When deciding between honed or polished finishes, neither one is better than the other, just different. Neither a honed or polished finish impacts the true nature and durability of the stone slab. And some stones are naturally more durable than others (looking at you granite and quartzite). But for some “softer materials” that are more prone to wear, your stone’s finish may actually add an extra layer of security against stains or camouflage pesky scratches and etches.
Before you make your decision, it is important to ask yourself a few questions and become familiar with all options before deciding which finish is best for you and your family.
What do honed and polished finishes look like?
According to the Marble Institute of America, a polished finish has a glossy surface that reflects light and emphasizes the color and veins of the stone. When a stone is polished, the details, colors, hues, and vein structure show more prominently, putting more of an emphasis on these natural characteristics of the stone. A high polish finish will bring the stone’s natural color to its fullest because it will ultimately reflect the light and appear more saturated.
A honed finish is a satin, smooth surface with relatively little reflection of light. A honed finish is more flat and will almost always appear lighter in color. When a polished stone is honed, the depth, hues, and veins that were once very prevalent may be reduced. The degree of honing depends on the stone, but may vary from light to heavy.
Does your lifestyle match your application?
Are you the type of person that feels most at ease in a bright, pristine space? Or do you find history, comfort or character in patina? Do you prefer the look of a brand new leather jacket or your trusty broken in leather jacket? Neither scenario is wrong, it just comes down to what you prefer!
Those who highly disapprove of scratches and etches may find that honed surfaces are well suited for high traffic and heavily used areas, such as countertops and workspaces. Also, the matte, smooth surface is less slippery when wet, making it a safer choice for bathroom flooring and staircases.
But don’t be discouraged if you fall in love with the look of a polished stone but are horrified by the thought of scratching and etching. There are plenty of preventative measures you can take. Similarly, if you find a stone that is polished and wish it were honed, a skilled fabricator should be able to change the finish for you.
Honed and Polished Finishes: Scratch & Etch Resistance
If you are in love with the look of marble, but are not keen on seeing the inherent characteristics associated with the use of marble over time (such as scratches and etches) then consider a honed finish. On a polished finish, a scratch or etch may leave behind a dull, matte mark creating a contrast. Because honed finishes are already matte, the dull marks from scratches and etches are more likely to be camouflaged and go unnoticed.
Having a sealer does not mean that liquids, especially acidic ones like soda or tomato sauce, should be left on countertops overnight, but it does mean that there will be more time to clean up the spills before a permanent mark is made.
Honed and Polished Finishes: Stain Resistance
When properly sealed, both honed and polished finishes are stain resistant. There is no such thing as a stain proof sealer. If stains are high on your list of concerns, there are a few things to be considered.
A polished finish on a stone is essentially an added layer of security to protect from stains. The process in which a stone is polished helps to close natural pores and create a protective barrier. On the other hand, the pores in a smoothed, honed stone are more receptive to liquid. Side by side, a polished stone surface will have more protection from stains than a honed surface; however, a proper sealer will help to close in open pores and provide stain resistance against most household items.