HomeThe Pros & Cons of 5 Granite Countertop Finishes

The Pros & Cons of 5 Granite Countertop Finishes

When redesigning your home with granite countertops, you get the excitement of not only choosing which stone you’ll use but also which finish the stone will have. Think of the finish as the way you want to showcase your granite. Do you want a glossy, reflective surface to brighten up your kitchen? Maybe you’d prefer an earthier, matte finish to lend the room some rustic charm.

Before you make your final selection, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of the numerous options available. Below, we’ll go into more detail about the following granite finishes:

  • Polished

  • Honed

  • Leathered

  • Caressed

  • Flamed

Polished Granite (Shiny, Mirror Finish)

This is the type of finish that people are most familiar with. The polished finish makes granite appear glossy and reflective, and it accentuates the stone’s natural hues and textures. Because the surface is mirror-like, it will also make your kitchen appear brighter.

Polished granite’s stain resistance is one of its biggest advantages. The granite’s natural pores become sealed during the finishing process, making the stone more hygienic and moisture-repellent. That being said, flaws in the stone or smudges, fingerprints, and water spots tend to stand out on a polished surface, and the surface can also corrode under acidic or corrosive cleaners.


  • Brightens a room

  • Most stain-resistant finish

  • Most hygienic finish

  • Enhances stone’s natural color and texture


  • Reflective surface accentuates flaws in the stone and smudges

  • Can corrode under acidic or corrosive cleaners

Honed Granite (Matte or Satin Finish)

Like polished granite, honed granite looks extremely smooth. However, rather than reflective, the finish has a matte or a satiny, buffed appearance. In past years, the honed look was more popular as a floor finish than a countertop finish. However, with the increasing popularity of the modern farmhouse look, honed granite looks right at home alongside shaker cabinets and subway tile backsplashes.

A honed finish has some possible downsides. The finish won’t show off your stone’s color and texture as well as a polished finish. If you’re aiming to showcase your stone’s natural beauty, this finish might not have the results you’re hoping for. Honed granite also requires more frequent resealing than polished granite because it’s more prone to staining.


  • Conceals smudges and small imperfections in the stone

  • Smooth, functional surface


  • Slightly fades or mutes stone’s natural color and texture

  • Porous surface requires more frequent resealing than other surfaces

  • Accidental chips or scratches in stone will be noticeable

Is Honed Granite Hard to Maintain?

Honed granite finishes are porous and prone to staining, therefore require more maintenance to keep it protected. To keep your honed granite stain-free and to ensure its longevity, we recommend that this type of granite countertop be resealed once every six months with a natural stone sealant for granite. This is something you can easily do on your own, and generally takes about an hour for each coat of sealant to completely dry. If your honed granite is particularly porous, it may require a second coat of sealant. Lighter colors are typically more porous than darker colors so may require more maintenance.

Leathered Granite (Matte, Textured Finish)

If you’re not sold on a polished finish but desire something more stain-resistant than a honed finish, leathered granite is a great compromise. To achieve a leathered finish, you start with honed granite and run an abrasive, diamond-tipped brush over it to create a subtle, dimpled texture. This finish is popular for outdoor areas but can also be a striking addition to both contemporary and country-inspired kitchens.

Does Leathered Granite Stain Easily?

Leathered granite is more stain-resistant than honed granite and disguises smudges and water spots better than polished granite. A leathered finish will also better accentuate your stone’s natural color than a honed finish. However, leathered granite is non-reflective and, as a result, can make a small space seem smaller.


  • Conceals smudges and fingerprints

  • Enhances the stone’s natural color

  • Moderately stain-resistant


  • Non-reflective surface can make a small space seem smaller

  • Reliefs in stone make cleaning slightly more difficult

  • Accidental chips or scratches in stone will be noticeable

Caressed Granite (Textured Finish with Shine)

While the texture of a leathered finish might appeal to you, the fact that it lacks shine might not. If this sounds like your dilemma, consider a caressed finish. This finish is achieved by polishing the raised areas of leathered granite, adding a lovely sheen that accentuates the subtle reliefs in the stone.

The polishing process makes caressed granite more stain-resistant than leathered granite. Polished granite will still be the most stain-resistant, but if you’re looking for something a little more rugged, caressed granite will suit your sense of style perfectly without requiring rigorous upkeep.


  • Brightens a room

  • Accentuates the stone’s natural color

  • More stain-resistant than honed or leathered granite


  • Reliefs in stone make cleaning slightly more difficult

Flamed Granite (Rough, “Natural” Finish)

Unlike some of these other finishes, a flamed finish is only suitable for granite because of the intense heat required to achieve the look. To achieve flamed granite, you must expose the stone to heat so extreme that the tiny grains inside it burst. The bursting grains expose their crystals and change the stone’s colors to more muted tones.

Due to its rough texture and “natural” look, this finish is more popular for outdoor settings than indoor ones. However, flamed granite can make a beautiful addition to a rustic kitchen, a cozy fireplace, or a spa-inspired shower floor. That being said, it’s extremely important to make sure flamed granite is well-sealed because this highly porous, textured surface is prone to staining and trapping dirt and moisture.


  • Unique surface that lends an earthy texture to any space


  • Highly porous surface requires frequent resealing to guard against stains and moisture issues (fungus, algae, etc.)

  • Most difficult surface to clean

Always Seal Your Granite!

No matter which surface you choose, remember that granite is a natural stone, which means that it should be sealed before use and resealed on a regular basis. Also, be sure to clean your granite with the appropriate solutions to prevent damaging the stone’s finish. Learn more about the care and maintenance of granite countertops here.

Feel like you need to see granite options in person? Visit a Capitol Granite design center near you!


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