How to Choose the Right Finish for New Kitchen Cabinets

27 December 2019
Kitchen Cabinets


There are many things to consider when renovating or remodelling your kitchen. Thankfully, there are now flat pack kitchens that can make things much easier. All you have to do is get in touch with a provider of flat pack kitchen systems, send them your design plan, and wait for the parts to arrive. Everything you need, including cabinets and drawers, will be manufactured to the exact specifications you identify.

When it comes to kitchen cabinets, there are certain details that you need to particularise clearly and definitely so that your designer or cabinet maker can make the kitchen of your dreams. These include the material, colour, and style, as well as the kind of hardware to go with the cabinet system, including handles and hinges. Another important detail would be the finish. This choice is usually between two main categories: glossy and matte. Which one is the right finish for your kitchen cabinets? Here’s a quick guide to help you choose.

Glossy Finish

Glossy finishes are popular because they look sleek and elegant. One of their main advantages is that they reflect light, thus making any kitchen look bigger. If you have a small kitchen, consider glossy kitchen cabinets to help “open up” the space and make it feel airier. Those with contemporary-style kitchens will also find that glossy-finish cabinets suit this type of aesthetic well.

Another huge benefit of a glossy finish on your kitchen cabinets would be ease of cleaning. This is because the smooth surface allows the oil, grease, and grime to simply slide off. For most splashes and splatters, a couple of passes of a non-abrasive cloth or microfibre cloth would be more than enough. For more stubborn stains, mixing a gentle dishwashing soap with warm water and using a soft cloth or sponge for washing will do wonders.

With a glossy finish, however, you should take note of a small detail called colour cast. Simply put, this is the colour “bounced” by the reflective, glossy surface. These colours can come from lighting, kitchen furnishings, or nearby rooms, and they can alter the appearance of your cabinets. For example, glossy white kitchen cabinets can look slightly pink or peachy if the walls are red or orange. This phenomenon is obviously more of a concern with white and light-hued cabinets.

Finally, a glossy finish is prone to showing imperfections. Smudges, dirt, fingerprints, even hairline scratches are easily visible on a sleek, glossy finish. It isn’t that big of a deal-breaker, but it can be annoying to those who love to keep things looking shiny and pristine. To help minimise this issue, opt for lighter-coloured glosses since darker glossy surfaces tend to show even the tiniest flaws.

Matte Finishes

Matte finishes, as opposed to glossy ones, are flat. Instead of reflecting light, the surface absorbs it. This creates both a simple yet elegant look. Note, however, that because they don’t reflect light, matte finishes on kitchen cabinets can make small spaces look even more cramped. If you want matte-finish cabinets in your small kitchen, it’s best to stick to lighter colours.

One advantage of a matte finish over a glossy one is that it doesn’t show blemishes. Because there’s no reflected light, a matte surface can “hide” scratches, fingerprints, and other minor marks and imperfections. This doesn’t mean that they’re more resistant to superficial damage; rather, you just don’t see the damage clearly. This is great for those who have longer in-between periods in their cleaning schedules. In addition, the aforementioned colour cast isn’t an issue with a matte finish. This means that all areas of your kitchen cabinets will look the same at any angle, and colours will remain consistent under any lighting.

One downside of matte-finish kitchen cabinets is that they’re not as easy to clean. The surface isn’t as smooth compared to a glossy finish, which means that the dirt and grime has a tendency to stick. To help combat this, make sure that that the matte finish you choose doesn’t have a deep and fine texture. Textured matte finishes are generally harder to clean, since there are minute nooks and crannies where dirt and dust can worm their way in. If you really want textured, matte-finish kitchen cabinets, opt for textures with a sparse pattern and a low profile.

The Finer Details

Now that you have the primary choice down, it’s time to delve into the finer details—specifically, what kind of material to choose for your glossy or matte kitchen cabinets. Check out some common finishes below, and see if they suit your design preference and needs.

Lacquer Kitchen Cabinets

Lacquer is a shiny coating that can either be clear or pigmented and can be applied to surfaces like wood or metal. Once the lacquer dries (in just 15 to 20 minutes), it becomes a hard protective “shell.” One advantage of lacquer kitchen cabinets, besides lacquer’s quick drying time, is that they’re cheap and quite durable. The coat can last for about 5 to 10 years, depending on how much activity your kitchen sees daily. Still, it’s easy to apply a lacquer coating to your cabinets. There’s no need to sand or prime, as long as you don’t allow the finish to get damaged too much. In terms of finish, you usually have three choices for lacquer: a muted or flat finish, a medium option with a subtle amount of sheen, and a high-gloss one with a sleek and ultra-smooth output.

Laminate Kitchen Cabinets

If you want to reface your kitchen cabinets, a good option is to opt for laminates. This way, you retain the original material, thus driving down the cost. Moreover, you can choose from a lot of laminate designs, finishes, and textures. Most laminate cabinets are made from hard plastic that’s pressed into sheets, although there are also transfer foil, resin, and even vinyl film laminates. If you love the look of wood but don’t have an ample budget, there are thin wood laminate sheets that give the illusion of premium-quality wooden cabinets. Take note that there are two primary kinds of laminates: low-pressure and high-pressure. The latter is the better option, especially in terms of longevity and durability although it does cost more.

Wood Veneer Kitchen Cabinets

As the name implies, wood veneer kitchen cabinets are those covered with “slices” of real wood. This is a solid option if you want your cabinets to sport a natural, beautiful wood finish but don’t have a budget for real, solid wood. Remember, though, that the better the substrate (the material beneath the veneer), the better the veneer would look. Some popular substrates that work well with wood veneers include solid wood, plywood, particle boards, and fibre boards. The advantage of wood veneer kitchen cabinets is that, like real wood cabinets, that they can be stained or refinished. Whether you choose a matte or glossy finish, however, you’re guaranteed to get a classic, attractive look that suits almost any design of kitchen.

Kitchen cabinets are more than just storage spaces for cooking tools and ingredients. They’re also important elements of your kitchen’s design. Consider the various factors above before making that final choice for long-lasting, beautiful cabinets.

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