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Sprayed Polyurethane vs Vinyl Coatings

When it comes to protecting and beautifying your kitchen cabinets, there are a variety of options available. Two popular choices are spraying with industrial polyurethane and applying a vinyl coating. Both methods can provide a durable finish, but there are several key differences between the two that can impact the overall appearance and longevity of your kitchen cabinets. At Kitchen Makeovers, we offer both options, so you can choose the one that best suits your needs and preferences.

This beautiful kitchen in North Vancouver was refinished using a sprayed polyurethane for a durable finish.


Industrial polyurethane is a hard, protective coating that is extremely resistant to scratches, stains, and wear-and-tear. This makes it an ideal choice for high-use areas like kitchen cabinets. Industrial polyurethane is also resistant to peeling and maintains its appearance for a longer period of time, particularly in areas exposed to heat and moisture. Industrial polyurethane is also more resistant to damage from the sun’s rays, meaning that it won’t yellow or discolor over time.

Vinyl coating, on the other hand, is more prone to peeling due to heat and moisture. The adhesive used to apply the vinyl coating becomes less effective in high-moisture environments, leading to peeling and bubbling. As white and off-white thermofoil ages, it takes on a dull yellow cast largely due to exposure to sunlight and heat. Letting grease buildup linger on the cabinet hastens this discoloration. Yellowing is less noticeable on colored cabinets, but it still happens. Once it appears, there’s no way to remove it.

Heat resistance:

Industrial polyurethane can withstand temperatures beyond 200 degrees Fahrenheit, making it suitable for use near ovens and stoves. This makes it an ideal choice for kitchen cabinets that are located near these heat-generating appliances.

Vinyl coating, on the other hand, can become brittle and crack when exposed to high temperatures. This can lead to peeling and bubbling, which can be unsightly and difficult to repair. Additionally, the MDF (medium-density fibreboard) substrate underneath the vinyl coating can also start to expand and crack when exposed to moisture, which can lead to further damage to your kitchen cabinets.

Watch this video from the “Kitchen Cabinet Guy” on YouTube to gain a further understanding of Thermofoil coated doors.

Chemical resistance:

Industrial polyurethane is highly resistant to chemicals and solvents, making it an ideal choice for areas where food and cleaning products are used frequently. This means that it can withstand exposure to common kitchen cleaning products like bleach, vinegar, and de-greasers, and it will not be damaged by accidental spills of acidic substances like lemon juice or red wine.

Vinyl coating, on the other hand, can be damaged by exposure to certain chemicals. Vinyl coatings are typically made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride) which can be affected by solvents and other chemicals, so it may not be the best choice for kitchen cabinets, which are exposed to a wide range of chemicals and solvents on a regular basis.


Industrial polyurethane provides a smooth, satin finish, unlike the plastic-like appearance of vinyl coatings. Polyurethanes are also available in different sheen’s so that you can craft a kitchen specific to your tastes. It comes in a variety of colors as well, so you can choose the perfect style to complement your kitchen cabinets. Industrial polyurethane also offers a professionally sprayed finish that can create a sleek and polished look.

What about all the websites that say painted cabinets chip?

Two component, water-based polyurethane is a highly advanced type of paint compared to traditional acrylics and melamine. It is more similar to advanced epoxy coatings than traditional paint, and unlike epoxy and traditional lacquers, it is fume-free, making it a safer and more environmentally friendly option for painting kitchen cabinets. This type of polyurethane also offers superior durability and moisture resistance, making it a popular choice for brand new cabinets. Its water-based formula allows for easy application and cleanup, while its two-part composition creates a long-lasting, hard-wearing finish that will stand up to heavy use in the kitchen. Whether you’re renovating your kitchen or starting from scratch, two component, water-based polyurethane is a great choice for creating beautiful, functional cabinets that will last for years to come.

It’s important to note that while Kitchen Makeovers offers vinyl coating as an option, it’s typically only recommended when a customer wants a specific wood-grain look for their cabinets. Due to the reasons outlined above, industrial polyurethane is a more durable and long-lasting option for kitchen cabinets in most cases. Kitchen Makeovers can help you decide which option is best for you based on your specific needs and budget.

Further Reading:

Choosing a Finish for Your Kitchen Cabinets – Polyurethane, Melamine or Laminate:

The Pros and Cons of Thermofoil Cabinets: