High Gloss Or Matte Finish In The Kitchen?

Choosing the right finish for your kitchen surfaces is a key design consideration when renovating. Since both a high gloss and matte finish works well in a kitchen, often people get very hung up on which to choose.

To make the decision easier, here are some key considerations to help you decide on your finish which matches the design of your new kitchen and the feel you’re looking for.


Many homeowners are stuck with indecision about whether to go with high gloss or a matte finish. This hangup is almost always due to homeowners not choosing the basic layout of the kitchen and important design features that will make the decision for the right finish a whole lot easier. Before you even consider your finishes you should have decided the appliances and sinks to be used as these will have an impact on the cabinetry layout which will in turn affect the type of finish you choose.

You should also have decided on the lighting, including the number of lights and their approximate placement so you can choose a complementary finish. A high gloss finish as the name suggests will rebound light around a kitchen with its shiny surface and combined with a lot of added lighting in a kitchen can cause too much glare. If you do decide to go with more lighting (especially if there are not many natural light sources) then going with a matte finish can avoid the high beam effect.


When deciding between a high gloss vs matte surface in your kitchen, you should first ask what’s the look you are trying to achieve – a traditional style or a more modern and contemporary look?

It is argued that a matte finish is more suited to a traditional looking kitchen, although it is currently trending to use a matte finish on cabinets in modern kitchens. A matte finish can achieve a lot more muted look and can make cabinets look more true to colour, in contrast to using high gloss where cabinet fronts look brighter or darker than others.

High gloss kitchen cabinets and benchtops give a sleek and shiny almost mirror like finish, especially when you choose flat cabinet fronts. As a modern kitchen is often associated with a lot of white and shine and so many go with high gloss to achieve a contemporay look. However you need to recognise that it’s not just the finish that creates a modern and contemporary feeling kitchen – you also need to create a minimalistic, clean look overall (best achieved through optimising storage solutions) utilising stainless steel and sticking to a neutral pallette.


Another important consideration is the size of your kitchen. If you are dealing with a small kitchen area then you will need every assistance to create the illusion of space. Using a matte finish won’t make your kitchen look any smaller, but as it doesn’t reflect light very well it certainly won’t help in improving the appearance of the size of the kitchen.

When you have a small kitchen area, many choose to go with a high gloss finish for its reflective properties. The lighter shade you go, with white being the best – the higher amount of reflective light and the greater the feel of space you’ll create. That’s not to say that high gloss doesn’t work in a large kitchen, however in a small kitchen you need to recognise that the glossier the finish the better it will be for creating the illusion of space.


Do you have kids that are prone to opening cupboard doors? A high gloss finish can show fingerprints and smudge marks which is something parents should consider even though they are easy to remove with a non-scratch microfibre cloth. To reduce finger prints on high gloss kitchen cabinets, consider choosing cabinets with handles so you’re touching the actual surface less.

A matte finish is often used to cover surface imperfections as the finish does not reflect light like a high gloss surface, hiding things like scratches. A drawback to a matte finish when it comes to the cleaning department is that some matte laminates have a texture to them that can also hold dirt and prove difficult to clean. This can be easily avoided by choosing a sample with a material that has a smooth flat finish.


If you are still undecided on which finish to use, the good news is there is a third option – a satin finish. For a compromise between the high gloss and matte finish, a satin finish can give a kitchen a fresh and contemporary look – not too glossy, not too muted.

There are many benefits to choosing a satin finish to your kitchen. A satin finish reflects more light than matte and stands up well to cleaning. It also works well in a high traffic area like a kitchen and provides a more sleek and silky finish than matte.

The market now has many options to achieve the look you are after, with different layers of gloss available for kitchen cabinets and benchtops. At the end of the day, you should always invest in quality no matter what finish you decide to go with. Whether high gloss, satin or matte – a high quality finish will stand the test of time.

Nu Look is always asked by clients what finish to go with and we think it’s important to workshop with our clients in the design phase the types of products that are available so you have a successful kitchen renovation. Contact us today to organise a free consultation to discuss your plans and how we can help.


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