When designing a kitchen, one of the biggest considerations you’ll make is the finish of your cabinetry, particularly the decision between matt and gloss cabinets. These two styles are both incredibly versatile and can create a unique and interesting look in your kitchen, but they each have their own benefits.

If you’re trying to decide whether a matt or gloss kitchen is the right choice for you, we’ll be going through the pros and cons of each to help you design a kitchen that suits your lifestyle best.

What are gloss kitchens?

Gloss cabinets have a highly shiny, reflective surface that can be manufactured in a variety of ways.

Gloss PVC: A piece of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is layered over an MDF substrate and vacuum formed over the surface. This is often the cheapest type of gloss kitchen, but the surface can sometimes be uneven.

Gloss lacquer: Made by repeatedly applying coats of lacquer to an MDF substrate so that it builds up and forms a thick, glossy surface. This can be a lengthy process, which can make gloss lacquer doors more expensive than other types of gloss.

Acrylic gloss: Acrylic gloss doors are either made from solid acrylic or have an acrylic surface bonded to an MDF core. The latter is a cheaper option, but is also less hard-wearing.

Gloss foil: A PVC-free option where a high-quality polyethylene terephthalate (PET) foil is wrapped, vacuum-formed, and sealed over an MDF substrate before being lacquered to protect the surface. This process is most commonly associated with German kitchen manufacturers like Schüller and the result is a high gloss finish that’s both durable and easy to maintain.

Gloss laminate: Another method popular with German kitchen manufacturers, laminated kitchens are finished with a layer of melamine resin to offer even more durability. The surface is thicker than other non-layered fronts, which makes it more resistant to wear and tear.

Glass: Some gloss kitchens include an added glass layer which not only provides extra shine but can also improve the durability of the glossy finish. Glass kitchens can also be more resistant to scratches than other types of gloss.

Gloss kitchens: Pros

They reflect light well

One of the biggest benefits of high gloss kitchens is their ability to reflect light. Whether it’s natural or artificial lighting, gloss kitchens can reflect light back into the room, making the space feel brighter and more open. This makes the style a perfect choice for small kitchens as it can give the illusion of the room being bigger than it actually is, especially if you’ve also opted for light coloured fronts.

They can be easy to clean

While some people may avoid a gloss kitchen for fear that it would be hard to clean, this is a common misconception. Due to the slick, shiny surface, gloss kitchens can be wiped regularly with a damp, non-abrasive cloth to get rid of any pesky stains, fingerprints, or smudges. You don’t need to use any harsh cleaning chemicals or abrasives to keep your gloss kitchen looking as good as new.

They’re sleek and modern

Thanks to their shiny, light-reflecting properties, gloss kitchens can add an instant wow factor to any space, helping to create a sleek and contemporary look. With such an eye-catching style, it’s no wonder that gloss kitchens have been a popular choice for many years, and they’re far from going out of fashion any time soon.

The shiny surface can help give any space a high-end, quality feel, and mixing gloss with other textures, finishes, and colours can give it a unique and more contemporary finish than previously seen in full gloss kitchens. For instance, high-gloss kitchen units look great when combined with organic wooden elements, as they help to create more balance and interest within the space. So, consider adding a kitchen island in a contrasting finish or colour.

Gloss kitchens: Cons

They need cleaning more often

The reflective surface can be one of the biggest problems with high gloss kitchen doors as they can require more regular cleaning than matt kitchens. This is because the reflection can make minor blemishes like dirt, fingerprints, and scratches seem more noticeable. However, shine is one of the biggest appeals of this style, so it’s worth the extra maintenance.

Darker colours are also more likely to show smudges, so if you’re looking for something low maintenance, a light-coloured gloss kitchen, glass kitchen, or matt kitchen is your best option. The good news is that gloss kitchens can be incredibly easy to clean when they do need cleaning, so while they may need wiping down more regularly, it shouldn’t be too big of a task.

They don’t always match every style

Gloss kitchens are commonly associated with very modern interior design, which can make them tricky to incorporate into a more traditional style. If you’re looking for a less contemporary look, you may want to take a look at a matt kitchen or a wooden kitchen.

The colour can appear inconsistent

While not necessarily a drawback, the light reflection of a gloss cabinet can make the colour of your cabinets appear slightly inconsistent depending on where the light is shining and where you’re standing. This shouldn’t be an issue in most cases, but if you’re set on having a consistent finish, you might want to choose matt units instead.

What are matt kitchens?

Matt kitchens have a velvety, gloss-free finish that absorbs light rather than reflects it. Like gloss kitchens, these can be made in a variety of ways.

Matt lacquer: A wooden surface is repeatedly sprayed with lacquer to create layers. The lacquer is UV dried to create a highly resistant and resilient finish.

Matt laminate: The finished doors are coated with a layer of melamine resin to add even more durability.

Glass matt: Glass kitchens are also available with a matt finish. The glass layer offers extra durability and scratch resistance for a longer-lasting kitchen.

Matt kitchens also come in velvet and silk. Matt silk kitchens are slightly shinier to offer greater light reflection without going full gloss.

Matt kitchens: Pros

They have a more consistent finish

As matt kitchen fronts absorb rather than reflect light, this can make the overall finish appear more consistent. The result is a silky, high-end look that’s more subtle and understated than a gloss kitchen. This also allows the colour of your kitchen to do all the talking, particularly if you’ve chosen a bold or particularly dark hue. Without the shiny gloss effect, your fronts will have much more depth allowing you to show off the colour and style to its full potential.

They can be lower maintenance

As less light is reflected off a matt kitchen, this makes small blemishes like fingerprints less noticeable, which can make these kinds of kitchens lower maintenance than gloss kitchens. Many German kitchen manufacturers such as Schüller and next125 have also developed matt kitchens with anti-fingerprint technology to make them even easier to care for.

They are versatile

While gloss kitchens are highly contemporary, matt kitchens are much more versatile and can look just as stunning in a traditional kitchen as they can in a modern home. Matt kitchen units are also available in a variety of styles, including shaker kitchens and handleless kitchens, and a spectrum of colours to create the exact look and feel you want from your space. For example, light matt cabinets in white can add a silky, dreamy effect, while dark matt cabinets will add a dramatic yet sophisticated tone to the space. If you’re a fan of colour, matt kitchens in yellow or blue can be the perfect option, as the subtle finish adds balance and softness to particularly bold hues.

Matt kitchens: Cons

They don’t reflect light

Because matt kitchens absorb light, they aren’t always the best option for small or dark kitchens. For particularly small spaces, a high gloss finish is a good alternative, as the light reflection from these surfaces will bounce light around the room, brightening the space up. If you do want a matt kitchen in a small space, a light colour such as white or cream will often be a wise choice, as the bright tone will help open the space up.

They’re not stain-proof

Matt kitchens don’t show dirt as easily as gloss kitchens, but they’re not entirely stain-proof. Over time, even matt kitchens can gather smudges in the same way gloss kitchens can — they are just harder to see because the light doesn’t reflect off the surface as much

They can be more difficult to clean

While dirt and fingerprints generally don’t show up as much on a matt kitchen, when blemishes do show, they can be trickier to clean as the stains aren’t as easy to see. Wiping them with a damp cloth can also sometimes leave streaks, so extra care and attention will be needed when it’s time to clean them. For best results, use a microfibre cloth to clean your matt kitchen cabinets.

If you’re trying to decide if a gloss or matt kitchen is best for you, this guide should have given you all the information you need to make your decision. If you’re looking for even more kitchen inspiration, take a look at our fantastic range of German kitchen furniture or head over to our kitchen showroom in Hexham, just outside of Newcastle, to see our display in person. Then, once you’re ready to discuss your options, book an appointment with one of our designers to get started on your brand-new luxury kitchen.