You’ve settled on your dream countertop. The stone, manufactured or natural, matches your decor perfectly. The durability and maintenance requirements meet your budget and expectations. It’s all settled right? Well, no. Not unless you’ve also made a decision about the finish you want.
Slabs can come in a variety of finishes and even slabs that have already been finished can be refinished to meet a customers’ desires. Finishes are important for obtaining the look and feel you desire, but there are maintenance considerations to take into account as well. Additionally, some finishes can affect the level of brightness or light in a room, depending on the layout and size of the room, particularly overhead lighting and window locations.
Of course, the stone is the most important decision, but the finish should not be overlooked. It’s not a decision that should be taken lightly because finishes can have a big impact.
What Are the Most Common Types of Finishes?
The two most common and popular finishes are polished and honed. Polished is more common, but honed is gaining in popularity. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, depending on your perspective and your style. Other finish options such as leathered and caressed are typically available too. They are less popular, but no less attractive and could give a kitchen or bathroom the perfect unique edge.
An historic home, with Victorian touches, or a formal home with elegant entryways and ornate crown moldings that extend into the kitchens and bathrooms, would likely look best with traditional polished countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms. Conversely, a rustic home or cozy home, where a more casual atmosphere is desired, may be better suited for honed countertops, for their muted appearance.
Polished finishes are great for adding elegance, but they also help to highlight the colors in natural stone. If you have an extraordinary slab with lots of color and unique patterns that you want to highlight, polished is the way to go. It really showcases the movement and color of natural stone. Polished finishes can also add a great deal of brightness to a room due to its reflectivity. It can make small spaces look a bit roomier and help liven a dim room. Maintenance wise, polished is also the best option for people prone to spills that cause stains. The process of polishing helps to fill the pores of natural stone, making it more resistant to staining than other finished surfaces.
On the downside for polished stone, some people don’t care for its reflective properties. In a room that is already spacious and bright, it can make the space seem cold, rather than warm and inviting. The shine can also produce glare from natural sunlight or overhead lighting if windows and lighting are located in such a way that light strikes the surface directly. Additionally, although the polished finish is more resistant to staining, the glossy shine more easily reveals imperfections, such as scratches and smudges.
Polished finishes are great for all types of natural stone and manufactured stone as well, including granite, quartzite, marble and Radianz Quartz.
A honed finish is just as smooth to the touch as a polished finish, but it is not as reflective or glossy. The best way to visualize a honed finish is to think of matte paint or a matte photograph. The colors and patterns of the natural stone are still clearly visible, but they do not shine and they are more muted and natural in appearance. The look of a honed finish is more casual and rustic than a polished finish and looks best among similar decor. Designers also recommend honed finishes for contemporary and industrial styles, and styles that aim to evoke a sense of warmth or connection with nature.
If you have a slab with lots of motion and color, but are afraid that it might be a bit too showy or flashy, a honed finish will tone it down. Some homeowners prefer the more natural look of a honed finish regardless of how dramatic their natural stone looks. Stones with consistent coloration and little movement also look great in a honed finish. Marble color, for instance, is usually milky white, mixed with striations of gray, but it looks classic and warm in a honed finish, especially in rooms that are airy and have abundant natural light.
In addition to style and aesthetics, honed finishes can help conceal minor imperfections such as scratches and smudges, which may be a plus to homeowners prone to leaving dishes and knives on the stone surface. It’s also less reflective, reducing the chances of glare in a room.
In general, honed surfaces are slightly more prone to staining than polished surfaces. Granite is a little more likely to stain or scratch and marble is more apt to stain with a honed surface, compared to polished. The durability factor may be a consideration for some homeowners, but it shouldn’t scare away anyone who loves the look. The difference in durability is relatively minor and fabricators usually use sealant to make the stone more durable.
Other Types of Finishes
Other less common finishes include leathered and caressed. These finishes are relatively new and are gaining in popularity, but they are still less sought-after. Customers interested in these finishes should ask their fabricator about them first, to see if it’s an option.
A leathered or antiqued finish mimics the appearance of natural stone in nature. It has no reflectivity. The finish is called leathered because it resembles worn leather. It is very muted, with slightly shiny patches interspersed throughout a textured – but still smooth to the touch – surface. Imagine the weathered leather from an old sofa stretched across your countertop, and you get a sense of the leathered finish appearance.
The texture is created by taking a honed slab of natural stone and running over it with a diamond brush to rough up the surface. Advantages are that it conceals imperfections and seals the pores of the stone even more than polished or honed surfaces. The downside is that it requires special care in cleaning. Products specifically designed for the leathered finish must be used to keep the appearance in top shape.
A caressed finish goes one step beyond leathered to polish and shine the leathered surface. The appearance is almost like a glossy coating has been applied to the surface, adding back the luminosity that honing and leathering stripped away, all the while retaining the unique texture. The best stones for leathered finishes include granite and quartzite.
While the possibilities aren’t limitless for natural stone and engineered stone finishes, there are quite a few options to consider, as you now know. The finish adds the final touch to your countertop renovation project and can mean the difference between loving the results or just feeling satisfied. Give it a little thought and select the finish perfect for your project. If you need examples, visit our showroom today!