Polished, Leathered, and Honed: Exploring Stone Finishes
December 1, 2023
Bright Porcelain Kitchen


There are three popular types of stone finishes: polished, leathered, and honed. Learn more about stone finishes here.

The finish you choose for your kitchen can dramatically change the appearance and character of your natural or engineered stone countertops. It is, therefore, an important decision in your kitchen or bath design. In this blog we are talking about the qualities and pros and cons of the three popular finishes: polished, leathered, and honed.

Polished Stone Finish

So, what is a polished finish?


A polished finish is made by grinding and buffing the edges and surface of the stone until it achieves a high-gloss, mirror-like finish.


This finish reflects light, enhances the color and patterns of the stone, and brings out its natural beauty.

Ideal Usage

Polished stone is ideal for many different applications, including kitchen and bath countertops and even floors and walls.

Pros and Cons

Let’s talk about some of the pros and cons to having polished countertops.

Pro: Moisture Resistance

Polished stone countertops are less absorbent than leathered or honed. This makes them resistant to water and moisture, which is particularly beneficial in areas prone to spills.

Con: Shows Scratches

Polished surfaces can show scratches, etchings, and wear more clearly than honed or textured finishes. This is particularly true for softer stones like marble.

Pro: Easy to Clean

The smooth and non-porous surface of polished countertops makes them easy to clean. Spills can be wiped away quickly without leaving stains, making them ideal for kitchens and bathrooms.

Con: Doesn’t Match Certain Styles 

While versatile, the sleek look of polished countertops might not align with certain design aesthetics, such as rustic or industrial styles.

Pro: Sanitary Surface

The smooth, sealed surface of polished countertops doesn’t harbor bacteria and germs, making it a hygienic choice for food preparation areas.

Quartzite Kitchen

Bright quartzite kitchen countertops and island with a polished finish.

Leathered Finish

How about a leathered finish?


Leathering is a process of giving a stone’s surface a soft, textured matte look.


Leathering retains the stone’s natural color but adds depth and a tactile dimension, giving it a more organic feel.

Ideal Usage

Great for countertops, especially in kitchens, as it hides fingerprints and water spots well.

Pros and Cons

Let’s now discuss some of the advantages and disadvantages of having leathered finished countertops.

Pro: Unique Texture

A leathered finish provides a distinctive tactile experience, with a slightly rippled surface that is pleasant to touch. This texture adds depth and character to the stone.

Con: Maintenance and Cleaning

The textured surface of a leathered finish can trap dirt and grime more easily than a polished surface, making it a bit more challenging to clean.

Pro: Natural Appearance

A leathered finish maintains the natural look of the stone, appealing to those who prefer an organic and earthy aesthetic in their space.

Con: Limited Availability

Only natural stone can have leathered finishes, and there are even types of natural stone that can’t. There are certain marbles that also can’t have a leathered finish because the counters could crack during the grinding and polishing.

Pro: Contemporary Aesthetic

Offering a more modern look compared to traditional polished finishes, a leathered finish fits well with various interior design styles, particularly rustic and industrial themes.

Leathered Granite

Source: CSW. Leathered Titanium Granite countertop.

Honed Finish

What is a honed finish?


Honing involves grinding the stone to a smooth, matte finish without any gloss.


This finish provides a more subdued, flat look that highlights the stone’s natural color and texture.

Ideal Usage

A honed finish can be used for many applications due to its durability and resistance to scratches.

Pros and Cons

Now we’re going to look at some of the pros and cons of having honed countertops.

Pro: Matte Appearance

A honed finish provides a smooth, matte surface that gives a more subtle and contemporary look ideal for modern interiors.

Con: More Prone to Staining

Honed surfaces are more porous than polished ones, making them more susceptible to staining. Spills, especially of acidic substances, can penetrate more easily, requiring prompt cleaning to avoid damage. This is also why honed surfaces may need to be sealed more often.

Pro: Consistent Appearance Over Time

Honed surfaces tend to show less wear over time, maintaining their appearance better than high-gloss finishes.

Con: Less Dramatic Color and Pattern Display

The matte finish of a honed surface doesn’t reflect light in the same way a polished surface does, which can result in the stone’s colors and patterns appearing more subdued. This may not appeal to those who prefer the vibrant look of polished stone.

Pro: Less Prone to Scratching and Etching

Compared to polished finishes, honed surfaces are more resistant to visible scratches and etching, making them suitable for high-traffic areas.

Mogastone Granite and Quartz Kitchen

Honed quartzite island and perimeter countertops.

Finishes on Edges

One thing to note about having a different finish on your stone is that it’s easier said than done to make the same finish on the edges. Basically, trying to change the edges from being polished to something like leathered may be possible, but it’s very difficult. Generally, even if the top of the stone is leathered or honed, the edges are still going to be polished.


Choosing the right finish for your stone is essential to ensure it not only looks stunning but also serves its functional purpose well. Whether you prefer the glossy elegance of polished stone, the rugged beauty of leathered finishes, or the understated charm of honed surfaces, there’s a stone finish that will perfectly suit your space and style.

Remember, the best way to choose is to see and feel these finishes in person. Visit our showroom in Cary to experience these textures firsthand and make an informed decision for your next project.

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