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Help with honed granite color

15 years ago

My wife and I are in the process of building a house and picked out Verde Butterfly granite for the island. After much reading (especially here!) and visiting the fabricator to feel samples we opted for a honed surface, both because we liked the less-mirror-like finish and because we both preferred the tactile feel of it.

Unfortunately, the end result wasn't at all what we expected. We were surprised by the degree to which the garnet-like inclusions we had liked so much in the slab we had picked disappeared into flat black upon honing, but much more crucially, the sample trivet the fabricator made for us (out of the same slab) upon comparison looked nothing like the island surface which had lost much of its green-ness:

The stone to the left is the island top; the right is the trivet. Both are honed and unsealed. We were initially told, upon installation, that the dull grayness was due to the fact that the slab was cold -- the previous night had been around 16 degrees -- and that we'd have to give it a few days to come to temperature and regain its color, but this photo was taken after a couple of weeks, when temperature definitely was no longer an issue.

Sealing brought the color of the island much closer to the color of the trivet, though the trivet itself hadn't been sealed when that picture was taken. The odd white mottling that appears in the island but not the trivet, however, didn't improve. (Again, the trivet is on the right):

Detail of the mottling:

The fabricator is of no use whatsoever; he insists that the trivet and the island were prepared absolutely identically (despite the fact that that seems impossible, given the hugely different results) and has no intentions of trying anything to fix it, and when I expressed my willingness to do the work myself, he simply repeated that the pieces were prepared identically and that he therefore has no ideas for correcting the island so it looks like the trivet. I'm willing to get polishing pads and polish it out further myself, if that's likely to help, but it'd be nice to know if that's even a reasonable possibility before investing the time and expense.

Any insights or advice anyone can offer would be greatly appreciated.

Comments (16)

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I am not sure what you can do although I am sure one of the stone experts on the forum can advise on this issue. However, I love your island finish and am wishing that is what I had done. I was going to go with your exact granite but didn't but I love what yours looks like.

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thank you :) We really fell in love with it, too -- now if we could just get it to look like we expected!

    We picked it to complement the other surfaces in the kitchen, particularly the adjacent gray soapstone heater, which has green serpentine detailing. Altogether I really like the way the look is coming together. Even though the odd flecky surface marks detract from the overall look of the island, it's still gorgeous in context with the rest of the kitchen. It looks especially great with the curly maple cabinetry - the light wood and dark stone just naturally mesh beautifully.

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  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    There are two suggestions I'd like to make. First, I think you should post your information and photographs on where professional fabricators can examine photos and give you their expert advice. Secondly, after you hear from "ask the experts" on Stone advice you may want to consider a stone restoration specialist to look at the stone in person. A source for that may come from asking the Stone Restoration Alliance which has a website and they may know someone in your area who is a restoration specialist.

    I don't know why your island stone is different from the trivit - perhaps the trivit wasn't taken down as far as the island when the honing process took place. I think Verde Butterfly has white splotches and streaks as a natural feature, but I don't know why they would be more apparent in the island than the trivit if the two came from the same slab.

    I thought all the Verde Labradors (Ubatuba's, Verde Butterflies, and Peacocks) were very consistent stones within a particular slab. In other words I don't think there is usually much variation of color within a particular slab.

    I hope you can find a solution to your problem. Did you see a sample of your slab honed before you had your fabricator work on your island?

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thanks for the suggestion on where to find advice. I'll visit that site later today.

    It definitely isn't a matter of color variation between the trivet and the island piece -- it's supposed to have white splotches and streaks, yes, but in the trivet the white is simply a smooth, organic part of the coloration. In the island, however, the overall coloration of the stone, including the organic patches of white, is overlaid by these odd superficial-looking splotchy white marks. (The difference is a lot more apparent if you click on the pictures to enlarge them.) The superficial splotches are smaller, more disjointed and irregular, and have much more sharply defined edges than the organic white coloration. It looks almost as if someone got something sticky on the counter and left without cleaning it up, though of course that isn't the case, and there's no difference in surface texture.

    The trivet *is* a sample of my island slab honed, but even though I had asked for it for 4 months, I didn't get it until after the island had been fabricated. (Though as it turns out that the trivet turned out so very differently from the island, I suppose it'd not have been much help anyway. Had I seen the trivet first, I certainly would have said 'yes, this is what we want, go ahead.')

    Thanks again for the advice!

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I really see what you mean in the last photograph with the white areas - especially in the bottom left part. It does look like something was left on the slab in the finishing process. It will be interesting to read what the experts say. I'm sorry your fabricator has been of little assistance to you. In my book service and follow up are what makes a reputation in business. Please post when you get an answer. I still wouldn't be surprised if the island piece wasn't honed more than the trivit - kind of like the difference between a satin and a flat finish.

    Off the topic. We've looked at Butterfly too as well as Peacock. Never thought about getting them honed. If you have a chance and are willing I'd like to see how the honed material looks with your island cabinets.

    Let us know what develops in your quest.

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I'm not sure this is of any help, but I found that our honed black granite countertop changed significantly in the first week or two. At first, it was gray-looking, and the lightest touch would leave awful streaky fingerprints. I was in a total panic. But after a week or so, it seemed to even out to a charcoal black that doesn't show prints. I'm not sure why - we didn't even seal it. But maybe it does have to acclimate to your house temperature more than you'd think.

    I think you'll be happy with it after a while - your pictures are really pretty. But I'm sorry you're not happy at the moment!

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thanks, jb1176. I just got a post up on Stone Advice -- I'll let you know if we learn something useful!

    I also realized this afternoon that I was wrong in saying there was no difference in texture between the splotchy and non-splotchy parts. There is, but it's subtle enough it's easily missed unless you're feeling it with a fingertip or running a fingernail across it specifically trying to note the roughness. Once I knew what to look for, though, it was obvious that that was the case, and I could identify where the blotches were with my eyes closed -- so it does seem to be an issue with the surface itself, which maybe (maybe?) means that additional polishing and/or buffing might fix it.

    I don't mind at all sharing a pic of how the honed Verde Butterfly goes with the cabinets. I'm sure it'll look far better when done (the granite is somewhat smeary here, but they had our water turned off while working on something so I couldn't wipe it down, and please pardon the huge mess in the background -- we're still under construction!), but here's what it looked like as of this afternoon:

    November: since the granite was installed Nov. 19th and has had no significant change in appearance since a day or two afterward, I'd think it's pretty well done acclimating by now. (Though I'd gladly be proven wrong -- it'd be lovely to just walk in one morning and see it improved!)

    I do like the color pretty well now that it's sealed, though I wish the garnet-like inclusions showed up more. It's just that pesky superficial blotching that's driving me nuts.

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago


    Thank you for posting the picture of the stone with your cabinets. Everything is beautiful and the Butterfly is particularly beautiful with what appears to be soapstone on your fireplace - really a beautiful blend. I really like the honed finish in your home.

    I hope you find an easy solution soon. Best of luck.


  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thank you, JB. And yes, that's a soapstone fireplace, with green serpentine accents -- we picked the greenish granite specifically to pick up on the color of the serpentine. We wanted the fireplace to be the highlight of the area and everything else to complement it, and I think we succeeded fairly well in that department.

    Someone else here once posted pictures of a honed verde butterfly in their kitchen -- I remember seeing it because it was one of the threads that influenced our choice -- but I can't seem to find it now. If I do I'll post a link!

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    "The stone to the left is the island top; the right is the trivet. Both are honed and unsealed. We were initially told, upon installation, that the dull grayness was due to the fact that the slab was cold -- the previous night had been around 16 degrees -- and that we'd have to give it a few days to come to temperature and regain its color, but this photo was taken after a couple of weeks, when temperature definitely was no longer an issue." QUOTED

    Shot me if you don't like my opinion: From my experience only: I don't belive those were fabricated with the same process. My opinion: look at them! LOOK AT THE EDGES. One looks polished and one doesn't. To me the shinny right side doesn't look "honed" but I don't have the pieces infront of me.
    Cold: comment: ???? well it's pretty cold in my warehouse: 40-50: but that doesn't matter that I know of? What matters : one thing: my installers left water (hose)on the granite sitting on saw table all night long : by accident /the one slab was very dark vs the other: Installer took to customers house; and customer totally noticed difference and complained. I told them not to worry: It took a week for the water to dry out of the stone and their kitchen looks great now. (also, never seal WET granite! wasting your time!)

    To me: the left side is Honded Granite: You can put a water based sealer on it and it won't make a difference on the color: Although darker the granite: less likely to ever see a stain! Especially Verde Butterfly or Peacock or Verde Ubatuba very difficult to stain this granite and be able to notice:
    "Adds Natural Color to Honed, Flamed, Unpolished, Sandblasted Natural Stones, Slate, Brick and Pavers
    Long-Lasting Protection From Water and Oil Spills
    Seals and Enhances in One Application "

    I promise that I am not advertising this product: only suggestion: there are lots of great products to seal with: Only use VOC compliant: my opinion:

    (last year: july 2007: we had a customer: insist on black honed absolute granite: but they wanted a "shinny" sealer on it! Well: the sealer did not take 100% to the stone: it looked terrible! $200 later: Installer had to "strip" sealer: let dry a few days: and he purchased a new color enhancer: better brand: and the customer was finally happy)

    Another thing about Butterfly Verde: We install frequently each year:
    I have seen different! I have seen it: with more gold vs less Gold : no garnets vs. lots of garnets vs. few garnets vs garnets that I could barely see: more white crystals vs. Less white. I have also seen bad cracks all over the slab that were not acceptable. I have done readying on Verde Butterfly: interesting data I found. We had one customer really want the garnets and his slab came with NO garnets: and we sent it back. You really have to look at the slab before install or even cutting it. So: to your comment about not being able to see the garnets: I don't know what you will be able to do to change that? Color enhancer. The color enhancer can be applied more than once/ bottle says: the more you put on the more it enhances: there are shinny color enhancers as well. (don't trust the fabricator: do your homework: look at the product they are using on YOUR GRANITE!)

    If there is a sealer on the island: doesn't look like it : stipe it off: let it dry and test a "small" area & put a color enhancer sealer on it: An excellent brand: You get what you pay for sometimes: don't buy a retail sealer: that you find at a HD or LWs: sorry.

    found this on the web: Polished vs. honed granite
    "Honed" and "Polished" refer to the finish of the granite. The finish of honed granite will range from flat to a low sheen gloss, which gives the stone a softer look. Polished granite refers to the glossy, highly reflective appearance, giving it a smooth, sleek look."
    Most granite and marble has a highly polished surface. In some applications, a honed finish may be appealing. Honed stone has had the final stages of polishing removed, to achieve a textured, dull surface. However, customers should be aware that while attractive, "honing certain granites will eliminate the patterns and colors on the surface", and make cleaning slightly more difficult."

    FYI: straight from Caesar Stone Quartz Surfaces Sales Rep: "they do not warranty stains on their Honed products" Customer has to sign a waiver when buying Honed: I have the waiver! on #4250H: 2200H; 4141H; 2300H; 4350H: Now all those colors are very light: and could very well stain. (and the owner of the company I work will not install those products)

    Best wishes: (all my words and opinions from experience &are just that : my own: I don't wish to offend anyone)

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    FWIW, I don't believe they were fabricated identically, either. It may be that the granite shop people don't *know* what they did differently, but it seems virtually impossible that they didn't do *something* differently, to get such vastly different results. Just look at the difference between the 2 in that first pic.

    Closer examination later this evening: it appears that the rough spots aren't high spots that can be removed with scraping, but low spots in the countertop, possibly filled with dust/dirt from the honing process. The material that's in these low spots is very easily flaked out. (That's the big difference between the island and trivet -- close examination shows that the trivet has no such low spots. The underlying pattern looks the same, but the surface is smooth and even.) Does this sound like something that further polishing/buffing is likely to help, or the result of too much polishing/buffing already?

    There is sealer on the island now, though not in the first picture. Adding sealer really deepened the color -- see the difference between the island stone in the first pic versus the 2nd pic. I don't mind stripping it off if that's necessary to apply an enhancer, but will an enhancer correct the surface fissures that seem to be the problem? (Color is so similar between the island and trivet at this point that that's not much of an issue, compared to the grainy surface patches.) If an enhancer will help, how do I go about stripping off the sealer so that I can use the enhancer? Would buffing take off the sealer?

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I think acetone will take off the sealer. However, from what you describe I don't think the enhancer will solve the problem with the depressions in the stone. I think the only value to the enhancer will to bring back color to the stone. There are enhancers that have sealers in them.

    I wouldn't do anything until you get a second opinion from another professional fabricator. In the end if the problem can't be corrected you will have two choices - live with the depressions (once you get all the crud out of the depressions) or have the island top replaced. A reputable fabricator should be willing to make you happy. Unfortunately I think you have a fabricator who is not willing or not skilled enough to correct his mistakes.

    I feel for your frustration, but know that the "look" you sought is beautiful and that overall Butterfly is a good stone and should give you a lifetime of reliable surface material.


  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Verde Butterfly: Stone Type & Age:Metamorphosed Quartz Syenite ... Charnokite. Archean Circa 3000 million years. Brazil: technical name. charnokite vs. granite

    ". Conducive to a superior surface finish (Flaky stones like Verde Butterfly get resined to eliminate surface crystals from flaking off. This provides a smooth finish to the polished slabs)"
    "The rocks in the collection are described as mafic charnokites (which is confusing in and of itself, since a charnokite is defined as a hypersthene bearing granite-diorite, and is therefore felsic with mafic elements) and related rocks, such as altered granulites, norites, and others"

    "Garnet is a naturally occurring gemstone. Its name comes from Latin "Granatus" meaning seed. Garnet is the name which can be applied to six similar mineral species, namely almandine, pyrope, spessartine, grossular, andradite and uvarovite. To further complicate matters, many garnets are actually a combination of these minerals. Rhodolite Garnet, for instance, is a combination of almandine and pyrope and is sometimes referred to as pyrope-almandine garnet. There are also many trade names and other commonly used names such as Rhodolite, Tsavorite, and Mozambique which only add to the confusion."

    After: reading all this: and about honed and resin and polish: and seeing "granite" all the time.
    I believe the process completed at the factory before slab gets to stone yard or to fabricator that makes slabs shinny >brings out the color in the garnets more:

    Honed process is different. I understand the pits better now: and I understand Verde Butterfly better after reading. It's about minerals and reactions to chemicals. And the reason they put exopy or resins on the stone.

    I don't know what the answer is to enhance the garnets the way you want them to look?: (I promise you even in highly polished verde butterfly: I have seen slabs that I couldnt see the garnite: they looked black to me! Garnets are formed uniquely) I believe a color enhancer will soak into the stone and may make the garnets brighter. Acetone on the stone: wipe off: let dry a day or two: could put fan's on the granite to dry. DO NOT SEAL wet stone. Buy a really good VOC compliant color enhancer maybe off the web. Not retail brand. Maybe you have a natural stone store in your area that sells commercial brand color enhancer sealers?

    Sounds like Verde Butterfly: is flaky.
    I personally have Blue Pearl and Verde Butterfly pieces in my kitchen & bathroom that has raw edges: exposed Rock: I put jewlery & personal stuff on stone and in kitchen I put my kitchen stuff on them for deco the verde butterfly next to my stove. I got the edge look with scraps from left over slab scraps & by "dropping" the scrap pieces of stone on the floor until I had a good look all around the stone. But my exposed rock was milky: hard to see the beauty of the layers. (also: I don't really see the Flakey layers in the Verde Butterfly???? that they are referring to: I am not arguing: but to me : "Gold and Silver" Granite from Brazil with net backing to keep together and full of resin to hold together that falls apart when fabricating!!!!!!!!! I have some of that: Beautiful but super flakey! Layers of flake that you can pick at!)
    SO : My point is: I soaked my pieces in color enhancer for a day! & now they look dark, rich, pretty and layers of rock are visable with garnets. Although the raw sides don't match the smooth polished resined top of the pieces: but I don't care.
    So, I believe what I am trying to point out: I can see my raw stone and I color enhanced it & looks pretty after I manipulated the stone's color myself. (all matter of opinion)
    FYI: by Boss/Owner here: she has Verde Butterfly in her kitchen 11-12 years now! She cooks constantly for big parties and has three "sloppy" kids! I am not kidding! Her countertops look great! I've been over there. She uses Olive oil daily! And her kids make hugh messes! She has a hugh Sink Elkay: $750 sink from 10 years ago: and never has dropped! and still looks great! Raw Travertine on the floor: not polished! Very abused and looks great to me! So, she is living proof. I promise: her countertops get abused! They are polished vs honed but still. Everything has been spilled on the verde butterfly and I am sure lemon too! (lol) : I promise!

    I truly hope this helps you and really : You island looks great and matches the fireplace texture look!Love your fire.
    ~Happy Holidays~

    i am allowed to state that I personally used pro stone color enhancer commercial brand: and No I am not advertising for them!
    I believe any commercial brand would be good that you can get your hands on. Not retail. My opinion. Search the web or ebay for some. I could throw more names out there. But I don't want to be "advertising" I do not sell sealers or cleaners: I tell people were to go and what to use and what not to use.
    Also: daily cleaner for natural stone should have a 4.5 ph nautral level not 7.5 ph : and VOC compliant: that is my opinion as well. Especially dealing with all the minerals and chemicals in stone! You can read all about that as well. and make up your own mind on cleaners.


  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Unfortunately, the fabricator we used is the only fabricator in the area who does honed granite -- that's why we picked him. (And he's over an hour away, so that's 'in the area' defined pretty loosely.) So I don't know what recourse I'd have for a second opinion.

    The original fabricator definitely lacks the will, the skill, or both to bring the island top surface to match the trivet surface. He consistently insists that there is, in fact, nothing to be done, because both pieces were treated identically in the first place. This of course makes no sense, given the obvious pits on the island vs. the smooth surface of the trivet, but he won't budge. I hate that he has all of his money already, but that being the case, I'm truly at a loss to know what else to do as far as he's concerned.

    I wish I had some idea what to do to correct it myself. If it's a matter of further polishing/buffing, I'd gladly try that myself. (One of the Stone Advice replies has been that they were perhaps honed to different grits -- but whether that means more polishing would help, I don't know.) But if the problem is that it was resined but then honed down past the depth of the resin, that may not be something repairable.

    Petra, thanks for the advice on enhancers/garnets. If I can ever get the surface issues solved, I'll definitely look into an enhancer to see if we can get the garnets to show up nicely.

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago


    Ours is similiar ? same - was called "Victoria Classico" at our fabricator
    no issues with consistency througout the counters - We chose them after many samples - these were really bulletproof - no problems w/cleaning, staining, etching after 2.5 yrs

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Those are the pictures I was looking for! Thanks for posting them. That 2nd one was one of the primary ones I remember looking at over and over while we were making our final decision :)

    As for our case... it's not looking good. The Stone Advice guys seem to believe it's irredeemable by anything that I can do, and the main suggestions are to make the fabricator redo it (I'm not sure he could get any better results, even if he had the inclination, given that he clearly didn't know what he was doing the first time around or even what *had* been done, after the fact, and the prevailing opinion seems to be that it was over-processed, which isn't something you could correct with more processing), get him to remove the granite and give us a refund (I'm guessing that would take a lawsuit to accomplish), or bring in a professional granite restoration specialist (probably not one in our area, given that we're in the middle of nowhere, and even if there is, the same problem above seems likely to apply -- if it's been overprocessed, there's really nothing to be done. And even if there were, I have to wonder what *that* would likely cost. This island top is just sucking the budget dry on a daily basis trying to get it to work, though it all seemed so simple and straightforward when we started out.)

    Long story short, I'm pretty sick over all of it, but I have no good ideas for what to try at this point other than try a stiff-bristle brush to get as much of the loose, flaky crud out as possible so it doesn't get into my bread dough, and learn to live with it. I can't even begin to say how unhappy I am with the fabricator, but there's no reason to expect him to do anything -- aside from not knowing what to do about it, if anything *could* be done about it, he has all of his money and couldn't care less.