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Your guide to kitchens, kitchen cabinet doors in timber, lacquer, malamine, aluminium and glass - kitchens in New Zealand

Kitchen Doors

Melamine   |   Vinyl Wrap   |   Lacquer   |   Wood   |   Aluminium



New Zealand kitchens typically have doors in one of the following finishes:

  • Melamine
  • Vinyl Wrap (Thermoformed)
  • Lacquer
  • Timber
  • Aluminium

Aesthetically of course, it is the doors and drawer fronts that set the style and tone of the kitchen. Door styles and colours are usually the first things on people’s minds when considering their new kitchen.

Melamine Kitchen Cabinet Doors

kitchen-cabinet-doorsMelamine kitchen cabinet doors are the standard at the lower end of the market but they can also look good in a better appointed kitchen. Melamine doors offer huge choice of colour and pattern choices. A careful choice of handles can really set a melamine faced kitchen off.

A great  advantage of melamine is that it is virtually maintenance-free.  Wood needs a lot of love and attention as it is a natural product and prone to  changes in temperature and humidity, lacquer needs care as the surface finish can be damaged more easily but melamine only needs the occasional wipe over with a clean damp cloth and it is clean again. Melamine doors suffer from a lot less wear and  tear and will stay fresh for a good number of years.

Melamine is most commonly used in usually single-colour form but it is also produced in modern, up-to-the-minute patters. Melamine kitchen doors can also imitate the the patterns of timber, as shown by the example on this page.  Melamine is a cheap option for giving a tired old kitchen a lift and bringing it back to new-looking.

Melamine veneer is made by layering various components under high pressure and temperature as shown in the illustration below. This veneer is then adhered to customwood or particle board to be cut to shape as required.


Wood kitchen doors?

Vinyl Wrap Kitchen Cabinet Doors

Vinyl wrap or thermoformed doors are popular way of getting a colour onto a profiled door without the expense of lacquer.

With vinyl thermoformed doors, sheet of coloured vinyl is laid over doors and drawer fronts in a vacuum oven. The vacuum is used to draw the vinyl down over the panels whilst the heat softens it, allowing it to take on the shape of the door whilst liquifying the glue that binds it to the panel. The result is an durable and attractive coating at a lower cost than lacquer.

The main advantage of vinyl over lacquer finishes is cost. Disadvantages are the limited colour choices, little or no choice over gloss levels and the fact that the inside of the door is not coloured. When the doors are opened, the back of the door looks like the inside of the cupboard whereas a lacquer door can be completely coated with colour. Also, if it gets damaged, it can’t just be repainted but requires replacement of the whole door. Also, when the colour is no longer made it wont be possible to replace a door with a matching one. That said, they are a popular and durable choice which, if you don’t want to go to the expense of lacquer and don’t mind the white of the inside of the door, are a good choice.

Vinyil is easy to clean and should last many years but it is important to ensure that water resistant MDF is used. This is usually referred to as MUF. If water should penetrate ordinary MDF, it will swell and cause the vinyl to bubble up. When this happens, the door cannot be repaired.


Glossy vinyl kitchen cabinet doors



wood-kitchensWood Kitchen Cabinet Doors

Wood has always been a popular choice for kitchen doors. If you choose wood,  you will have a choice of solid wood or wood veneer. The latter is cheaper and more stable, less prone to movement. Wood is a natural material and solid wood doors are likely to respond to weather, humidity and temperature. Wood mellows over time, becoming richer in colour and darker in hue.

Wood (or timber) doors can be given a number of finishes from traditional oiling to high gloss varnish. It can also be painted in any colour and gloss finish. There are specialist finishers who can produce a limed, colour-washed or even distressed finish.

Advantages of wood are mostly to do with the look and feel. If you like natural products and want a traditional feel to the kitchen then wood could be for you. Wood can be subject to damage of course but it can be easily repaired. Scratches for instance can be sanded out and touched up with furniture oil or varnish. An older kitchen can develop a very homely look as the timber mellows and the natural signs of wear and tear give it the distressed appearance that some people actually pay for at the outset.

The disadvantages of solid wood are that, if poorly made of inadequately seasoned timber it can move or split.  To keep its looks over time wooden kitchen cabinet doors need to be cared for as you would your timber furniture.  Wood veneer on a stable substrate such as MDF will not move or split but lacks the quality appearance of solid natural wood.

Laquer Kitchen Cabinet Doors

Lacquer doors are denerally made from MDF or preferably moisture resistant MDF. The can be plain or profiled. Profiling means shaping, or more accurately cutting into shapes with a computer controlled router. The raw door is sanded and painted, usually with a 2-pot Acid Cat lacquer.

The resulting paint coating can be in a variety of gloss finishes or matt. 2-pot lacquer is quite tough but it is still only paint. The hardness and durability will be much higher that polyurethane but less hard that that of your car.

Advantages of lacquering are that you can have any colour you like to fit in with your overall colour scheme. You also get a choice of gloss finishes from high gloss to satin. Disadvantages are that it can suffer scratching and damage, which is expensive to repair, and it might be tricky to match the colour in future, especially after fading.

You might not choose a lacquer finish if you have small children running about with their toys or even clumsy teenagers.


Aluminium Kitchen Cabinet Doors

Aluminium is a less popular choice in today’s kitchens. It is used for framing, usually of glass. Aluminium framed doors usually feature clear or frosted glass but increasingly, people are opting for colour-coated glass panels, which can be matched with glass splashbacks and integrated with the overall colour scheme.

Aluminium is rarely used on its own though. It is used mostly to contrast with other finishes and to provide variation and highlights.

Aluminium door frames come in a variety of profiles.





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