Not enough people spend time thinking about how much (or how little) sheen they want on their stone until it’s installed. We get it, it’s easy to get wrapped up in looking at color and veining that you forget about everything else! However, this aspect has a huge effect on how the stone actually looks in your space, and it also has repercussions for how it’ll need to be handled and cared for. And in some cases, taking the shine out of your countertop could be the best decision you make.
A honed countertop is one that has had the high-polished factory finish removed, which is typically done with various grits of sanding pads. The result is a satiny-smooth finish that is nearly matte in appearance but still retains a slight sheen so light still reflects gently off the surface.
Although high-gloss is generally the most popular countertop finish, honed is also beloved by homeowners for it softer, more “aged” and natural-looking appearance. It also has some major benefits when used in high-traffic areas, like in the kitchen, because it tends to hide the inevitable scratches and etches more effectively. This is because a honed countertop reflects less light than a high-gloss surface, so it won’t highlight and draw attention to the indentations that a scratch causes or the noticeable dullness of an etching on a shiny surface.
The downsides to a honed finish are that more of the stone’s natural pores are exposed than on a gloss surface, and because of that, it is more susceptible to water or acid damage. So, any spills that happen on a honed surface have to be cleaned up immediately, otherwise, they can sink into the stone and cause an etch or even cracks and discoloration over time. Oil and water spills, in particular, can leave a sheen on the countertop, which will be noticeable on the matte surface — sort of like a reverse etch. To prevent this kind of damage, honed countertops tend to need more frequent sealing. Just make sure you use a specially-designed matte sealer — otherwise, you’ll end up with the kind of shiny surface you didn’t want in the first place!
It might also seem like the matte surface can withstand abrasive cleaning pads or cleaners, but these will definitely cause scratches and will damage the finish! You should only clean a honed countertop with a specially-formulated cleaner and a soft cloth.
If you’re considering a honed finish on your stone countertops, it’s idea to have this procedure done before the countertop is installed, as it can sometimes be difficult to do it once the stone is in place. However, it is definitely possible to have the finish adjusted later on, it just might come with an expensive labor cost — often up to $1,000 or more. Thinking about DIY-ing it? You’ll be able to find instructions all over the internet, but we highly recommend you have a professional hone your stone unless you have a lot of experience using a sander and buffer. Otherwise, it’s just way too easy to sand the countertop unevenly and end up with a blotchy surface and an even more costly fix. So, we recommend you leave this job to the experts so you can be sure you’ll end up with the finish you want, not an expensive mistake.
A honed countertop really highlights stone as a natural material. The soft matte finish feels more true-to-nature, and while you may need to seal more frequently, the fact that scratches and etches show up less regularly is a big advantage in high-traffic areas. Got a question about how you can hone your stone? Drop us a line right here!