Honing vs Polishing, Do You Know the Difference?

When I am discussing a natural stone refinishing or restoration project with a prospective client, I often hear her use the terms “honing” and “polishing” interchangeably and synonymously. However, these two terms define very different processes with very different end-results achieved. There are also varying degrees of “restoration,” with several distinctive methods utilized in order to achieve a desired polish or sheen. Therefore, today I wish to dispel any misconceptions about natural stone refinishing and restoration while attempting to elaborate on the various options, processes, methods and of course, pricing.

Honing vs Polishing Quandary

Lets begin by taking a look at honing:

  1. Honing is actually defined as the process of sanding or taking the stone down to a basic matte finish.
  2. There are various degrees of “hone,” but a stone generally arrives “honed” from the stone manufacturer or quarry. In this state the stone is clean and matte, crisp, prepared for polishing, free of defects and generally free of scratches.
  3.  Honing can be achieved through diamond pads, diamond-impregnated pads or a combination of abrasive powders and compounds along with buffing pads and a floor machine.
  4.  Generally speaking, you are going to pay around $1.00 per sq ft for a hone to be achieved throughout your home. *One thing to note…if there are deep stains, etching, lippage or scratches you can feel with your fingernail; honing, more than likely, will not correct these issues. In this case, your natural stone floor will probably require diamond pad grinding, which is dirty, messy, dusty and also quite costly. 

Polishing, on the other hand, is the process whereby a desired polish or shine is achieved throughout your home:

  1. The shine is accomplished through the reflectivity of polished crystals, which accentuate the brilliant colors, grains and variations of the natural stone.
  2.  This polish is usually accomplished through varying degrees of finer and finer diamond-impregnated pads in order to attain the desired sheen.
  3.  However, this process can also be attained through the use of powders, actual diamond pads, as well as a process called crystallization or vitrification.
  4. We could speak in depth about crystallization; however, this is the process whereby a gloss is created on a calcium-based stone (marble, limestone and travertine) utilizing a steel wool pad in combination with a floor machine and an acid solution. This process has been in practice since the 1960’s, but continues to be a controversial topic among stone care professionals.
  5. Generally speaking, and because it is basically the same process, you are going to pay around $1.00 per sq ft, per polishing pad utilized (keep in mind, there are 4 total grits: 1,500; 3,000; 8,000 and 11,000).

Therefore, the “polishing” options are many… the preferred methodology and processes continue to be debated heavily among the leading experts and craftsman within the stone care field:

  1. I prefer to use diamond-impregnated honing and polishing pads in order to achieve my customer’s exact sheen specifications.
  2. My process requires the use of a floor machine and a portable extractor to quickly extract the surface “slurry” and moisture.
  3. Of all of the polishing options, this particular method is one of the least intrusive and least messy.
  4.  It is cost-effective when compared to other processes and the results are simply astounding.
  5.  As an added benefit, this system is customizable and allows us to achieve the exact desirable polish throughout and this in turn allows us to customize the project cost to align with our customers’ budgeting requirements.

Of course, with any natural stone cleaning and or polishing project I also highly recommend sealing your stone with a high quality, premium-grade and impregnating, penetrating sealer to preserve and protect your stone floor. The equivalent would be driving a Ferrari that was never actually painted. And your floor deserves better than that.

Call SUDS today, we will leave no stone unturned when it comes to the cleaning, honing, polishing or sealing of your natural stone floor. We systematically adhere to the same recipe…delivering the same crisp, clean and immaculate end product each and every time. Call for a free consultation and demonstration, if you want to take your stone (and home) to the next level.

Image Source: dustwavestock.deviantart.com/gallery/10016975/Various-Floor-Textures