Increasingly our clients have been drawn to the look of leathered granite counters. Having never heard of leathered granite, they usually have many questions about its durability and maintenance and how it differs from other surface types for granite.
The two most popular granite finishes are polished and honed. A polished finish was the first finish surface available when granite started taking hold as a kitchen counter. The polished finish lends to a traditional and classic look. This is an easily recognizable finish due to the incredibly smooth and shiny surface.
Honed granite means the surface of the stone has been ground with coarse abrasives to create a smooth, flat, nonreflective surface. To achieve this finish, the finishing process ends before the buffing stage. The softer honed finish is particularly popular among homeowners wanting an aged or casual look.
Finally, leathered granite is a “honed and very slightly textured” granite slab that retains more of the natural beauty of the rock than the more refined polished slabs. For homeowners looking to add texture to their kitchen, leathered granite is a popular choice. A variety of textures can be achieved, depending upon the stone. The texture is determined by the minerals in the stone, not the leathering process, per se. The harder minerals will remain higher in the slab while the softer minerals will be lower- creating a texture. The more variance in the hardness will create more texture, and the closer the minerals are in hardness, the less texture will be in the slab. An advantage to leathered counter tops is that fingerprints, scratches, watermarks and crumbs are less conspicuous than on a shiny, polished finish. Also, maintenance and durability are the same as the other granite finishes. According to Paul Drupals, owner of In Home Stone in Annapolis, Maryland, “The sealing and maintenance of a leathered or polished granite countertop is the same. The Marble Institute of America recommends sealing once a year, but every few years should suffice.” The best way to tell if the countertop needs to be resealed is to pour a tablespoon of water on the counter. If the water doesn’t sit and pool, it means that the water may be permeating the surface, and should be sealed.