Countertops are a dominant element in the kitchen, and selecting the perfect option for your space is a serious decision. As if choosing among granite, quartz, marble, quartzite, and soapstone (to name a few) isn't hard enough, once you settle on a basic material there is still the sheen to consider. The countertop sheen is the amount of shine on the finish. Many countertop materials are available in two sheens: glossy and matte, and each has its pros and cons.
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Glossy Sheen Countertops
Glossy is a popular selection and the most widely used countertop sheen on the market. Glossy is often considered the standard because it is the most widely available sheen in granite, marble, quartz, concrete, and other materials.
Characteristics of glossy countertops:
- Appearance: A glossy countertop is great for hiding fingerprints and smudges. Even though you know those grubby prints are there, you cannot really see them. The reason is that most prints come from oil, which has a sheen very similar to that of the glossy surface, so the prints blend right in.
- Availability: Glossy sheen is available on most countertop materials, so it comes with very few limitations regarding availability. Even plastic laminate, which traditionally has a textured matte surface, is available in high-gloss versions.
- Affordability: Because glossy is considered "standard," it typically does not require any type of upcharge or additional fees.
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Matte Sheen Countertops
A matte finish is not as readily available as glossy, but its recent popularity is beginning to change that. A matte sheen can create a nice layer of texture in the kitchen with much less glare than a glossy finish.
Characteristics of matte countertops:
- Appearance: Matte countertops are much less reflective than glossy surfaces. With so many lights in the kitchen (overhead lighting, task lighting, accent lighting, etc.) there can be a lot of glare coming off of hard, shiny surfaces. Glossy countertops can even create a mirror effect that adds very bright glare. On the downside, matte countertops show fingerprints much more than glossy finishes.
- Availability: Some countertop materials simply are not available with a matte finish, although this used to be more common than it is today. Earlier versions of quartz countertops were sold only with glossy finishes, but now quartz is increasingly available with a matte sheen. Some granite fabricators are able to buff or sandblast the surface of granite to create a matte or "honed" finish, but not every color and type of granite responds well to this process; some stone can be left looking unfinished or even dirty.
- Affordability: A matte sheen may be considered an upgrade option, depending on the fabricator. This can result in extra cost but doesn't always.
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Silestone, a leading manufacturer of quartz countertops, offers a matte finish called "Leathered" that curiously does not show prints because of its hatched texture. Not all Silestone colors are available with the leathered sheen, but it's a great matte option if you can find it in a color you love.
Another similar option is a relatively new product in the market called Dekton, a line of fused countertop materials that all have a matte finish. The texture is similar to Silestone's Leathered finish and will not show fingerprints.
When in Doubt, Test It Out
Don't be afraid to test out the material with a showroom sample and the help of your salesperson. Bring along a bag of potato chips and a terry cloth towel. Get some grease residue on your fingertips and experiment with cleaning. This will help you gauge the ease of maintenance and whether matte or glossy can work with your needs.