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Kitchen Cabinets: Choosing the Perfect Finish


The finish of your kitchen cabinets is one of the most important choices you will make during your kitchen re-modelling project. Not only do they constitute the largest surface area that the eye takes in as you move around the space, but their design can drastically impact the overall look and atmosphere of your kitchen area. In the longer term, your choice of kitchen cabinet finish can also affect the amount of flexibility you have for any future alterations.

Factors to consider

There are a number of factors to consider in choosing your kitchen cabinet finish and, by working through them, it is possible to narrow down the options until you have settled on what feels right, and what fits seamlessly with your overall plan.

  • Layout and light sources – By the time you come to choose a kitchen cabinet finish, you will already have a clear layout plan including an indication of light sources. It is important to consider how these light sources will interact with your cabinet surfaces and how this will impact the space as a whole. For example, if the space is small with minimal availability of natural light, then a glossier finish may help to brighten work areas. If the completed kitchen will be larger, with more natural light, then a semi-gloss or matt finish may be more effective.
  • Other surfaces – Your kitchen flooring should be considered when selecting a cabinet finish, because the combination can either complement each other well, or clash dramatically. Wood flooring – either solid wood or laminate – can create a warm effect that balances a gloss finish well. Stone or slate flooring can highlight a matt finish beautifully. Likewise, a matt finish countertop will work well with glossier cabinet finishes. All of these surfaces will also interact with your layout and light sources and should be selected with these in mind.
  • Level of usage – Whether you are a single person, a couple, or a large family, your kitchen will function in a particular way inside your home. This is an important factor to consider when selecting cabinet finishes, because it impacts maintenance requirements in the longer term. Gloss finish cabinets look sleek and modern, but can show fingerprints, dust, and scratches quite easily. So, for example, if you have small children or pets, gloss-finish doors of floor-standing cabinetry are likely to need an increased frequency of cleaning.

Narrowing down the options

Having taken the light sources, other surfaces, and the level of usage into consideration, it is time to narrow down the options even further by looking closely at the specific advantages and disadvantages of each type of finish.

  • Gloss – A gloss kitchen cabinet finish can create a highly modern, sleek atmosphere for your kitchen space, and allows for accenting with light, colour, and hardware. It also provides flexibility in modernity, with the option for handless operation – cabinets without handles – to deliver a truly minimalist style. The gloss cabinet finish works just as well with more vibrant colours as it does with muted tones, and its interplay with light sources can produce an interesting sense of depth as the eye is drawn through the kitchen space. Kitchens that are more compact can be made to feel bigger, while larger kitchens can benefit from the airiness generated through the reflective surfaces.

Gloss is easy to clean to a high shine, but also shows fingerprints, dust and scratches easily. In addition, the reflectiveness of the cabinet surface is impacted by the colour and underlying materials. The general rule of thumb for gloss-finished cabinets is that the lighter the colour, the higher the reflectiveness of light. This can make white gloss a popular choice, but the high rate of reflection can mean the clarity of colour is impacted by other colours in the room, or nearby.

  • Matt – Full matt is a versatile finish for both modern kitchen designs and the more classical, traditional styles. It absorbs light, rather than reflecting it, which means that colours appear more consistent across the surface of the kitchen cabinet door. Fingerprints, dust and scratches are less visible, while the surface remains easy to clean, but the absence of reflection means that choices can concentrate more fully on the interplay of colour, and less on the impact of light sources. Solidity of colour can help to create an atmosphere of elegance that is understated and chic, while the muted cabinet surface can be accented with gloss-finish countertops. An additional advantage of matt finish kitchen cabinets is that it leaves open the possibility to re-paint in the future, for cost-effective kitchen makeovers.

While a matt finish provides a number of advantages, the fact that the surface absorbs light means that it is, perhaps, not the ideal choice for kitchen spaces that more compact in size. The lack of light reflected around the room can emphasise the lack of space, rather than help to open it up.

  • Semi-Matt – A semi-matt finish for kitchen cabinets is something of a compromise between gloss and matt. Though not as reflective of light as gloss or semi-gloss, it provides a level of sheen to the matt finish that adds an interesting sense of texture, and a low-level interplay with light. The result is a finish that boasts versatility and flexibility in both smaller kitchens, and those with larger spaces. The semi-matt finish can balance countertop surfaces of both matt and gloss, as well as proving complementary to a number of flooring styles. It also works well for cabinet doors that bear a visible wood grain texture, making it suitable for both modern and traditional kitchen styles.

Ask the experts

Once you have weighed the advantages and disadvantages of each type of kitchen cabinet finish in relation to your space, it is advisable to discuss your final options with the experts. Kitchensinc boasts a highly skilled team, experienced in the field of kitchen supply, and works to provide a flexible, tailored service that you can trust. With well-established relationships with leading manufacturers, Kitchensinc is the kitchen supply company best placed to help you find the kitchen cabinet finish that is perfect for you.

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