What Is Leathered Granite? Learn More About the Popular Countertop Finish

A primer to the countertop finish that’s gaining traction for its aesthetic appeal and easy maintenance.

black stone countertops in kitchen with subway tile and floating shelf

Werner Straube

Granite is one of the most popular countertop choices on the market, but that doesn’t mean it can't stand out. One of the up-and-comers in the countertops category is leathered granite, and you’re going to want to give this option a second look. 

Leathered granite is not only appealing due to its warmth, character, and natural look, but also for its durability, easy maintenance, and customization possibilities. Unlike the natural-looking finish of honed granite, leathered granite is a polished variety that imparts texture and a more matte look without the high-gloss effect of traditional polished varieties. For this reason, the upkeep and durability of leathered granite have homeowners increasingly opting for this character-rich finish.

Here, we unpack everything you need to know when considering leathered granite countertops, including how they're manufactured, color options, and maintenance considerations. 

What Is Leathered Granite?

In order to understand what leathered granite is and where it fits in with other stone options, it's important to first talk about finishes. There are a number of stone finishes available that can greatly alter both the look and feel of your countertop.

For a shiny, reflective surface that highlights the stone’s full color spectrum, polished granite is the best choice. But if you’re looking for a character-rich, natural-looking stone, the matte finish of honed granite will be appealing. Honed granite stains more easily than polished granite, though it does camouflage the appearance of scratches better.

Yet another option is leathered granite. Leathered granite delivers a matte effect similar to that of honed granite, but instead of being smooth, it showcases its textured surface, full of dips, divots, and fissures. It also requires additional manufacturing in order to create the textured finish. Leathered granite is polished, but with a textured surface, which means it's more resistant to staining than honed.

How Is Leather Granite Made?

Because leathered granite plays up the natural shape and color of the stone, one might assume the manufacturing process is simpler than that of other granite finishes. But in order to reach the desired level of texture, an additional process is required. Leather granite begins with a honed finish that is then treated by running a diamond-tipped brush over the surface. This process is highly customizable, resulting in a more- or less-polished look depending on how many times the brushes stroke the surface. During this process, the pores of the stone are closed, which is why it is less susceptible to staining than honed granite. 

Leathered Granite Design Options

The leathering process can create a highly customized look that is unique to your home. Whether you want to go more textured or less, determining the right look for your desired aesthetic can help your countertop become a focal point in your space. Gray and black leathered granite are popular choices, though manufacturers oftentimes offer brown shades as well. No matter the color, the textured surface of leathered granite can be used to deliver a warm patina and earthiness. 

Cleaning and Maintenance Considerations

One of the main draws of leathered granite is its low maintenance requirements. Unlike high-gloss polished surfaces that show every smudge, scratch, and fingerprint, leathered granite takes them all in stride—meaning you’ll have a hard time spotting these little facts of daily life at all.

Because the porous nature of honed granite is eliminated during the leathering process, leathered granite is also resistant to liquids, so you won’t need to sprint to mop up a spill before it stains. One more pro? It’s less slippery than polished stone, making it a good option for flooring surfaces.

One major drawback is dust settling into its imperfections, so use a hand brush to clear out crumbs and other debris. Otherwise, a simple soap and water solution is sufficient for regular cleaning of leathered granite.

Like other stone finishes, leathered granite requires re-sealing, but you won’t have to do it as often as honed or polished varieties. To determine whether your countertop needs to be resealed, Canaan Stone Works has a simple test: Spill a small amount of water on the surface. If it soaks in within 5 to 10 minutes it’s time for a reseal. 

Does Leathered Granite Cost More?

Polished granite tends to be offered at a lower price point than leathered granite due to its popularity and availability. But instead of looking at leathered granite as a strictly more-expensive option, understand that you are also paying for a unique piece. Leathered granite can create a truly one-of-a-kind look but, as with any custom product, it often means you’ll pay a higher sticker price.

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