There are distinct differences in how granite can be finished. Choosing the finish can affect not only the look of the stone, but it’s surface tendencies as well.
As it implies, a polished granite is the most shiny and reflective surface. This is considered a glossy mirror finish. The full color, depth, and crystal structure of the stone is visible. Your stone appears darker the colors seem richer than what you would see from the raw stone. It will also highlight more of the character out of your natural stone, making it the most desired and most chosen option for counter tops.
The surface is much easier to keep clean and free from staining. A polished finish seals or closes more of the pores of the stone surface which helps the stone repel moisture. It is nearly impervious to weather and chemical wear.
A polished surface does not exclude it from needing to be sealed. When we talk about stone choices, some stones are really porous and need to be sealed regardless of the surface. (For Example: Kashmir White, Madura Gold, Shivakashi)
The harder the stone is that is being polished, the harder it is to polish and therefore it is more likely to retain it’s shine for a long, long time.
To achieve a honed surface finish, the finishing process ends prior to the buffing stage. The result is a smooth surface without reflection. A perfectly honed granite finish is one without scratch marks. The finish remains flatter than a full gloss polish. Generally this finish is preferred for floors, stairs, or other locations where the presence of water might make a polished finish slippery, or where foot traffic may wear off a polished finish. A honed finish is much more common for marble counter tops, as marble is a softer stone and therefore the polish scratches more easily.
However, honed granite can be, and occasionally is, used for kitchen counter tops. Taking the high gloss polish off of your stone will decrease the depth of color, and depending on the type of granite, can make it more susceptible to surface staining.
Leathered or Brushed (Textured)
A leathered finish, sometimes referred to as brushed, is a newer style of finishing granite that has become increasingly popular in recent years. The density (or depth) of its’ texture will vary depending on the type and composition of the stone, an act of mother nature which gives each material a unique color and appearance.
The leathered finish out stands the honed by giving a more sophisticated look to the stone. The leathering process closes the stone pores which helps it to become more stain resistant than the honed surface. A leathered finish retains the stone’s natural color, while the honing process washes out the natural color. A leathered finish also hides fingerprints and water spots better than a polished surface.