Kitchen doors: The pros and cons of each type

Once you have chosen your kitchen style and the type of door and door opening, it’s time to decide what material will work best for you in terms of durability, colour, finish and price point.

NOTE: By first reading our article on choosing a kitchen style, and getting clear on which you prefer – it will make this article easier to follow. Knowing whether you are leaning towards a traditional, contemporary or mix will allow you to shortlist the 11 options below. 

Below, you will find an overview of material the different doors are made from and their ‘pros and cons’. Please note, other materials are available on the market, we have listed those most commonly used in order of price from high to low:

 

Table of Contents

Porcelain clad doors

A 3mm thick porcelain tile which is bonded to a laminate or acrylic covered MDF substrate. One of the most expensive solutions for kitchen doors. This material is extremely hard wearing, the face panel is heat and scratch resistant. These doors are also very easy to clean. Finishes are often industrial stone effect which look best on large format doors. Best suited to contemporary kitchens.

Pros
  • Very durable
  • Low maintenance
  • Luxurious look
  • Long life
Cons
  • Limited colours
  • Expensive
  • Flat panel doors only

Glass clad doors

A 6mm float of colour backed toughened saftey glass which is bonded to a laminate or acrylic covered MDF substrate in a matching colour.

The glass can either be polished to a mirror like finish or can be acid-etched for a diffused, satin look.

Toughened glass is extremely hard wearing, heat and scratch resistant (unless scored with diamond). These doors are also very easy to clean. Finish / colour options vary between suppliers. Best suited to contemporary kitchens.

Pros
  • Very durable
  • Luxurious look
  • Long life
Cons
  • Limited colours
  • Expensive
  • Flat panel doors only

Smooth painted doors

22mm thick, green MDF doors which are resistant to moisture, have protective edging and are laminated, primed and painted.

Like the solid wood doors mentioned below, colour options will depend on the retailers offering but usually includes an extensive range.

Smooth painted doors are generally spray painted for an even, flat finish.

Made from a single board and routered to style, there is no movement or expansion on these doors. This means that there will be no visible join or hairline crack to worry about like on solid wood doors.

As with other painted products, these doors can be touched-up with paint to repair any chips and could be re-sprayed in the future.

Available as slab doors and shaker style to suit lay-on or in-frame.

Pros
  • Easy to touch-up/repair
  • Luxurious look
  • Could be re-painted
  • Long life
  • No movement to cause cracking on joins
  • Range of colour options 
Cons
  • Prone to chipping
  • Clean only with soap and damp cloth

Solid wood natural doors (tinted)

Natural wood doors are beautiful, with all the character of the grain on full show.

Oak and Walnut are the two most common, natural or tinted in various finishes.

Some manufacturers offer exotic woods and redwoods although these are normally reserved for the premium end of the market.

Although normally associated with traditional farmhouse kitchens, simple shaker framed solid wood doors also work perfectly in contrast with modern slab fronted doors.

Pros
  • Timeless
  • Luxurious look
  • Long life
Cons
  • 5-piece doors only 
  • Can discolour/mellow in natural sunlight

Solid wood painted doors

Solid timber (usually ash, tulip or oak) doors which are primed and painted to a specific colour.

Larger retailers will generally offer a set range of colours. Smaller independents will usually paint to match a specific brand paint colour, sometimes at no additional cost.

Painted wood doors are used more in traditional kitchens, the grain of the door shows through the paint to add character to the overall scheme.

The method of painting will either be factory sprayed or hand painted, depending on the supplier. Neither option has any real advantage although hand painted may show more character.

Painted doors are prone to chipping and scratching under heavy use, not always the best option for families with young children. Chips and scratches can be repaired or “touched up”.

An important note:  Wood will expand and contract in rooms where the temperature fluctuates. This can cause joints in the door to open and create a hairline crack in the paint. To get around this, some door styles have a v-groove on the joins to hide the crack.

Pros
  • Easy to touch-up/repair
  • Luxurious look
  • Long life
  • Could be re-painted
  • Range of colour options
Cons
  • Prone to chipping
  • Prone to movement, hairline cracks
  • 5-piece doors only
  • Clean with soap and damp cloth only

Lacquered gloss doors

Like acrylic, these doors are flat fronted with an MDF core (18 or 22mm).

The manufacturing process and type of lacquer is not always the same from one supplier to another.

Typically, the base board is primed, heat cured and sanded before several coats of lacquer are applied. Some manufacturers will further cure the door after the 1st coat and will polish the doors to a mirror finish after spraying. The result is a smooth highly reflective gloss finish with no obvious edges.

Unlike acrylic, these doors can be repaired using a matching lacquer or T-cut if scratched. Chamfered and lip profiles can be routered to the top edge.

Some manufacturers offer an unlimited range of colours.

Pros
  • Easy to maintain and repair
  • Seamless edges
  • Profile options
  • Range of colour options
Cons
  • High gloss not suited to all kitchens

Acrylic faced doors

An 18mm MDF core which is face bonded with a thin layer of acrylic. Edges are often finished with a matching PVC, or ply and glass effect edge.

Acrylic doors are perfectly smooth and widely available in gloss or matt. Gloss acrylic doors have a very flat and highly reflective surface, a great alternative to lacquered and glass fronted doors.

Matt acrylic doors also have a perfectly flat finish which has a silk feel like painted doors.

Acrylic is very easy to clean and maintain but can be prone to scratching.

Pros
  • Easy to clean
  • Cost effective
  • Premium look
  • Gloss and matt options
  • Edging options
Cons
  • Prone to scratching
  • Limited colours
  • Cannot be repaired

5-Piece vinyl wrapped doors

Unlike a 1-piece vinyl wrapped door, the door frames and centre panel are individually wrapped all round prior to assembling together like a traditional timber door.

This process prevents de-lamination through humidity. These doors are also easy to clean and wear very well. A cost-effective alternative to a solid timber door.

Colours are usually limited to neutral tones.

Pros
  • Easy to clean
  • Cost effective
  • Hard wearing
  • Matching carcass/cabinet (subject to manufacturer
Cons
  • Shaker style doors only
  • Limited colours (although a paintable vinyl is available)

Vinyl wrapped doors

Like laminate, these doors have an MDF core. However, these can be more detailed than laminate doors.

The MDF is shaped and routered to give the desired look, for example a Cathedral Arch or Shaker Frame. The door is then covered in a single piece vinyl “jacket” which is moulded over the door shape and bonded using a heat activated glue.

Vinyl wrapped doors are easy to clean and wear very well. They are a cost-effective alternative to a solid timber door.

Colours are usually limited and tend to be neutral.

Note: Vinyl wrapped doors can de-laminate over time. With less expensive or poor quality doors, the adhesive breaks down and the corner of the doors can peel away. This is not always the case but can happen in humid environments. Most manufacturers offer a limited warranty on this type of door.

Pros
  • Easy to clean
  • Cost effective
  • Hard wearing
  • Matching carcass/cabinet (subject to manufacturer
  • Broad range of styles
Cons
  • Prone to de-lamination
  • Limited colours (although a paintable vinyl is available)
  • Limited warranty

Laminate doors

Usually an 18mm MDF core board which is finished with a 1mm thick laminate covering, all sides are individually edged.

Laminate doors are a flat “slab” door, harder wearing than melamine and available in hundreds of colours.

Structured and textured laminates are also available which give a very detailed realistic finish to wood and stone effect doors.

Pros
  • Easy to clean
  • Cost effective
  • Hard wearing
  • Matching panels in various thicknesses (great for worktops/splashbacks etc)
Cons
  • Limited colours
  • Flat ‘slab’ doors only

MFC (Melamine faced chipboard) doors

The most cost-effective door material. A compressed chipboard which is faced with a 0.4mm thick melamine sheet and finished on the sides with a matching edging tape.

These doors are flat “slab” doors, very simple in appearance and very simple to produce. Available in many matt colours from simple white and ivory to woodgrain and stone effects. This is inevitably what your carcass/cabinet will be made from, and where the option is given, can be produced to match.

Pros
  • Easy to clean
  • Cost effective
  • Lightweight
  • Matching carcass (subject to supplier offering)
Cons
  • Prone to chips and knocks
  • Fixings like hinges can work lose from the chipboard over time
  • Limited colours
  • Flat ‘slab’ doors only

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