Matt Black Desks – How Practical are they?

My business, Octopus Interiors, sells desks with black worktops.  We do lots of other colours and finishes too but the black desks are by far the highest cost and, in my opinion at least, have the biggest wow factor.  I’ve seen them in the showroom and I’ve sold them to a few customers and everyone loves them, but I’ve never actually used them myself for a prolonged period of time.

So, the question is, how good are they and are there any drawbacks?

When I came to kitting out my home office with new desks and chairs I wanted to make it look as nice as possible so I opted for the black-topped desks with wooden legs.  Here below is a photo of the desks we installed. 

The first thing I have to point out is that the photograph doesn’t do them justice. The surface looks blotchy and shiny but this is entirely down to the camera flash and not such good photography on my part with my Samsung Galaxy phone. They are actually a beautifully smooth matt finish with only very minimal normal light reflection.

Most desks are made from MFC (Melamine Faced Chipboard) and although fairly robust it is susceptible to scratching and denting. Kitchen worktops, by contrast, tend to be HPL (High Pressure Laminate) and this is far more hardwearing – more impact resistant, scratch resistant and heat resistant. Like MFC, HPL is often bonded to chipboard, but sometimes to MDF which is heavier, denser and stronger than chipboard.

My black desk tops are the best of both, being made from HPL with an MDF core and this is why the cost is so much greater than our standard range of MFC finishes, but not the only reason.  The black  HPL top costs around twice as much as the white equivalent, which in turn costs about twice as much as a regular MFC top.  When I was making up my mind what I wanted, I started delving into the sample box  and came across a black MFC finish. The manufacturer doesn’t offer this as an option for desk tops as it is only included in the range purely for their cupboards. I always wondered why until I noticed that the sample I was holding was absolutely covered with finger prints, something I was aware of and that I’ve noticed previously on many other darker coloured desk finishes such as dark greys, walnuts and so on, but I’d never realised quite how badly it all showed up.

The black laminate top of my desks are, by contrast, a finger print resistant and anti-reflection finish and I can assure you that they really do live up to that claim – although as a caveat that statement I should say that greasy finger prints will show!

So, having spent the past few weeks at my new desk, I’m very happy and very impressed. They’ve withstood knocks and scratching and they look absolutely fantastic.  But now to the downsides, albeit very minor ones.  Fingerprint resistance aside, they do show up more than conventional white or most wood-effect tops dust, coffee cup marks and grease marks.  To my delight, because I get to spend even more time with them, both my son and daughter far prefer doing their homework in my new office rather than their own bedrooms, but with it comes the issue of mugs of hot chocolate, sticky cakes and greasy fingers, all of which lead to a bit of a mess on the worktops, but nothing that can’t be easily wiped off with a damp cloth so a small price to pay for the pleasure of spending more time with the kids!

And finally, the cats.  Finger print resistant doesn’t translate into ‘paw resistant’ – I didn’t see that one coming!  On the first day, no less, the cats came in from outside with muddy paws and left a trail of prints all over the desks.


To conclude, if you want black desks then they absolutely need to be a fingerprint resistant finish – as these ones are. Anything less would quickly look absolutely dreadful and would be a disastrous purchase for your office. Now that I’ve put them to the test in my own home, would I recommend these fingerprint matt black HPL desks to customers in the future? – Absolutely yes! They will cost considerably more than our regular desks, but surprisingly not much more (if at all) than other suppliers’ regular desks and they just look so cool!


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