Glossy or Matte? How to Choose the Best Countertop Finish for Your Kitchen or Bath

How to Choose the Best Countertop FinishThere’s no doubt it can be difficult to choose the best countertop surface for your kitchen or bath. With so many beautiful natural stone options, from marble, granite, and quartzite, to engineered quartz and porcelain, you might have a hard time narrowing your options. Once you make a stone selection, however, your job isn’t done. You still have to figure out whether you want a glossy or matte finish on your countertops.

The choice you make can dramatically change the look of your countertops and your overall interior aesthetic; not to mention the amount of cleaning and maintenance required. Here are a few things you need to know before deciding if glossy or matte countertops are right for your kitchen or bathroom surfaces.

Shine Catches the Eye

Looking to add some visual interest to your living spaces, aside from the veining of marble or the stippling of granite? According to researchers, our eyes are attracted to glossy over matte surfaces. This may have to do with our innate attraction to water.

The countertops in your kitchen and bathrooms take up a lot of real estate and exist in the middle of your visual field, so adding a high shine can not only make your space brighter, as the surface bounces light, but it could definitely catch the eye more than a matte surface. 

Glossy or matte countertop finish

Just look at the high shine of the dark quartzite in this farmhouse kitchen. The eye is immediately drawn to the light reflected on the surface, as opposed to, say, the wood or brick surfaces around it.

Matte is a Modern Look

Glossy surfaces may be more popular, largely because glossy is the most widely available finish for natural stone. And as we now know, we’re predisposed to prefer shine. However, matte has recently emerged as a modern contender that adds a layer of visual texture, and it won’t compete as much with other elements, like a backsplash tile, for example, that you prefer to make a focal point.

It may also be preferable in kitchens that get a lot of natural light, or that feature abundant lighting fixtures. You might see only a bright, beautiful surface when perusing slabs, but when the sun hits your kitchen countertop full force, the glare could be undesirable. Plus, matte surfaces don’t show dust, stains, and scratches as much as glossy, making them a good addition to busy households where countertop spills and messes are a daily occurrence.

Glossy or Matte: The Fingerprint Conundrum

You might think that any smudge, like fingerprints, will show more on a glossy surface. But it turns out, the opposite is true. In fact, fingerprints, which are created when the oils on our skin transfer to surfaces we touch, are shiny, too. This means they are actually more visible on matte surfaces.

Glossy or matte countertop finishes for your home

Of course, the degree of visibility may depend on the color of your stone. If, for example, you’ve chosen a white marble or pale quartz, like the Frosty Carrina Caesarstone in this modern kitchen, chances are fingerprints will remain all but invisible on the surface, even if you’re looking for them. They simply blend in.

However, as you get into darker hues, especially when paired with surfaces that have no other distinguishing characteristics like veining, crystallization, and so on, you’re much more likely to see oily fingerprints on a matte surface. Even Caesarstone notes that “Honed, Concrete, Rough and Natural finishes require more frequent cleaning than our Polished finishes”. 

Caesarstone countertops finishes

The stippled texture of the Silver Pearl granite in this traditional kitchen might lend itself to camouflaging fingerprints.

Matte countertop finish

However, despite the leathered finish, oily spots would definitely show on the inky granite island in this rehabbed Craftsman kitchen.

That said, common soiling like dust, food splatter, and water spots may show more prominently on glossy surfaces. Even the soap used to clean could leave a film that dulls the shine over time. Because of their reflective nature, glossy countertops could show everything BUT fingerprints. However, touching surfaces happens throughout the day and all over countertops, while you’re likely to wipe up splatter and spills pretty quickly. 

Either way, maintenance is a consideration before you choose a glossy or matte finish.

The Size of Your Space

Surprisingly, the best choice in the glossy vs. matte debate may come down to how much surface area you’re trying to cover. If you have a lot of space to fill, adding a glossy countertop that creates a clear visual demarcation between the upper and lower halves of your visual field can make the space feel less cavernous by breaking it up into smaller visual chunks.

A matte finish could work better in a smaller bathroom or kitchen, where too many visual elements might compete and make the space feel cluttered or claustrophobic.  With a recessive matte finish, the space may feel a bit flatter and ultimately, larger than it is. Plus, you’ll still get the shine factor you crave with lighting, mirrors, and accents like high-shine hardware.

Need help with your home project?

If you’re ready to browse countertop options, the team at Academy Marble & Granite is ready to help you make your selection. Get an estimate for your next project by requesting a quote here.