I bought matte subway tiles...should I have gotten glossy

redrozeJuly 26, 2008

I ordered the Ann Sacks subway tiles in 2x8 in a matte finish. I'm having a mini panic attack right now after having read a post regarding a glossy countertop with a glossy backsplash, as it seems everyone with subway tiles have them in a glossy finish, not matte. Does anyone actually have subway tiles in a matte finish? Do you think matte tiles will look good in my kitchen or will it make it look dated (similar to the tumbled marble look)? Our backsplash is supposed to give a slightly contemporary edge (elongated tile size) to a traditional material (ceramic) and I'm worried that getting a matte finish is going to screw up this approach.

Honest opinions please!!

Our kitchen in progress:

Our backsplash is the sample on the left, and our granite has a polished, shiny finish.

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IMHO, I think that will look really nice. I like the idea of either having a shiny countertop w/ a matte tile or vice versa such as those who have the matte soapstones w/ the glossy subway tiles. I love your cabinets....details please......the hardware in particular!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 11:06AM
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Another way to look at it- subway tile will go out of style again someday, and the more common (shiny) will go first.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 11:25AM
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I have matte subway and LOVE it. With the granite surface being shiny, I didn't want another shiny surface next to the granite, as I thought it would be too much shine. The matte works perfectly and I'm extremely happy with my choice. I do have a 1/2" glass liner on the backsplash for a bit of shimmer which is one row up from the counter. Our splash design is not busy since our granite is.

I can see our design not going out of style for a long, long time which is also what I considered.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 11:36AM
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My last client did matte subway and is exceedingly pleased with it. AS with other posts above it was matched with a granite c-top and deep oak cabs.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 12:16PM
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Redroze, this really needs to be a DESIGN issue, not an IN-STYLE issue. Everything hot and cool at the moment WILL inevitably be out of date tomorrow, the day after at most, but end up comfortably room temperature if all's well. The trick to both a good-looking kitchen and your own continuing satisfaction is to make choices that still look good tomorrow because they were the right ones design-wise for your room and personality-wise for you today.

So, do you and your kitchen as a whole need the calm texture of a matte tile in that position or a bit more energy from a glossy glaze?

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 12:16PM
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Rosie - I was surprised at how easily I answered your question (and thanks for posing it). Hands down, the calm texture of a matte tile because I love the quietness of everything in the kitchen, with the granite being the one energetic point.

Peemps - I hadn't thought of the matte soapstone/glossy tile combination which I have admired so much and works so well together. Our custom cabinets are recessed panel, inset, with hidden hinges, white is painted mdf and the ebony stained are maple, and the island will also be ebony which is not shown in the above photos. All hardware is from Restoration Hardware - knobs are polished chrome Hanson, pulls are polished chrome Aubrey and mostly 8", and glass knobs are polished nickel (cause they didn't have them in chrome).

I was always drawn to matte tile BUT this was before I was considering a subway tile. But the shinyness was the one factor I didn't like about the subway tile, which is kind of weird how I ended up getting it! Well, it was due to this photo, which regardless of the actual tile finish in reality, looks matte in the photo.

This forum rocks. I feel better now, and will wait for the tiles to come in.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 12:28PM
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Just an interesting after thought, I realized how easily I can be influenced by media and social statements - what is in, what's out, what's "classic", what's not. When it comes down to it, I picked the stuff I love in my kitchen (cabinets, floors, granite, pendant lights) due to an overall instinct and my personal design aesthetic, not a "what's in style" motivation. Obviously there are some design rules to consider on what "works" together, but the only reason I had doubts, even though I know I didn't like shiny tile, was because I saw that "everyone else" with subway tile had glossy!!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 12:31PM
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Here's my backsplash inspiration photo which looks matte, although it could very well be glossy in reality.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 12:34PM
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I can see what you like about it, and it makes a great backup to that wonderful stove. You're fortunate that you do know just what you like. After all these years, I'm still constantly being seduced from my own happy path by the lovely options offered on all sides.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 1:32PM
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Personally, I think the matte tiles "read" more modern. Plus, the size reads modern as well. You made the right choice.....

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 2:12PM
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Based on that inspiration photo, I'd say, choose matte (if the tiles actually in the photo are glossy, they read matte, and it's what you perceived that drew you to them in the first place!).

Also, I think matte will give you just enough of that twist or modern edge you've been seeking, while staying true to the "tone" set by your kitchen and cabs.

That said, there is no right or wrong here. Both the matte and the glossy version of the tiles would work beautifully with your shiny granite, it's just a matter of going with the look that calls to you. :-)

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 3:10PM
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I can hardly wait to see it all come together.

It's going to be yummy- yummy cuz I envision your backsplash as vanilla ice cream, the counter as gooey shiny caramel mix, and the expresso as wonderful rich dark chocolate!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 3:17PM
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I think the matte tile is going to be wonderful (but I'm a matte kind of girl -- I'd always pick it over the shiny!).

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 7:34PM
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I love the look and feel of matte tiles. It creates tension with the shiney granite and cab finish.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 8:17PM
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redroze, love your inspiration pic. I don't think you've made a mistake. Can't wait to see your kitchen. I think it is going to be breathtaking!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 8:20PM
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i think the matte will look great. it will serve to soften the feel of the room a bit, with your shiny counters, glass, and shiny cabinet hardware.

if you'd asked me ahead of time, i'd have said go with matte.

by the way, your cabinets are really beautiful.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 10:00PM
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I haven't read the other posts but honey, with those cabinets, you could put mud on your backsplash and it woudl look great!

I have matte and I prefer it - I'm just a non-glossy sort of gal so I really like the more subtle sheen vs the high sheen.

You've done great!


    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 10:03PM
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I am SO glad...the backsplash is the one decision we didn't consult with our designer on, as we couldn't afford it until we paid off some of our other kitchen expenses. I couldn't justify taking a loan as I've never done that...everything in our kitchen we've pretty much tried to pay off right away. That's how we've always been.

Thank you so much for the wonderful comments, and I will post pics once are cabinets are up so you can all admire them along with us!!! I am so relieved, was starting to worry that I made a big goof, and am excited that you are all on this ride with hubby and I. I think this will be the last of my backsplash posts...because my wonderful MATTEAnn Sacks Heath ceramic tile will be coming in the mail in a few weeks!!!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 10:42PM
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Someone may have already made this point, but I am in favor of the matte tiles in your kitchen since your granite is shiny. I am going to have a honed counter so that's why I'll go with a shiny backsplash, for contrast. Don't worry....your instincts are great.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 6:26PM
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Thanks for posting Blakey! I find I've been derailed from my instincts a few times during this kitchen reno...but always good to get confirmation that I was on the right track in the first place.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 7:59PM
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You're welcome! Now I need to start trusting to my own instincts so I can stop changing my mind every five minutes. I'm driving my family crazy! Looking forward to seeing your pictures soon. By the way, if you're still trying to decide about the backsplash behind your computer, I vote for something warm, and I like the simplicity of paint...

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 9:14PM
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redroze- The matte finish will look great!
I also love your granite- can you tell me its name?

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 10:26PM
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Late posting here but I vote for matte. Besides, anything from Ann Sacks is beautiful!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 10:30PM
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Shaker26 - Thank you! It's Bianco Antico which translates to antique white, or is sometimes referred to as Brazilian Diamond.

Tartanhabit - Good thing that you voted for matte. I already bought it!!

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 1:42PM
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Shaker26 - Just for you, here are a few more shots of the granite. Good luck with granite hunting!

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 1:44PM
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