Black Stainless Steel is the Appliance Finish of Choice


Black Stainless Steel is the Appliance Finish of Choice

As you consider the finish for the new appliances you will be purchasing for your newly remodeled kitchen, here’s what ‘s happening in the world of stainless steel.

Kitchen design professionals have been predicting for years that black stainless steel might replace regular stainless as the finish of choice for appliances.

And it’s not just stainless appliances that are getting replaced; it’s anything shiny in the kitchen that has fallen out of favor. Polished granite, chrome faucets and cabinet hardware and shiny stainless have been the favorite finishes for years, but people remodeling their kitchens are loving matte finishes now. And matte finishes are available on a wide array of fixtures and appliances. 

Since transitional is the most popular style in kitchen design, the black stainless contemporary-but-classic finish is the perfect accompaniment to subway tiles, honed granite countertops, ceramic flooring, and custom cabinetry.

If you’ve read any articles about what’s trending in kitchen design, you’ve probably come across the idea of mixing textures in a newly remodeled kitchen. Smooth, matte black stainless provides the ideal texture to go with tiled backsplashes, stone countertops and painted cabinets with a gloss finish.

Black stainless steel offers an alternative for homeowners who don’t like the industrial look of conventional stainless steel, and/or for those tired of constantly cleaning off smudges and fingerprints.

Black stainless steel has been available from some manufacturers, but now it’s being shown across all appliance lines by LG, GE, Samsung, Frigidaire, Bosch and Meile. 

Color/Finish Reference by Brand 

  • Black Stainless – Samsung, LG, Frigidaire, KitchenAid, Whirlpool, GE, Bosch
  • Black Matte – LG, GE. Frigidaire
  • Obsidian Black – Miele
  • Black Slate – GE

All black stainless steel is more fingerprint resistant than regular stainless steel but the finish has a lot of color variation between brands. You might be able to mix and match regular stainless appliances from several manufacturers, but each manufacturer offers its own take on black stainless, making it trickier to mix brands. 

In general, the color is achieved in the same way on most brands: a black oxide coating is applied on top of stainless steel.

Here’s an overview of manufacturers that offer black stainless steel appliances 

Bosch introduced its black stainless kitchen suite collection at KBIS 2019. They use the same black stainless material in all their products, including refrigerators, dishwashers, ranges and wall ovens. Their black stainless steel is a durable and scratch-resistant option because they “bake” the black coloring into the stainless steel in the manufacturing process rather than applying a coating on top of stainless steel. The low gloss finish has a horizontal grain to it that gives it texture, depth and a shine with a subtle sparkle. 

GE has the most appliances in the black family with Black Slate, Black Matte and Black Stainless. Their Café line offers matte black appliances with a smooth, low gloss look. This color can act as a nice contrast to whites in your kitchen and/or bring out colors in wood and stone.  Their black stainless is a dark graphite with a shiny finish and matching handles, and Black Slate is a deep charcoal color that blends well with contemporary cabinet styles and finishes and metallic accents. 

Miele, the German appliance manufacturer, is promoting their Obsidian Black appliances, an addition to their line of colored built-in appliances. According to the company, “Obsidian Black offers a stunning, yet understated, elegance in any kitchen.” 

Samsung Black Stainless Steel is available on its refrigerators, ranges, dishwashers, and microwaves. Samsung was one of the first to offer black stainless, debuting it in 2015. It has a shiny, reflective, and fingerprint resistant finish with matching handles. Samsung’s black stainless has more of a metallic steel look to it than other black stainless options. 

The company reports that homeowners are mixing and matching finish materials, for example, doing the range and microwave in black and the refrigerator and dishwasher in traditional Stainless Steel.

Frigidaire wasn’t the first to offer a black stainless finish; they did not begin producing black stainless steel appliances until 2017, but now they have many models across all of their lines of appliances.  Their black stainless steel collection offers a smudge-proof and fingerprint-proof finish (as do all the others), and it has a shiny, reflective finish with a matching handle. The color looks like a graphite gray metal.

LG Black Stainless Steel is described as “satin-smooth” and “the perfect combination of classic meets contemporary.” Their stainless steel finish is coated with a dark tone (not really a “true” black) and sealed with a protective coating. The result is a shade lighter than the blacks of Kitchen Aid and Samsung. They boast about their smudge-proof finish, and use the tag “cook more, clean less.”

LG also has a Matte Black finish that features black handles, knobs and ice dispenser for a solid black exterior. Their Matte Black is equipped with “PrintProof technology”, which means the appliances are smudge- and fingerprint-resistant. 

And their appliances aren’t just nice to look at; the Matte Black appliances are a part of LG’s SmartThinQ line, which allows the appliances to be controlled through a smartphone or smart home electronic, like the Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. This means you can turn your oven on to preheat for dinner, start your dishwasher, and so much more, even when you’re not home.

KitchenAid calls their Black stainless finish “a softer, warmer alternative to traditional stainless.” Black Stainless Steel is less reflective, with more of a matte look. 

Whirlpool, the parent company of KitchenAid, chose to go to market with the color in their high-end KitchenAid line in 2017.  Their version of black stainless steel is darker, like a brushed black metal rather than a smoky stainless steel. The finish has a more matte satiny sheen, and when combined with contrasting stainless steel bar handles, these appliances definitely make a statement. 

What Else?

Zephyr introduced an exhaust hood in black stainless steel in 2018, called the Ravenna Island hood. The hood is a smoke-gray glass canopy that curves over the island cooktop, and is designed with an anti-smudge titanium coating for easy cleaning.

And the big names in kitchen and bath fixtures – think Delta, Kohler and Moen – have faucet lines in matte black finishes, which – just coincidentally — coordinate beautifully with black stainless steel. 

Conclusion

Houzz.com conducted a poll on the black stainless steel trend. More than 60 percent of the more than 6,600 respondents said they’d consider Black Stainless appliances the next time they update their kitchens. Some said they were sick of traditional stainless and were excited to see something new. Others, however, didn’t like the dark color. 

Will Black Stainless replace traditional Stainless Steel as the most popular appliance finish? That remains to be seen, but many of today’s homeowners want something different from that which has been popular for ten years or more, and this could be it.

Sources used in this article and for additional information


Kitchen Design Partner exists to offer insight and advice about all things related to kitchen remodeling. Our goal is to connect homeowners with talented, experienced kitchen designers who live and work in their communities. We are a serious resource for anyone preparing to remodel their kitchen so they can make the best possible choices about designers, contractors and products.