When a trend is established, it gains mass popularity which means it shows up everywhere you turn. Design websites splash them around in picture-perfect galleries where flowers never wilt, kids clean up their messes and there’s nary a water spot to be seen. It looks great, doesn’t it? So perfect, that you think it’s the best choice for your kitchen.

Are Chic Matte Cabinet and Countertop Finishes Right for Your Home?

Before making any final decisions on kitchen selections, it’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with “the good, the bad and the ugly” of any trend. That way, you’ll have all the information to make the best decision that works for your lifestyle—especially if you prefer a kitchen that is lighter on cleaning and maintenance requirements.

Matte finishes: the good

First, we’ll start with the positives. Matte cabinets and countertops have been around for a while, but they started making serious headlines around 2012.

They’re considered chic and “modern”. This is ironic since gloss and shine are also marks of more contemporary or “modern” kitchens—so you can see how “trend” factors are in play here.

Do matte finishes conceal?

Since high-gloss finishes are the quickest to show stains, smudges or scratches, matte finishes became popular for those who don’t want to clean their cabinet surfaces as often.

Matte finishes create texture

Homeowners with larger kitchens or open floor plans are also drawn to matte cabinet finishes because they feel that large expanses of glossy cabinetry can be “too much” gloss when shared between living, dining and (potentially) other areas of the home.

Matte finishes: the bad

Now onto the not so good aspects. Matte finishes don’t reflect as much light, and this can work as a camouflage of sorts. So, the public story is that matte cabinet finishes hide more of the dust, grime and general kitchen smudges than polished or glossy finishes—which it does.

Conceals, but doesn’t prevent

The finish can’t prevent those types of issues it just makes them less prominent. As a kitchen remodeling company who sees the before-during-and-after of these finishes, we can attest to the fact that this is the case. It seems as if the greasy and oily fingerprints and pet smudges show up.

The illusion of space

If you’ve got a smaller kitchen, matte cabinets may not be the right choice for you. Because it absorbs light rather than reflects it, it’s not going to make your space look or feel any bigger.

Matte finishes: the ugly

Finally, on to the worst of the worst about matte finishes. Cleaning is always a chore we’d rather not spend our time on.

Matte finishes are a little harder to clean

Continuing from the “bad” aspects, the initial smudges, bumps, and scratches might not show up, to begin with, but they’re more difficult to eliminate when they do show up. Cleaning greasy fingerprints or smears is tricky on matte surfaces because it’s hard to do without leaving streaks or other evidence behind.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is you should have honest, realistic conversations with your kitchen design team to ensure you choose finishes that make sense for your lifestyle and kitchen use. 

It may be that a semi-gloss finish—that meets in the middle in terms of shine but is still easier to clean when compared with matte—is a safe middle ground.