Countertops are an essential part of a kitchen both practically and aesthetically, but there is a lot more that goes into selecting stone than the way they look with your cabinets and flooring. Different countertop materials have different strengths and weaknesses depending on their location. For example, quartz countertops are more durable than butcher block, but are a more expensive material. In the same way, different finishes for stone can work better for some spaces and not as well for others. Not every stone is available in different finishes from the manufacturer, but if you are given a choice it’s helpful to learn a bit about them so you can make an informed decision.
The most common finish for stone is a polished finish. Polished stone has high shine and a smooth surface. The appeal is that it is low maintenance; there are no pores or crevices for bacteria to grow. The high finish to the stone draws your attention, so it is perfect for a show stopping statement piece in your kitchen or bathroom. However, the high finish also highlights whatever mess may be on the countertops, keep that in mind to ensure you pick a finish that works best with your lifestyle.
A matte finish, also called a honed finish, creates a smooth finish without becoming reflective. Because the finish is smooth without being very reflective it can emit a fuzzy reflection of light, this can be helpful to create a softer look, especially in bright environments. One con to the matte finish is that since it isn’t polished there is no protective coating, making it more susceptible to staining with natural stone. Manufactured stone like quartz, however, is not likely to stain due to the composition of materials used to create a non-porous material.
Somewhat porous with an irregular finish is a leathered countertop, sometimes called a brush finish. A leathered finish is similar to matte but with an added texture to create a more rustic look, great for hiding stains and dirt. While it is a less porous finish than matte, due to the irregularity of the surface it does require extra care to prevent the buildup of bacteria.
Caressed finish is a combination of polished and leathered. The caressed finish has the texture of a leathered countertop and the shine of a polished countertop, giving it both a unique look and lower maintenance with less bacteria buildup. The gloss highlights the irregularity of the stone, which makes it easy to miss unintentional messes, stains, and textures in the countertop.
Lastly is a flamed finish. This type of finish is mainly for granite, heat is applied to the stone during the finishing process. Similar to stoneware, firing the stone makes it less porous, this means that the stone is not likely to stain or grow bacteria as easily. The tradeoff with the firing method is that heating the materials can alter the color and appearance, becoming rougher and making the colors more muted.
Choose the style that best suites your home and lifestyle; but before you make a decision on your finish, be sure that the countertop you selected has the finish you want available.