Black vs White vs Stainless Steel Appliances

    by Bill Welles

    Are you struggling to decide on which appliance finish will look best in your kitchen? If you’re planning a kitchen renovation or hoping to upgrade your appliances, the lingering question of appliance finish will have to be addressed.

    Appliance brands and manufacturers are now offering a much wider range of styles, colors, and finishes, so it ultimately comes down to price, practicality, and preference. Aesthetics can also play a role in how well the appliance fits into your kitchen surroundings. Aside from the retro refrigerators found in bright and sometimes gaudy colors, the three most popular appliance finishes exist to match almost any kitchen décor. Those finishes include white, black, and the ever-so-popular stainless steel.

    If you aren’t completely sold on one of these options or you’re curious how upgrading to a new finish might affect the layout and design of your kitchen space, our experts at Don’s Appliances are here to help you decide. Before you can decide which finish is the right fit for your kitchen, let’s look at the pros and cons of white, black, and stainless-steel appliances.  

    elderly couple cooking and laughing together in the kitchen

    White Appliances

    White appliances are a safe and timeless addition when it comes to your kitchen. It isn’t the most exciting option, but with a wide selection of appliances to choose from, white is always a favorable choice. White is a neutral color that can play into existing kitchen designs or work well to add value to a new kitchen remodel. Some simplistic, low-budget options can diminish the look of the kitchen, so it’s important to do your research and take the time to find the right fridge model to suit your space.

    If you’re looking for a reliable and practical appliance for a garage, basement, or rental home, a white appliance finish is the safest bet if your appliance is destined to endure a little wear and tear. However, if the appliance is intended for your main culinary space, select a product that brings the most out of your kitchen.  

    Pros

    • A safe finish that works well with any kitchen color
    • Won’t show fingerprints as easily as other finishes
    • Low-maintenance and easy to clean
    • Wide range of models to shop for
    • Helps your space feel wide-open and bright

    Cons

    • Can sometimes be considered old-fashioned
    • A predictable choice (nothing flashy)
    • Low-budget models can discolor over time

    all-white kitchen layout

    Black Appliances

    As the industrial era influenced interior design, black appliances started to become much more prominent in household kitchens. Black appliances are sleek, modern, and a great accompaniment to a seamless line of trendy kitchen designs. However, if you gravitate toward a more traditional looking kitchen with farmhouse elements, a set of black kitchen appliances might result in a clash of styles.

    It's fair to say that appliances with a shimmery black finish are attracting a younger generation of first-time homeowners. The depth of color is best suited to match the influence of inner-city living spaces. Consider your current design and decide whether or not black will allow for a cohesive style in your kitchen.

    Pros

    • Sleek and modern aesthetic
    • Low-maintenance and easy to clean
    • Allows for a strong contrast with white cabinets and other bright accents

    Cons

    • Tends to be a more expensive option compared to white appliances
    • Few appliance options to shop for compared to other finishes
    • Can be challenging to match with existing kitchen designs and appliances
    • Your space can feel dark and cramped

    sleek kitchen with black appliances

    Stainless Steel Appliances

    Stainless steel is the most desirable finish amongst designers, builders, and home cooks alike. Stainless steel can make any kitchen space feel modern and contemporary, while still retaining the existing charm and style of your kitchen design.

    Stainless steel blends the durability and ruggedness of black appliances with the timeless, classic style of white appliances. Stainless steel provides a level of quality that would be desired and sought after by anyone.

    The biggest knock against stainless steel is the amount of upkeep it takes. This finish is known to show the most streaks, smudges, and fingerprints, requiring routine cleaning to keep it looking good as new. One use of an abrasive cleaning solution could also damage the surface, leaving permanently visible marks and scratches. Be careful while cleaning your appliances and do your best to prevent children from touching kitchen surfaces with dirty hands. Before you know it, wiping down the stainless steel will turn into a full-time job.

    Pros

    • Enhances the look of any kitchen design
    • Compliments existing metal hardware, fixtures, and appliances
    • We don’t anticipate stainless steel going out of style
    • Wide range of models, brands, and designs to offer
    • Fingerprint-resistant options

    Cons

    • Can be the most expensive option
    • Can easily show smudges and fingerprints (requires routine cleaning)
    • Easier to scuff or damage

    modern kitchen with stainless steel appliances

    Buying Considerations

    Now that you have a better idea of the pros and cons of the three appliance finishes, let’s explore some of these buying considerations a tad further.

    Appliance Cleanliness

    As we mentioned, stainless steel requires the most maintenance, but it’s also the easiest finish to wipe clean and disinfect. Anything that spills on a refrigerator, cooktop, or dishwasher can be cleaned with no stains or streaking if you wipe with the grain of the metal. And if you’re handling raw meat or a family member gets sick, it’s easy to disinfect with a non-abrasive at-home cleaning solution.

    It’s much easier for stains to settle and absorb into white appliances and cleaning products can discolor the appliance surface. Black appliances will hide spills and drips, especially if they have a matte finish, but in turn, it’s much easier for grease and grime to remain hidden unless you have a consistent cleaning routine.

    We mentioned how greasy fingerprints can be an aesthetic pitfall, so if you desire a permanently spotless kitchen space, stainless steel could prove to be bothersome. White and black kitchen appliances with a matte finish tend to not show fingerprints as easily, but over time, white appliances can show more signs of dirt and scuff marks along the doors and handles. Black appliances require a more meticulous cleaning regimen because they are the least likely to show visible streaks and smudges; you have to go looking for them.

    Kitchen Decor

    Finding the right set of appliances to meet your standards of hygiene is important, but it’s an even greater feat to find appliances that accurately complement your kitchen’s décor. For a modern and easily adaptable design, there's nothing like the look of stainless steel.

    If you’re looking to incorporate a bold color scheme, black appliances create a nice contrast that pops against lighter-colored flooring, cabinetry, and countertops. If you want your appliances to blend into your kitchen space so your backsplash and cabinetry can steal the show, then white appliances are the perfect neutral solution to achieve this look.

    Affordability

    There isn’t a tremendous difference in price if you plan to purchase an entry-level appliance, but if you’re looking for a suite of appliances or a set of luxury appliances, every dollar will certainly count. The finish isn’t the only factor, either—additional storage, cooling, cleaning, and heating features will drive up the price of your appliance.

    Decide what finish and features you desire and set a price range for your new appliances. You may even decide to pay for a hybrid finish known as black stainless steel. This color has a matte finish that provides the ease of cleaning of stainless steel, but with the darker, glossier hue to help hide fingerprints. Fingerprint-resistant stainless steel can also bump up the price of your appliance. This finish allows you to easily wipe away smudges , and it repels against fingerprints for a look that's sparkling clean.

    Decision Time

    Like any addition or upgrade made to your home, the appliances you choose require thoughtful consideration. Each of the three appliance finishes offer strikingly different looks with pros and cons in equal measure. In the end, it comes down to which finish will allow you to create a clean and cohesive environment where you want to spend your time.

    If you still can’t decide, then it’s time for the industry experts at Don’s Appliances to lend a helping hand. Shop our entire selection of kitchen appliances and find the right finish to let your kitchen shine. We're happy to answer any questions and guide you along while you find the centerpiece to your kitchen design. Give us a call, shop online, or visit us today!