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  • Writer's pictureNick

Polished vs. Honed vs. Leathered

Updated: Mar 14, 2023

So you've chosen your countertop material, you've picked an edge detail and now you're on to deciding which finish you want on your countertops. While not every finish is offered on every countertop type, there really isn't a wrong or right answer to making this decision. It just depends on your lifestyle, your preference of look both today and in the future, and how much maintenance you are willing to do. The differences listed below should help you in making a final decision.


Polished Surfaces truly bring out the most color and character of any stone. They are a highly reflective finish therefore showing all of a stones detail and depth. The polished finish also adds a layer of protection from spills and stains. The process in which a stone is polished helps to close natural pores and creates a protective barrier. While having that protective barrier is great, the reflective surface is more likely to show scratches. Overtime minerals from your water can dull darker stones but this can generally be taken care of by stripping and resealing your countertops every few years depending on your maintenance and your water quality. In between resealing, a polish made for stone countertops can be used to give life and depth of color back to them.


Honed Surfaces are simply a lack of the final polishing step when surfacing the stone. The process leaves a matte looking finish therefore losing some of the depth of the color and design, but leaving a very unique and modern look. Honed surfaces however do not come without their issues that need to be considered. Honing can make the stone appear lighter or "greyed out" especially on dark surfaces. Dark honed material will show oil marks from your hands or anything oily for that matter. It is suggested that an enhancer sealer is used as it will darken the stone. This helps by camouflaging oil stains without adding shine. Lighter stones don't tend to have the same issue with oily fingerprints but as a rule of thumb are still susceptible to other stains that come with general use in the kitchen and bath. Because the pores are more open than in a polished stone, they are at greater risk of accepting stains even when properly sealed. If you are looking for a pristine look this is likely not the finish for you. You should expect over time to see some changes like an old leather jacket. Some "weathering" of sorts will likely happen over much time.


Leathered Surfaces have become more popular in recent years and definitely offers the most unique look and feel of a stone countertop, however are limited in their availability. This surface is obtained first by starting with a honed finish and then using brushes to grind out the softer parts of the stone. This leaves a textured matte appearance. Leathered stone also as a rule of thumb hides fingerprints that can plague honed surfaces. Since we have different tooling to polish our edges than was used to leather the face of the slabs, the edges might be a little different than the top. We use brushes to mimic the appearance, but subtle differences may be apparent. An upside to a leather finish is its lower maintenance needs, do to its textured finish it does well at hiding things such as fingerprints and water spots. Although, damage to any part of the surface area will require more in depth repair procedure than say a polished or even honed finish.


If your questions weren't answered in this article, or if you are still unsure of what would look best in your area, please reach out to our team at McKenzie Stone & Tile and we would love to assist you. You can also visit our showroom in Eugene to take a look at, and feel all the finishes we have to offer.

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