Stone trends: polished, honed or leathered finish?

Recent design trends show a move toward using more textured and tactile finishes in the home. From countertops to cushions, crushed velvet to hard wood flooring, texture is an increasingly important home design consideration. In the world of stone, while polished surfaces are still the most popular choice, some homeowners are opting for honed or leathered surfaces to bring a different dimension to spaces like kitchens. Honed finishes are especially popular for marble, since marble will develop a patina over time and not having the surface polished in the first place can help embrace this look from the outset.

Leathered surfaces offer a different look and feel, and from a practical point of view they can also be lower maintenance – fingerprints, watermarks and crumbs are less conspicuous than on a shiny, polished finish. This appeals to busy homeowners who don’t want to clean up all the time. On the other hand, one of the benefits of polished surfaces is the contrast of the shine against the cabinets, which are often wood. This brings balance to the room, with many consumers wanting their countertop to shine and stand out as the focal point of the kitchen.

The surface finish you select will affect the look and feel of your space and also the maintenance of your stone. The choice of finish will also affect the depth and richness of color. The finishing process starts with a rough slab of granite at the processing plant. The slab is placed on an automated conveyor system that moves it through the stages of the finishing process. A series of polishing wheels apply pressure to the slab to buff and grind the stone. Different stone finishes are achieved according to the stage in the process when the finishing stops.  Diamond head brushes and waterjets may also be used, depending on the desired finish.


PerlaVenataQuartzitePolished A glossy finish that brings out the full color and character of the stone. The finish is smooth, shiny and mirror-like. The stone will appear slightly darker with richer color after this finish is applied. Polished granite will retain its shine for a very long time so this makes it relatively easy to clean and care for.

A polished finish is most often used for countertops, wall-cladding, fireplaces, table tops, reception areas and vanities. Polished stone is not usually recommended for flooring due to its slippery surface. Not all stones can be polished to a high gloss finish so it’s best to check with your fabricator before selecting your stone if you want this finish.


A satin smooth finish with little or no shine. The look of the finish varies depending on the stone type, from a matte appearance to a low sheen. Honed surfaces are always smooth with no ridges or bumps. This finish can make the stone look lighter or “greyed out”, especially if applied to dark surfaces. Honed finishes need to be resealed more often than polished finishes, but because of the lack of shine flaws can be concealed more easily.
A honed finish is best for low maintenance, high traffic applications. Often used for flooring, stairs or other areas where water might make a surface too slippery for a polished finish to be safe. Also used for interior wall covering, table tops, vanities and countertops.


Sandalus-Leathered-granite A newer style of stone finish that has become more popular in recent years. It is most commonly seen on darker granites and gives the stone a textured appearance while retaining its natural color. A leathered surface usually has a soft sheen to it, but is much less shiny than the glossy look of a polished slab. Leathered granite hides fingerprints, water spots and smudges well. A leathered finish is most often used for countertops, vanities and outdoor applications.


These three finishes are among the most popular in the market but there’s a large range of choices if you’re looking for something different (for example: brushed, flamed, Tuscan, antiqued). New advances in technology allow for some very creative finishes to be applied to stone, with the latest equipment such as 3D waterjets able to create finishes like the one on this 3D matrix granite supplied by Antolini. Visit your nearest Pacific Shore Stones showroom to view first hand the different finishes available and receive assistance choosing the best stone for your project from our knowledgeable sales associates.