Matte Countertops vs. Glossy Countertops: The Ultimate Comparison Guide

Choosing new countertops for your kitchen or bathroom remodel? Matte and glossy are two popular countertop finish options, each with their own sets of pros and cons. This comprehensive guide compares matte vs. glossy countertops to help you select the best finish for your home.

What is a Matte Countertop Finish?

A matte countertop has a non-reflective, dull finish that lacks shine or luster. Matte countertops have a smooth, velvety appearance, almost like suede.

Matte finishes completely diffuse light reflection, so they don’t have any “wet” or glossy look. Matte surfaces are entirely opaque and you cannot see any light bouncing off of them.

Some popular matte countertop materials include:

  • Matte laminate
  • Concrete
  • Quartz
  • Slate
  • Soapstone

Matte finishes are achieved by either using materials that have an inherent matte texture, like concrete, or by applying a matte sealant or etching onto a countertop surface, like quartz or granite.

Benefits of Matte Countertops

1. Matte Hides Smudges and Fingerprints

One of the biggest advantages of matte countertops is that they do a great job camouflaging dirt, dust, oil, and fingerprints. The lack of shine means there is no surface for grime to stand out against.

Matte surfaces almost hide smudges entirely since it’s hard to see fingerprints on a dull, non-reflective finish. Even though dirt still accumulates on matte, it’s far less noticeable. This makes matte an excellent low-maintenance option.

2. Matte Countertops Are Not as Prone to Scratches

Glossy countertops showcase every single scratch, scrape, and mark. The high shine acts like a mirror, easily revealing any imperfections.

Matte finishes help conceal small scratches and abrasions. Light doesn’t bounce off the dull finish, so minor scratches blend right in. While matte countertops won’t be flawless, they hold up better to normal wear and tear.

3. Matte Finishes Don’t Highlight Spills or Watermarks

Liquid easily beads up on glossy countertops, leaving obvious water spots as it evaporates. Matte’s opaque surface hides watermarks and spills far better. A matte finish diffuses light reflection so wet marks are nearly invisible.

4. Matte Countertops Have a Soft, Elegant Aesthetic

While glossy surfaces tend to look bold and intense, matte has a much more refined, graceful appearance. The smooth, velvety finish provides an understated and sophisticated look.

Matte countertops complement both modern and traditional kitchens exceptionally well. Matte works great in calm, tranquil spaces where you don’t want a high-energy vibe.

5. Matte Finishes Don’t Show Greasy Residue

Glossy countertops showcase oily residue from cooking. Splattered oil glistens under direct lighting. With matte’s diffused surface, greasy marks blend right in. Matte finishes conceal oily residues much better than polished glossy surfaces.

6. Matte is Ideal for Low Lighting Conditions

Direct lighting causes tons of glare and reflection on glossy countertops. This can make food prep difficult. Matte finishes don’t have any reflective sheen under lights. Without glare issues, matte works wonderfully in kitchens with poor lighting.

Drawbacks of Matte Countertops

1. Matte Shows Dust Buildup Over Time

While matte countertops disguise daily dust and crumbs well, lint, dirt, and debris accumulates over time. Since matte finishes lack shine, grit buildup on the surface becomes more visible. Matte requires frequent dusting and cleaning to keep it free from debris buildup.

2. Matte Countertops Show Etching and Staining

While minor scratches blend into matte, etching and staining stand out. Since matte finishes are porous and absorbent, spills seep into the surface rather than beading up. Acidic liquids like wine, fruit juices and vinegar can etch and stain a matte finish.

3. Matte Countertops Can Look Dull in Low Light

The lack of shine on matte surfaces can make countertops appear dark and plain in low light conditions. Without a glossy sheen, matte finishes can look unremarkable and muddy in dim lighting.

4. Lack of Reflection from Matte

Reflection from glossy surfaces can give the illusion of added space and light. Matte’s lack of reflectivity doesn’t provide this visual enlarging effect.

5. Matte Finish Requires More Frequent Sealing

Since matte is porous and absorbent, it needs sealing more often than glossy finishes. Acidic spills can penetrate an unsealed matte surface. Regular sealing fills in pores and helps repel stains.

6. Less Durable Than Glossy

Matte countertop finishes are generally softer and less scratch-resistant than gloss. A matte surface is easier to nick, ding, and scratch than harder glossy materials like quartz. Durability varies based on the exact material.

What is a Glossy Countertop Finish?

Glossy countertops have a shiny, highly reflective surface finish. When light hits a glossy countertop, it bounces directly back to the eye, creating a “wet” look.

The shine on glossy surfaces ranges from satiny smooth to an intense mirrored effect. Glossy finishes always have a lustrous, polished look.

Some common glossy countertop options include:

  • Polished granite
  • Quartzite
  • Marble
  • Engineered quartz
  • Glass

Glossy finishes are achieved by polishing or refining a surface until it becomes light reflective. The more intense the polishing process, the higher the light reflectivity, and the more pronounced the glossy shine.

Benefits of Glossy Countertops

1. Glossy Finish is Easy to Clean and Sanitize

The slick polished surface of glossy countertops prevents dirt, crumbs, and spills from absorbing into the material. Messes sit on top of the impervious gloss finish instead of getting trapped in pits and etched spots.

This allows you to simply wipe away grime with minimal scrubbing. Glossy countertops can also be easily disinfected since no germs seep beneath the smooth finish. The non-porous surface limits bacteria growth.

2. Glossy is Extremely Durable and Scratch-Resistant

Glossy countertops are some of the toughest, most durable kitchen surfaces available. Polished finishes are hard enough to resist cutting, scratching, and dulling from daily wear and tear.

While no finish is completely scratch-proof, glossy countertops hold up quite well against knife marks and scuffs. Materials like quartz and quartzite have an especially high resistance to surface damage.

3. The Glossy Finish Sparkles and Reflects Light Beautifully

The dazzling shine from glossy surfaces instantly brightens up a kitchen. When illuminated, glossy countertops come alive with luminescence and sparkle.

The light-reflecting shimmer creates depth and visual interest. Gloss finishes look radiant and eye-catching under both natural and artificial lighting.

4. Glossy Surfaces Highlight Countertop Patterns

Whether it’s veining in marble or multicolored quartz aggregates, a glossy finish emphasizes the design and color patterns inherent to the material.

The sheen reflects light in ways that make patterns pop beautifully. Glossy surfaces showcase the full vibrancy, movement, and visual texture of countertop materials.

5. Gloss Provides a Sleek, Modern Look

Glossy countertops have a streamlined, contemporary aesthetic. The slick sheen embodies today’s trendy high-shine design. Glossy finishes give kitchens a clean, upscale look.

Gloss also works well in more traditional spaces when you want reflectivity without a stark modern vibe. The shine adds elegance and polish without feeling too trendy.

6. Easy to Refresh Glossy’s Shine

Over time, even durable glossy countertops lose a bit of luster from cleaning chemicals and etching. Glossy finishes can be renewed through polishing. Professional resurfacing removes minor blemishes and restores the original reflective shine.

Drawbacks of Glossy Countertops

1. Glossy Shows Smudges, Prints, and Watermarks Easily

While the slick glossy surface deters absorption, the high light reflectivity highlights every single smudge, streak, and spot. Oils, spills, and watermarks clearly show up. Misting and fingerprints are quite obvious on the gloss shine.

Frequent wiping is required to keep glossy countertops looking pristine. Some homeowners don’t mind the frequent cleaning required for glossy, but it’s a definite maintenance consideration.

2. Gloss Finishes Show Scratches and Etching Clearly

Glossy’s flaw-revealing reflective surface showcases the slightest imperfections. Fine scratches and scuffs stand out on gloss. Any etch spots and discoloration from acidic spills are also plainly visible.

3. Gloss Causes Glare Issues

The mirror-like shine from glossy surfaces creates intense reflectivity. This amplified glare can be blinding, especially under direct lighting. Glare off a glossy countertop makes it hard to see your work surface clearly.

To reduce eye strain, indirect lighting is ideal for glossy countertops. Proper kitchen lighting setups can offset some of gloss’s glare issues.

4. Glossy Shows Greasy Residue and Water Beading

Oils and food splatter glisten on glossy under lighting. You’ll clearly see greasy reside residue on a reflective surface. Beading from sink water or spills is also very apparent.

5. Gloss Shows More Seam Lines on Solid Surfaces

Matte finishes can help mask seam lines on countertop materials like quartz, making them less noticeable. The reflective sheen of a glossy finish highlights any countertop seams.

How Durable Are Matte vs. Glossy Countertops?

Countertop durability depends on the material, not necessarily the matte vs. glossy finish. However, finish does impact how well a countertop visually withstands wear.

Glossy countertops better hide light scuffs, while matte disguises minor scrapes and cuts. But deep scratches, gouges, and etching show on both.

Acidic liquids that etch and stain are a bigger concern with matte finishes. Porous matte surfaces allow spills to seep in and cause discoloration unless sealed very well. Non-porous glossy resists penetration.

Overall, glossy finishes are harder than matte and more scratch-resistant. But matte’s ability to conceal light scuffs often makes it appear more durable.

Quartz, quartzite, granite, and engineered composites like sintered stone are all very durable options that work equally well in matte or gloss.

Matte vs. Glossy: Which is Better for Kitchen Countertops?

Matte Countertops are Better If You…

  • Dislike smudgy fingerprints and watermarks
  • Want to hide minor scratches and dings
  • Prefer a soft, understated look
  • Have poor task lighting in your kitchen
  • Cook greasy foods often

Glossy Countertops are Better If You…

  • Enjoy a shiny, reflective surface
  • Don’t mind polishing away smudges frequently
  • Want to accentuate your countertop’s color patterns
  • Prefer a sleek, modern aesthetic
  • Are willing to seal and reseal your countertops

Both finishes have their pros and cons. For busy kitchens prone to spills and messy prep work, matte is the more forgiving option. If you love that lustrous wet-look shine, then glossy is likely the best choice.

Matte vs. Glossy: Which is Better for Bathroom Countertops?

In bathrooms, glossy and matte finishes also both work well but have different considerations.

Matte Bathroom Countertops:

  • Hide water spots and splashes around sinks
  • Provide an understated look for a relaxing spa vibe
  • Show etching from acidic cleaners over time

Glossy Bathroom Countertops:

  • Create a sleek, easy-to-clean surface
  • Showcase bold veining and patterns
  • Require diligent cleaning to keep water spots at bay
  • Increase light and space in small bathrooms through reflection

For family or high-traffic bathrooms, glossy counters are the lowest maintenance option. In master baths, matte’s soft texture offers a refined, elegant look.

How to Choose Between Matte vs. Glossy Countertops

Choosing between a matte vs. glossy finish comes down to your own personal style preferences, along with lifestyle factors.

If you gravitate towards modern design with reflective surfaces, glossy countertops will suit your taste. For those who love the softness of a matte look, hone away glossy’s shine.

Busier households with kids may benefit from matte’s camouflaging effect on smudges. Lower maintenance homeowners who don’t mind buffing away fingerprints usually enjoy gloss.

Take into account your kitchen’s lighting. Glossy surfaces work best with ample indirect light to cut down on glare. Matte finishes show beautifully under all types of illumination.

Most countertop materials today offer both matte and glossy finishes. While one finish may be more popular, you can usually find any countertop in your preferred sheen.

If you can’t decide between matte vs. glossy, choose a material that allows you to start with one finish and change it later on. For instance, you could pick a glossy quartz countertop now and later have it honed or etched into a matte. This offers flexibility as your taste evolves.

No matter which finish you select, always make sure to properly seal and care for your countertops. Sealing is critical to prevent stains and etching. With routine cleaning and maintenance, both matte and glossy countertops will retain their beauty for many years.

FAQ About Matte and Glossy Countertops

Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about matte vs. glossy countertop finishes:

Is matte or glossy finish more expensive?

Matte and glossy countertops have nearly identical costs for materials and installation. Some boutique matte options like oxidized metal can cost more. But for most countertop materials, the finish does not impact overall price.

Do matte or glossy countertops increase home value?

Well-maintained countertops in good condition will increase resale value, regardless of finish. Both matte and glossy finishes appeal to buyers. Choose the finish you enjoy most.

Are matte or glossy countertops more eco-friendly?

Countertop material, not finish, determines eco-friendliness. Paper composite, recycled glass, and some natural stones are green options. Look for sustainable materials first, then choose matte or glossy finish.

Which is better for busy kitchens – matte or glossy?

In high-traffic kitchens, matte is the more forgiving choice. Matte disguises smudges from multiple cooks better than gloss, which shows every fingerprint.

Do you need to seal matte or glossy countertops?

Sealing is crucial for both finishes. Sealers protect surfaces from stains and damage. Matte needs more frequent sealing than glossy. Always use manufacturer-recommended sealers.

How do you clean matte vs. glossy countertops?

Use mild soap, water, and soft cloths to clean all countertops. Avoid abrasive cleaners. Matte needs more dusting for debris cleanup. Glossy requires polishing agents to retain shine.

Can you change a matte countertop to glossy?

Some materials like quartz can be transformed from matte to glossy through polishing and refinishing. Others only come in one inherent finish. Check manufacturer guidelines before attempting to alter finish.

Matte and Glossy Countertops: Enhance Your Kitchen’s Style

The guide above details the standout benefits and potential drawbacks of matte vs. glossy countertops. Now that you know the differences, you can choose the finish that best complements your kitchen design and lifestyle.

Both matte and glossy finishes offer beautiful, functional options for countertops. Keep in mind proper care guidelines to keep your countertops looking like new for decades. With the right maintenance, matte and glossy surfaces stay stunning and withstand heavy use.

If you need help selecting countertop materials or finishes for your next remodeling project, consult a kitchen designer. Design professionals can explain all your material and finish choices while designing your dream kitchen within your budget.

Invest in quality countertop materials and finishes that match your personal style. With the information above, you can confidently choose between matte or glossy surfaces to create your ideal kitchen aesthetic.