Is Matte Tile OK for Kitchen Backsplash?

Matte tile can make an excellent choice for a kitchen backsplash. With a more subtle, less shiny finish than glossy tile, matte tile offers some great benefits in a busy kitchen environment. Here’s an in-depth look at using matte tile for your backsplash and how to decide if it’s the right option for your space.

What is Matte Tile?

Matte tile has a non-reflective, flat finish that absorbs light rather than reflecting it back like a mirror. This muted look provides a soft, understated elegance that works well for both traditional and contemporary kitchen designs.

The matte finish is created during the manufacturing process. The surface of the tile is sandblasted or given a satin finish to dull the glaze and eliminate the shine. Unglazed matte tiles have a naturally porous, honed texture that also absorbs light.

Matte tile comes in a range of natural stone and ceramic options including:

  • Marble
  • Travertine
  • Limestone
  • Concrete
  • Porcelain
  • Ceramic

You can find matte subway tiles, matte mosaic tiles, and larger format matte floor tiles for kitchens. Popular color choices include white, gray, beige and black. The muted finish highlights the natural patterns and veining in stone tile.

Benefits of Matte Tile for Kitchen Backsplashes

There are several reasons why matte tile is an excellent choice for kitchen backsplashes:

1. Hides Mess and Smudges

One of the biggest perks of using matte tile in the kitchen is that it camouflages messes, spills and smudges. The matte finish doesn’t reflect light, so fingerprints, water spots and cooking splatters are less noticeable. This makes the tile much easier to keep looking clean in a busy kitchen.

Glossy tile shows every little speck of dirt and needs frequent wiping down to look its best. Matte tile is far more forgiving and requires less maintenance.

2. Provides an Understated Elegance

The satin matte look has a subtle beauty that fits in effortlessly with both traditional and modern design aesthetics. It provides eye-catching style without being flashy or over the top.

Matte tile avoids the sometimes gaudy look of highly polished, reflective tile. The soft finish gives depth and texture to the material. Matte white subway tile, for example, has a timeless appeal.

3. Creates a Smooth Visual Transition

Matte surfaces don’t create abrupt changes between surfaces. The tile finish blends seamlessly into the wall paint without clear borders. This cohesive visual flow elevates the overall design.

Glossy tile can look disjointed with stark transitions between the tile and surrounding drywall. Matte finishes merge everything together for a smooth, unified appearance.

4. Provides Better Traction

Matte tile’s porous, honed texture provides more traction underfoot than slippery glossy tile. This makes it a safer option for kitchen backsplashes where you often stand while prepping meals.

The textured finish helps prevent slips and falls, especially important when working around hot stoves or ovens. For areas that see water splashes and spills, matte tile gives your feet better grip.

5. Doesn’t Show Imperfections

The muted matte finish disguises minor cracks, chips, and flaws better than high-gloss tile. Light doesn’t accentuate imperfections as much as with polished glossy surfaces.

Matte subway tile, for example, hides any mishaps that occur during installation and natural wear and tear over time. Cracks and chips blend in instead of standing out clearly like they would on polished tile.

6. Available in Large Format Tiles

Matte porcelain and ceramic tiles are now available in larger sizes up to 4’x8′. These big tiles provide a seamless, clean look popular for modern designs.

Large format matte tiles can make small spaces appear bigger and roomier. Fewer grout lines give a more streamlined appearance. Mixes of small and large matte tiles add appealing visual dimensions.

7. Works with Any Color Palette

From light and airy to dramatic and bold, matte tile matches any kitchen color scheme. The neutral satin finish works as a subtle background that lets cabinetry, counters, fixtures and paint colors pop.

Matte tile also pairs beautifully with natural wood elements. The varied gray tones in wood grain and matte tile complement each other gracefully.

8. Adds Depth and Texture

While glossy surfaces reflect light, matte finishes absorb light in a way that emphasizes the natural texture and contours of the tile material. This creates depth and visual interest.

Matte tile enhances the inherent beauty of natural stone, with graceful veining patterns and color variations taking center stage. The matte texture enlivens plain painted walls as well.

9. Doesn’t Show Water Stains

Matte surfaces don’t show mineral deposits and water stains as visibly as polished glossy finishes. Water dries without leaving obvious marks behind.

This is helpful for kitchen backsplashes that see splashes from sinks and constant wiping down. Matte tile maintains its like-new appearance longer without hard water spotting.

10. Offers Design Flexibility

Install full matte backsplashes or mix matte and gloss finishes for contrast and visual separation. Matte subway tiles laid in a herringbone pattern make a real style statement.

Use mosaic sheets of small matte tiles or combine with larger tiles. Blend matte and metal or glass for added contemporary flair.

Drawbacks of Matte Tile

Though it offers many advantages, matte tile does have a few drawbacks to consider:

  • Shows dirt, dust and debris more than very shiny tile
  • Requires sealing for some natural stone types to prevent staining
  • Limited glossy tile options for contrast within a kitchen
  • Grout lines are more visible than on polished gloss tiles

Take extra care to keep matte grout lines clean. Use a tile sealant for porous, natural stone matte choices like travertine, marble or limestone. Glossy accents can be added through fixtures, appliances or decorative tiles.

How to Decide: Matte vs Glossy Tile

When deciding between matte vs glossy tile backsplashes, take into account your design goals and kitchen needs:

Choose matte for:

  • Kitchens with kids and lots of daily activity
  • Hiding smudges, fingerprints and splatters
  • A modern, contemporary look
  • Rustic, farmhouse style decor
  • Large format subway, mosaic or ledger tile
  • Distressed, aged or crackled tile finishes

Choose glossy for:

  • Reflecting light in dark, low-light kitchens
  • A glamorous, shiny look
  • Vintage or retro decor
  • Highlighting bolder colors and patterns
  • Small tile spaces like penny rounds
  • Contrasting against matte finishes

Ultimately the choice comes down to personal preference. Try incorporating both finishes to enjoy the unique benefits of each. The combination of matte and glossy tile creates depth, dimension and visual interest.

Stylish Ways to Use Matte Backsplashes

If you decide matte tile is right for your kitchen, there are endless stylish ways to showcase it on the backsplash.

Matte Subway Tile

Classic white matte subway tile arranged in the usual brick pattern or a modern herringbone look never goes out of style. Go for dramatic impact with black, bold colors or marbleized matte subway tiles.

Geometric Matte Tiles

Add modern flair with geometric matte tiles in graphic patterns or funky shapes like chevrons, hexagons and triangles. Shapes and patterns provide bold visual interest against matte tile’s subtle base.

Moroccan Fish Scale Tiles

Intriguing fish scale tile designs offer artistic global flair. Use small matte tiles to mimic scales arranged in uniform straight rows or a more free-form mosaic layout.

Oversized Matte Tile

Make a bold statement with large format matte tiles like 12×24″ subway tiles. Fewer grout lines create a seamless appearance and show off gorgeous veining in natural stone oversized matte tiles.

Mix Matte Tile Shapes

Create dimension by combining differently sized matte tiles. Dot a field of small mosaic matte tiles with larger rectangular standard tiles, or alternate small squares with oversized tiles.

Matte Tile Field + Accent

Use matte tiles like white, gray or black subway tile to create a neutral background field, then add a glossy ceramic, glass or metal accent tile in a contrasting finish and color.

Contrast Matte and Glossy

Pairing matte and glossy tiles in complementary hues adds visual depth. Try glossy uppers with matte lowers or glossy inlays with matte borders. Vary textures too like smooth glossy next to porous natural stone matte.

Matte Tile Backsplash Installation Tips

Proper installation is key to creating a stellar backsplash that will hold up in your kitchen over the long haul.

Here are some top tips for installing matte tile backsplashes:

  • Use a high-quality polymer-modified thinset mortar suitable for walls
  • Make sure the substrate is clean, smooth and properly prepared
  • Check the tile manufacturer’s instructions for any special installation requirements
  • Plan the tile layout ahead of time using spacers for consistent grout lines
  • Follow guidelines for movement joints, allowing for expansion and contraction
  • Use unsanded grout for joints 1/8″ and smaller to avoid scratching the tile surface
  • Clean any grout haze off tile immediately to prevent drying and staining
  • Seal natural stone matte tiles like marble or travertine before and after grouting
  • Consider hiring an experienced professional installer for top results

With careful installation and regular maintenance, matte tile backsplashes will bring you lasting function and timeless style for years to come.

Matte Tile Provides Stylish, Practical Performance

With its subtle matte finish that camouflages messes, prevents slips and fits any decor, matte tile is highly suitable for kitchen backsplashes. The textured, non-reflective surface adds an understated beauty that works beautifully in both rustic farmhouse and sleek modern kitchens.

Thoughtful design that combines matte and glossy finishes, clean lines, geometric shapes and smart layout creates a backsplash that is both practical for a busy kitchen yet still visually appealing.

So if you’re seeking a backsplash material that provides the ideal blend of form and function, matte tile checks all the boxes. Embrace the elegance of matte tile to create your dream backsplash that flawlessly matches your personal style.