Glossy or Matte Kitchen Backsplash Which Finish is Better?


Choosing the right finish for your kitchen backsplash can be a difficult decision. The two most popular options are glossy and matte finishes, but each has its own pros and cons. In determining which is the better choice for your kitchen, there are several factors to consider including aesthetic appeal, ease of cleaning, durability, and overall fit with your design style. This article will examine the key differences between glossy and matte backsplash finishes to help you decide Glossy or Matte Kitchen Backsplash Which Finish is Better?.

Aesthetic Appeal

Glossy Finish

Glossy tile has a shiny, reflective surface that can make your kitchen feel brighter and more open. The high-sheen finish accentuates the natural colors and patterns of tile, creating a vibrant backdrop. Glossy tile also has a classic, timeless look that complements both traditional and contemporary kitchen designs. The reflective surface adds depth and dimension, especially when using subway tile or mosaics. Glossy finishes are great for making a design statement.

Matte Finish

Matte tile has a muted, velvety finish that is not reflective. It has a more subtle look, bringing a restrained elegance to kitchen backsplashes. Matte finishes beautifully showcase the tile’s materials and textures. The understated surface highlights the tile’s natural muted tones. Matte is ideal for minimalist, modern kitchens and farmhouse, rustic aesthetics. If you want a backsplash that doesn’t steal focus, a matte finish allows your cabinetry or counters to shine.

Glossy or Matte: Which is More Appealing?

Glossy tile provides a shinier, eye-catching backdrop, while matte offers a softer, more subtle finish. Glossy is bolder, matte more refined. Glossy reflects more light for a brighter kitchen; matte showcases natural materials. Your choice comes down to your personal style. If you want a dramatic statement backsplash, glossy has more visual impact. For a more rustic or modern look, matte is likely the better choice.

Ease of Cleaning

Glossy Finish

The reflective coating of glossy tile resists staining, fingerprints, and water marks. Liquids bead up easily on the slick surface instead of absorbing. Glossy tiles like subway, glass, and ceramic mosaic are very easy to keep clean. Just use a damp microfiber cloth or sponge with a mild detergent. Soap scum and grease wipe away without hassle. You can also easily sanitize glossy surfaces.

Matte Finish

With a rougher texture, matte tiles are more prone to absorbing liquids and accumulating hard water deposits and soap scum. Matte needs a little more elbow grease for cleaning. Using a scrub brush, mild cleaner, and some baking soda can help tackle messes that get absorbed. More scrubbing may eventually dull the original sheen. Resealing matte natural stone tiles periodically will help them resist staining and etching.

Glossy or Matte: Which is Easier to Clean?

Glossy finishes are much simpler to clean and keep looking pristine over time. The slick surface resists absorbing messes, fingerprints, and water spots for easy wipe-downs. Matte requires a bit more effort to clean and maintain its original appearance. Glossy’s low-maintenance care and stain resistance give it the advantage.


Glossy Finish

The impervious glass coating of glossy tile provides formidable stain, scratch, and water resistance. Glossy glazed ceramic and porcelain tiles stand up extremely well over time. Their tight, dense surface prevents moisture penetration that could result in cracks, chips, or dulling. Glossy finishes are very durable for heavy usage in kitchens.

Matte Finish

Unglazed tiles like natural stone have inherent porosity, which makes them more prone to staining and etching from acidic liquids. Matte tiles may need resealing over time. Ceramic and porcelain tiles with matte finishes are durable, but more prone to chipping and showing wear than glossy. The raw tile surface and grout lines tend to show normal wear over time. Handle matte tile carefully during installation.

Glossy or Matte: Which is More Durable?

With tough impervious surfaces, glossy finishes are generally the most durable and long-lasting. They better resist scratches, stains, and moisture. Matte tiles require a bit more maintenance and care to maintain their appearance and performance. For heavy usage areas like backsplashes, glossy is the most hard-wearing choice.

Design Styles

Glossy Finish

With its visually striking shine, glossy tile suits any design style wanting to make a bold statement. The reflective finish has an elegant, upscale look at home in contemporary, modern, transitional, and even traditional kitchens. Glossy finish provides a clean, sleek backdrop that spotlight other elements like dramatic cabinetry or stainless appliances.

Matte Finish

With a soft, honed finish, matte tile meshes seamlessly into rustic, Tuscan, farmhouse, and industrial design styles. The muted, earthy look feels warm and understated. Matte has an artisanal, handmade quality that fits relaxed aesthetics. Use matte finish to create an approachable, lived-in look and feel.

Glossy or Matte: Which Fits Your Style?

Glossy backsplashes make a glamorous, polished statement while matte offers cozy charm. Glossy reflects light beautifully for sleek modern designs and matte provides an organic feel for rustic styles. For contemporary cool or minimalism, consider glossy finishes. For weathered, vintage, or Old World aesthetics, matte is likely the better match. Evaluate how the finish underscores or contrasts your design for harmony.

Cost Considerations

Glossy Finish

Glossy tile provides an affordable way to get a glassy upscale look. The reflective coating adds little cost during manufacturing. Simple polished glazes like glass subway tiles are budget-friendly. More complex metallic, iridescent, or graphic patterned glossy tiles cost a bit more but still less than natural stone. Overall, glossy tiles are very competitively priced.

Matte Finish

Matte ceramic, porcelain, and glass tiles are also economical options. Handcrafted artisan tiles with textural matte finishes have higher prices due to bespoke production. Honed natural stones like marble, limestone, travertine, and slate have a higher price point than man-made tiles. More porous than ceramic or porcelain, natural stone requires extra care and resealing during ownership adding cost.

Glossy vs Matte: Which is More Affordable?

On the whole, glossy and matte tiles in ceramic, porcelain, and glass styles are similarly priced for most budgets. Glossy provides a bit more bang for the buck, with polished reflective finishes at no added manufacturing cost. For top end artisan looks, matte tiles may have a bit more premium pricing. Natural stone matte finishes also entail higher ownership maintenance costs over time compared to impervious glossy glazes.

Environmental Factors

Glossy Finish

The slick surfaces and tightly sealed pores of glossy tiles inhibit penetration from heat, moisture, and staining. Glossy glazed surfaces easily withstand splatters and spills from cooking. The glassy finish reflects light to brighten dark kitchens. Glossy tile resists bacteria and is easy to sanitize. Hard, durable surfaces prevent cracks and deterioration.

Matte Finish

Matte tile’s porous, honed finish is more prone to absorbing heat, moisture, and staining from kitchen environments. Tile sealants provide some protection. Matte’s lower light reflectance doesn’t brighten spaces as well as glossy. The porous surface requires vigilant cleaning and disinfecting to prevent bacteria or mold growth. Cracks and chips in grout lines can be an issue needing repair over time.

Glossy or Matte: Which Handles Kitchens Better?

With tight surfaces that repel water, stains, and germs, glossy finishes hold up better to the high demands of kitchen backsplashes. Glossy surfaces resist deterioration and require very minimal maintenance. For kitchens subject to splatters, messes, temperature changes, and wear-and-tear, durable and easy-clean glossy tiles have a performance edge.

FAQs About Glossy and Matte Finishes

Does glossy or matte finish make a kitchen look bigger?

Glossy finishes tend to make kitchens look larger and more spacious. The reflective surface bounces light around, giving the perception of a bigger room. Matte surfaces absorb light, which can make kitchens feel more confined.

Does matte or gloss show imperfections more?

Glossy finishes highlight imperfections like uneven grout lines, lippage issues, or surface cracks. The reflective coating emphasizes any flaws. Matte has a camouflaging effect that minimizes smaller dings or blemishes in tile or grout.

Is glossy or matte tile more slip resistant?

Both finishes provide slip resistance when textured or embossed during manufacturing. Glossy becomes more slippery when wet though, while matte maintains traction when wet. Adding slip-resistant sealants or coatings is an option for glossy tile in wet spaces.

Does matte or glossy show dirt more?

Glossy shows dust, dirt, fingerprints, and water spots more readily due to its reflective surface. Matte’s texture helps conceal accumulated grime better, though grout lines may reveal staining. Glossy needs frequent cleaning to maintain its pristine appearance.

Is matte or gloss better for small kitchens?

In small kitchens, glossy tile with its light-reflecting properties gives the perception of more space and depth. Matte can feel too understated and dark if minimal natural light. Glossy brightens and opens up petite kitchens.

Is matte or glossy grout better?

Glossy grout resists absorbing stains or water, keeping grout lines clean longer. But light glossy grout can get dirty looking. Matte grout hides dirt better, but requires more sealing to prevent staining. Use dark matte or mid-tone sanded grout to limit showing dirt.

Final Considerations

Prioritize practicality.

Assess your kitchen needs and lifestyle first when weighing glossy vs matte tiles. Factors like cooking habits, traffic, kids, and pets should guide durability and ease of cleaning needs. Don’t sacrifice performance for aesthetics alone.

Envision total design.

Look at cabinetry finishes, countertops, flooring, paint colors and finish when selecting glossy or matte for harmony. Lighting is key – glossy boosts dark spaces while matte works better with ample natural light.

Touch up samples.

View large format tiles and touch display samples. Notice how glossy and matte finishes showcase textures. See how lighting impacts each. Seeing full tiles is better than small swatches.

Include grout considerations.

Grout finish impacts the overall look as much as tile. Sanded or epoxy grout is easier to keep clean. Match or contrast grout color carefully with tile finish.

Think long-term.

You’ll live with your backsplash for years. Choose tile finish and style that provide lasting appeal vs temporary trendiness for best investment.


Determining the better choice between glossy or matte tile backsplash finishes depends on your priorities. Glossy delivers bold drama and reflects light beautifully. Matte offers understated elegance and adds cozy charm. Glossy cleans more easily, but matte conceals flaws better. For contemporary designs, glossy is sleek while matte complements vintage styles well. Evaluate the pros and cons against your goals, lifestyle, and design aesthetics. For high kitchen functionality and easy maintenance, glossy is generally the winner. With an understanding of the key differences in appearance and performance, you can decide whether glossy or matte kitchen backsplash finish is the right choice for your home.