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Tile School: Which Tile Finish is Right For You?

By Kali

Tile School: Which Tile Finish is Right For You?

When you are choosing which tile to install, people generally think of color first, but it is important to consider the finish too. Do you want your tiles to reflect light? Have a softer look? Do you want some texture? You should also consider where you are installing as well, as some finishes are better suited for certain applications. Also, not all of our finishes are available in all of our materials. Below, we'll break down the six finishes that we offer.

Matte Finish

black and white bathroom

Tile Shown: Black Hills Brick // Design: Paula Oblen, Bobby Berk // Image: Sara Tramp

You can find matte glazes in our glass, brick and ceramic tiles. Matte tiles have a non-reflective surface and we offer them in several neutrals, whites and colors too. The subtle texture of a matte glaze has a softer effect that adds something special to any installation.

midcentury kitchen with yellow tile

Tile Shown: Mustard Seed 2x8 // Design & Image: High and Tight Design

Mattes work wonderfully for floor tiles as they offer more grip and slip resistance.

All of our matte glazes have a DCOF value above .42 and are rated for wet areas where slip resistance is helpful.

white herringbone kitchen floor

Tile Shown: Daisy 3x12 // Design: Hatchworks // Image: Robert Gomez Photography

For even more peace of mind in wet areas, consider a mosaic tile under 3” to maximize grout lines to add grip.

Satin Finish

hexagon tile floor

Tile Shown: 8" Antique Hexagon

We have several satin finished Tile colors: Antique, Flagstone, Sorbet and Sunflower. A satin finish is a matte surface with light sheen and is suitable for any installation.

three ceramic tiles with satin finishes

Tile Shown: Flagstone, Sorbet & Sunflower

You can see the smooth finish Satin offers in the installation below.

bathroom with blue satin tile

Tile Shown: Flagstone 2x4 Sheeted // Design: Jessie + Brian De Lowe of House of Honey // Image: Mellon Studios

Gloss Finish

pool with white tile and fireplace

Tile Shown: White Wash Mini Star and Cross // Design: Jessie Lane Interiors // Image: Jess Isaac

Gloss finishes have a shiny, semi-reflective sheen. Gloss finishes are seen most frequently, as this sheen offers a classic feel on floors and walls.

shower with glossy blue tile

Tile Shown: Lake Tahoe Wave // Design: Elemental Green // Image: Jill Tiongco Photography

You can see the shine, variation and crackle that can exist within finishes like Frost, shown here.

white tile variation

Tile Shown: Frost

You will also find Gloss finishes like Turquoise (shown below) where there is very little variation. Just be sure to check the variation level on each color page!

Tile Shown: Turquoise

Gloss with Engobe Finish

tudor bathroom with ceramic tile

Tile Shown: Sand Dune 4x4 & 2x6, Olympic Brick // Design: Lauren Bradshaw Design // Image: Joseph Bradshaw

Engobe is where we place a white primer on our Recycled Clay Body and then the colored glazed on the top. This finish accentuates the color and makes for a watercolor-like appearance. Engobe finishes will typically have a higher variation level, along with a bit of crazing.

You can see how this finish has a lot of color variation.

Tile Shown: Nautical

You can use gloss with engobe glazes for both wall tile and flooring applications.

green bathroom with copper tub

Tile Shown: Evergreen 2x6 // Design & Image: Claire Thomas

You can see how an Engobe glaze can really showcase color variation in the bathroom below:

shower with green ceramic tile

Tile Shown: Salton Sea 2x8 // Design: Michelle Lisac Interior Design // Image: Ellen Vanessa

Matte with Engobe

Tile Shown: Calcite Mini Star and Cross // Design: The True House // Image: Mino Pro Media Group, LLC

Engobe also comes in two matte finishes, Calcite and Neptune, blending the accentuation of engobe primer with the subtlety of matte glaze.

pool with ceramic tile

Tile Shown: Neptune 2x2 Sheeted // Design & Image: American Growers Company

Patine Finish

shower with ceramic tile

Tile Shown: 3x12 Magnolia with Black Patine & 3x12 Kelp // Design & Image: Neal Kay

Patine is an antiquing process applied to a gloss glaze to accentuate the crackled nature of the glaze. While this is fine for flooring, backsplashes, shower, and fireplace applications, it cannot be used in a pool or steam shower setting. Below are the three colors where you can find this striking sheen.

Tile Shown: Magnolia with Black Patine

Tile Shown: Mist with Black Patine

Mix and Match

checkerboard kitchen backsplash

Tile Shown: Tusk 3x3 & Dolomite 3x3 // Design: Autumn Hachey, TWENTY-TWO TWELVE, Stay Here // Image: Michelle Johnson

If you can't decide on which finish to choose, consider using more than one. Mixing gloss and matte glaze for instance creates intriguing variation even across similar colorways. Feature a border, checkerboard, stripe or scattering of opposing finish to set your design apart.

colorful patchwork tile floor

Tile Shown: Desert Bloom, Mandarin, Ember, Mustard Seed, Aegean Sea, Magnolia w/ Black Patine, Lake Tahoe, Spruce Gloss, and Lichen 2x8 // Design & Image: Banyan Bridges

Similarly, a Patine finish can be paired with any other tile, even the same color as your Patine choice, just without the crazing filled in.

Do you love our finishes? Order color samples online now. Still not sure which sheen is right for you? Simply call, chat, or fill out our Design Assistance Form and one of our talented Design Consultants will get back to you shortly.

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