Welcome to our leathered granite countertops design guide including what it is, pros and cons, cost and different types to choose from. An emerging trend in kitchen and bathroom design, leathered granite countertops are beautiful, practical, and unique. While there are some specific maintenance requirements to keep in mind, these durable natural stone countertops are easy to care for and will last for years.
Rather than polishing the stone to a high gloss or leaving it unpolished and looking dusty, leathered granite offers consumers a middle way.
More shiny than honed granite, but not as reflective as polished granite countertops, leathering produces an interesting texture that still looks great for interior designs.
What is Leathered Granite
After granite is quarried and cut into slabs, water jets, chemical processes, diamond-head brushes, and grinding wheels can be used to create a variety of finishes on the surface of the stone.
Polished granite countertops have long been popular for their elegant appearance and shine. The polishing process is touted for its ability to bring out the rich tonal colors of this natural stone.
The traditional alternative to polished granite is honed granite. The honing process is the same as the polishing process, minus the final step. While honing granite doesn’t do much for accentuating the color of the stone, it produces an interesting texture that is great for less formal kitchens.
A new trend in kitchen countertops, leathering is a finishing process that can be applied to quarried granite. Diamond-tipped brushes lightly polish the stone while removing imperfections, leaving behind a gorgeous textured surface that begs to be touched.
The colors are richer than honed granite, but leathered granite lacks the reflective glare of polished granite.
Proponents of leathered granite note that it reveals more of the natural contours and texture of the stone. Not all leathered granite slabs will have the same appearance. Textures vary from shallow to deep, giving homeowners another opportunity for customization.
Leathered Granite Countertops Pros and Cons
Leathered countertops are a great choice for a variety of reasons. They are rising in popularity, so don’t be surprised if your friends have never heard of leathered granite.
If you like to be ahead of the trend when it comes to home design, you can’t go wrong with a leather finish. They aren’t going out of style anytime, so are a good choice for updating or redoing your countertop.
Like all granite, leathered granite is extremely durable, as well as scratch and scorch resistant. The textured surface is more casual and approachable than highly polished granite, but deeper and richer in color than honed granite.
Any granite countertop will need to be periodically resealed. Leathered countertops need resealing more frequently than polished granite. Plan to refinish once a year, more if your countertop is subject to heavy use or lots of water. The resealing schedule is similar to that of honed granite.
Leathering granite reveals the deep and dark colors of this beautiful natural stone. If you want to showcase your countertop without polishing it to a high gloss, leathering is the natural solution.
Leathered granite may also be more resistant to bacteria than honed or polished slabs. The leathering process tightens the natural pores of the granite, making it less likely to harbor microbes.
Leathered Granite Cost
Granite is an abundant natural stone found in many locations across the world. Imported stones are generally more expensive than domestic stones due to the additional transportation costs.
The cheapest granite option is likely to be the one that was quarried nearest to the job site. Including installation, expect to pay between $50 and $200 per square foot for a granite countertop.
The finish applied to the granite affects how it is priced. Polished granite is the most common, well-known, and popular finishing option available. It also has the lowest price. Honed granite actually requires less labor to produce, but is more expensive because of lower demand.
Leathered granite is the most expensive finishing process at all. As it becomes more popular and common, you can expect the price to go down, but for now trendsetters are paying a premium.
The average size of a kitchen countertop is 30 square feet. In a kitchen of this size, you should expect to pay between $4,500 and $6,000 for professionally-installed leathered granite countertops.
Types of Leathered Granite Countertops
No two leathered granite countertops will look exactly the same. Variations in the stone depend on its mineral content, the area from which it was quarried, and the depth of the leathering.
Deeply leathered granite has visible pits and dimples. A shallower leathering will also dimple the surface, but you may only be able to perceive the difference in texture with your hands.
The depth of the leathering depends on how the diamond tipped brushes were applied to the surface of the stone. You can usually specify the depth of the leathering when ordering your countertop from the supplier.
Some kinds of granite look better with a leathered finish than other types. A few of the most popular types of leathered granite are Black Forest, Antique Brown, and Steel Gray. You can see more types of white granite countertops on this page.
The unique granite colors and features of these stones create a stunning effect that will make your countertop the centerpiece of any room.
Antique Brown Leathered Granite
While black and gray are the most common colors seen in granite, did you know it also comes in brown? More accurately, it’s a deep brown-black.
Finishing Antique Brown granite with diamond brushes brings out that rich mahogany color. The result is reminiscent of cozy leather chairs that have been broken in through years of use — comforting, beautiful, and eminently touchable.
Black Pearl Leathered Granite
Black pearl leathered granite is a very dense stone that primarily comes from India with a very consistant black color throughout. It can be found with different specks of silver, gold, and browns that create a uniform appearance.
Since it is so dense it generally does not require sealing. The stone is often sold in two different grades one being thicker than the other. See other types of black granite countertops here.
Black Forest Leathered Granite
This dark stone is quarried from India. The dominant color is a gorgeous obsidian, which ripples with high-contrast white veining.
When a leather finish is applied, the natural contours of the stone are revealed. Reseal with a stone color enhancer to get the most dramatic effect.
Black Galaxy Leathered Granite
This type of granite is uniquely dense and nonporous, and does not need to be sealed. Black galaxy granite has a less dramatic texture than other types of granite. Of all the types of leathered granite countertops, this one will be closest in appearance to actual leather.
Steel Gray Leathered Granite
With minimal veining, this stone has light and dark mottling that is already reminiscent of well-worn leather. The various shades of gray lend a calm, soothing atmosphere to the room. The texture of steel gray granite tends to be shallower than other types of granite.
Leathered vs Polished Granite
Polished granite has been buffed to a high sheen. It has a shiny, reflective surface that lends an almost liquid appearance to this durable stone. Polished granite is deeper in tone and darker in color than unpolished granite.
A polished granite slab is the least absorbent of any kind of granite countertop. It is the easiest to clean and will require sealing less often. Leathered granite requires more effort when cleaning to make sure the divots stay clear of debris.
The leathering process opens more pores in the stone, so leathered granite is more absorbent and will need to be sealed more frequently.
Honed vs Leathered Granite
Honed granite is removed from the assembly line before reaching the end of the polishing process. It’s surface is just as smooth as polished granite.
Instead of reflecting light, honed granite absorbs it. Slabs finished by honing are generally lighter in color than slabs from the same quarry that are finished by polishing. Honed granite tends to show fingerprints, grease, and dust more easily than polished or leathered granite.
To make leathered granite, manufacturers start with a slab that has already been honed. Then, diamond-tipped brushes are used to create a slightly more textured surface.
The bristles of the brushes create tiny dimples in the granite, contributing to it’s leathered appearance. Leathered granite is shinier than honed granite, but not as reflective as polished granite.
A leather finish can be applied to granite of any color, but tends to be most dramatic when applied to darker color stone.
How to Clean Leathered Granite
Polishing granite closes the pores of the stone. When sealed, it is very resistant to spills and splashes. Leathered granite does not have this same protection, although the process tightened the natural pores of the stone somewhat.
Wipe up spills promptly to avoid staining. Keep acids like citrus juice from pooling on the countertop; they can create stains. The textured surface of leathered granite is very forgiving when it comes to grease, fingerprints, and crumbs, and it is less absorbent than honed granite.
Never use an acid-containing cleaner on your granite countertops, no matter what kind of finish was applied. Vinegar, bleach, those handy orange-scented cleaning wipes — all these options are out. Instead, use soap and water for daily cleaning.
To remove oil-based stains, make a paste from baking soda and water. Swap hydrogen peroxide for the water if the stain is water-based. When the stain is coated with paste, cover it and let it sit for a few hours. Wipe up the paste using a wet cloth.
If leathered granite should chip, dent, or permanently stain, it is likely the whole surface will need to be refinished. It’s very difficult to match the texture without resurfacing the entire slab.
To test whether your leathered granite countertop needs to be resealed, drip some water in an inconspicuous spot. Set a timer for ten minutes.
When the time is up, if the water is still sitting on the surface of your countertop, the sealant is still effective. If the water has been partially or fully absorbed, it’s time to reseal.
Leathered countertops are gorgeous, trendy, and easy to maintain. This new method of granite finishing is a fantastic option for consumers who are underwhelmed by honed concrete and don’t want the high shine of polished concrete.
Read more about how to clean granite countertops on this page.