Matt Kitchen Finish: Why and Why Not

Modern kitchen design - Designer Kitchens

The Ultimate Guide: Matt Kitchen

High gloss, gloss or matt kitchen finish? Which should I pick for my kitchen? This is the classic question faced by most homeowners when it comes to choosing one of the biggest style elements involved in completing your dream kitchen.

The kitchen’s finish can either make or break the design aspects. Which is why you’re often asked to make a huge, impactful decision. Should you opt for the pragmatic warmth and practical matt or the sleek and flashy high gloss?

People distinctly fall into one group or the other, although we can’t really say which one is better. They simply either find matt a more appealing option because of the calmness and serenity it offers or they prefer the flashy and visually stunning plays of light featured by high gloss.

However, this is no easy decision to make.

But don’t worry. For those who can’t decide or are inquiring for the first time, this blog will shed some light on why you should and should not go for a matt finish.

Here is what defines and distinguishes a matt finish.

Characteristics and qualities of a matt finish

High gloss kitchens used to be the more popular option when it comes to surface finishes, be it for commercial or residential. However, the current rising trend has shifted in favour of the matt.

Matt arose as a new trend a few years back but has stuck and evolved into a growing design trend. This shift in design trend could be attributed to its timeless appeal. In fact, a matt finish has been considered as the “epitome of sleek sophistication.”

This particular finish also boasts an understated, luxurious, elegant appearance. Also, a matt finish makes for a stunning minimalist kitchen, as shown in the awe-inspiring image below.


But what is matt really?

As its name implies, a matt finish differs in appearance from gloss. Its flat surface absorbs light rather than reflect it, making it appear muted. Others view matt as dull or boring because of the lack of shine. However, it definitely is not inferior to gloss and it possesses many qualities that make it a practical and an excellent choice for your kitchen.

One outstanding quality matt has over gloss is that it is durable and resistant to scratches. Additionally, it is fairly easy to clean, with the extra benefit of making fingerprints, smudges and other marks less visible on the surface.

Since matt surfaces are not dependent on light to maintain its definitive hue, it will have a more solid colour base compared with gloss. In other words, there is colour consistency throughout the surface. Viewed from all angles, you will have a solid colour, which means you have a smooth-looking kitchen regardless of the time of day, unlike gloss kitchens wherein lighting could dramatically change its appearance.

Moreover, doors with a matt finish will have a smoother texture with a continuous and even colour, ultimately creating sense of refined luxury. That’s why a matt finish is often dubbed as one of an understated elegance.

Like gloss, matt also comes in a wide variety of colour choices and works successfully in combination with other materials, colours and tones. As with gloss, white still is the most popular matt colour choice. Although it still makes a room feel lighter and brighter, it is but to a lesser degree due to its lack of reflective capability.

Another highly popular colour choice that’s second to white is grey. Not only does it make the space look modern and up to date, but also it adds a feeling of serenity. Mixed with handle-less cabinets, it creates an uncluttered seamless look for the kitchen.


Types of matt finish

Below are the 4 main types of matt kitchen finish available in the market, inclusive of their advantages and disadvantages.

1. Matt laminate kitchens. Edged on all of its sides, this type is either melamine-faced chipboard (MFC) or high-pressure laminate (HPL). It is inexpensive, hard-wearing and will never peel or, as the manufacturers refer to it, de-laminate.

However, the finish could be a little rough or bobbly. Also, there could be gaps in between the edges because of it being edged.

2. Silk matt laminate. This is the same as matt laminate but the only difference is that it makes use of a high-quality laminate. This is almost as smooth as the surface of a lacquered or painted matt door. A silk matt laminate is also inexpensive (costs almost the same as matt laminate), hard-wearing, has a smoother finish and also will never peel. Among its drawbacks are it’s not as appealing to customers as lacquered matt, and there are still gaps in the edges.

3. Matt lacquer kitchens or painted matt. Several coats of high-quality matt lacquer are used, resulting in an ultimately silky smooth finish. The advantage is that there are no visible edges, but the downside is that the cost is 20% higher than silk matt and matt laminate. Also, this is not as durable as the two previously mentioned types.

4. Foil or vinyl matt. This is the lowest quality available on the market. Vinyl, a thin layer of plastic, or foil (a paper mixed with resin) is wrapped around the MDF base. They’re very prone to de-laminating, where the surface peels away from the MDF base.

If you see bubbling around the edges, those are the first signs of de-lamination.

Why choose matt?

One of the reasons why a matt finish is highly sought-after by homeowners is because imperfections are not as noticeable on the surface.

This means fingerprint marks, scratches and others will not easily be noticed unlike in a glossy finish.

However, this doesn’t imply that there will be no fingerprints or other imperfections on the surface. It only means that because of the absence of light reflecting on the matt surface, you don’t see these imperfections as much. That being said, it’s highly ideal and practical for busy households where frequent cleaning might be an issue.

There is a definite consistency in colour. No areas will be lighter or darker because of the lack of reflection of light on the surface.

Notice how the colours look far more consistent in the picture below?


Why not choose matt?

Remember that since the surface will not reflect light but rather absorb it, it results in a more muted look. Also, if you have a small kitchen space, a matt finish will not help you make it appear larger or brighter, unlike a glossy finish, if that’s what you’re trying to achieve. The darker the colour, the smaller the room would feel.

Unlike gloss, matt may not be as smooth, so cleaning could be a bit challenging. However, cleaning is still fairly straightforward. Only use a microfibre cloth to keep the surface clean.

Questions to ask when designing a matt kitchens

Consider other design elements first. Most often, homeowners are undecided whether to go with a matt or a high gloss kitchen. This is almost always due to them not considering the other design features first, including the kitchen layout and what appliances will be in the kitchen, which in turn affects the cabinetry, which then affects the type of finish. It is safe to say that the decision will be a lot easier if other design features are also considered.

Lighting is another factor that needs to be carefully considered, which is inclusive of the number of lights and their placement in the kitchen, which in turn affects which complementary finish you choose. If you are planning on going with more lighting, opt for a matt finish to avoid a high beam effect.

Kitchen size.This is by far the most important factor when designing a matt kitchen—the size of your space. If you have a small space, you will need every design element in the book to create the illusion of space. This means a matt finish will do you no good, since light will not be reflected on the surface, but absorbed.

Cleaning Requirements. If you have kids at home who often open cupboard doors, then a high gloss finish might not be the most ideal option as it will easily show fingerprints and other smudges on the surface. This is something parents need to think about if they don’t want to keep on cleaning the surface and this where a matt finish becomes the practical choice.

A matt finish, however, doesn’t necessarily covers imperfection, but since it absorbs lights and it doesn’t have a reflective surface, imperfections are not easily noticeable. The drawback is that some laminates could have a certain texture that holds dirt and could prove challenging to clean. This can be avoided by choosing a material that has a smoother flat finish.

Traditional or modern. So what do you want to achieve, a contemporary look or a more traditional one? You have to ask yourself this before finally deciding which finish works best for your kitchen.

Whether matt is more suited to a traditional look is still up for debate, but it is in fact currently popular in modern cabinets. Contemporary cabinets look truer to colour and are able to achieve a more muted look compared with a high gloss finish. In a glossy finish, the cabinet fronts would often appear to be brighter or darker.

A matt finish also exudes a more professional feel that appears not only solid at every angle but also smooth. It can have that understated elegance to it that allows you to achieve a contemporary look minus the gloss. Additionally, if you want character and a more dramatic look, then this finish is ideal for you.

It is fairly safe to assume that a matt finish is applicable to both a modern and a traditional kitchen space or even somewhere in between.

The colour scheme. Although there are already a lot to consider, don’t forget the colour scheme for your kitchen. To make the room feel bigger and more open, opt for lighter coloured cupboards and drawers, which are highly recommended for small kitchens opting for a matt finish.

Meanwhile, greys, navy blue and other darker shades are more ideal for the larger kitchen. They provide a more sophisticated look. Also consider the colour of the kitchen island, which could stand as the room’s centrepiece or help tie the whole ensemble together.

Matt or glossy floors.It’s not just the cabinet doors that are matt or glossy. Flooring, the often neglected area, could help enhance the kitchen’s overall appeal. For a striking look, opt for a glossy flooring set against matt cabinets. For a more subtle look, matt and wood go well together and are easy to maintain in the long run.

Top Tips

If you are convinced matt is for you yet still on the fence because of the possibility of a muted, dull or boring look, then here are two ideas that could help you.

Create contrast. Mix two different matt colours in order to create not only contrast but also a point of interest. You’ll aiming for a matt kitchen that draws attention to the eye, yet not too overpowering.

Door type. How about a Shaker-style cabinet door? This style creates different shadows on the surface for more interest and a depth.

Opt for a cabinet door with an uncomplicated design and will not overpower the design aspects of your kitchen space, yet still adds an interesting character to the room.


Final Thoughts

Ideally, designers note that a matt kitchen finish is a perfect choice for a traditional, modern or a country kitchen style. In fact, matt finish cabinets are the currently popular in most areas of Europe compared with glossy units.

If you’re looking for a sophisticated and not too flashy design or themes for your kitchen, then a matt kitchen would be a fantastic choice. Not only is it practical, but also it is a beautiful finish that’s perfect for all areas of the kitchen and works easily well and uniformly across the space. It also can accentuate other design elements and statement pieces you may have.

However, the ultimate decision lies on your shoulders. Always remember that the finish you choose will ultimately affect the overall aesthetics and ambience of your home kitchen.