How to Use Matte & Gloss Ceramic Tiles

Updated March 23, 2017

You can use matt and glossy ceramic tiles virtually anywhere in your house. Gloss tiles are always glazed; matt tiles may or may not be glazed. The difference in home usage normally is determined by location, wear and tear considerations and general aesthetic preferences of the homeowner. A matt-finish tile can be used anywhere in the home, but normally is used as a floor covering, and usually is unglazed. Glossy tiles are popular in bathrooms and kitchens due to their sheen and ease of clean-up. Whether matt or glossy, glazed tiles have the advantage of nearly unlimited colour possibilities.

Choose a matt-finish tile for any floor covering project, and seriously consider a non-glazed version. A glazed matt finish will be susceptible to scratching and chipping, and it will be more slippery than a non-glazed product. A glossy tile is by definition glazed and is easily scratched. Glossy tiles also are very slippery, which is why they're preferred in kitchens and bathrooms, where water and clean-up are issues. Glossy tiles should be used as a floor covering only in extreme cases, such as an art-viewing room or other low-traffic, special-use space.

Use glossy tiles in bathrooms and kitchens. Kitchen backsplashes and countertops are ideal for glossy tiles, although you might consider a matt finish or, better still, a wooden cutting board for cutting surfaces in the kitchen. Glossy tiles often are found throughout bathrooms---on walls and in and around tubs and showers. Although glossy tiles readily show water spots and soap scum, they also are easily cleaned. Matt tiles (unglazed) are used on floors in the bathroom. Again, traction in an area that gets as wet as a bathroom floor demands a non-slip surface.

Decorate walls or other household appointments with matt or glossy tiles. Tile usage on walls is normally a purely aesthetic consideration, although using glossy tiles in high-traffic areas like hallways and mudrooms provides the additional advantage of easy clean-up. They are easily scratched, though, so a matt tile offers the benefit of not being marred as easily. Whether or not you have children or pets will play a role in your choice.

Pave outdoor areas or vestibules with unglazed, matt-finished tiles. They are durable and slip-resistant and stand up to weathering. Porcelain and terra cotta tiles are popular choices, and are becoming more prevalent in kitchens as well. Consider using a slip-resistant sealer for unglazed matt tiles to prevent stains and retain traction.

Select glossy tiles, or at least glazed matt tiles, around a fireplace for easy clean-up of soot.

Use either matt or glossy tiles when trying to match the flavour and time frame of your home. Glossy tiles, for example, were used extensively in houses built in the 1950s, so make your tile choice in accordance with existing materials.


Glaze is liquid glass applied after the tiles are formed and is adhered to the tile under intense heat. The strength or hardness of the glaze is determined by the kiln temperature, colour (determined by a mixture of minerals such as gold, silver, zinc and copper) and gloss level. Shiny glazes usually are softer than satin or matt finishes.

Things You'll Need

  • Matt or glossy tiles
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About the Author

John Kibilko has been writing professionally since 1979. He landed his first professional job with "The Dearborn Press" while still in college. He has since worked as a journalist for several Wayne County newspapers and in corporate communications. He has covered politics, health care, automotive news and police and sports beats. Kibilko earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Wayne State University.