Honed Absolute Black Granite - Enhancer + Method Polish?

rupesSeptember 7, 2011

I have decided to have honed Absolute Black granite in my kitchen. I have read many threads about it here on this forum.

Many posts mention that using 'Method Daily Granite Polish' regularly is the way to go.

What is not clear to me is whether or not I should have the fabricator apply an enhancer if I plan to use the Method Polish. The fabricator is suggesting that I should have him apply an enhancer.

Kevin (azstoneconsulting) in the thread linked below you say "and no - no complaints as long as they follow the Method Plan". Can you clarify if you apply an enhancer for these jobs or if it is just the "bare" granite?

I only have a day or two to figure this out so would really appreciate input on this.

Thanks. Rupert

Here is a link that might be useful: Absolute black granite-no problem keeping clean?!

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Sophie Wheeler

If you want to add all of that stuff to make it back shiny again, just stick with polished. Or antiqued. Or Blackstar Granite.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 11:20AM
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rupes

hollysprings thanks for your input.

I definitely do not want polished. I looked into antiqued and am not familiar with Blackstar.

At this point the choice has been made to go with honed. I am not looking to make it shiny. I am just trying to figure out the best way to keep it clean and avoid the problems with marks that many people have reported.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 11:51AM
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azstoneconsulting

an enhancer - l like Tenax Ager - will work as a sealer, and I'm not so sure that using Ager on AB is a wise choice - I have found that by just using the Method and building up a patina will work more effectively than starting with a coat of Ager first.......

I will do an experiment to see if there's any difference in either approach as I think it would have a lot of value presenting both approaches and letting people decide which way they want to go.......

stay tuned for the results....

kevin

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 11:51AM
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oldhouse1_gw

We have had our honed AB for a month and I absolutely love it. I read all the horror stories as well but decided to take the chance because I love the look. We have had absolutely no problems. As I understand an enhancer will darken the stone slightly so that fingerprints are not quite as noticeable. We chose to not have it sealed or enhanced, although they left us some enhancer if we decided we wanted to use it later on. When AB is honed it is a med to dark grey and the enhancer darkens it slightly. We tested a sample from the actual slab with oil, wine, vinegar etc. and nothing stained. Sometimes finger prints are left behind and if something wet is left on the counter it will sometimes leave a mark but it wipes off with a damp dish towel and if not MDGP always gets it out. I'm the type to wipe off the counter after every use so I have not found it to be a problem. I keep wondering if I'll run into problems but so far so good. I'm thrilled with my choice.

Good Luck!

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 12:10PM
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cat_mom

FWIW, we got a piece of honed AB to use as a saddle in our master bathroom doorway. The stoneyard enhanced the piece for us (to better match our MB floor tile). I think they might have used Tenax Ager; at least, that Kevin's post rings a bell! In any event, I find it very easy to clean the saddle. While it isn't subject to the same degree of "handling" than counters do, it is stepped on with bare feet. I often wipe the inevitable specks and bits of lint with just a damp piece of paper towel or tissue, or the microfiber that I'd just used to wipe down the tub surround tile or bathroom sink. In other words, our enhanced AB saddle is not "fussy" at all.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 1:36PM
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rupes

Thanks everyone. It seems like the consensus is to not use enhancer. Unfortunately I won't get a chance to test a sample from the slab before the counter is installed. I will ask if they can leave me some enhancer.

It is great to hear that some people are happy with honed AB.
Rupert

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 3:30PM
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oldhouse1_gw

rupes, We weren't able to get a sample of our slab before it was shipped but I asked them in advance to bring me a piece when they installed the counters. I then tested it with everything so that I knew what I had to be careful with. Turns out nothing stained it.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 3:47PM
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rupes

Thanks oldhouse1. That is a great idea. I will ask them to bring me a sample when they come to install so I can try some tests.
Rupert

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 4:31PM
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cmm6797

Rupes, although I like the look of our new honed absolute black countertops, I'm not finding them as easy to clean as some of the other posters.

I did start using the Method cleaner immediately, and applied it about 5 or 6 times. Haven't seen a difference in ease of cleaning. Maybe it takes more time to build up the patina as azstone suggests.

Specifically this is what happens on our counters: grease splatters from stove or even some butter or olive oil gets on the counter. Wipe it up and it still looks very streaky where the spills were. Eventually they seem to disappear, but by eventually I mean in about 10-14 days.

In one of the earlier posts someone suggested cleaning the counter with hot water and a very small amount of dish soap. That seems to work for some spills. Another thing that works well are the microfiber cloths - stock up on those. But honestly, even if I wipe down the counter then go over it with the Method cleaner, the entire counter does not look clean - ever. There are always areas that are streaky or spotty and I assume it's because those areas take some time to absorb the grease or liquid or whatever was on there. Frankly I am confused as to how to maintain them.

I'm interested in seeing the other comments as well. Our installer did seal the granite although I've since read that the sealer can cause problems on honed absolute black, so perhaps that is the issue with ours.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 6:34PM
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oldhouse1_gw

cmm6797, I'm so confused by the fact that some people have problems and others do not. I have not had any problems so far. Mind you because of what I've heard I've been very cautious with my counters until I know what I can and cannot do. I've not gotten any oil or butter on my counters yet but I did leave them on my unsealed sample (same slab) and it didn't seem to stain. I don't want to sound so casual about my counters when I know so many people have had negative outcomes. I believe there are people on GW who have taken off their sealer. Would love to hear from them as to whether it made any difference. I don't know, maybe my luck will run out and I too will run into the same problems. I certainly don't want to give people false hope.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 7:31PM
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cmm6797

Maybe ours has an enhancer on it that's causing some of the cleaning difficulties? Our counter looks like a soft black on the top but underneath (where there's a slight overhang), you can see that the unfinished side is lighter, more grey in spots. Does that mean it's been enhanced? All the samples we received from various stoneyards looked the same way. I cannot ask the people that installed it because we had so many installation issues that I don't dare call them again.

None of the stone places that we went to mentioned an enhancer at all and we're in an area where absolute black is fairly popular. I'm wondering why that wasn't brought up as an option?

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 7:46PM
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rupes

cmm6797 I am sorry to hear that your counters are proving difficult to keep clean. I too am curious if this has anything to do with the fact that they were sealed.

Also since it seems that there are many variants of absolute black (see link below) I wonder if it has to do with differences in the raw material. All the absolute blacks I have seen so far have been from India. Since cost is a concern for me I doubt I am getting the highest quality stone ($57 sq ft installed). There was a mixup at the first granite yard so my fabricator is now getting a slab sent from another place. I don't have any insight to the quality of these granites (I did ask for the name and where they came from but all I got was India) so at this point feel it will come down to luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Absolute black granite

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 8:02PM
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cmm6797

Rupes, I don't mean to discourage you because I'm still very happy with the granite despite the cleaning issues. I figure we just need to learn the best way to clean it and that may take a while. I'm just throwing a question out there in response to your original post, which is whether or not the enhancer would affect the ease of cleaning. Wondering if anyone has any insight into that.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 10:44PM
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oldhouse1_gw

cmm6797, I was told that enhancer wouldn't necessarily make it easier to clean but that the fingerprints would not be quite as noticeable. There are different degrees of honed as well, I wonder if that makes any difference.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 7:43AM
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rupes

I did not expect selecting granite to be so difficult and confusing!

I found the link below interesting but don't know how accurate it is. I do plan to do the lemon juice test on the slab when I see it.

Here is what I think I know:
- Absolute Black is not very porous and therefore should not need sealer for the usual reasons (absorption of liquids).
- Oily things such as fingers will leave marks in the honed surface of the granite, since it is actually a dark gray, which can be easily removed. This can be minimized either by applying an enhancer or by using Method granite polish.
- Absolute Black granite contains some calcite. Because of this acids, such as lemon juice, can create a lighter gray stain.
- Years ago Absolute Black was mined from Africa and it did not have these issues (black rather than dark gray and less calcite?)
- Once a stone is sealed and/or enchanced it is not trivial to remove this from the stone.

Questions:
- Does the Method polish work if the stone was enhanced first?
- Does enhancer do anything to guard against acid staining?
- Am I right is assuming that (other than possibly permanently staining the stone with acid) I lose nothing by trying the untreated stone and Method polish first? If this does not work out is there any reason I could not clean the granite and apply an enhancer if I wanted to?

I have also read that a sealing/penetrating enhancer should be used as while it will not penetrate the stone it will penetrate the honed surface.

Thanks
Rupert

Here is a link that might be useful: Sealing Granite Countertops: The Real Test

    Bookmark   September 9, 2011 at 3:51PM
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rupes

I guess that second question should have been
- Does enhancer or Method polish do anything to guard against acid staining?

Rupert

    Bookmark   September 9, 2011 at 4:00PM
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rupes

Kevin have you had a chance to do the experiment? I think I will have to make a decision tomorrow.

If I can just clean the stone and enhance it later I am tempted to start without.
Rupert

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 9:06PM
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bakebestcookies

We have absolute black granite in our bathroom - countertop and a slab seat in the shower/tub - and it is great except for right around the faucets where we get white hard water stains that are very hard to remove. Well, actually, we can't get them off, so if anyone knows the secret to that, please share. But in the shower where it is beat on by water constantly and air dries it requires no care and looks great. Ours is sealed, I am not sure with what, and it is very dark. Because of this issue, though, we are going with ColorQuartz for the kitchen counters, instead of more ABG.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 1:20PM
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rupes

Thanks bakebestcookies. Is your absolute black honed or polished?

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 9:56AM
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rupes

My granite will be installed tomorrow. I got a piece of the slab yesterday with enhancer on half of it. The enhancer makes the honed surface darker and a bit duller. Fingerprints do not show on the enhanced side.

I decided to do the lemon juice and oil test - see link and images below. Untreated is on the left and enhancer is on the right. The top is lemon and the bottom is oil and I left them on for 30 minutes. Since my granite is honed I would expect the oil to darken the untreated side and you can see the slight mark it left behind. The lemon did not etch the untreated side or haze the enhanced side. I did not have any granite cleaner but wiping some lemon juice and then water over the untreated side returned it to a uniform finish.

I imagine that the Method granite polish does something similar to the enhancer. It is still not clear to me which is the better solution, enhancer or method polish, or if they work well together.
Rupert

Here is a link that might be useful: Sealing Granite Countertops: The Real Test

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 10:16AM
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oldhouse1_gw

Hi rupes, Still not sure? I feel for you. I drove myself crazy going back and forth. I'm still very pleased with ours. No problems yet although I have to admit I'm cautious. Knowing what problems may arise we're just a little more careful, which you are anyway when you have a new kitchen. I hesitate to steer you towards my kitchen that I just posted as I have had more then enough attention, but you will be able to see my honed AB. If you want any closeups let me know. I read somewhere that if you use a razor blade (ones that are made for ceramic stove tops would be perfect)water spots will come right off. Good Luck with your decision.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 10:23AM
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rupes

Thanks oldhouse1. I am definitely going with honed absolute black and it goes in tomorrow. I am just not sure if I will have him put enhancer on as he is recommending. I am going to see if I can get him to leave me some as your guy did so I can try without first.

Would love to see pictures of your kitchen
Rupert

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 11:45AM
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oldhouse1_gw

How exciting! I actually really like the enhanced side. I have a small piece that I may enhance to see how it looks. Thanks for posting the picture. Is this the last thing to go into your kitchen? Please post when you're done. I'd love to know how everything went. Good Luck tomorrow.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 11:56AM
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rupes

I was kind of assuming that the Method granite polish makes the granite look very similar to how it looks with enhancer.

Other than the floor the kitchen will be mostly done tomorrow. It has been a long haul and having a kitchen sink will be a real novelty.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 1:09PM
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lolauren

rupes --- am I seeing things in your last photo? ... it looks like there is a dark spot where the oil was.

Is "Method granite polish" different than what I have, "Method Daily Granite (granite + stone cleaner?)"

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 1:24PM
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rupes

lolauren you are not seeing things. As I mentioned above the oil left behind a mark on the untreated side but I would expect this on a honed surface.

We are talking about the same polish. oldhouse1 refers to it as MDGP.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 1:43PM
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lolauren

Oops. I misread what you had posted. :) I'm curious how long that oil mark sticks around...

I just grabbed a remnant of my unsealed, honed (Cambrian black) granite. I applied Method to a portion of it and let it dry repeatedly (about 10 times.) I cannot see a difference in darkness between the portion I tested and the portion I didn't test...

So, no, I don't think Method will make your granite look like the sealer did....

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 2:08PM
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oldhouse1_gw

This is getting confusing, isn't it. Yes, I did refer to it as MDGP after first reading what rupes refered to it as in his opening post. I knew we were talking about the same thing so did't pay any attention to the error. It is in fact cleaner lolauren. I just went back to look at my sample of honed AB with enhancer on it and there was in fact a very faint mark left behind (oil) that I didn't even notice. I just cleaned it with Method Daily and it cleaned right up. I of coarse haven't intentionally tested oil on my unsealed/enhanced counter but based on what I just saw I am considering using the enhancer. I'm still not sure though that an enhancer is a protector but more that it darkens the stone therefore marks don't show up as much.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 2:11PM
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lolauren

I didn't mean to point out an error; I just wanted to make sure I was using the same product before I tested how it looked. :)

I did the lime juice, oil, hard water & soft water test as well..

My hard water dries and leaves a mark around the edges, but I can rub those away. The cleaners help that process.

Lime juice did nothing. Oil darkened the stone, the same as pictured above.

I am not having any success getting the oil marks out, even with cleaners or soap.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 2:46PM
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oldhouse1_gw

lolauren, I tested the oil on a sample with enhancer on it. Are you doing the same? If not, maybe that is the difference? Method cleaner has corn/coconut surfactant in it which must mean oil. Perhaps after a period of time it acts as a protectant. I don't know, this is like the blind leading the blind, isn't it?

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 3:33PM
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lolauren

That is the difference. It has no enhancer. So, the enhancer, apparently, does help protect the stone from oil?

Yes, Method has oil..... so I agree it must build up over a period of time.

It is definitely the blind leading the blind, but I think the testing/observations could be helpful for a lot of people... :)

I have a question.... Instead of enhancer/sealer, why don't people with honed granite just put a coating of mineral oil on their stone? (like a soapstone owner would do?) What would be the negative?

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 3:55PM
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annac54

Rupes, oldhouse1 probably won't say on this thread, but her kitchen pictures are on the thread linked below. You may have already seen her beautiful space.

Here is a link that might be useful: Oldhouse1's kitchen

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 10:54PM
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rupes

oldhouse1 that is a beautiful kitchen.

If you look at the long post by littlesmokie near the end of the thread linked below she says.

*************
So, the expert came out (kind/knowledgeable/professional) and basically there is a choice between the lesser of two evils:

1) leave unsealed and have to deal with darker fingerprints/oil spots darkening the counters (much like what I was trying to avoid with unoiled soapstone)
or
2) use an enhancing sealer that helps to minimize/mask darker oil marks BUT the sealer still etches from acidic substances which show up as lighter/hazy marks on the granite (much like I was trying to avoid with marble, and what you have going on with your countertops, repaintingagain.)
*************

So before I left for work yesterday I put the lemon juice back and left it for about 7 hours. The results are in the picture below. As you can see just as littlesmokie said the lemon juice has etched the enhancer. I think her summary above is a good one.

(FYI my earlier pictures were over exposed).
Rupert

Here is a link that might be useful: 1.5 years later antiqued/honed Black Pearl is staining

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 9:47AM
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oldhouse1_gw

Thanks Rupert, I'm trying the acid test again. I thought that there were 3 choices, rather have been told. Sealer,enhancer/sealer and just plain old enhancer. I thought I had just enhancer. No lemon residue from the first test, but i'll try again. I still wonder if the degree of honing makes a difference. Perhaps you should ask your installers today. Good Luck.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 10:02AM
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bakebestcookies

Rupes, sorry for the delay, our ABG is honed. Granted it is in 2 bathrooms, not a kitchen, but we do not treat it delicately at all in terms of getting lotions and potions on it, and it looks great (except, as I said, for hard water stains).

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 6:18PM
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cmm6797

Rupes,
After you tested the lemon juice on the sealer did you try to remove it? I'm wondering if it'll be permanent or if it can be dealt with.
When our honed AB counters were first installed we had quite a few "stains.". For example, grease splatters. I could not get them out. They have since disappeared...whether they were absorbed into the stone or what, I don't know. I do periodically use the Method cleaner so I'm wondering if that helped.

What I do now to clean the counters is use hot water and a tiny bit of dish soap, then use the Method cleaner every few days or so, with a microfiber cloth. I haven't seen anything on our counters like what you showed with the test above, even though our marble counter has etched quite a bit. I've heard the Cambria Black is less prone to fingerprints,etc., if that's an option for you.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 10:02PM
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rupes

cmm6797. I did wipe it down with water but did not have any granite cleaner to try. Once I get some Method cleaner I will give it a try.

Oil just darkens the surface of a non-porous honed granite like absolute black and is not permanent.

My understanding is that acidic things like lemon juice can etch the enhancer which I believe is permanent.

Counters went in yesterday and for now have no sealer or enhancer on them.
Rupert

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 1:57PM
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glinda919

Rupert, I have been following this thread play-by-play as I'm waiting to pull the trigger on the honed AB granite choice. Thanks for doing all this work; it's really helped me decide to just go for it (no sealer or enhancer) and lets the chips fall.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 2:50PM
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rupes

glinda919 I wish you luck. You should know that I am new to all this and have never had granite before.

As far as I can make out my honed absolute black granite is not effected by acidic liquids (lemon juice left for 7 hours). Oil leaves a mark but not a permanent mark. My logic is that I can always clean the surface with acetone and apply enhancer at a later date so have nothing to lose by trying this.

There was a lack of communication at the company I used and the workers showed up with a bottle of sealer (not even enhancer). I asked them if they were planning to apply this and they were. I had to tell them several times to not apply anything.
Rupert

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 3:29PM
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oldhouse1_gw

Rupert, So everything went well I take it. Isn't it beautiful? I love ours. It was just the look we were going for. I tried the acid test again yesterday and it came clean. So, so far so good for us. I hope you have the same luck. Enjoy your beautiful new counters.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 6:35PM
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rupes

There were a few issues but all in all it went well and it is beautiful.

oldhouse1 can you clarify what test you did? As I understanding it your counters were not sealed or enhanced so I would not expect lemon juice to effect them.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 8:10AM
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rupes

To close this out I did try cleaning the enhanced side with Method granite cleaner. As I expected this did not remove the mark left by the lemon juice. The enhancer had been etched away by the lemon juice.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2011 at 10:30AM
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Brittany

Hi Rupes. I just found this thread in a search as they are installing my AB honed in the next couple of days. Did you find that it held up well with no sealer or enhancer? Are you pleased with your choice of the honed? Today is the last day to change my mind, so naturally I'm second-guessing myself.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 4:24PM
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kbb100

Hi Rupes and/or Soccerbritt,

Now I am close to choosing AB honed, as you both were in the past. Any updates? I'm particularly interested in opinions about no sealer/no enhancer.

Many thanks.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 12:07PM
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