Choosing Between Honed vs Polished Marble

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Last updated: March 23, 2023

Being a metamorphic rock, marble is very popular in kitchens today. Marble is created under conditions where limestone is exposed to high pressure and temperature, causing calcium carbonate (calcite) to form and re-crystallize into what is a denser rock for all intents and purposes.

Many homeowners decide on a more natural look for their kitchen and consider marble flooring and marble countertops when compared to all other kitchen counters and related materials. Decisions don’t stop here though as there is another decision to make. Marble, in the end, is a great option because it helps give your kitchen a high-end look.

Will you go for a honed finish, or will you be better off with a polished finish? Either is an ideal choice and becomes a personal decision. If you are unsure which works best for your remodel, continue reading below to learn the similarities and differences between these popular marble finishes. The grit number for light honing is 400. This is good enough for some polish.

Just realize that the look of marble will vary. Homeowners consider it to be a luxurious accent for their kitchen. When it gets polished, you won’t find any dull spots. The pores of the stone act as a reflective surface and give off a glossy finish. Rough hone (unpolished) marble feels smooth and is grounded (similar to sanding wood) into a flat consistent surface. The surface of the stone in this manner might contain fine abrasives but really is a marble slab that will have a smooth feel and dull finish. (almost a velvet-like touch)

A common problem with the flooring is that the finish of the stone, if left unpolished, will look like a dull, flat surface and even appear old and antiquated. Thus, an important feature of marble stains is that you want to benefit from marble polish to enhance that beautiful glossy shine. Imagine your entire surface floor and marble kitchen countertops radiating with the reflective characteristic of the finish associated with kitchen luxury? That’s a show-stopper when you’re selling a home. The shiny surface and high gloss of natural marble will self itself.

With a well-designed kitchen, you’ll receive a lot of questions due to the elegant look and the natural reflection of the stone. Kitchen design trends continue to suggest that marble is a popular choice or better choice when it comes to real estate valuations for home owners. If you’re naturally curious, you can take a look at the Natural Stone Institute (formerly, Marble Institute of America) website for suggestions and tips.


There are a lot of choices when it comes to the different types of marble. They’re available in an extensive selection of colors with various gradients and popular finishes. But it is not uncommon to see counters cut from a single slab that differs in color, depending on whether polished or not.

Honed marble is a little bit lighter in color whereas polished marble is somewhat darker. Always consider it when choosing a slab and decide if you prefer it to be shiny or not. The veins of the stone can be very dramatic and infinitely unique. Marble color variations can range from bold to bright, neutral, and subdued. Popular colors include white, cream, and gray. White kitchens are very popular with contemporary and modern styles, while gray or cream fit well with country and farmhouse styles. If you’re looking for names, the type of finish will go by names such as Carrara, Calacatta, and Crema Marfil.

Each color is a great choice. Your best option will be to achieve a similar look between the marble, kitchen cabinets, and floors. You always want a timeless style since you’ll be living in your home a long time and want to increase your home’s value versus suffering from a home style that is a deterrent to selling your home. It’s also the main reason why I always recommend you consider interior design specialists at the last stage of your planning because a kitchen renovation or upgrade is a significant investment. Good luck!


Since these two options are both marble materials, you can expect them to be quite similar in terms of durability. Marble is a natural stone, making it extremely tough. But it still needs to be sealed with a protective layer to offer protection from etching and stains. Proper care is a requirement even if we’re not dealing with softer materials.

When comparing the durability of honed and polished marble, you need to consider a few differences. The duller and somewhat rougher surface of honed marble won’t predominantly show scratches, flat spots, or etches, unlike its polished area counterparts, making it an excellent choice for high traffic areas like your shower floor. 

Polished marble, however, is much better when it comes to repelling stains since it has a less porous surface. Depending on your main concern for countertops, make sure you settle for the marble variety that you think can endure your intended uses and purposes. 


The most blatant difference between polished and honed marble has something to do with the material’s shine. For honed marble, you can expect an unpolished and matte finish. Its surface doesn’t reflect light, but it looks more natural. 

As its name implies, polished marble has been shined and smoothed using abrasive materials, which means that it can reflect light that gives it a polished and bright appearance. Most homes today commonly feature shined marble. Meanwhile, honed marble is more of a newcomer in the industry, but it is already gaining more popularity among homeowners. 

Overall Aesthetic

When choosing between polished and honed marble, you also need to consider the room’s overall aesthetic where you will use it, whether in your bathroom or kitchen. 

Polished and honed marble comes from the same material; the aesthetic can change depending on your marble finish. Honed marble tends to work much better with more natural and organic decoration styles, and this finish can create a warm but neutral backup for the rest of the decorative elements in the space. 

A higher-end and more refined look is the distinct characteristic of polished marble, and this pairs well with decorative lighting and more ornate features. Thanks to its captivating sheen, it can even be used as a decorative element. 

white ceramic round plate with white cream on it and on top of marble kitchen countertop

What Marble Finish is Best for Your Décor

When designing with these two finishes, it is essential to consider if they will complement the rest of your décor. 

Honed marble gets recommended for specific design aesthetics. Due to its matte look, it doesn’t draw much attention to itself and is not showy at the same time. It is perfect for natural and organic looks and warm neutral background for the other decorative touches. 

You can often see it in homes with classic Mediterranean influences, and go well with beachy and Western styles. It’s probably not a good choice for design styles that feature many fussy elements, such as French Provincial or Victorian. 

As for polished marble, this is an ideal option if you want to create more lavish and high-end looks. It shines bright and goes well with ornate lighting and luxe fixtures. A magnificent crystal chandelier will gleam beautifully on a gleaming polished marble counter, marble tabletop, or flooring. 

Large expanses of polished marble are a classic choice in royal castles and grand homes. 

Polished marble with smooth edges and clean lines is also an excellent choice for any modern design. The shiny finish and smooth surface look next to leather and chrome right at home. 

white ceramic bowls on marble kitchen counter in front of marble backsplash

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you combine polished and honed marble?

Combining a honed surface and a polished surface is possible, and it is a trendy idea that looks and feels fresh. For example, you can add a kitchen island made from an eye-catching polished white marble and pair it with a honed marble countertop of a contrasting or similar stone slab. The island’s polished look will draw the eyes to give your kitchen a daring focal point. 

How to take care of polished or honed marble?

Every type of marble requires the same primary treatment and care. Protect the knives from unwanted damage and the flat, consistent surface free from stains by always using cutting boards. Wipe up all food debris and spills immediately, and clean using gentle cleansers made for marble. 

Soft cloths and warm water are also enough for cleaning. Stay away from using even a few natural cleaners containing vinegar or lemon juice since these are two acidic for use on surfaces of this natural type of stone. Get your marble tiles sealed regularly according to the installer’s recommendation. 

the cost to install a kitchen island - waterfall kitchen island countertop with white marble and white cabinets

Do you need to seal polished and honed marble?

Yes, both polished and honed marble require sealing using a proper sealer. But since honed marble is a more porous surface, or the stone’s pores are more visible, this requires more frequent sealing to avoid damage. Meanwhile, polished marble finish is somewhat more resistant to stains because several rounds of the polishing process have reduced its porosity. 

What are the practical advantages of honed marble surfaces?

Honed marble features a rougher texture and matte appearance, and it doesn’t show minor damage on the surface such as dull marks, scratches, or etches as glaringly as polished marble. Honed marble gets used for any high-traffic area and places that can get wet and turn slippery such as bathroom floors where slip-resistance is necessary.  

What are the practical advantages of polished marble surfaces?

Polished marble is better at repelling stains because of its less porous surfaces. It will also depend on your preferred aesthetic for your kitchen or bathroom countertops made from natural stone. Polished marble is a good option if you want a polished marble look, satin finish, and glossy surface. 

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