Granite countertops frequently come in a few different finishes. Most granite slabs are polished to a high shine before being shipped to the fabricator, but this shine can either be left off or removed from the stone in a process called honing. Honed granite has a very different appearance from polished granite, appealing to those who dislike the high mirror shine of polished stone. Honed granite can also have a few disadvantages that might make some homeowners think twice before purchasing it.
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Pros of Honed Granite Appearance
Honed granite has a flat, matte finish with little to no shine. This appeals to those who want an aged, old world or farmhouse look to their kitchen, as well as to those who dislike the formal appearance that polished granite can give.
Most of the color of granite comes from being polished; light reflects off the polished surface, deepening the color of the stone. Therefore, a honed granite counter have a duller color, with less dramatic variation. For homeowners who enjoy subtle movement in their counters, without dramatic color changes or veins, honed granite can provide this look.
Cons of Honed Granite Appearance
In addition to deepening the stone's color and giving it a glossy appearance, polishing granite also hides any natural fissures, pits and other marks in the stone. When light is reflecting off a stone that has numerous small pits, the only way to see these pits is to look at the stone from an angle or in down light. When the polish has been removed from the stone, this light reflection is removed as well. For stones with an even texture, this is not a problem, but for stones with multiple pits or fissures, these imperfections become extremely noticeable.
Ask for a sample of the stone you are considering to be honed. If it is prone to small pits and fissures, this should be immediately noticeable before honing the whole slab.
Pros of Honed Granite Maintenance
Honed granite and polished granite are virtually identical in their structural makeup, density and porosity. This means that polishing or honing a stone will not make it more or less likely to stain, scratch or otherwise become marked over time.
Some honed stones, such as Absolute Black granite, are popular for their softer appearance. Stones like Absolute Black do not require sealing or special cleaners when either polished or honed. Stones that do require sealing or special cleaners, like some light-colored marbles, will not require any more regular maintenance when honed.
Cons of Honed Granite Maintenance
While honed granite is not likely to stain any more frequently than polished granite, it is harder to keep perfectly clean. Water, oil and other forms of moisture temporarily create a polished look on the stone, darkening its color as if it had been polished. Fingerprints, spilled liquids or oils stain the surface of the stone, creating a dark area that may be extremely noticeable, depending on the color of the counter and the size of the stain.
Fingerprints on honed dark stones like Absolute Black or Pietra show up very vividly, while they may show up less on a lighter honed stone like Bianco Romano. These can be wiped away easily, but they do affect the appearance of the counter.