Appliances: Black or Stainless Steel?

We could use some input from the experience of those of you who read our blog. On Monday, Steve and I will be shopping for our appliances. We are choosing between stainless steel and black. Either would look good in our kitchen. We would go with stainless steel except for everyone saying that they are hard to keep clean, and they would never want them with a large family.

For those who have stainless steel, what do you think of them? How do they look on a daily basis? How often do you clean them and with what?

What about those same questions for those with black appliances?

Has anyone had both colors and had a basis of comparison between the two?

As we prayerfully make this decision, we could be grateful for whatever we could glean from your personal experience with black and stainless steel appliances.

Trusting Jesus,


64 thoughts on “Appliances: Black or Stainless Steel?”

  1. I have a black stove and microwave and a stainless steal refrigerator and dishwasher. Honestly they both show everything on them but the stainless steal is a little harder to keep clean because it gets water streaks.

  2. When we built our home I decided to go with stainless steel appliances, because I really loved the look of them. Our kitchen has a lot of wood (oak cabinets and wood floor) and I think black would make the overall look too dark. I love the look of the stainless steel with the wood. A few thoughts to throw in the mix: 1) Stainless steel does cost more, probably $75-100 (or maybe more) per appliance. 2) SS can be hard to keep clean. Some manufacturers have a “Cleansteel” finish (this is what GE calls it, other companies have different names) that is more of a brushed matte look. It is much easier to keep clean. My stove is Cleansteel, and if I had a “do-over” I would definitely pay more to get my refigerator in Cleansteel. 3) I’ve heard that black appliances can be difficult to keep clean as well. I don’t have any personal experience with them, though. 4) My refrigerator often has fingerprints on it, but I have young kids. The dishwasher and stove usually look fine; they don’t get the fingerprints and smudges so quickly. We clean with a microfiber cloth and Method stainless steel cleaner. It’s a good job for children! My son usually cleans the stainless twice a week.

    How exciting for you to be nearing completiong of your home! I’ve enjoyed watching the process as your family has worked together.

  3. I definitely prefer stainless steel. Black appliances is harder to maintain. Notice the TV and monitor screen…you can see the dust specks more easily than stainless steel. Stainless steel is easy to maintain. You can use windex, vinegar or just plain water and wipe it with cloth…don’t use brillo pad or steel pads.

    I notice where I work stainless steel sells much quicker than black appliance. When I register for my wedding registry I made sure my appliance is stainless steel.

  4. Hello, many blessings from Atlanta! My opinion is since I had both stainless and black, it’s a double issue with both: they can be both good or bad, just depends on the finish. I had both black and stainless steel that would both keep fingerprints on. However I noticed lately that there is a larger variety to choose from that would specify that their finish is fingerprint free. Just try it yourself in the store. πŸ™‚ As long as you go with this kind of finish you should be good to go and enjoy; sturdiness and quality should be the main priority! Happy shopping! πŸ™‚

  5. The store where we got our appliances (we’ve had both stainless and black before) kept their stainless steel refrigerators unclean for a reason. They said they had many customers want the look of the stainless but when they got it home and saw how much upkeep was involved they often returned them for another color; so, the store wants their customers to know ahead of time what they are getting into.
    Personally, I think you’ll be fine with whatever preference you have for either. You don’t have small children any more (albiet upcoming grandchildren) and it seems you keep a routine enough clean that what fingerprints do occur you all would wipe up after yourselves anyway.
    Stainless is a great eye catcher, though, so many people put it in for re-sell purposes, not sure if that applies to you all or not.

    My husband and I would enjoy gleaning from you how you went about building your own home as a family. Perhaps you’ll write an article or book about it sometime with more ‘how-to’ details (hint) πŸ˜‰

  6. Our black appliances show finger prints and DUST! I haven’t bought stainless steal but it is my understanding that brush silver doesn’t show finger prints. Maybe that is an idea that will be helpful!

  7. We went with stainless and many people said they would be hard to keep clean. I have not found this problem at all. For me they stay clean much better than black (we have a black microwave and there is black on part of our stainles oven/stove–it is part stainless, part black). For us stainless shows fingerprints much less.

    Enjoy your shopping!

  8. Dear Steve and Teri,

    Our family had the same discussion!
    I live in Western Australia and our home was built in 1856. Our city council had guidlines we had to follow when restoring the house. The colours we chose and the materials we used reflect those used in Australia during that time. The result was a modern, practical working environment that still retains original features.

    When we renovated our kitchen we decided to use a lot of woodwork in our design. We have wooden drawers, cupboards, pantry unit and shelves, coupled with a dark laminex benchtop. Our oven and fridge are both stainles steel.

    We decided to use stainless steel because it was more cost effective at the time and was told that it was much easier to keep clean.

    We have had those appliances six years now, and though they do need a thorough clean with stainless steel cleaner every week, a wipe down with a damp cloth every evening keeps it clean and hygenic during the week. Our family uses the stove at least three times a day and the fridge is opened and closed constantly. Our dishwasher just needs a wipedown every now and again.

    Our black coffee maker is not used as much, however that still needs a thorough cleaning every week. The rest of our appliances are white and generally get cleaned after every use.

    Bear in mind that the look of the appliance is no guarantee of performance, durability and cost effectiveness. With a large family, getting appliances that will last a long time is a big plus. My husband and I also paid a little extra for pieces that have lower carbon emissions to reduce our impact on the environment. By switching to lower energy appliances, we also reduced our monthly electricity bill by a considerable amount, and continue to save every day.

    I hope this helps you, good luck and God Bless


  9. Congrats with arriving at this stage in the house building project.
    As to your question about stainless steel vs black I would strongly consider not buying stainless steel. I have not had experience with black appliances but have had the stainless steel. I seemed to always have fingerprints on them. I do have small children but I think it doesn’t matter the age but the amount of people using the appliances. You have a large family so…
    Another thing I learned in the appliance shopping experience was that you cannot do any canning on flat top stoves. (Just thought you might want to know that before you purchase your stove.
    Happy shopping.
    Willemina H.
    PS. I just purchased your Managers of Their Schools book and have found it very useful. Thank you

  10. My mom and I clean houses and she hates stainless steel appliances. They are extremely hard to clean and yet seem to be so popular…go figure! They also tend to look institutional which isn’t something we want for our kitchen. I know she also cleans several black appliances and will ask for her opinion…I am the vaccuum girl with not nearly as much kitchen cleaning experience as her.

  11. in our former home we had stainless steel a nd i didn’t like it at all. it was so hard to keep it clean. everytime someone touched it, it left marks and always looked “touched” which to me translates to looking dirty. after we sold that property we moved into a rental while waiting for our new home to be ready for us. it happend to have blac appliances in it and while not loving the black either, it was certainly better than the stainless steel to keep looking clean. what did i do when we moved into our new (old) home? i went back to white. the house we bought is 108 years old, in the historical part of town, and while we did remodel some i decided to keep the kitchen as original as i could and white seemed to look better and it’s easier to deal with.

    can’t wait to hear what you decide to do and see your pictures.

  12. You can buy any color fridge you want as it will be covered in Abigail’s pictures and artwork. God bless

  13. Greetings from South Korea.
    I’d go with the “Cleansteel” finish that Denise was talking about. We have that in several appliances and we have 2 small children- we don’t deal with the finger print issue however we deal with water drops- but it is easy to wipe down-& then looks brand new again. I have heard that if you DON’T wipe down on a regular basis- (I wipe down about twice a week) that it begins to show “rust”- but that can be wiped off with a little elbow power. I am so excited that you are at this stage- I have enjoyed keeping track of your progress.
    Please give Sarah a hug for me.
    Kelly T./D.

  14. I would go with stainless steel. My BIL has many children with SS appliances and they have no problem keeping them clean. We will remodel our kitchen in a couple of years and plan on going with SS. It just looks nice, sharp, sophisticated! Black is fine, too, if your kitchen has A LOT of natural light. I believe you can see fingerprints more on the black.

    How exciting to be almost done, looking forward to seeing the finished house, especially that sewing room!

    ~Terri (Michmom)

  15. We are getting our house ready for sale, and so have upgraded to stainless steel appliances in the kitchen. When I try to use a wet rag to clean them or wipe them off, they look horrible. When I use a product designed to clean stainless steel, they look FABULOUS. So I would say, as long as you’re willing to un-learn wiping down the fronts of your appliances with a wet dishrag, stainless steel really isn’t that hard to keep clean. I haven’t tried vinegar or windex, mostly because I’m paranoid about harming these appliances…we need them to look “showroom new” until someone buys the house!!

  16. We bought a black refrigerator when we moved and have not had any issues. We just wipe it with an all-purpose cleaner (Method) every week or two and it’s really not an issue. It has a ‘shinier’ finish, so maybe that helps, but it’s fine. πŸ™‚ Before that, we’ve always had white, so???? πŸ™‚ We almost bought stainless steel; however, we’d heard so much about how hard they are to keep clean, that we chose not to deal with that.

  17. We currently have black appliances and are changing over to stainless steel gradually. Right now, we have a new stainless steel dishwasher and microwave. Our stove and fridge are black.

    We definitely prefer the stainless. Yes, fingerprints are a concern, but they are equally so on our black appliances. I have found that they stainless is not as hard to keep clean as I thought they would be. Blessing on your new house!

  18. We were similarly concerned 3 years ago when we perchased new appliances. We ended up choosing a brushed steel finish and have not regretted it. It looks very nice and is reasonable to keep clean. We use either the stainless steal cleaner or sometimes just a vinegar solotion or glass cleaner to wipe them down. Typically once a week keeps them looking nice. Fingerprints are not much of a problem with the brushed steel…water streaks on the dishwasher are the main problem( but easy to wipe down)Congratulations on your house project. How exciting to be so close to moving in! God bless.

  19. Over three years we replaced the kitchen appliances to a mix stainless steel/black finish. The black stove top (gas) is VERY hard to keep clean. I also use windex or vingear to keep the ss clean. If we did over, I would drop the black finish we have. Our kitchen is 26 years old with solid oak cabinets and good light. These appliances look nice and work well with a many family members.

  20. Dearest Steve and Teri,
    It seems that there is a lot of input on your appliance issue. I will say that with #5 on the way, I would have chosen black. My stainless steel refrigerator, dishwasher and oven are beautiful, but with the water and ice on the front door there are hard water stains on the front of the fridge. They also don’t seem as strong and when my daughter slipped, she slid and hit her head on the fridge door leaving a little dent. They also scratch so easily and require so much care. So if I had it to do again, I would do black. God bless, there sure are a lot of choices. I hope this helps.

  21. For me, I prefer the stainless steel. I don’t mind wiping down the fronts of our appliances. Our stainless steel “looks” cleaner than our black appliances ever did.


  22. When we were buying appliances for our newly built home we wanted to get stainless steel appliances but went with Kenmore “ultra silversteel” finish. We really like it. It’s easy to clean. We’d heard that the stainless steel appliances get scratched so easily that they don’t stay nice looking for long. Our gas range is also an “ultra silversteel”. We’re very happy with them both.

  23. I look at it this way: stainless steel will scratch eventually. If you buy black, you can always touch it up, if you even need to. With stainless, you have to rebuff the entire appliance.

  24. We have stainless appliances (stove, fridge, dishwasher). We like the look but given the opportunity we would not make the same purchase, and if I were you I would choose black. The stainless appliances require too much upkeep (cleaning with a special stainless cleaner; other products are not appropriate); they streak and get dirty too easily (and the dirt shows more); and they dent rather easily. Our fridge is dented along the bottom from relatively minor impacts, and because of the shiny surface the dents are more noticeable than they otherwise would be.

    I also think that stainless is a bit trendy and will go “out” in a few years, if not earlier, whereas black is more standard and therefore timeless, at least, relative to stainless.

  25. I haven’t read all the responses here, so hope I don’t repeat one! We have all stainless appliances after a remodel a few years ago. I love the look of stainless but our refrigerator and dishwasher get lots of fingerprints and water spill marks. They are easily cleaned — we just use the Zep Stainless Steel cleaner, bought at Home Depot. Cleaning the stainless is just an extra thing we do as part of keeping the kitchen clean for the next meal prep, you know? We also have a stainless sink which does show water spots but I don’t really care — it’s a SINK, you know? I guess one of my thoughts about black appliances is that you wouldn’t necessarily know if they were dirty, which in my opinion, is worse! I have enough trouble with my new solid-surface countertops (from white laminate) finding the spills!

    Blessings as you make your decisions. I am looking forward to seeing photos of the new kitchen. There’s nothing quite like a beautiful new kitchen to lift the spirits!

  26. We have had black appliances in our last two homes. I didn’t think I’d like having that color, but I actually prefer black now. I have not had staniless steel, but I hear there are cleaning wipes you can buy to help with streaking and fingerprints. I think you can buy them at Target/Walmart. I want to say Pledge makes them.
    I do not notice alot of fingerprints on my black appliances. I have three kiddos running around too. It seems to hide smudges. When I do wipe them down all I use is Windex. I would say I have to wipe the front of the appliances down once a week to keep them clean. The exception is my stove top (used alot) which I wipe down every night.

  27. This is a little off-the-topic of black vs. stainless steel, but I noticed that someone mentioned that you cannot do canning on a flat-top stove. I was told that also, but since the house we moved into when I got married already had a flat-top stove, I decided to risk canning on it. As it turned out, I canned for 3 years, many bushels of fruits and tomatoes, without any noticeable damage (although I will admit that I held my breath a bit each time, wondering if this canning season would break the stove! :~) ). However, last year my wonderfully-inovative husband came up with the idea of canning *outside* on a couple of those free-standing propane burners ($40-$60 each). Having the canning kettles outside ended up being so much easier–and it kept all the heat and extra moisture out there also. (I did still do all the food-prep indoors; I just processed the jars outdoors). So, for what it’s worth, if canning would be something that might keep you from buying a flat-top stove, this was my experience. And I absolutely *love* how easy the flat-top is to keep clean … and that when it is not in use, I have a large wooden bread-board that fits over the top, making for an extra counter-top.

  28. My parents have stainless steel appliances in their house. My mom told me that she canÒ€ℒt stand them. She said that they show every little fingerprint, and thereÒ€ℒs just my mom and dad around them usually. She would never buy stainless steel appliances, but they came with the house….

  29. I’m not sure if anyone has weighed in on this issue- what type of water do you have? Hard or soft? We have ultra hard water. Our refrigerator is a black and stainless steel combination. The water/ice dispenser on the front of the refrigerator is black. The hard water stains the black irreparably when it splashes from the dispenser and in the spill-tray that catches the water/ice should it spill. No matter how much I wipe and scrub, we have terrible looking hard water stains. No matter how clean the rest of the frig is, it always looks dirty due to hard water stains. I have found nothing that will get it clean. Also, water streaks are a problem on the stainless steel that is around the dispenser.

    Our other appliances (smooth cooktop, hooded microwave and dishwasher) are less than 3 years old and are very easy to wipe clean. They are all stainless and black combined. However, they do not get as much direct contact with water on a daily basis like the frig does.

    I agree, however, with the comments about stainless and black looking more institutional and less like “home.”

    I had all black appliances in our previous house. Aside from dust, I feel that black appliances are much easier to clean than stainless. Another problem with stainless is that it dents easily should you bump something against it and the dents show up more on the stainless than they do on the black.

    If I had it to do all over, I’d do something very unpopular- I’d buy almond colored appliances. These have been my favorite ones over the years. The almond color shows less dirt, dust, wear and tear. Stainless and black are dark and draw the eye, easily dominating the kitchen. Almond seems to open things up and blend in with the surroundings. White is another option, but I think it is too stark…

    Love your family. Praying for wisdom!

  30. We have brushed stainless appliances and I really am happy with my choice. They are not that difficult to keep clean (I do have older children though!) – I only clean them once a week or when I notice they need it! I use a stainless steel cleaner that comes in a can – I’ve used several cleaners and even some made for stainless left streaks that were difficult to remove – you have to experiment and see what works for your particular stainless!

  31. I had the same issue with not knowing which way to go. I found GE makes a line called Adora that comes in a color called Graphite. It is wonderful! A perfect middle ground between stainless and black. No fingerprints and always looks nice and shiny. I have been very happy with them.

  32. Dear Steve and Teri,
    Having seen that black and stainless steel can both be troublesome to keep clean, we chose white appliances as we replaced the ones that were in our home at purchase time. (Stainless steel seems commerical to me, too; I like Colonial type decor, and steel doesn’t go with that.)
    When I needed to keep stainless steel clean and strek-free, I’d buff it with mineral oil and a soft cloth. Pretty, but labor intensive. At this point I go with easy to keep clean from floors to cabinets to appliances to everything.
    Have fun choosing your appliances. It’s wonderful that you could build to your needs and specifications. I agree with the poster who suggested you write a book about the process, it would be a very popular item.
    Karen N.

  33. I’ve had both and found that they are about equal for cleaning however for cleaning stainless steel I use a normal cleaner which doesn’t scratch and then buff up the stainless steel with a little bit of baby oil and a lint free cloth. It is a trick that I learnt when I worked in a supermarket, at the end of the day we had to clean down the tills and a light spray cleaner then buffing up made the tills look great in no time at all.

  34. Hallo Teri. I have a black cooker/stovetop which I like very much and find easy to keep clean with basic natural products (water/bicarb). One thing you may wish to consider is what cleaning products you prefer to use. If stainless steel requires a special cleaner then for some families the chemicals used might be an issue, for others it might not be a problem at all. I have no experience with steel appliances but I do have stainless steel handles on all my kitchen cupboards and find that, whilst they are an attractive finish, they do show marks very quickly.

    My other appliances are all white and I find a white finish is easy to clean and looks nice with most counter/woodwork effects.

  35. I use method cleaner (mentioned above)to clean my stainless steel. It is pretty inexpensive and you can purchase it at Target. It works great and looks much cleaner than my past black and white appliances ever did:)

    I don’t have any little fingers to leave prints, but I am a pretty messy chef. And it still manages to look good despite my attempts at culinary magic!

  36. We are renting our new home in Florida but hope to one day own it. It has very nice Stainless Steel appliances. Stove/oven, microwave, fridge, and dishwasher. I clean them about once a month sometimes twice and we use stainless steel wipes; a cleaning product you can find at most Lowes’ or Home Depot. They are specially made for cleaning stainless steel and don’t leave smudge marks. I have been very happy with them. God bless you as you near the end of your home building journey.

  37. We built a house last summer with oil rubbed bronze faucets so we have black for everything in the kitchen. Love them!! We have 5 girls, they take turns once a week cleaning them with windex. The older ones use the spray, the younger ones use the wipes. It’s a fought over job, they all like to do it.
    P.S. I read your blog every time I can and it encourages me offen, hope to make it to one of your conf one day. Thanks

  38. We recently got a new fridge. It has textured black on the sides/top, but the doors are that “Cleansteel” or matte stainless. I am not very diligent about wiping it down, and do have young children, but the door never looks dirty or smudgy to me at all. The sides, however, show fingerprints/handprints all the time. I never would have thought that black would show more than a stainless variety, but it does. The “matte” stainless wasn’t much more expensive than the white either.
    Happy Shopping!

  39. We have stainless steel in our kitchen. We did not have stainless steel in our other homes. Because we have very hard water where we live now (we live in Minnesota), I can say that it’s very hard to keep clean because of the water. We have a neighbor who has the very same refrigerator and dish washer. They have a water softener in their home and even though their stainless steel looks better than ours, it still doesn’t have that really “clean” look. I would think that black wouldn’t show dirt as well, either. Best wishes in your new home!

  40. I have stainless steel and love it. I learned a tip that will really help if you do get it. Just buff the surface with olive oil and buff it until it shines. It really works and the SS doesn’t show marks at all. The oil doesn’t go rancid on anything like that, because it is such a fine coating. It will remove any water streaks.

  41. I have a black and creme stove and a black cover on the top of our dishwasher. Since we don’t have too much natural sunlight in the kitchen, the black makes the kitchen feel VERY dark and uninviting. I have a stainless steel toaster and blender and they are VERY difficult to clean and constantly bother me.

    My favorite kitchens have white appliances – since they make the room feel brighter and more cheerful, the appliances don’t show the dirt nearly as much and so it makes for a much better mood in the kitchen. Nothing better than a happy cook! πŸ™‚

    If white isn’t an option – I’d pick whichever would best match the kitchen cabinets. If your cabinets are white, then I’d pick black – since I think black if probably a little bit easier to keep clean.

  42. We had to make this decision again a year ago after another military move. We had a stainless dishwasher and stove in our home already, so we wanted them to match. After reasearching, however, we really did come back around to the black, so we purchased a black fridge. It is much easier to keep clean than the stainless. There is not near the risk of scratching, which can be spendy and/or time-consuming to repair. I find myself wishing that my stainless appliances were black like the fridge. Our fridge is a Frigidaire, and the surface of it is a little bit textured. I never notice anything on it, I just clean it when I know it’s probably time. We spoke to quite a few of the representatives at Lowe’s and places like that, and after their tips and hints we felt the black was easier to care for. Praying that the Lord will give you peace on the best decision for your family! Your home, from the photos you’ve already shared, looks like it will be a very inviting and classic-looking home. I think stainless and black both present a classic look, not industrial or cold. So I do believe you’ll be pleased with either, in the end, in terms of the look. All His best to you!!!

  43. One thing to consider would be a finish called the Satina (offered by Whirlpool, and perhaps others). It LOOKS just like stainless steel but does NOT show fingerprints, etc, and magnets can stick to it as well. I LOVED mine, but had to replace my fridge due to hurricane damage, and replaced with regular stainless steel. Boy do I miss my Satina! However, in my experience, I can just wipe the stainless steel down with water and a paper towel and it looks just fine.

  44. We had the same debate as we looked to replace our refrigerator. Last month we purchased one that has a “stainless look” but is not actually stainless. It was a great compromise as it is much easier to keep clean than a stainless would be.

  45. I used to be a cook at a sorority at a university. The kitchen was all stainless steel. It was very hard to keep it looking nice. While I love the look, I don’t think I’d want it for appliances. The only thing I’d want to be stainless is the countertops! I LOVED the stainless countertops because you could cut on them, set pans on them, etc. and it didn’t mar. Well, it did sorta scratch, but that only made them better, if that makes any sense.

    Can’t wait to see what you choose!


  46. Looks like you have had a lot of feedback so my thoughts may have already been echoed. I have had both. I do find that both need cleaning :). Black may hide it a bit better, but it is still there. I find stainless steal to clean up nicer and quicker. I use a mirco fiber on all our appliances. Currently we do have stainless steal everything and I wouldn’t go back to having anything else. I do have a lot of small children (and husband and I are praying for a reversal baby) so fingerprints show easily but someone wipes down appliances once every other day and they stay very nice looking. I love the performance of SS. Did you know that if you ever wanted to sell food from your home and wanted to have your home licensed by the health district to do so, that (at least in our state) you have to have SS appliances? This was important to me. Although God has not directed us in that direction at this time, if ever He were to have me or one of our daughters do so, having the stainless steal appliances are already there. Also, what does that say about SS? They clean better and are more sterile! The difference between a stainless steal tub in a dishwasher and a regular tub is amazing in how they clean. Then there is just the visual preference…. personally I like the brightness that comes with SS. Blessings on you as you choose!

  47. Hi! My sisters and I clean house for a lady who has stainless steel appliances and if I had a choice I would definitely not get them – they aren’t even “pretty”, (look like a camp kitchen) and are a pain to clean. Black is easier to clean (we just use Windex) and looks nicer – although it does still gets a lot of fingerprints – so I’d go with white or cream. Whatever you choose will look great!

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