint.

This is also a very popular kitchen door type.

Pros
  • Long life
  • Easy touchup/repair
  • Range of colour options
  • Can be re-painted
  • Character of the grain shows through
Cons
  • May exhibit wear over time, including potential chipping
  • Cleaning only with mild soap and damp cloth
  • Prone to movement and hairline cracks on the joins
  • 5-Piece doors only
Availability
  • Framed (Shaker)

Laminate Kitchen Doors

Laminate kitchen doors represent a broad spectrum in both construction and quality. At their essence, these doors consist of a flat, slab-fronted panel with a dense fibreboard center. They’re sheathed in a durable laminate coating and edged with hard-wearing ABS plastic, making them a more robust option compared to melamine-based products and remarkably straightforward to clean.

The standard laminate door might feature a chipboard core, adorned with a laminate layer approximately 0.6mm thick, and complemented with matching ABS plastic edging. The tactile experience of these doors is typically warm and inviting, with a smooth finish that’s designed to resist fingerprints and simplify cleaning.

On the higher end, laminate doors can boast an MDF core and may be finished with a thicker laminate of 1mm or even 2mm, again with corresponding ABS edging. These high-quality laminates consist of decorative papers saturated with resin and are the result of advanced printing technologies that can replicate the look and feel of natural wood or stone textures. This technique not only provides a realistic aesthetic but also enhances durability with anti-fingerprint and strong bonding features, ensuring these doors are exceedingly low-maintenance. Additionally, the MDF core offers a solid foundation for the attachment of hinges and fixtures, enhancing the overall functionality of the doors.

Pros
  • Very easy to maintain
  • Attractive decors
  • Finish and texture options
  • Matching panels and worktops
  • High UV-resistance
Cons
  • Limited door styles
Availability
  • Slab / Flat Panel

Acrylic Faced Kitchen Doors

Acrylic faced doors, constructed with an 18mm MDF core and adorned with a 0.5mm thick sheet of acrylic on both sides, are a cost-effective solution for modern kitchens. The doors are finished with robust PVC tapes along the edges for added durability.

These doors are exclusively available in a slab fronted style, making them a perfect fit for contemporary interiors where a sleek and easy-to-maintain surface is preferred.

The high-gloss finish on these acrylic doors provides an ultra-smooth and reflective facade, comparable to glass. For those who favor a more subdued look, the matte options offer a soft, silky texture that closely resembles a painted surface. Both gloss and matte finishes are exceptionally easy to clean, thanks to their smooth, texture-free exteriors. This feature renders acrylic faced doors a more pragmatic option than lacquered or painted doors, which often demand more delicate cleaning and are more susceptible to chipping.

While typically available in an array of neutral and monochromatic shades, manufacturers occasionally release a few select colors to align with current design trends, adding a pop of personality to the palette. Additionally, some retailers provide a choice of PVC edging tapes in various finishes, such as glass, steel, or plywood effects, catering to different design themes like Industrial or Scandinavian.

Pros
  • Easy to maintain
  • Edging options
  • Cost effective
  • High UV-resistance
Cons
  • Limited door styles
  • Limited colours
  • Scratch resistance
Availability
  • Slab / Flat Panel

5-Piece Kitchen Doors

The 5-Piece Vinyl Wrapped Door is an economical option for those looking to achieve the aesthetic of solid wood or smooth painted framed doors without the associated costs.

The construction of these doors is distinct from the 1-piece vinyl alternatives. Each segment of the 5-piece door is individually encased in vinyl, ensuring a comprehensive wrap that enhances the door’s seal and resistance to de-lamination.

Maintenance is straightforward with these doors; they can be kept clean with regular household cleaners. The vinyl surface is not only smooth but also resists staining, making it simple to maintain its pristine appearance with just a wipe.

While offering economic benefits and ease of maintenance, the range of colors available for vinyl wrapped doors tends to be more limited than that of painted doors.

Pros
  • Easy to clean
  • Cost effective
Cons
  • Limited door styles
  • Limited colours
  • Can be susceptible to moisture damage around sinks.
Availability
  • Framed (Shaker style)

Vinyl Wrapped Doors

Vinyl Wrapped Doors emerge as a pragmatic and affordable solution for kitchen cabinetry, incorporating an 18mm MDF core meticulously molded for detail, then enveloped in a vinyl sheet through a heat-activated adhesive process for a strong and enduring bond.

These doors are an economical choice compared to their solid wood or smoothly painted counterparts, aligning well with budget-conscious individuals desiring a mix of style and affordability. Their prevalence in DIY stores and multiple retail outlets, along with availability in standard dimensions, underscores their appeal among homeowners engaged in self-managed kitchen updates.

Maintenance is straightforward, requiring only regular household cleaning solutions to keep the doors looking new. The vinyl surface is designed to resist stains and is effortless to clean, ensuring long-term aesthetic appeal and hygiene.

However, it’s important to note the somewhat restricted color palette when compared to painted doors. Additionally, the durability of vinyl wrapped doors can be affected by high temperatures; areas around dishwashers, ovens, and other heat-generating appliances may see an increased risk of glue deterioration and de-lamination over time.

Typically, the warranty for vinyl wrapped doors spans 5 to 6 years, a duration that reflects the anticipated lifespan and performance of the doors under normal kitchen conditions, including exposure to heat.

Vinyl wrapped is a kitchen door type that is used extensively in the replacement door market due to the ease of manufacturing special sizes on CNC machines. 

Pros
  • Easy to clean
  • Cost effective
  • Design options
Cons
  • Prone to delamination/peeling
  • Limited colours
  • Limited warranty
Availability
  • Framed (Shaker style)
  • Flat panel (including different edge detail)
  • Ribbed doors
Suitability

MFC (Melamine Faced Chipboard) Doors

MFC doors, standing for Melamine Faced Chipboard, are a highly economical choice for kitchen cabinetry. These doors typically feature an 18mm thick chipboard core that is covered with a 0.4mm layer of melamine. This melamine layer is firmly attached to the chipboard, creating a solid and durable surface.

The primary vulnerability of MFC doors lies in their edges, particularly when finished with a 0.4mm ‘iron-on’ edging tape. This type of edging is more susceptible to chipping, peeling, and does not effectively resist moisture. However, an MFC door significantly increases in value and durability when it is edged with 1mm or 2mm ABS plastic. Such edging not only enhances the door’s resistance to moisture but also ensures a robust seal around the edges.

Melamine itself is offered in an extensive variety of finishes, allowing for a broad range of aesthetic choices. Options include solid colors, wood grains, and stone effects, with some retailers providing a vast selection to cater to diverse tastes and kitchen designs.

When properly edged with ABS plastic, MFC doors stand out for their exceptional value. They are cost-effective, straightforward to clean, and maintain, making them an attractive option for those seeking quality and affordability in kitchen design.

MFC is the same material that the bulk of kitchen cabinets are made from. It is therefore the most cost effective kitchen door type for anyone on a tight budget.

Pros
  • Easy to clean
  • Most cost effective
  • Finish and texture options
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Prone to impact damage
  • Prone to moisture damage when using sub-standard edging
  • Hinge fixings can sometimes break out
Availability
  • Slab/Flat panel

In summary, choosing the right kitchen door type is a crucial step in creating your ideal kitchen space. From the rustic charm of solid wood to the sleek modernity of acrylic and the affordability of laminate, each material offers unique benefits and considerations. 

By weighing the pros and cons we’ve outlined, you’re well-equipped to select doors that not only complement your design aesthetic but also meet your functional needs and budget. Remember, the best choice is one that aligns with your personal preferences and the practical demands of your kitchen. 

We hope this guide has illuminated the path to a kitchen that’s not only beautiful but also a true reflection of your home’s character and your lifestyle.

Now, view a few of our Case Studies to see if you can spot the different kitchen door types. 

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