If you are looking for granite or marble countertops, you’ve probably the heard the terms “honed” or “leathered” finish. We get a lot of questions about these terms, especially concerning appearance and maintenance. In this article, we will quickly address the big questions about non-polished finishes on granite and marble before highlighting a few stones that take really well to this alternative finishing process.
Honed, leathered, brushed, antiqued…
These terms all refer to a process by which the surface of granite is finished with a rough polishing pad instead of the usual process that produces the shiny surface you are used to seeing. Honed granite is the most subtle of these finishes. It is essentially a “matte finish” for stone. It is typically very smooth and the difference between honed and polished is not very big. Leathered granite has a bit more texture, often creating the effect of a raised relief map. Brushed granite has a rough look, although it is still polished down so that it won’t be rough on your hands or catch on your clothes. Antiqued can range in texture, depending on the type of granite.
Quite often, the reason a stone is honed and not polished is due to its particular mineral compositions. For example, a White Carrara Marble will be honed, because the soft, consistent minerals would not look any different if the leathering tools were used to polish it. Stones with busier patterns and more variation will never be 100% smooth across the surface with a matte finish, so they usually fall into the leathering category.
There is actually very little difference in maintenance between polished, honed, and leathered granite or marble. At the end of the day, it’s best just to choose your finish based on which looks and feels best to you.
One of the two most popular granites you’ll see with an non-polished finish are Absolute Black Granite Honed and Premium Black Granite Brushed. These are both solid black granites, although Premium Black tends to be a bit darker and more solid in color. When a honed or brushed finish is applied to these stones, they reveal a smooth charcoal color and add a strong, natural feel to the space.
Costa Esmeralda Granite Honed is another stone that really takes to a non-traditional finish. This pale green Persian granite is already deliciously understated. A honed finish gives the granite a soft, quiet texture that makes it a perfect choice for a bright, calm kitchen.
White Carrara Marble is a classic, and a honed finish gives this traditional stone a little modern twist. As mentioned earlier, the difference between White Carrara Marble honed and polished is very subtle. It is definitely a decision that requires you to you to get up close and feel the differences between the stones.
Of course, opting out of a sleek polish does not always give a stone a softer look. Brown Antique Granite Leathered really “rocks” a leathered finish, which brings out the texture and weight of the stone. Brown Antique works particularly well with a leathered finish because it has the texture and natural rock look while still remaining soft to the touch.
Quartzite can also be honed. Fantasy Brown Quartzite in a honed or leathered finish only adds to the unique pattern and color of this stone. The long diagonal rivers of different minerals each have their own particular reaction to the honing and leathering processes, adding tactile variation to the visual dynamic of Fantasy Brown Quartzite.
Virginia Mist Granite is a soft gray stone with shifting sandy swirls of lighter gray. A honed or brushed finish emphasizes the pattern’s grain, giving the stone a weathered look. This and other honed black or gray granites pair very well with polished white granite and white marble.
Choosing a granite, marble, or quartzite with a non-polished finish can be a lot of fun, because you never know how the minerals in each stone will come to life when given a little room to show their true textures. When you are out shopping for these kinds of granite, make sure to take the time to run you hands across each slab, feeling the way the different textures “look” to your sense of touch.
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