With the myriad design options, decorative pieces and variety of shapes, sizes and colours of porcelain and ceramic tile, the do-it-yourselfer easily loses sight of the importance of the finished surface of tile. Matt finish and glazed tile have completely different surface textures: Matte is honed and has a dull finish, glazed is shiny. These factors -- among others -- make each appropriate for certain bathroom applications.
The Ceramic Tile Institute (CTI) defines glazed tile as being "generally made of a soft whiteware bisque with an impervious glaze," and they define matt glaze as, "a low gloss ceramic glaze." Utah State University's Cooperative Extension simply differentiates (high-gloss) glazed tile as "shiny" and prone to showing scratches from "dull-surfaced" matt tile.
Maintenance and Areas of Use
The CTI states that unglazed tile (including matt finish) is "by and large, the most durable general tile type." On this note, glazed tile is simply more prone to chipping and cracking from impact in heavy use areas such as bathroom counter tops. On the other hand, the CTI notes that glazed tile is generally more impervious to water and staining, making it ideal for bathroom wall applications. Matt-finish tile is appropriate for bathroom flooring.
Glazed tile is slippery, making it a bad choice for bathroom flooring. Matt-finish tile on the other hand provides additional "bite" to the surface, making it non-slip and ideal for bathroom flooring. Glazed tile (especially high glaze) on bathroom flooring may be dangerous for small children and the elderly.
Appearance and Design Appeal
The shiny look of glazed tile or the dull, soft look of matt tile makes a big difference in overall design. For example, glazed tile (as of 2011) is generally perceived as being dated, conveying a 1980s design appearance. Matt tiles are preferred in modern construction.