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Gloss vs. matte cabinets: What’s right for your kitchen?

You’re about to start your kitchen renovation, and are finalizing your kitchen design. You’ve made all the major decisions, down to color and material selection. The one thing you’re still debating is the finish for your cabinetry—should you choose gloss kitchen cabinets or matte kitchen cabinets?

Decor-minded homeowners usually want their kitchen cabinetry to embody both function and style. Today’s wide range of gorgeous, durable laminates gives you plenty of options, but also makes it challenging to settle on one. At Bath+Kitchen, we try to make this process as easy and pain-free for our clients as possible by explaining the pros and cons of each option and recommending materials and finishes that suit their lifestyle, considering all members of their household. 

In this blog, we’ll take you through some key points we discuss with our clients when they’re trying to choose between gloss and matte finish cabinets.

What are the key differences between gloss kitchen cabinets and matte kitchen cabinets?

Matte cabinetry by Nobilia

Today’s innovative design and high-quality laminates make it possible to achieve almost any finish you can think of. Thanks to manufacturers investing in research and testing new materials, homeowners now have a myriad of options at their fingertips, from flawless high-gloss to perfectly textured finishes.

That said, there are still some important questions to ask while choosing between finishes. Keep reading to learn what they are!

1. How do these two finishes compare in style?

Gloss finishes give the kitchen an expensive, sophisticated, contemporary/modern look. They have a sleek look that works well with clean lines to create a feeling of perfectly polished lightness. We get a lot of requests for high-gloss kitchen cabinets now because they’re more suited to a contemporary-style kitchen with flat cabinet fronts than to a traditional-style kitchen. A gloss finish also helps create a feeling of spaciousness and airiness that aligns well with a contemporary-style kitchen. 

Matte finishes are great for kitchens with a soft look—subtle reflections, soft edges, soft colors, etc. They’re an excellent choice for more traditional-style or country-style kitchen cabinets with either flat or routed fronts, because they help emphasize the wood grain with its subtle color variations. 

To sum up, a gloss finish will give your kitchen an expensive, sophisticated, and modern look. A matte finish is more subtle, soft, and cozy, and works well if your kitchen has a more traditional look. So, consider the style of your kitchen when deciding between gloss and matte cabinetry.

2. How do these two finishes compare in durability and ease of maintenance?

Today, thanks to technology and innovation, you can choose from a wide range of options with incredible durability. So, regardless of whether you choose gloss or matte, you can keep your cabinetry looking brand new for years with proper maintenance.

But there are differences that could shape your decision. Though both these finishes can be water-resistant and durable, scratches and fingerprints show up on glossy cabinets much easier than they do on matte cabinets. If you have small children or pets, high gloss cabinetry will be quite a challenge to keep clean. You could, however, choose to use a gloss finish only for your upper cabinetry, which children and (most) pets can’t reach! On the plus side, if you choose an acrylic high-gloss finish, they are moisture-resistant and UV-resistant, which means they won’t warp or fade easily.

Matte cabinets are typically easier to clean because they are less prone to scratches and fingerprints. If you have small children or pets, it’s probably best to go with matte cabinets. But be sure to check for heat resistance; vinyl laminates can give you a beautiful smooth finish, but some have poor heat resistance. Check with the cabinetry manufacturer or your kitchen designer about small appliance placement—such as electric kettles—and whether it’s possible to add a heat shield or some kind of heat protection.

3. How do these two finishes compare in price?

In general, gloss costs more. Acrylic finish laminates give you that brilliant, mirror-gloss effect, but are quite expensive. However, one thing to keep in mind is the value it can add to your home. If you are planning to rent or sell, investing in this high-end look could work in your favor. 

Matte finishes tend to be more affordable. But that doesn’t mean you’ll need to compromise on quality or look—there is a wide selection of laminates to choose from today, ranging in quality and price. Dura Supreme, a cabinet manufacturer we work with, breaks their door finishes into three main categories—contemporary, painted, and stained. We also work with Plain & Fancy, who will let you customize your color (try out their Custom Color Picker and save your favorites!), in addition to offering an exquisite selection of door styles and finishes.

At Bath+Kitchen, we only work with well-reputed, top-rated cabinetry manufacturers because we want to ensure that no matter what our clients choose, they get high-quality, beautiful cabinetry that they will love for years.

A few more factors to consider

a. Natural light: Gloss cabinetry will magnify the natural light in your kitchen. Matte finishes soften the appearance of the cabinetry while adding depth and dimension. High-gloss cabinetry can make the room feel brighter and larger than it really is; in rooms that don’t have great natural light, this can be a plus.

b. Colorful spaces: Is your space colorful? If so, gloss will reflect those colors in a way that may take away from the sleek look you’re going for. Matte finishes reflect less light than gloss finishes do, so if your kitchen is colorful, it might be easier to keep everything looking clean and uncluttered with matte finishes.

c. Flooring: Is your flooring gloss or matte? You might want to try contrasting finishes, i.e., matte cabinetry with gloss flooring, or gloss cabinetry with matte flooring.

d. Dark or light theme: Are you going for a lighter or darker kitchen? Because scratches and fingerprints show up quickly and easily on dark gloss finishes, matte may be a more practical if you’re going for a dark kitchen. If you’re choosing a lighter look, gloss could be a beautiful choice.

The best choice: The finish that suits your life

There’s no clear winner here, because choosing between gloss and matte kitchen cabinetry comes down to a few factors that are unique to you:

a. Personal style: What aligns best with your personal style and preferences? If you love high-sheen, sleek, modern looks, gloss could be the right fit for you. If you’re more at home amidst softer, cozier, more traditional looks, you may be happier with matte. So, in short, think about what you like to look at and be surrounded by.

b. Lifestyle: Consider members of your household, your schedule, how you like to entertain, and other lifestyle factors. If you have frequent visitors and small children, cabinet fonts that stay looking clean with minimal effort could be your best bet. Instead, if things in your home tend to stay neat and you only entertain occasionally, impressive cabinetry that needs more maintenance could work for you.

c. Material composition of your home: What is the general look and feel of your home? Is it softer and more traditional, or is it bold, sleek, and more contemporary? Think of the materials you use throughout your home, particularly the living room and any other spaces connected to the kitchen, before you make your decision. For example, if your current kitchen has a lot of woodwork or other natural finishes, then you might want to go with matte cabinets so that it all flows together nicely.

When we design kitchens for our clients, our design packages include an in-depth study of their home, lifestyle, goals, the changes they’re hoping to make, and their personal style. It helps us make customized recommendations, rather than simply suggesting on-trend design choices. We focus on introducing clients to exciting, innovative materials and options to help them create the kitchen of their dreams. Ready to design yours? Get in touch today!

Ultimately, deciding between gloss and matte kitchen cabinetry will come down to one thing: personal preference. Remember that a good kitchen designer won’t rush you through the process; instead, they will walk you through every design decision so that you end up with the kitchen you want.

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