Honed versus polished granite counters?

simonebJuly 28, 2008

I'm trying to decide on honed or polished granite counters in absolute black. Does anyone know if one requires more maintenance than the other? Will one show more water spots than the other (I know that black in general tends to show spots). Any thoughts are appreciated!

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I have had many experiences with AB - both honed and polished...

The last honed AB I did was a 5 house project back
in 2001. The material showed every drop of water, oil,
finger prints, dust etc, and was a nightmare for me as
a Fabricator, because I had only worked with polished AB
up until that time (for a kitchen application)

I am sure that there are other folks that have found
a way to work "with" honed AB, and not being too old of
a dog that can't learn new tricks - I'd love to hear
what other GW'ers have to say on the honed applications.

Remember that most of the AB that is available now has
calcites in the stone - AB is actually NOT a true Granite -
it's a "Bassalt" and thus, has a percentage of calcium known
as calcites suspended throughout the matrix of the stone.

This is why many AB's will react with ANY kind of acidic
solutions - like lemon, lime, tomatoe, orange, grapefruit juices, vinegar and any other acid - it will leave the
stone with a dull white spot where the solution was when it
was in contact with the stone...

Just an FYI, and if you decide to use AB - it WILL require
a bit more maintenance anvigilance to keep it looking terrific....

hope that helps


    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 6:07PM
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Kevin -- thank you so much for the advice. I had no idea that absolute black reacts with acid like that (nor that honed shows more spots). Do you know of another granite, that is predominantly black, that requires less vigilance? I'm not big on movement in stone, which is why I picked the AB to begin with, but am open to suggestions!! Thank you again!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 6:17PM
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I'm doing black impala honed....It has sort of charcoal gray crystals in it. Quite unusual looking without too much movement.

I also get slight green undertones from it, but it overall looks very dark charcoal, almost black.

It too, is not really granite. It's a gabbro, which is like basalt, but from the specifications, this stone is less absorbent.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 6:51PM
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Here is the sample of AB Honed that I played with right after I picked it...and right before I switched to soapstone.

The splotches are places where I left lemon juice, ketchup, and mustard for about 15 minutes.

And here is a pic of the AB honed and my Cobra soapstone side by side so you see how they look similar. The Cobra soapstone is the small square in front; the AB honed is the 12x12 tile in back. I don't know why the Cobra looks like it has grey dots on it; in person it is very smooth and black with no movement at all. I *love* it! FYI, I put some lemon juice on the soapstone earlier this evening to see what would happen. It left a little mark after wiping which disappeared completely after I rubbed it with a bit of oil.

HTH, Anita

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 10:24PM
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I have polished AB (AB Premium is the name I was given for it). I tested it w/lemon juice, grape juice, vinegar, acetone, and denatured alcohol...nothing left a mark after it was wiped up. I have noticed, strangely, that water does leave a very faint ring outline...but it goes away when I do a quick wipe w/Method granite cleaner.

I saw the look of honed AB and, to be honest, did not like the look. It looked dull and uninteresting to me.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 10:37PM
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Anita -- thanks for the comparison. We were thinking of soapstone, but it seems to be so much more costly by us. Perhaps worth it if I am going to deal with juice stains forever...

Buehl -- did you test yours with lemon juice before or after you bought it???

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 9:14AM
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We did a test on a sample of polished AB. We sealed half (even though I've read here that AB does not need to be sealed) with "Stone Specific Granite Sealer," all that was available in our small town. We then did the ketchup, mustard, lime juice, oil, turmeric paste thing and left it all overnight. Everything wiped off easily from both sides the next day without a trace, EXCEPT the lime juice which left a visibly paler spot on both sides, the sealed and unsealed. Thanks to Kevin, now I know why.

Rats. So I, too, would be interested in a predominately black polished "quiet" granite with less susceptiblity to etching.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 9:28AM
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petlady1 -- where did you get the AB sample to do your test on. Was it from the place where you were going to buy an AB 'granite' slab?

PS To all -- I just posted another question asking people to tell their experiences with AB. I haven't 100% ruled it out, but I'm very nervous about it now since I'm not awesome at noticing spills...

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 10:22AM
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I am in the midst of doing my kitchen and I REALLY wanted to use honed AB. I had a hard time believing the threads on this forum that honed AB was that bad (I wondered if people just weren't sealing them) so I found two people who live in my area and went to see their installations. The first installation was beautiful and second was a mess - just what some of these threads describe. Both installations were sealed and both were installed in the last 5 years. When you spend that kind of money and the mess it takes to rip it out, I was not willing to take that risk.

I had a couple people recommend that I use Cambrian Black Antique or Nordic Black Antique as they do not have these problems. I could not find the Nordic, but will be going with the Cambrian. It looks VERY similar to the honed AB. In fact, I even like it a bit more. Plus, it is similar in price to the honed AB (maybe a $1 or $2 more per foot).

Hope this helps.

PS: The guy at the stone place where I picked out my cambrian granite, acknowledged the issues with honed AB.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 11:03AM
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pmertz: Thanks for the advice. Do you know if the Cambrian and Nordic are considered granites? Do you know why these two do better?

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 12:06PM
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Guys and Gals:

Please don't get me wrong - Yes, it's true that I'd
rather go home and hang myself than put in another
honed AB project - BUT.... That is because I have only
had so much grief from the ones that I did, I just don't
need the agrevation...

However - and this is the point that I want to make:

I'm pretty sure that there are folks out there that HAVE had
GOOD experiences with honed AB - THEY have found a way to
work with it, and live without all of the grief I went through...

Hopefully, some of those folks will chime in here, because
if I'm not mistaken, I have read earlier in the year on this
same topic that there ARE people that have had AB honed
in their homes and love it...

Just because I've had some bad luck with it as a Fabricator
does not mean it's a taboo stone to use.... I just did not
want to take the time to figure out a way to make it more
consumer friendly at the time (like 8 or 9 years ago)


I'm always willing to listen to other's experiences and change my
opinion - I'm not too old of a dog to learn some new tricks!!


If on the other hand - you don't want to go with AB Honed,
but like the "look" - why not try Soapstone? It is one of
the most cool looking Natural Stones out there (in my opinion)
and even though it has just now started to gain in popularity
here in AZ, It has been monster popular in other parts of
the country....

Another great idea is the Impala Black honed, also, Cambrian
and Galaxy Black look pretty good too - honed......

In the end, it's what YOU want - follow your heart......

hope that helps


    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 12:55PM
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Kevin, as always your advice is well thought out and very kind. Question -- do you have the same problems with polished AB as you do with the honed? To be perfectly honest, the main reason we were looking at the AB is because we want a stone w/o a lot of movement and the price on it (in my area) tends to be a lot cheaper than the soapstone (which I love) -- perhaps it is cheaper for good reason though.

Thanks for chiming in!

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 5:53PM
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Thanks for your kind words... As far as the Polished AB -
I do not have probelms with customers having remorse or
trouble once it is installed - this is because I take extra
time to share both the positives AND the negatives about
each product that they are considering... AND by going over
care & cleaning - way before a buying decision is made...

Here's my saying on customer education:

"IF you REALLY KNOW what your "getting" -
You WON'T be SHOCKED when you get it installed..."

IMHO - Having the Polished AB is akin to driving a Black Ferarri
out here in the Arizona Desert - ya go about 50 yards, and there's
dust all over the car (at most times of the year).... :(

The Polished AB is a higher maintenance material - not a
"bad" material mind you, it just will take more "babying"
and more cleaning than many other products. I am not that anal
about keeping my kitchen in a state of sans dust - so obviously,
AB Polished OR Honed at this time in MY life - is not the
right choice for ME... but many other people are willing to
go to extra measures for what they want, and THAT's what
makes this country the great place that it is.... (HA!)

Anyways - Polsihed AB will require more clean up - more often,
AND Many of the AB's on the market have Calcites in the stone
so they WILL (in many cases - not all, but most) react
with acids - you'll be left with a dull chalky spot
where the acid was.... the only way (to my knowledge)
get rid of the chalky spots is to restore the stone - which
equates to a bit of investment....

IF it were ME - I'd spend the extra money and get Soapstone.

hope that helps


    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 6:13PM
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Somehow my posting never made it so let me try again. I believe that Cambrian & Nordic are granites. I researched these but did not find as much on them as I did the honed AB (probably because there are no problems. Try doing searches on other granites and you won't find much either.). What I did find on them came mostly from this site. Most people said that they did not show the finger prints and were easier to maintain than the AB. I also had my husband go to the stone yard and really question the maintenance of the Cambrian versus the honed AB. They were very positive toward the cambrian (and not the AB).

If you hear of anything positive or negative, please let me know. I have a 12x12 sample of the Cambrian which we are going to seal and "experiment" on over the next week or so.

Also, I love soapstone. I would have gotten that but I was concerned about having to oil and sand out scratches, etc. I heard it does not take long, but I am a working mother and I have a million things around here that do not take a lot of time. Unfortunately, they all add up! :-)

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 8:00PM
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kevin, could I ask: what would you think of honed verde butterfly for a powder room counter? The stone is so busy, I'm thinking it would be o.k., and it wouldn't see a lot of hard use. I just love the particular look of honed verde butterfly--much more than I like it polished. Would that be o.k.?

OH, and would you think I could use my lovely new wet polisher on it to hone it myself? What number pad is considered "honed"? I'm guessing the piece I'm buying (a remnant) will come polished, so how do I take it down? Do I go back down below and start up again?

Thanks so much. Figure this comes under the heading of the topic; if not, please tell me to bug off and I'll start a new thread :)

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 8:34PM
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I had a small peninsula of honed AB installed a few months ago because I needed a very quiet black stone to coordinate with the other counter in the kitchen. I went into it knowing that fingerprints were going to be a nightmare, but did it any way because the other blacks all had either some sparkle, or other shade which wouldn't have worked with the other counter. I took november's advice and bought some Method granite cleaner. The first couple of days, the fingerprint/water marks were worse than my worst fears! But gradually, the granite cleaner (which may have some sealer in it, I am not sure) started getting the job done. Now, I see the marks, squirt with the cleaner, wipe it down with a microfiber cloth and it looks perfect!! I was told it did not need to be sealed, so I didn't seal it.

So while I think I could have found an easier honed black stone, I had to choose this because I needed AB's uniformity. I do not regret putting it in. That's my non-expert opinion.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 9:20PM
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Such wonderful advice from everyone, thank you!!!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 9:25AM
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Honed Verde Butterfly would look pretty cool - I'd
hit with some Tenax Ager Tiger to enhancer the "look"
and bring out the depth of the color, but I think you'd
have a real nice looking top..

As far as honing it - practice on some scrap first -
I would think that you could try a 100 grit wet pad,
then go up to a 200, and then wrap up with a 400, but
test a section starting out using the 100, and another separate
one using a 200...

stones reacts differently to honing - I would think that
if you went down to a 50 grit - you would have to screw
around removing scratches, so why create the extra work
fo yourself? (just my opinion) - ALSO - use LOTS of water
when you are honing your production piece, as this
evacuates the particulate from the area your pad is spinning
on, and will result in fewer fine scratches too.....

Working your polisher will be good exercise on your upper
body and arms - and when you're done, you'll be like......
"welcome to the GUN show...!!!" HA!!!! ;)

hope that helps


    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 10:31AM
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This helps a lot, Kevin, thanks, and the Tenax is a great tip too. I'll copy this and save it to my file. Only up to 400 is very doable :) And re the exercise--what's the worst possibility, Linda Hamilton in Terminator2? I can live with that :)

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 11:31AM
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We tested it before we bought it. The granite yard had samples from the our lot that we took home to test. So, while our sample wasn't directly from one of our slabs (we had 3), it was taken from the same lot. I know it most likely was b/c it was the only lot of AB they had that was true black...ALL the others were gray! (It was also labeled w/the same lot number...but you never know! I did see him take the sample out & it was already marked.)

I have to admit that other than lemonade, milk, and other normal foods, I don't think we've had anything truly acidic (vinegar, full-strength lemon juice/lemon) on the counter. And, after reading Kevin's posts over the past week or so...I'm a little worried...but I don't have any place that's "out of sight" to test!

My main concern was whether it was dyed AB or true AB. It wasn't from China, but I wanted to check anyway...hence the acetone & denatured alcohol (I couldn't find any marble polishing powder to use w/the alcohol.)

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 7:43PM
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I'm considering installing honed antique brown granite as my kitchen countertop. Anybody have any experience to share with this kind of granite re:maintenance?

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 12:59AM
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I'm considering installing honed antique brown granite as my kitchen countertop. Anybody have any experience to share with this kind of granite re:maintenance?

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 1:00AM
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I just got honed AB counters installed and have NOT used them and they are already blotchy, with splotches of lighter gray. The granite installler sealed them and then covered them with plastic, as the floor was being sanded the next day. I am just seeing them uncovered now and am wondering if they need to be resealed, oiled, cleaned or what? I haven't even spilled acid liquids yet and the counters are so uneven in tone! What to do!!

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 1:00PM
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