Polished vs Honed vs Leathered Stone Finishes

After long deliberation, you’ve finally picked the type of stone for your countertops at home. You’re done making decisions, right?

Not quite! Before your stone supplier can install new countertops, you’ll have to choose a finish. Some finishes are high gloss and shiny, others have a matte appearance and texture. The finish impacts the appearance of your counters, how much maintenance they require, and their durability.

To make your decision, take into account factors like how gently you treat your counters, how often you cook, and how much time you can dedicate toward ongoing maintenance.

What Does Each Finish Look Like?

Finishes can be divided into three categories: polished, honed and leathered.

Polished stone is very glossy and shiny. Its mirrored surface is reflective and bright – almost cheerful in the way it reflects light around the room.

Honed stone has a matte finish that is equal parts subdued, conservative and tasteful. Some might describe its texture as satiny or buttery. A honed finish reduces the contrast between light and dark areas. Dark veins on light stone often appear lighter and less obvious compared to dark veins on a polished stone.

Leathered finish is similar to honed finish except for one thing: it has the dimpled and almost wavy texture of leather. Leathered finish is created with a diamond-tipped brush run over the honed surface. Think of a leather couch, or leather car interior. Leathered stone has a similar texture.

How Do They Wear?

Each type of countertop wears in its own way.


Polished stone is resistant to stain, but shows scratches easily. Sometimes scratches can be sanded down and the surface re-sealed, but in some cases, the only way to eliminate scratches once they’ve been made is to refinish the countertop. This requires help from a contractor.


Honed stone doesn’t show scratches as easily as polished stone, so if you’re rough on your counters, a honed finish may be the right finish for you. Honed stone needs to be sealed more frequently than polished stone, as it is highly absorbent and can stain easily.


Leathered stone, which is often (though not always) a dark stone may be the lowest maintenance finish there is. Darker stones show fewer stains, and the uneven leathered surface masks most scratches.

Refinishing leathered stone is not easy. If you do manage to damage your counters and require a refinishing, it will be almost impossible for your stone repair contractor to refinish only a portion of the countertops. Instead, they’ll likely have to refinish the entire surface.

Which Finish Requires the Most Maintenance? Which Requires the Least?

All counters should be cleaned multiple times per day to ensure proper food sanitation. However, each type of finish responds to cleaning in its own way.

Polished stone is very easy to clean, because it is very non-absorbent. Leathered stone is also very easy to clean, because it shows less dirt and grit than either of the other two types of finishes. Honed finish counters need regular attention to clean spills and avoid stains.