How to replace an obsolete cabinet door

The closet door. (Reader photo)

Question: My 20 year old kitchen cabinet doors are made of wood composite with a white plastic coating. I recently got a new gas range and the heat melted and warped the plastic on an adjacent cabinet door. I can’t find a manufacturer name anywhere on the cabinets and I am told that the design on the front with rounded corners is no longer made. I don’t want to have to replace all 16 of my cabinet doors. Is there any way I could fix this or reproduce one door to match the others?

– Falls Church

Answer: It appears from the pictures you sent that the plastic coating is thermal film – a colored layer covered with clear vinyl that is applied to the door in a process using vacuum and heat. Unfortunately, if this type of finish gets too hot, it will melt and deform. You can’t just reheat it and get it back in shape.

There are a few things you can try without swapping out all of the doors. First, look around the kitchen or other rooms to see if you have matching doors with the same size and pivot direction. In this case, you may just need to swap the damaged door for one in a less noticeable place.

You can also try cutting off the melted finish with a sharp utility knife. Fill in the final layer with wooden putty knife or a car body filler, prime and paint. (Get paint to match by taking the door to a paint store.)

As a third option, buy a new thermal film door that fits together as well as possible. Adjusting the color is relatively easy; According to Tom Fowler of Tom’s Cabinets & Design in Springfield (703-451-2227; the hardest part is finding a suitable profile.

As you’ve learned, many thermal film cabinet manufacturers have gone beyond door style in your kitchen. They are trying to better mimic the traditional panel and frame door, which has a solid wood frame with sharp corners around a separate panel. In contrast, a thermal foil door is typically made from a single piece of medium density fiberboard that is shaped with a router to resemble a frame and panel. The rounded corners of the “frame” are not a statement of style. They are just the shape that routers cut.

Although manufacturers are now trying to minimize rounded corners, doors similar to yours are still available. The home page on Tom’s Cabinets website contains a link to a thermal film door catalog that includes doors with rounded corners. (See the Advantage series.)

If you decide to swap the door but can’t find an exact match, consider swapping nearby doors so everything looks the same up close. If the doors in the room are a little different, then only those with young eyes will notice.

Question: My wife inherited a corner cupboard from her grandmother. Unfortunately, the carved marble slab is torn in two. Is there anyone in the DC area who can fix it or rebuild it?

– Washington

Although it might be possible to glue the pieces back together, the crack would still be visible. You could get a replacement part for roughly the same price.

Lori Hethmon, owner of Granite Grannies (301-218-7666;, an Upper Marlboro company that makes and installs granite and marble countertops, suggested removing the countertop and moving into a store like hers to bring them to use as a template. “Sometimes people wonder if a new stone would depreciate the value of an antique,” she wrote in an email. “The answer is no. All stone is old.”

If the top has so much sentimental value that you’d rather fix it, the Countertop Guru in Sterling (703-430-0007; can do it, said owner Winkhel Sahagun after looking at the pictures that you have viewed sent. In an email, he said he would clean the crack, add color pastes to the polyester glue to match the marble color as closely as possible, and glue the pieces back together. He waited for the glue to dry and then polished the top to make the patch material flat and shiny and to blend into the marble.

Sahagun estimated it would cost $ 400 to $ 600 to repair. A spare part? About the same, he said.

Do you have a problem in your home? Send questions to [email protected] . Put “How To” in the subject line, let us know where you live, and try to snap a photo.

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