a kitchen with a matte finish paint job in black

Matte Finish

Originally contributed by Jeff Butler • last updated 3/16/2021

An important part of any home improvement or DIY project is deciding on the finishing touches. Things such as how shiny or flat a surface will appear when it’s dry can drastically change the final appearance of the whole thing. Quite often, the options are determined by a few different factors, such as the function of the surface and the amount of moisture in the room. But, if you’re looking for softer, more inviting surfaces, you may want to consider a matte finish.

Definition

When talking about the appearance of a finished surface, such as a painted wall or kitchen cabinets, the phrase matte finish often refers to a dull appearance that does not reflect a lot of light. These dull finishes are sometimes referred to as flat and they typically have softer and smoother appearances than their glossy counterparts. Matte finishes tend to hide unsightly blemishes and imperfections better than harder glossy finishes. However, they also tend to absorb moisture and are typically harder to clean, making them less than ideal for busy areas like kitchens and bathrooms. Nowadays though, paint manufacturers have created specially formulated paints to help you get the flat look without sacrificing durability and easy maintenance.

What Are The Best Uses For A Matte Finish Paint?

A matte finish paint may seem like a good idea from a strictly cosmetic point of view but there are a few downsides that may not make it the best option for every project. Traditionally, these dull surfaces were reserved for larger quieter rooms that could benefit from a reduced amount of light. These days, these flat paints have multiple applications and their uses are really only limited by your imagination:

  • Because a matte finish absorbs light instead of reflecting it, the finish tends to hide imperfections and smudges better than a glossy surface. However, in most cases, they also tend to be harder to clean and more prone to stains. For these reasons, they don’t get used a lot in areas that see water, like bathrooms and kitchens.
  • Although matte finishes tend to add a softer and more tranquil feeling to a room, they also tend to make areas appear smaller as light gets absorbed. They tend to work best in larger rooms and should be avoided in kids bedrooms.
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