The History and Popularity of White Cabinets

Just a few years ago, who would have thought white cabinets would be the number one selling cabinet in the Midwest? Not too long ago, light colored stains, glazing accents, and natural finishes were the craze. Now across the cabinet industry, 60% of all cabinet sales are painted, with white being the bigger majority, and different shades of gray a close second.

This isn’t the first time white was so popular.

Back in the 1990’s, white was very popular, just not painted white. Back then it was a process called thermo-foil. Thermo-foil is a plastic laminate type of material that is heated and wrapped to a pre-made fiber wood door. This process limited the selection of door styles. Many of the door styles construction, detail, and sharp edges would not allow the thermo-foil to apply properly. The other challenge using a thermo foil door was accomplishing a good match to the color of the cabinet frame. Due to the limitations of thermo foil, the frame of the cabinet had to be a painted wood. Trying to match different materials with different finishes was difficult for cabinet manufacturers. Many cabinet companies offered frameless style cabinets or full overlay style cabinets. This eliminated the cabinet frame or “hid” most of the cabinet frame with the larger “full overlay” door. Not to mention the challenges of the thermo foil doors “orange peeling” or pulling apart from the fiber wood due to high humidity and change of temperature.

Why did cabinet manufacturers use thermo foil doors and not painted doors in the 90’s?

Assembly line cabinet companies did not have a cost effective way or the technology to paint cabinets. If you wanted a painted cabinet in the 90’s, normally you had to go to a custom cabinet shop. A custom cabinet shop  could take the time needed to get an acceptable finish. But this custom finish normally cost the customer double or more. Now all assembly line cabinet companies offer painted cabinets. Including entry line, to mid level, to semi custom.

Why are these companies now able to paint cabinets?

The popularity and demand forced companies to figure out painting cabinets in a cost effective way. Once one assembly line cabinet company had success offering a painted product, it forced all companies to figure out a painted product. With advancements in technology and improvements to the paint products, painted cabinets are now  rolling down the assembly line!

Making painted cabinets affordable!

So much of the price of a painted cabinet depends on how much time a company spends on filling  the joints, and how many passes or coats of paint are applied. Entry level cabinets may have as few as one or two coats of paint.  Semi-custom companies apply a heavier spray with many more coats of paint. The great thing for all customers now; no matter what your budget, no matter what door style you have interest in, you are able to purchase a painted cabinet with literally an unlimited amount of colors and variations of colors. This gives you the style and look that is popular today and I believe for many years to come.