Recessed lights in kitchen: black or white baffle trim?

staceyneilApril 18, 2009

We're installing cans over the sink counter (task lighting). The lighting store I visited feels very strongly that black baffled trim kits are much better... mainly because of less glare. They showed me a dark room with a white-baffled light on, then a black-, and I could definitely see the difference: the white made a large, glare-y spot of light at the ceiling, while the black felt much softer and the light you noticed was down on the counter/floor rather than up at he ceiling.

That said, I thought the white ones disappeared into the ceiling a lot better, and I am all about having these ;lights as inconspicuous as possible. Also, I looked at a lot of photos of kitchens in magazines and they seem to mostly have white can baffles.

What do you guys think?

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All baffle-type trims are glare=y. Check out "alzak" or "specular reflector" type trims. They have a plated inside finish and come in 4 colors. I used black alzak trims, but you can get clear (actually silver), "haze" and IIRC "wheat".
Counter-intuitively, the plated lining actually prevents glare.
In this "during" pic, the two 4" cans over the sink at the far end are ON. You can see the light on the wall, but the trim still looks black. No glare from them ever.


    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 9:55AM
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We have white baffles because they "disappear" in our white ceilings (just note that they sometimes yellow inside over time, but they can be swapped out easily enough if we so desire).

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 10:29AM
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I went with white because I wanted them to blend in with the ceiling and not stick out. I think its a matter of taste.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 10:56AM
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Sombreuil_mongrel mentioned the haze ones. Those are the ones we have (made by Juno Lighting) in our kitchen both for our 4" and 5" cans. They are wonderful as they actually do seem to disappear into the ceiling--no "ceiling acne" (as someone here called can lighting awhile back).

We have the black baffles in our basement ceiling and the haze ones are much, much nicer IMO--worth the upcharge. You can check out the various colours on Juno's website but there may well be other manufacturers of the coloured baffles too.

Another way to make can lights more esthetically pleasing is to use frosted (sometimes called "ice") halogen bulbs. We found them a bit harder to find than regular ones, but again, we felt they were worth it.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 11:10AM
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As Casey mentions above, go for trim with Alzak or specular baffles. I tend to prefer the clear or wheat colored baffles because they are the least obtrusive on a light colored ceiling. If your ceilings are dark (a porch ceiling, for example) then go with a black or dark colored baffle. I avoid the gold colored baffles, just because I don't care for the look.

To prevent glare, make sure whatever fixture you choose is deep enough so that the lamp (bulb) is recessed up in the fixture. Cheap fixtures typically aren't as deep, allowing the lamp to be visible from a wide area. If you want to avoid glare, you don't want to be able to see the lamp unless you're practically directly under the fixture and looking straight up at it.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 11:33AM
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Ours have a silver/chrome type of baffle. Honestly I leave that up to my husband, he's an electrician and tends to have pretty strong opinions on what type of light/fixtures he prefers.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 11:57AM
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I should add that the alzak or specular trims are really expensive; like $30 or more each. If you have a lot of lights (my kitchen got 13) it will add up fast.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 1:34PM
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OK- this is news to me.

What glare? How do you get glare from recessed lighting?

We have chrome/silver baffles on recommendation from the lighting store - said they disappear when lights are on -which in our case is most of the time.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 1:37PM
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White, to blend with the ceiling.

Make your pendants and chandeliers the focus.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 2:25PM
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We are installing cans in our kitchen remodel. The electrician brought plastic baffles (white, my choice). Should the baffles be metal? We are thinking that the plastic will crack over time as the baffles become brittle. Is there such a thing as white metal baffles? Should we change to that? I could use your help. Thanks.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2009 at 11:08PM
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We switched from black to white about 5 years ago for reasons others already stated. I could not stand seeing black holes all over my ceiling. I wanted the lights to fade into the ceiling so that other features could grab attention. I was warned that the white would create more glare but honestly, I can't tell if there's a difference. We also switched to halogens, upgrading to baffles that were suitable for halogen bulbs, and I'm loving all the extra light in my kitchen.

I was shown baffles that were silver/mirrored but I thought they had more glare, not less. Not sure if these were what above posters mentioned, though. I sure couldn't afford $30 more a baffle. I think we have at least 30 can lights in this house.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2009 at 2:35AM
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I just finished up a kitchen lighting course and was advised to choose clear specular or Alzak. others above mentioned this too... would probably be a good way to go.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2009 at 6:58AM
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We went through many hours of trying to decide and put up samples of silver, black, and white. I really liked the black. Then I went to some very high end homes--multi-million dollar--they all had the black, so I went with black and love them. To me they disappear.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2009 at 9:03AM
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