How to Choose the Right Granite Finish For You
Granite can be finished in different ways, creating a different look and feel. In this article, we'll tell you about these finishes so that you can select one that's right for you.
How is granite finished?
After a granite slab is cut to size, it goes through a finishing process, moving along automated conveyers and being polished using diamond-head brushes, water jets, and polishing wheels to achieve the desired effect. The process is stopped at different points to create different finishes, from matte to fully-polished.
The way that a granite countertop is finished affects not only its look but how it will need to be cared for. While all granite needs to be resealed occasionally and it's important to clean up spills promptly, the ease of maintenance will depend on the finish you choose.
Polished Granite Finish
The most popular finish for granite kitchen counters is polished. The finishing process is taken all the way, using fine polishing pads to create a smooth, shiny surface that showcases the color and characteristics of the natural stone. The glossy reflective surface adds depth and richness to the granite.
Polished granite countertops are the easiest to care for because they can be sealed most effectively. A polished finish repels water more easily because the surface is less porous. This means that polished granite is more stain-resistant, and it doesn't need to be resealed as often.
Honed Granite Finish
This finish is becoming more popular, particularly in contemporary designs. This finish is very smooth, but not polished to a shine. The polishing process is stopped at matte or satin rather than taken all the way to a high gloss. Darker shades of granite will appear lighter than they would if they were fully polished, and colors will be slightly muted or more gray.
The matte appearance of a honed finish means that it will hold onto fingerprints and dust more easily. While the surface is very smooth, it is more porous than a fully-polished surface, so it's also more susceptible to stains. It's important to not let water sit on the surface for too long, and countertops with a honed finish will need to be resealed more frequently.
Leathered Granite Finish
This newer finish has also been growing in popularity in recent years. The stone is given a textured feel with diamond-tipped brushes that are run over its surface once it's reached the honed finish described above. Leathered granite has a sheen to it and its natural color shows through nicely. This finish is most commonly seen on darker granite.
Caring for granite with a leathered finish actually can be easier than maintaining a honed finish, because the texture hides fingerprints and spots more easily. However, if the finish does get damaged, it can be difficult to restore just one area, and so the entire countertop may need to be refinished.
How to Choose a Granite Finish
There are two main things to consider when choosing a finish for your granite countertops: the look of the finished counters, and the maintenance they'll require. When you're considering these different finishing options, remember that the honed or leathered finish may not be possible for all colors of granite. These finishes can affect the integrity of the stone, depending on its specific mineral makeup.
A polished finish is the most common for good reason—it's the easiest to clean and maintain, and the polished surface is also more heat-resistant. It's also suitable for all colors of granite and can bring out the natural stone's subtle details.
A honed or leathered finish can provide a great modern look that may complement your home's style beautifully, with the trade-off that your countertops will require more care, especially with a honed finish, which is beautifully smooth but also easily stained. If your counters won't see heavy messes, it may be a great choice.
Ultimately, granite countertops in any finish are a great addition to a kitchen. No matter what you choose, be aware that you'll need to maintain the finish on your counters with proper cleaning and occasional resealing. When you take care of them, they'll last a lifetime.