Consumers have one very simple question about granite countertops: "Which is better, honed granite or polished granite?" Unfortunately, the answer isn't so simple. The answer depends on what, exactly, is meant by "better". Do you mean better at resisting stains? Better at resisting scratches? Better, meaning more attractive? Better as in least expensive, or stronger?
How Does Honed Granite Differ from Polished Granite?
Granite is honed when the grinding process is halted before the stone becomes shiny and still has a matt or satin finish. If the grinding continues, using finer and finer abrasives until the surface is shiny and has a reflective, glossy appearance then the granite has been polished. Which is better depends purely on personal taste.
Does Honed Granite Stain More Easily Than Polished Granite?
Honed granite is more susceptible to stains than polished. Granite "stains" when spills leach into microscopic openings in the stone and can't be wiped away. All granite, honed or polished, will "stain" unless it is coated with a sealant to close off these tiny holes. These discolorations are easy to remove, however, through the application of a poultice to draw the materials back out of the pores.
Which Finish Scratches More Easily?
Neither finish will scratch. Granite is a very hard stone. You could cut directly on it and you would ruin the edges on your knives before you could ever scratch the surface of the granite.
Is Honed Granite More Expensive?
Honed finishes are popular these days, and market demand drives up prices. Honing requires less processing and should actually cost less than polishing, but only if you are considering either finish for the same rough cut of stone. Honing one piece of stone may cost more than polishing another piece of granite because of differences in the prices of the raw granite, not because of the cost of the finish.
Is Honed Granite Stronger Than Polished Granite?
Different pieces of granite have different strengths. It depends on where the granite comes from, not on the finish. The strength of a slab of granite is measured by its ability to handle stress. The strength of a slab of granite will depend upon the cohesion and interlocking of the crystals, and the cementing materials that combined when the granite was formed.
Moreover, granite that is more expensive isn't necessarily stronger than cheaper cuts, either. The cost depends entirely on availability and market demand and has nothing to do with the quality of the stone.