A diamond gets its beauty not only from its natural lustre, but also from the way it’s cut to capture the interplay of light on its surface. It’s the same with natural stone countertops. The finish of the stone is just as important as its colours and patterns when you’re picking out your dream countertop.
In general, there are four finishes you can choose from to make your natural stone countertop one-of-a-kind:
The highly reflective shine of this finish is achieved through a long buffing process. If you want your countertop to be the centrepiece of the kitchen, this finish is the ideal choice because it catches the light best. It also shows off the unique natural stone patterns and colours since the finish reveals more of the stone’s crystal structures. Its smooth surface also makes maintenance very easy. As long as the countertop is properly maintained, the polished shine will be retained for a long time. The polished finish fits in nicely with kitchens that have a classic and formal look.
In this finishing process, the surface is blasted with intense heat in a controlled setting. The high temperatures of this finish though means that it’s only suitable for granite countertops. The heat causes the stone’s grain patterns to break apart and morph into different shades of colour. You then end up with a rugged surface of refined colours that blend into one another. If you have a rustic or natural theme in your kitchen, then this is the look you want. It’s also a great finish for an outdoor granite countertop in your patio kitchen. The rough surface finish gives the granite countertop a greater ability to withstand moisture and the elements.
This creates a smooth surface like a polished finish, but it doesn’t have the same mirror sheen. Instead, the surface has an understated matte quality that softens the impact of light hitting it. It is higher maintenance than polished finish though in that it has to be re-sealed more often. Without the final buffing process that a polished finish gets, the stone pores are more exposed. A honed finish is made for modern interiors where subtlety is prized and every design detail contributes equally to the overall look. Beyond the contemporary, it’s also an ideal choice if you want to complement a specific feature in your kitchen like the backsplash or the cabinets. And if you’ve designed your kitchen with a lot of ambient lighting like on the underside of your top cabinets, a honed finish would lessen the glare.
Also called brushed or textured, a leathered finish takes the honed finish to a new level. The surface is further weathered to create a more tactile roughness to the touch. This gives the stone a natural feel that brings to light the complex layers of its unique patterns. Similar to the flamed finish for granite, a leathered finish can be used for indoor rustic or natural looks as well as for outdoor patio kitchen countertops. The leathered finish is typically used on dark natural stones though because the effect is much more dramatic. And you can create this finish with both granite countertops and other natural stones like marble countertops. One of the advantages of using the leathered finish is that the textured surface hides stains and water spots very well. In fact, it resists stains better than a honed finish because the leathering process closes up much of the stone pores. You do have to clean it regularly though due to its uneven, weathered surface.
In addition to your kitchen’s theme, you should base your choice of the countertop surface finish on the stone itself. What do you love about the particular stone that caught your eye? Then discuss with your countertop fabricator what surface finish will best enhance that quality. Just like how diamonds are a girl’s best friend, your new natural stone countertop will be your kitchen’s best friend if it has a flattering finish.