Honed Absolute Black Granite
Countetops For Kitchen

Tips for Choosing Black Granite Countertops

Tips for Choosing Black Granite Countertops

QUESTION:

I have been told that the honed absolute black granite countertops stain very, very, very easily by some and that this is not true by others.

I really love the honed finish but before I make the plunge I would like to get advice from someone who truly knows.

Granite countertops are way to expensive to make a mistake when choosing. I can settle for a polished finish if this would be the smarter choice. No problem. HELP!

ANSWER:

Yes, there are "mysteries" surrounding "stains" and black granite countertops.... and truth to both opinions.

The reason you are getting two opposing answers is the result of a misapplication of the word "stain" in some instances, and also due to a few other variables associated with black granites in general.... let me explain.

Absolute Black granite may or may not stain depending on the following factors:

  1. The stain is not a "stain"

  2. It is "true" Absolute Black... or it is not

  3. The slab is a "doctored black granite"

  4. A honed vs. polished finish

I'll explain the above, try to help clear up the debate and give you some pointers to keep in mind when choosing a black granite kitchen countertop.

Tips About Absolute Black Granite Countertops


etching stains on honed absolute black granite

1. True AB granite will not stain.

Stains are dark spots from a substance absorbing into the stone. This does not occur with "true" AB granite, however, cleanable "surface" stains (see #4 below) can occur (as in photo >>>).

Trouble is actual and surface stains look the same.

Other types of spots, dull spots, white spots, water spots are often mistakenly considered a "stain".

Such spots are actually the result of an unrelated issues called "etching". This is a corrosive chemical process leaving dullish, white spots. (more on this below).

2. Not all slabs labeled "Absolute Black" are true AB granite slabs.

An unfortunate fact about the natural stone industry, is that it is unregulated, so quarries and slab dealers around the world can name their stone whatever they like.

"Black" is such a popular granite countertop color and (true) "Absolute Black" has such a stellar reputation as one of the most low-maintenance, bullet-proof stones available that shady dealers can make a lot more money selling their "black-colored" granite as "Absolute Black".

Many stones are named by the specific quarry they originate from. However, there is such a wide variety of granite colors and patterns (many very similar) coming from various countries that often a slab is given a name of it's closest relative.

Mis-naming or rather flexible naming is common. In general this isn't really a fraudulent practice.

And like family, many members will bear a resemblance, but noticeably distinct. So, a Juparana Classico sitting in a warehouse in Miami will often look different (possibly a lot) than one in Dallas.

Actually you'll see considerable variance among slabs of the same name in the same warehouse.

You can never really buy granite countertops by name or sample for these reasons. You need to view and pick actual slabs regardless of name.

The trouble surrounding the name "Absolute Black" is that some in the industry try to capitalize on the well-known name.

Of course, not all black granites have the same performance characteristics, so you may end up with an "Absolute Black" that really isn't.

And some rare black slabs contain enough calcite that they will etch like marble. Given the loose play with names, some supposed "Absolute Black" granites will naturally etch.

3. Watch out for "doctored" black granite.

Doctored black granite is a growing issue with all black granite countertops.

Shady granite factories where slabs are processed (not your local warehouse or fabricator) apply a dye to a gray granite to make it black and then sell it as "Absolute Black".

This dye (not the actual stone) will readily etch.

Again, many people mistake the whitish spots from "etching" for staining.

I know, I know.... "Etching, staining... whatever. A problem is a problem."

But now you know the difference and can better interpret other advice or information.

4. Honed vs. polished black granite cleaning

Polishing a granite counter top slab is what brings out the color for a deep, rich hue.
honed absolute black granite color sample

A honed black granite is typically grayish... not dark black.


When it gets wet, or a color-enhancing sealer is applied, then it is black just like when polished, but not a shiny finish.

I'm not a physicist, but the deeper color is due to the way it reflects light when polished or wet.

So, any liquid on a honed "black" (actually gray) granite counter top surface, will turn it black.... but not "stain".

These are temporary surface stains.

This most commonly occurs with fingerprints. Fingers are oily and leave a residue on the countertop.

So you'll have a bunch of black spots on your gray granite countertop.

Again, not true "stains" and can be cleaned off. But you will be constantly cleaning.

In truth, black granite is more work to keep "looking" clean even though they are the most stain-resistant.

In fact, many varieties are so dense they're essentially impossible to stain.

However, darker granite countertop colors, and especially blacks more easily show, crumbs, dust, fingerprints, streaks and all else on the surface.

This is due to the dark color, but also the lack of pattern.

Brown, green, gold or white granite countertops (like uba tuba granite, baltic brown, santa cecilia granite) have more color and pattern variety (movement) which serves to hide things, so the kitchen countertops usually "look" clean even when needing a wipe-down.

Regarding stains in stone, 99% of the time we are talking about embedded stains. Stuff that absorbs into the stone below the surface creating a dark spot.

That doesn't happen with Absolute Black, however, as you've learned there is still plenty of misunderstanding about it.

The remaining 1% is what causes all the confusion.
  • Oily surface stains usually from fingerprints that are easily cleaned.

  • Etch marks due to a doctored granite. Big problem requiring chemical stripping.

  • Etch marks due to a calcitic stone. Rare, but must have pro re-finish. (Usually it's doctoring to blame.)

These are the possibilities.

Sealing Honed Absolute Black Granite Countertops



Applying an impregnating sealer won't help you with these surface stains for two reasons:

  1. Impregnating sealers work below the surface to keep liquids from absorbing.

    Also, impregnating sealers will not change the gray color of a honed "black" stone. So, fingerprints will still show.

  2. Absolute black is too dense to effectively apply an impregnating sealer and may just leave you with a streaky mess. Most black granites will not need sealing. Although when honed such stones often can take a sealer.

The solution to these "surface" stains and fingerprints is to apply a color-enhancing sealer that will darken a honed AB granite to make it look "wet".

This will eliminate the "surface" stain problem since the enhancer turns the counter top black. Thus, fingerprints and spills aren't noticeable.

So, from purely a cleaning standpoint, a honed black granite countertop is more work... more wiping.

Applying a color-enhancing sealer will improve this situation with the added benefit of creating the flat "black" countertop look that is a favorite kitchen design style.

True... "gray" is gaining popularity and quickly becoming the new "black" such that a grayish honed AB countertop is very stylish.

But obviously... I'd think twice about leaving it gray.

A polished absolute black countertop will require the least maintenance. It will still require extra wiping compared to other granite countertop colors, but you'll have the most bullet-proof, low-maintenance stone you can buy period.

You won't need to seal it and can't stain it. Just clean and maintain it with a good Granite Countertop & Marble Cleaning spray and it will look fantastic forever.

Tips for Buying Black Granite Countertops



Before you buy any black granite slab, make sure you are not getting a "doctored" slab or a stone that will etch.

Black granites that etch (become dull or leave water spots and glass rings from exposure to acid) have been doctored or (rarely) a stone that naturally etches due to traces of calcite.

Whatever the reason may be.... you don't want a granite slab that etches.

A true Absolute Black granite countertop slab will not etch, so be sure to perform the lemon juice test on a sample chipped off the exact slab you wish to buy.

It should not leave any spot at all. If it does, find another slab that doesn't. Install. Be happy.

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Doctored? Or Sealer Haze?
by: Sue

Great info on this site, thank you! Question: I just installed a [supposedly] AB honed granite in my kitchen.

The backsplash was just installed and whatever the tile setter used to wipe the counters clean have left hazy/white-ish sponge streaks throughout the countertop that I have been unable to remove.

I've tried soap and water, a granite cleaner (and some serious elbow grease)... nothing appears to be working. After all my e-research, I'm wondering if this is because there is calcite in the stone and it is reacting to something acidic that was on his sponge or if this slab may have been doctored?

I tried the lemon juice and oil tests but they weren't really conclusive (both seemed to clean up just fine).

What is the best way to treat this? Any insight would be incredibly appreciated. I haven't even used this kitchen yet and I'm concerned I just made a massively expensive mistake.
Please help! Thanks!

=== Countertop Specialty comment:

If you performed the lemon juice test and it did not leave a dull, whitish spot then you don't have doctored granite. If you did, the dye coating would have been etched by the acids in the lemon juice leaving the spot.

Same deal if your Absolute Black had some calcite in it, which does occur, but rarely.

My guess would be that the installer applied a sealer to the backsplash and sealer residue was spilled and/or wiped on the black granite.

Absolute Black is very dense and typically won't absorb a sealer. If a sealer is applied it may leave hazy streaks if left to dry and/or not wiped up well enough.

Try removing the hazy residue with acetone and a nylon pad or soft-bristle brush.

stains sealed into my countertops and shiny edges that do not match the matte/honed top finish
by: Anonymous

I am very unhappy with my Absolute black honed granite counter tops (sealed only, not aged), basically there are 2 main problems with it:

1) the edges are shiny and the tops are a matte/honed finish ... I was told the person who installed them used too high a grade to sand the beveled edges so that is why they are shiny and there is no fix for it

2) there are obvious black streaks and fingerprints on the matte/honed surface that I was told was caused by the fact that the product was sealed, but not cleaned prior to being sealed so finger prints and markings were left on the surface, then sealed over.

I was also told that the material used to complete the seams bleed onto the surface of the counter and were sealed over. And there are areas where the stone was sealed with tape left “over the seams” as you can clearly see the tape marks left on the surface in which will not come off

I was told that the only way to fix this is to have the surfaces sanded down by hand to take off the seal and then to age and seal the granite ... is this the only solution?

I have read about chemicals that can be used to strip off the sealer .... What are my options and what would you advise? I have also been advised to just cut my losses and have the granite replaced as sanding down the surface will surely leave "swirls" in the surface.

===== Countertop Specialty comment:

Wow... what a mess. First, I wouldn't employ the installer for the fix.

The edges can be re-surfaced to a honed finish that matches the top. So, yes this can be fixed.

If sealed with a typical impregnating stone sealer, then none of the spots or streaks was "sealed in". Stone sealer do not form a film over the surface.

But that's not to say that some type of staining occurred. This may be able to be removed. Just need someone that knows stone care.

Black honed granite is the worst for showing finger prints, oil smudges, dust and debris of all type. You can apply an enhancer sealer to help hide these, but that will change the color and look of the granite.

Streaks are likely from the sealer itself being left to dry on the surface or just not applied correctly. A sealer and any surface gunk can usually be removed with acetone or methylene chloride.

Same with the tape residue. Use a solvent to remove.

Leathered absolute black granite
by: Anonymous

I love the look and feel of the leathered granite counters but I can't keep it spot free.

If I drip water of any kind it doesn't dry for hours even if I towel dry it.

My husband sat a bag of greasy food on it and I have scrubbed with soap and water many times but the grease slick still shows.

The installer sealed it but I am wondering if the stone enhancer would help. Any experience using it on the leathered finish? Or any other suggestion?

==== Countertop Specialty comment:

Black granite is typically very stain-resistant (stain-proof in many cases), but fingerprints, grease and other smudges tend to show much more than on other colors.

Also, a leathered finish is more porous and absorbent than a polished finish. Grinding the surface to a shiny polish closes down the pores.

A color-enhancing stone sealer will make smudges and such less visible.

The Enhancer - Sealer will darken the color and give it a bit of sheen like when wet. This serves to hide fingerprints, etc. very well. The "leathered" finish makes no difference. The color-enhancer will work the same as on a honed or tumbled surface.

However, it may also be that your black granite is not sealed well or completely.

You have a grease stain. Well, you can't scrub it away because it is in the granite below the surface.

To remove this stain follow instructions in the How to Remover Stains in Granite & Marble e-book.

If water is absorbing (creating dark spots) that don't go away until the water evaporates, then likely need to apply more sealer.

A sealer must be applied in repeated coats until the surface is actually "sealed". You can't just spray on or wipe on and figure it is sealed.

Perform the sealing water test in several places to determine how absorbent you countertop is currently and if it needs sealing.

Also, perform this test in between coats of sealer to know when sealed effectively.

You can send us an email via the Contact Us form if you have further questions about product use, choice and ordering.

Cheers!

Absolute black leathered counter top - India
by: Anonymous

Love the look. Three questions:

1) How do I remove the installer's putty from the surface surrounding the seam?

2) How do I remove the excess silicone near the kitchen backsplash area?

3) How do I get the countertop edges to basically match the sheen of the counter top? The edges are "duller" (dusty grayish) than the top.
HELP!

=== Countertop Specialty comment:

Removing excess countertop seam filler and/or silicone should have been done by your installer. Without seeing or knowing exactly what's on the surface I can't advise what may be necessary.

However, the first thing to try is cleaning with acetone. This solvent won't harm your granite countertops at all, but should remove any gunk left on the surface.

For the silicone... well, if it has cured, then the best option is to cut away excess with a razor... or just leave it... not sure how bad it really looks.

Regarding the edges... the difference in color is because the surface was leathered, but the edges were likely just honed. You'll need to treat the edges with a Stone Color-Enhancer / Sealer.

For shipment to India, you can order the product from the International Stone Care Products category.

The "Enhancer" will darken the color and give it a slight sheen like when wet. This will help match the color/sheen of the countertop edge with the top surface.

Absolute black granite behavior
by: Anonymous

Thanks for the clarifications and distinctions. It is true that various sealers have made no difference to the behavior of our absolute black granite. It is what it is.

We have an absolute black honed granite kitchen counter. My husband cleans with Windex and it looks horrible, streaky, messy. I wipe with dish soap on a scrubby then wipe suds off with a 'bar towel' (English pub product, just a small towel really). Looks great.

I have carelessly done DIY projects sawing metallic objects on it, creating shiny scratches - enough that the counter and my marriage seemed ruined ! But no panic, they go away after a few days of cooking and cleaning, and still married.

My 1000sq ft of absolute black honed floor tile is the bug bear. Shows water drops after washing. But I guess I just answered my own question. Try wiping it with a towel after washing.


borde for tiles
by: Anonymous

i wish to use honed absolute black granite for border flooring

Absolute Black
by: Anonymous

We have absolute black honed granite and it has been fine for 2 years but now has etched places and rings and smears. It was sealed with a color enhancer but before that may have had a silicone sealer on it. What should we do to get it back black and even toned?

===ANSWER:

That's a tough one. If no problems until recently then not likely a doctoring issue and really should not be an issue with the sealer.

Call in your installer to take a look. You may need to re-hone or possibly do a acid wash, but again this one will require inspection.

Enhancer
by: Anonymous

We installed absolute black with a honed finish. The installers didn't use a seler they used and enhacer. The color is now black and we wanted the graish color. Is there any way they can remove the enhancer ?

===Answer:

Possibly, but not guaranteed. Need to strip it using methylene chloride.

The other option would be to re-hone the surface.

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