New technology creates more variety in stone finishes

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In the past, pretty much all granite countertops had a polished shine. Today, due to new technology, that is no longer the case.

Along with a huge selection of stone materials, patterns and colors, a variety of finish options are available to create dramatically different looks on the same stone.

Here are a few:

Polished stone has a glossy, mirror-like surface that draws attention by reflecting light. Showcasing the flecks of the specific stone, polished granite has long been the most popular choice for kitchen designs. It still is. Polished granite is also used effectively as flooring, lending a high gloss in more formal rooms.

A honed finish presents a buffed or matte appearance. While the surface is smooth, it often lacks the high degree of reflection of a polished finish. Matte finishes create a softer feel without disturbing the colors and patterns of the stone.

Honed surfaces are used effectively for counters and backsplashes where a more muted surface is preferred. Honed granite is just as smooth as polished. Bathroom applications soften the look when combined with other metallic or highly reflective surfaces.

Rough finishes, such as leathered or brushed, bring out the natural characteristics of the stone. Different levels of sheen and relief appear depending on each unique slab.

Leathered finishes are used effectively in kitchens and bathrooms to lend a rustic patina.

Leathering has become particularly popular in the Lowcountry since a major stone fabricator acquired state-of-the-art equipment from Italy. This finish is achieved through a technique that brushes the stone to bring out the natural texture.

The intensity of the color is preserved and enhanced. For granite or marble that has interesting veining, a leather finish enables you to actually feel the movement in the stone as well as see it.

With all of these finishing choices, homeowners are now using the same granite or stone in a kitchen or bath and applying different finishes. For example, polished stone can be placed on the perimeter counters and leathered stone used on the island where it creates a unique visual and textural surface.

Now, along with color, pattern and texture, finishes allow you to customize your stone even more.

Andrea Antunes McGilton is project manager at Distinctive Granite and Marble, with showrooms in Okatie; Lady's Island; Pooler, Ga., and on Hilton Head Island.

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