Gloss or Matt Kitchens: How to Decide Which Is Best for You and Your Home

For some homeowners, choosing between high gloss and matt kitchens is an easy decision. Most often, people have an immediate preference for the qualities and the look of one over the other.

However, this isn’t the case for many of us.  Take for example your inclination based solely on the looks of both finishes. So which would you pick, high gloss or matt? How would you determine which one works best for your kitchen?

High gloss kitchens were a staple in many homes for years. However, the market has shifted in favour of the more dramatic and subdued matt finish. This is attributed to the growing number of manufacturers that have made matt accessible to a wide range of homeowners, not just in high-end homes.

Both finish types work great in any kitchen style, from the traditional to the contemporary to the minimalist. Timeless in appearance, they both form the basis of visually stunning designs. They’re highly durable and easy to clean.

So how do you choose between these two finishes?

High Gloss Kitchens

To make the most out of your investment, opt for high-quality gloss. Remember that the colours of the gloss on your kitchen would slight vary depending on the reflected light.

For example, units at eye level receive and reflect most of the light entering the space. Additionally, this glossy surface also could reflect the other visible colours in the room.

So, when deciding which coloured gloss to go for, it is recommended to stick to one colour palette. In the event that you are stuck with which colour to use, seek the advice of experienced interior decorators in order to achieve the effect you are going for.

By doing so, you’ll be able to fully achieve and appreciate the stunning beauty of a high gloss finish.

high gloss kitchens cabinet black modern

Easy to clean. One of gloss’ many advantages is that it’s easy to clean thanks to its shiny surface. All you need is a non-abrasive cloth and some water for those common everyday kitchen stains and smudges.

However, for tougher stains, avoid the use of bleach as this could damage the glossy surface. Simply use lukewarm water and mild detergent and some elbow grease, but be very careful not to damage the finish.

Makes the room appear larger and more open. Gloss was made popular by small kitchen spaces. Because light is reflected into the space, the kitchen would appear larger and brighter. Additionally, the lighter the colour of the gloss finish, the brighter the room would be.

There’s no need anymore to tear down walls and have an extension built, saving you money in the long run.

The Drawback  

Although not necessarily major, some homeowners tend to avoid gloss because can make fingerprints and other imperfections more visible on the surface. If you’re not so keen on cleaning every now and then, use gloss on higher cabinet doors, out of reach of greasy hands.

Colour Choices

High gloss is available in a wide array of colours, from white to grey to darker tones, making it easy for you to match your existing wall colour with any available gloss colour.

This finish is also available in different materials and of course prices, from gloss acrylic, gloss laminate, gloss glass to gloss lacquer. Remember that these materials have different manufacturing processes, to create varying surface looks.

How much will be light reflected depends on the material’s finish. It also depends on how it was made.

That’s why you should think about how “glossy” you want your kitchen to look.

Matt Kitchens

Similar to gloss, the quality of the finish is one of the significant requirements for successfully achieving a beautiful matt finish. With high-quality materials, a matt finish can result in the most dramatic looks possible, a kitchen with character and elegance.

As its name suggests, matt absorbs the light, rather than reflect it in the surface. This results in a more muted look. Some perceive this a dull or boring, while others consider this as an understated elegance.

The lack of shine doesn’t mean matt is inferior to gloss. On its own, it has certain qualities that interior designers and architects consider noteworthy.

matt kitchens

An even colour. Since matt isn’t dependent on light in maintaining its definitive hue, it features a solid colour, even on all sides. In other words, regardless of which angle you view it or if there’s low lighting, there is colour consistency.

Hides imperfections. Because of the lack of reflected light, fingerprints, smudges and stains and other imperfections are not as visible compared with gloss. Note that this doesn’t mean stains or fingerprints are not there. They are there! Not only as clear.

Matt finish is also scratch-resistant and durable.

The Drawback

Because light will not be reflected into the room, but rather absorbed, you might want to reconsider matt for small kitchen spaces. However, you can still utilise white hues since this still contribute to the space appearing light.

Grey tones are the next popular colour contemporary kitchens with limited spaces.

Colour Choices

Just like gloss, matt is also offered in a wide range of colours, materials and prices. It also works well in combination with other textures and even high gloss.

The Verdict

So which is better—matt kitchens or high gloss kitchens?

Ultimately, and many have pointed this out, it all boils down to personal preference. But take into consideration your kitchen size and if cleaning is a bother to you.

It isn’t about what’s best for you, but what is practically right for you.

Finding the Right Kitchen Style for You: Gloss or Matt Kitchen Finish

Kitchen remodelling could be a fun or daunting task, whether you’re simply upgrading the worktop or the cabinets or you’re completely keeping up with the latest season’s décor.

One significant decision you will have to make is choosing between a high gloss and a matt kitchen finish. Some homeowners immediately know which of the two they prefer, while for others, it’s not quite clear.

Both finishes could be as perfect and beautiful as your home’s heart, although the decision entirely rests upon your personal preference.

Don’t worry. This article will help you make the right decision.

Let’s have a look at whether a matt or a high gloss finish could be just right for you and your home.

A high gloss kitchen

If you prefer a more sophisticated beauty, then gloss is your answer. It offers a lustrous finish and is ideal for modern and contemporary designs. In fact, it has been exceptionally popular since the 1970s.

Although high gloss can be a bit tricky to perfectly style, a well-designed high gloss kitchen could be more than spectacular.

 

modern highgloss purple and white schmidt kitchen

Can match and blend with other colours

While gloss impeccably works in a smaller number of colours, it can still be perfect if you want your kitchen in luxurious black.

You might be concerned with black being a bit too much, a bit too dark or a bit too over-the-top.

But no!

There’s plenty of light reflected on the surface, even from darker colours. Even though you want to experiment with darker hues, you’ll still benefit from the reflection.

The amazing black gloss finish in the kitchen below retains spacious depth and feel of a contemporary kitchen. Although the colour is black, the space doesn’t feel cramped, thanks to the light reflected on the glossy surface.

high gloss kitchen cabinet a pop of colour

Abundance of light

If you’re looking to maximise your kitchen space, a high gloss finish could be perfect.

Its shiny surface reflects light coming from the outside or from light fixtures into and across the kitchen, creating the illusion of a larger space and making the room feel bigger than what it actually is.

This is especially true when you opt for lighter colours such as cream white, although these aren’t your only options.

However, caution should be taken when combining different colours with gloss.

Remember that the surface reflects light. This means the surface will reflect all the colours in your kitchen. So, when you experiment with contrasting colours, be prepared to a space with mesh of clashing colours.

Easy cleaning and maintenance

One of the fascinating qualities that make high gloss ideal among homeowners is that it’s fairly easy to clean.

Yes, it is true that fingerprints, smudges and other imperfections can be visible on glossy surfaces. However, note that these imperfections are not easily noticeable on high-quality glossy finishes.

Still unconvinced?

How about considering handleless high gloss kitchen cabinets?

Is a handleless high gloss finish the best choice for you?

Some homeowners are put off the idea of choosing a glossy finish because of the fact that fingerprints and other marks can show up prominently on the surface. If your heart is set on this glossy finish, yet you can’t stand the idea of having to constantly wipe off stains and other marks, there is another more appealing option.

Kitchen cabinets and cupboards with handles can easily attract smudges and dirt, simply because people will be touching these surfaces. Additionally, this all accumulates around the handles, the most awkward place, making cleaning a pain.

However, all these can be avoided with handleless kitchen cabinets.

As the name implies, these cabinet styles have no front handles that we often see on regular cabinet doors. Although various options are available, a “true handleless” type is created by recessing a solid stainless steel channel in the top line of the cabinet, creating a gap for your fingers between the top of the drawer or door and worktop’s underside.

Your fingers should curl around the surface edge and onto the back of the drawer or door, pulling it forward to open.

Benefits. This style allows you to create a streamlined, uncluttered look. The best part of this is that there are no handles where children can hang from or accidentally bang their head.

Understanding the diverse gloss materials

A glossy finish can be achieved with a wide number of materials. You can easily find and get what you are shooting for.

You have gloss glass, gloss laminate and even gloss acrylic. Whatever your heart desires, there’s plenty of options.

Matt kitchen finish

Unlike high gloss’ reflective surface, matt instead absorbs light and doesn’t reflect it. This means you’ll have a flat stylish look, which can be ideal for anything from country-style properties to traditional designs.

However, its simplicity also lends to a more contemporary style. Matt finish tends to have a more slightly warmer and consistent feel than gloss.

rempp matt lacquered kitchen

Hides marks and other imperfections

Much like gloss, matt surfaces are relatively easy to clean. However, an additional benefit provided by this particular finish is that it’s much better at hiding any imperfections on the surface.

Not only is matt scratch resistant, but also fingerprints, smudges and other marks are less noticeable on its surface. This is highly ideal for households with children. It means that you can get more out of life since the surface will remain in exceptional condition for a long period of time.

Broader colour variety

Compared with gloss, matt finishes offer a broader variety of colours. This lets you mix two colours more easily, which can be very beneficial if you have a specific palette in mind.

And yes! It’s true that matt finishes easily blend quite well with other surfaces and materials, including gloss.

Some homeowners initially prefer having a glossy finish, but then they opt for matt when they find out that they can easily get what they’re actually looking for.

In general, matt finishes work with a wider range of properties and may be more naturally suited to the aesthetic of your home. In the example below, the dark matt surfaces sit perfectly alongside the wooden cabinets and worktop.

Textured or smooth

If you do set your heart with a matt finish, another decision you will have to face are the kinds of material to use. This often boils down to a smooth or a textured finish.

Although textured surfaces look more stunning in any kitchen, it should be noted that they’re more prone to packing dust and dirt. Frequent cleaning might be needed.

However, there is no right or wrong answer as to which is better for your home. Just opt for one that is ideal for the way you live.

If you don’t want regularly clean and is keeping a busy household, then a smooth finish could be the way to go.

Appearing elegant and luxurious

What makes matt perfect for a minimalist is its understated elegance. Check out the example below.

matt kitchen finish

On matt surfaces, colours will appear solid from all angles. Your kitchen will definitely have a smooth-looking surface, regardless of time of day. In glossy surfaces, the colour and appearance dramatically change depending on the time of day and the amount of reflected light.

Matt is best when combined with other features

Unlike the striking and attention-grabbing appearance of gloss, matt leans more on the naturally muted look. That doesn’t mean that matt has a boring or flat look. Rather, matt works perfectly either as the centrepiece or a stunningly beautiful backdrop, complementing the other bolder features of your kitchen.

When you take this into account and the fact that matt comes in a wide range of materials and colours, this proves that a kitchen such as this could appeal to almost every type of taste and style—versatility being its strongest suit.

For example, a more dramatic backlash could be set against a matt finish.

So which is the right one for your home?

This technically depends on your personal taste and lifestyle. If you don’t mind seeing fingerprints now and then or constant clean up isn’t an issue, then we recommend a high gloss finish.

However, if you want to hide any imperfections and if there are kids in the house, opt for a matt kitchen finish.

Note that you need to factor in the quality of the kitchen material and finish in your decision as well. By working with reputable and high-quality suppliers, you are assured that your kitchen finish will last for a very long time.

Top Tips in Choosing the Right Kitchen Cabinet Finish

There are a number of factors to consider when choosing kitchen cabinets—the colour, style, handles, size. But what about the finish? Most probably, your kitchen designer will ask you to decide which finish you prefer, be it matt or a high gloss kitchen finish.

But wait! You don’t have to be half-hearted with your reply.

If you’re unsure which one to pick, then we’re here to help.

The cabinet finish could dramatically alter the look of your kitchen and also set the mood, regardless of the cabinet’s material. Some even consider the cabinets as the backbone of the kitchen.

Surprised?

This is why choosing which cabinet finish requires a deep understanding of your household needs.

The following will be covered in this article:

  • The available finish
  • Advantages and disadvantages of each finish
  • Tips to make sure each finish will work best for your kitchen

Finish materials

Whether you chose medium-density fibreboard (MDF), particle board, solid wood doors or ply for your cabinets, there are a wide array of finishes you can use to achieve the functionality and look you are aiming for.

For example, an oil coating can be used for solid timber doors to achieve a country style kitchen. For a more durable finish, opt for a coloured or clear polyurethane. This ultimately falls into your preference.

Meanwhile, kitchen-specific paints from any brand can be used to paint manufactured boards like particle board or MDF. If not, you can also use two-pack polyurethane. A layer of laminate, wood veneer, melamine or vinyl wrap can also be used as finish for such doors. Again, this depends on your preference and the look you are going for.

However, regardless of material or coating, you still have to make a choice between matt, gloss and semi-gloss finish for the end product.

Which finish should you go for? This is the classic question faced by potential customers looking for the ideal finish for their kitchen.

Should you go for the flashy and extravagant flair of high gloss or opt for the more subdued, practical warmth of a matt?

Which should you prefer and why?

The following are advantages and disadvantages of each available option.

High gloss kitchen cabinet finish

What is a high gloss finish?

Somewhat understandably, a high gloss has a glossy and sleek finish. It reflects the light of the space at different angles, making it popular and the most requested finish since it became trending back in the 70s.

This type of finish is more suited for contemporary kitchen styles with flat cabinet fronts.

There are 4 factors that affect the strength and amount of reflected light:

  • Type of gloss used
  • Colour of gloss
  • Underlying material
  • Type of light illuminating the space

Depending on the materials or the supplier, others refer to a high gloss as 100% gloss or ultra-high gloss.

high gloss kitchen finish

Advantages

A bigger space. What makes a high gloss so popular among homeowners is because it makes a limited space look bigger and wider than what it actually is.

This is thanks to the reflected light that produces a shiny finish, creating an illusion of a more open and bigger space. A high gloss finish is ideal for smaller kitchen spaces.

The bonus? You won’t be concerned with a darker colour since the shade will not absorb all the light in the room, but instead, reflect it.

The lighter the colour, the higher the reflection of light. Hence, white is the most popular colour choice.

However, take into account also the other colours of the room, since the reflective quality will bounce the light and could also reflect the other colours into those surfaces, often referred as a colour cast.

Colour cast could somewhat alter the overall appearance of the existing colour of the kitchen cabinets.

So don’t be surprised that there’s a slight alteration in colour on the surface if there are different colours in the nearby rooms such as the living area. This is especially visible on white glossy surfaces.

Easy cleaning. One other great advantage of high gloss is that it’s practically easy to clean. All you need is non-abrasive microfibre cloth to clean the glossy surface. Microfibre cloth will pick up any dust particles or marks on the surface.

For more stubborn stains, you can use a mild dishwashing soap, a non-abrasive sponge and warm water. Then gently clean the surface. Rinse, and dry with a clean non-abrasive microfibre cloth.

Disadvantages

If there are advantages, surely there are drawbacks.

Imperfections are more visible. This is undoubtedly one of the major drawbacks of a glossy finish. Since there is ample amount of reflected light on the surface, dirt, scratches, fingerprints and other marks will be more visible and noticeable.

However, as already mentioned, the surface is fairly easy to clean. So this might not be a major problem.

Now, when it comes to darker-coloured glossy finishes, tiny imperfections on the surface are more noticeable than on lighter-coloured glossy finishes. Thus, you might want to reconsider opting for a darker-coloured gloss if there are children in the house or if you’re concerned with constant cleaning.

Top tips

The reflection on light-coloured glossy cabinets will be more apparent on higher cabinets because they’re more at eye level compared with cabinets below benchtops.

If you want a high gloss finish but concerned about the visible imperfections or concerned about the kids in the house leaving marks on the surface, then opt for a high gloss finish on the upper cabinets. Then, use a semi-gloss or a matt finish for the lower ones.

Furthermore, if you would likely incorporate a darker-coloured gloss, consider mixing it with a lighter colour. The darker colour should be positioned at eye level where it will be out of reach from the sticky fingers of either adults or kids.

Then use a lighter colour for the lower cabinets, which will not easily show any imperfections.

Matt kitchen cabinet finish

What is a matt finish?

Although this is a relatively new trend, matt has become a popular choice in households over recent years. Unlike the gloss’ reflective surface, matt boasts a flat surface that absorbs light.

However, this doesn’t mean that it will appear dull, especially with lighter colours.

A matt finish is ideal for a country or traditional style kitchen cabinets with routed fronts. Yet, this finish could look just as great as gloss on contemporary style kitchen cabinets with flat fronts. In fact, it has grown highly popular in Europe than gloss.

Advantages

Less visible imperfections. One clear advantage matt has over gloss is the fact that scratches, fingerprints and other surface imperfections are not as visible because of the absence of reflected light.

However, this doesn’t mean that there are no marks. It only means that you don’t see them as clearly because light isn’t reflected on the surface.

Colour consistency. Another advantage of matt is the appearance of a consistent colour. Because of the absence of reflected light, colours in different areas of the cabinet fronts look the same.

Notice how the colour remains consistent in the image below.

matt kitchen finish

Disadvantages

A muted look. Since light will be absorbed on the surface resulting in a more muted look, others may find matt dull and boring. However, it is far from that.

Matt exudes an understated elegance with solid colours in every angle. However, note that matt isn’t ideal for small kitchen spaces. Light will not be reflected and the space could feel cramped.

Cleaning might be so easy. Since the surface could be not as smooth as gloss, cleaning might be a challenge for some, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t easy to clean. Like gloss, use a microfibre cloth for cleaning the surface.

If you plan on using a laminate material, make sure to carefully check the samples. Opt for a smooth flat finish.

Top tips

If you love the dramatic effect that is matt but concerned with the possibility of a boring look, then consider these ideas:

  • Opt for a cabinet door with a routed front like a Shaker-style picture below. The cabinet’s profile will cast varying shadows on the surface, making a feeling of interest and depth.
  • For contrast, mix two different colours.

Semi-gloss finish: Something in between

If you are still unconvinced whether to get a high gloss or a matt kitchen cabinet finish, then you can always settle for something in between—a semi-gloss finish.

A semi-gloss combines the advantages of both matt and high gloss finishes.

A semi-gloss has a certain degree of light-reflective qualities making light bounce around the kitchen space. Nevertheless, since the surface isn’t as highly reflective as high gloss, imperfections are not as visible and there is a more consistent colour.

high gloss kitchen finish

The takeaway

So which finish would you choose? The hybrid semi-gloss, dramatic matt or the flashy high gloss kitchen cabinet finish?

Ultimately, it all depends on your preference. It’s not entirely about which finish is the best, but what is ideal for you and your family.

Always remember that quality is key, not the lowest in cost.