High Gloss Kitchen Doors

Explaining the difference in quality, price and gloss values

Nearly all kitchen companies offer coloured high gloss kitchen doors, often in a simple slab design all seemingly looking very similar, but are they really?

So it is understandable that home owners can get confused when trying to compare quotes and understand why there can be a big difference in price between almost identical looking kitchens. Of course some of the cost will be down to the quality of the kitchen units but that’s a whole other subject we’ll touch on in a later blog. What we are discussing here are the doors themselves and why some are vastly superior to others.

In order to understand this you’ll need to know how kitchen doors are made, and out of what. To do this we have produced this handy guide…

Laminated Kitchen Doors

Laminated kitchen door have pieces of vinyl or paper bonded to each side of the door individually as opposed to being thermo formed around the edges. This type of manufacturing process is extremely cheap and to be honest should be avoided in all but the most budget restricted kitchens. Gloss value and durability tend to be very poor. These types of kitchens are perfect where function is more important than style or quality. Think office or shop kitchenettes.

Vinyl / Foil Wrapped Kitchen Doors

Vinyl and foil wrapped doors are one of the cheapest types of doors on the market and it stands to reason because of their price point they do have some flaws.

Vinyl doors are made by taking an MDF based door and wrapping around the front and sides a very thin film of plastic, this coloured plastic (or vinyl) is often between just 0.4mm and 0.7mm thick. You can also get Paper Wrapped doors which are much the same but with a paper and resin film thermo formed over the door. The backs of the doors will have a laminated finish which can be colour matched to the fronts but often isn’t.

It has to be said that there is varying differences in the quality of foil used and as such some are better than others, however they all have downsides to them. The level of gloss finish is not as high as other types of manufacturing process and in many cases they display an ‘orange peel’ effect. This is particularly evident if you have a kitchen with lots of natural light and in addition the sides of the doors can have quite a rough surface on low quality doors.

Foil wrapped kitchen doors are bonded together with an adhesive, this adhesive can break down and ‘blow’ over time, especially if they are in close contact with sources of heat or water. Namely around ovens and sinks but also dishwashers which can discharge high volumes of steam if opened shortly after a finished a cycle. Once a door has blown it cannot be repaired and requires a new door.

Lastly high gloss foil wrapped doors can scratch quite easily just from a daily cleaning regime, often producing a light swirl pattern. Again how badly they scratch will depend on the quality of the vinyl used.

Lacquered Kitchen Doors

Lacquered doors are a big step up from vinyl in terms of quality. Again these often use an MDF base which then has several coats of paint and lacquer applied to all sides of the door (including backs), producing a seamless finish and a greater level of high gloss.

Lacquered kitchen doors are probably the most common type of door in independent kitchen showrooms and demonstrates the increase in quality over some of the DIY sheds whose ranges are largely based on foil wrapped doors.

The benefit of lacquered doors is that because of their seamless finish they are not susceptible to damage from heat or water. Ok they will burn if direct contact with high heat but not in the general use of everyday kitchen life.

With regards to scratches they stand up very well, again the quality of the paint and lacquer used will determine how easy they scratch but largely it is not considered a characteristic of these doors. We would recommend lacquered doors over foil wrapped almost every time.

The other beauty of these doors is that some manufacturers offer a bespoke service where they can be painted any colour you can think of for a truly unique kitchen.

It should be noted that some kitchen brands do offer an upgraded lacquer finish. This is where after spraying the doors, the finish is further polished to produce a mirror like finish. Of course there is a price premium for this service.

Acrylic Kitchen Doors

Acrylic doors come in 2 types. ‘Solid Acrylic’ with the likes of Parapan and Corian where the doors are just a single piece of acrylic, or ‘Acrylic Faced’ doors which once again is an MDF based door with 2 to 4mm acrylic bonded to all sides and then laser edged to create a seamless finish.

Price wise solid acrylic doors do have a premium price tag attached; this is mainly down to the base cost of the materials being higher. The upshot is that these doors can be customised in to weird and wonderful shapes and sizes.

Acrylic faced doors are far cheaper than solid but with a compromise in quality, as the seams around the edge can be seen close up (or from afar if done badly!). Acrylic faced also cannot be customised to such an extent as its solid brother, although not impossible to do so.

Gloss value is often higher than lacquered doors and can have some benefits over them. They will withstand knocks and bumps to a higher degree and are harder to scratch. If you are unfortunate enough to scratch them, they many arcylic doors can be repaired in situ.

In terms of colours, they don’t come in an infinite range like their painted counterparts, although there is still plenty to choose from and is expanding all the time.

Glass Kitchen Doors

Glass doors have been around for quite a number of years but traditionally these had a metal frame with the glass inset. These days though coloured or back painted glass of around 3 to 6mm thick is bonded to a lacquered or acrylic door of the same colour. Of course of all the high gloss doors available, these offer the highest gloss value producing an almost mirror like finish.

It goes without saying these are incredibly hard wearing. For strength and safety the glass is either toughened or laminated so can withstand a fair amount of force before they would break.

Cost wise they are the most expensive although the price is coming down. When it comes to high gloss doors, these instantly add that ‘Wow’ factor. No question.

In Part 2 of ‘Kitchen Door Quality Explained’ we shall be taking a look at the various types of timber doors. Stay tuned.