Natural Stone Refinishing: What are my options?

Natural Stone Refinishing: What are my options?

December 5, 2017

Every slab is unique, and with hundreds of individual designs and patterns, there’s a style to suit any aesthetic.

But did you know that beyond MARVA’s extensive catalog of natural stone, we also offer numerous options for countertop finishes? From the classic, gleaming polished stone to the tactile, unexpected leathered finish, MARVA’s headquarter facility includes all the necessary equipment to achieve different textures on almost all of our slabs. That means that no matter who your client is or what aesthetic they want, we can work together to give them the perfect finish for their space.

Here’s an overview of the different options.



A slab of granite, marble, or other natural stone is ground, sanded, and buffed until a perfectly smooth, reflective surface is achieved.

Design Tips:

Polished stone is a must for designers or homeowners creating a luxury aesthetic. The high-gloss effect brings out the natural sparkle of the stone in all shades – from a glittering dark design to a silver sparkle in white marbles.

Best for:

All stones, but particularly ones that are more porous, like marble, because the smooth surface doesn’t allow for acids or pigmented liquids to collect, providing added protection against staining and etching.

The classic, timeless look of perfectly polished natural stone is the most common option chosen by homeowners, business owners, and designers. Polished stone has a sleek, mirrorlike shine that reflects light and draws attention to the stone, while providing the best showing for designs with sparkling flecks of color.

In addition to the rich gleam, a high-polish finish helps the stone repel stains and clean easily. The perfect smoothness doesn’t allow any hidden cracks or crevices for spills to collect in, which can lead to bacteria growth, etching or staining, particularly for softer or more porous stones like marble.

Those who selected polished stone should be aware that this finish could show streaks, scuffs, and smudges more easily than honed or leathered stones, which may make it less than ideal for higher-traffic areas where people will be touching the stone frequently. However, cleaning the surface is a simple process. A soft cloth and any number of specially developed natural stone cleaners will help preserve the shine. Polished stone can go longer between sealing, as well – even up to once per year.

Because polished stones will reflect light, this is a perfect option for windowless spaces that need a little brightening. Small kitchens and bathrooms that may not get as much natural light are ideal for lighter designs – blues, whites, or light greys – to create a sunny, open feel, particularly when paired with large mirrors, bright wall or cabinet colors, and decorative lighting.

White marble, granite, quartzite, or other natural stones, when polished, create a look of ultimate opulence – ideal for high end corporate offices or luxury kitchens.



The slab is sanded to a satiny matte finish that isn’t reflective the way polished finishes are.

Design Tips:

Honed granite provides a less formal look to countertops, which is preferable for those who want a more natural, down-to-earth atmosphere in their home.

Best for:

Granite and other nonporous stones.

The soft look of honed marble or granite offers a warmer alternative to the gleaming, ice-like surface of polished countertops. There is some room for customization when it comes to a honed countertop, from some shine to completely matte. For designs with bigger veins and broader movement, a honed finish can soften the design without losing the drama of the style.

Because a honed surface doesn’t show wear or scratches as easily as polished, it’s perfect for higher traffic areas, including kitchens, fireplace surrounds, or tabletops. The matte finish is less fussy and does not require as much day-to-day maintenance as polished stone. However, the honing process opens the stone’s pores, making it more absorbent and prone to staining than polished surfaces, so homeowners will have to re-seal it more frequently (every few months rather than once a year) and be more careful when it comes to acidic or dark colored liquids.

Although the concerns about porosity may make honing more popular for durable stones like granite, some homeowners embrace the potential wear with their marble countertops as well. Marble will naturally wear more easily than granite, and by opting for a honed finish, the inevitable scratches and scuffs are less visible.

Dark toned stones, like the Black Absolute design, are popular stones for honing, as the finish creates the look of soapstone – a trendy but expensive and difficult to maintain stone – without the premium price. Additionally, the dark finish makes stains less visible, lessening some of the concerns about spills. The honed finish also makes the tone of black stones appear lighter, offering an added degree of customization for a given space.

Honed countertops can create more of an old-world feel, ideal for gathering places like kitchens or dining areas that are meant to be inviting rather than intimidating.



The slab is finished to a natural texture that mimics the movement of the natural stone.

Design Tips:

Leathered stone is perfect for rustic or farmhouse-inspired spaces, as it provides more of a straight-from-the-earth feel to the surface.

Best for:

Stones that will not stain or etch, since the tiny crevices in the leathered surface will collect liquids.

This finish, which is gaining popularity, allows people to experience the stone by touch as much as by appearance, as the surface’s movement mimics the stone in its natural environment. Although leathered granite has been gaining popularity, it is still somewhat of a novelty for many homeowners, which can set one home apart from the thousands of others. This finish is also known as a “Riverwashed” finish because it calls to mind a stone that has been polished by flowing water.

Leathered surfaces have a unique look and feel, but offer practical advantages as well. Even more so than honed stone, leathered marble or granite doesn’t show scratches, fingerprints, or watermarks the way that polished countertops do. This is perfect for a busy homeowner who doesn’t want to be wiping up all the time in order to protect the gloss of their countertops.

However, like honed granite, leathered surfaces require additional protection against stains and water damage, so they will need to be sealed frequently. One option to minimize the damage to a leathered surface is to use it only for a statement piece, like a sidebar, that can be easily avoided when cooking, cutting citrus fruits, or pouring wine.

Rustic or dressed-down spaces are perfect for leathered stone. A leathered surface invites touch, sending the message that a space is meant to be experienced rather than just appreciated visually, and can be more welcoming to guests. It also inspires a greater appreciation for the stone, telling the story of how it was formed and how it looked when it was first quarried. Leathered countertops are right at home in trendy farmhouse kitchens and rustic spaces.

How to Choose the Right Finish for Your Stone

With all the options, how do you choose which is the best option for your stone? There are a few considerations to help determine which finish will bring out the best of the design, type of stone, and aesthetic.

For the brightest, most vibrant colors, a polished finish will make the most of the striking shades and designs. The process of shining the stone to a glossy effect allows the true color and character of a stone to show through in the most rich and bold way. Polishing will also bring out the subtle sparkle and color variations in a slab, for the most dramatic results. This finish is the best way to show off all the best, most defining characteristics of natural stone and call attention to its unique attributes.

If you want a more uniform result, honing a slab will flatten some of the variation and keep the sparkle to a minimum. It will allow the movement to show through, but keep the shimmering fragments understated. Stones with dramatic, thick veining will retain their movement and color, but with more subtlety.

Stones with a closer-to-nature tone embrace their not-so-humble origins with a leathered finish, making them more closely resemble their natural state. This riverwashed option combines the less reflective matte finish of honed granite with unique texture and tactile appeal, creating an earthy look and feel.


At MARVA, we understand how important it is that we provide an extraordinary experience for fabricators and homeowners, alike; so that your business continues to thrive, through referrals and repeat customers, and so that every homeowner is thrilled with their experience, from beginning to end.

Our advanced technology on-site at MARVA allows us to offer a variety of finishing options, overseen by marble and granite experts to ensure the best result. Whether the stone is one from our own inventory, or one brought to us for our refinishing services, we can achieve the ideal finish, from a high shine to a flat matte, to something in-between.

All of our products are the highest-quality offerings on the market. Before finishing, each slab will be inspected and evaluated to ensure that it is a good candidate for a client’s preferred finish, and that the stone’s integrity will not be compromised by the refinishing process. Rather than just create a product that looks good and send it on its way, MARVA ensures that each slab from our showroom will maintain its durability and beauty for its lifetime.

Since homeowners are guaranteed to love their material, they are more willing to reuse the same resources – including the same fabricators – for subsequent renovations or remodels. Our partnership helps ensure a positive experience and customer retention. We are your industry partner, offering a quality selection of material and in-depth product knowledge, but as we do not cut or install slabs, we recognize the value and mutual benefit of our relationship with each fabricator.

Like What You're Reading?

Get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Inspiration Gallery

View Inspiration Gallery View Inspiration Gallery

We understand the industry,

because we are in the industry.