Peter J. Marcucci

Special Contributor

Are brushed stone finishes still hot?In the context of commerce, Encarta Dictionary defines “optional extra” as “an additional item or attachment, not part of the standard package, that can be purchased separately, e.g. when buying a car.”        

When purchasing a new car, especially that long-awaited dream car, how many of us also purchased available options while signing on the dotted line? I, like most buyers, explore all the options before making an expensive purchase, usually thinking, “If I’m going to do this, I’m going all the way!” And that desire for something different and the appetite for options is no different from the desire that many of our clients experience, whose long-awaited dream kitchen is finally taking shape . Fact: Today’s fabricators and their clients have more material choices than ever before. Granites, marbles and quartzites rich with movement and colors continue to be introduced from around the world, while innovations like Glassos®, Silestone® and Ceasarstone® continue to set the bar in the never ending evolution of man-made products. 

And be it polished surface or honed, all look great when edged to perfection. But why do so many shops stop there and limit their available choices to clients, when there is the unique and easily achieved brushed finish option? Countertops or furniture elements fully or partially highlighted with brushed affects will absolutely add sizzle to a client’s home or business as well as add sizzle your bottom line.             

In search of an in-depth perspective of the brushed finish trend, I sourced two long-time industry experts to speak matter-of-factly on this subject. Both have raised the level of the art by taking aesthetics to the next level, and both have selflessly given their valuable time to offer their wisdom to us: Bryan Mitnick, Owner, CCS Stone Inc., Moonachie, New Jersey, and Emir Joanides, Vice President and Designer, European Marble Company Inc., Sarasota, Florida. 

Bryan Mitnick: People want to use natural stone and are often looking for a finish other than polished. Honing is an option, but brushing with its smooth undulating feel tends to be the more popular choice. Brushing, also referred to as “leather finish,” was made possible by the advent of modern abrasive technology. 

Of course, it depends on the stone being used, but brushing creates a finish appealing to the touch. Various brushing techniques may be applied to most natural and engineered stones. 

There are some fabrication shops like ours that can produce a finish using our own machines, but others depend on distributors that stock the finish and selected colors from their suppliers overseas. 

This gives us the flexibility to offer this unique finish on virtually any stone that is available in slab and tile. It increases the options to customers and creates work for our own employees in the shop who are proud to say, “It was made in New Jersey.” In addition, brushing is considered an upgrade and usually costs a little more for clients interested in something different.   

Brushing is done with specialized abrasive brushes in various grits. The process removes softer parts of the stone creating a textured, weathered appearance accentuating the material’s natural color. The result is a smooth textured surface that adds value to a project. 

Every stone will respond differently to the brushing depending on its hardness. The surface preparation combined with the workers’ techniques and type of brushes used will yield a wide range of results. The brush finish may then be sealed with an impregnator to retain the stone’s tonality or with an enhancer to intensify the color of the material. 

The option of offering a brushed finish opens other markets and value options for procedure, fabricators and consumers. Although it is often specified for countertops, it may be used on just about any surface. This includes wall panels, stair treads, flooring, fireplaces, backsplashes and pavers. For flooring, it creates a slip resistant surface more than honing and is much easier to clean than thermal or sandblasted finishes. 

As clients continue to look for unique surfaces and finishes, brushing will remain high on the option list. We believe the consumer will be creating more demand for this specialized process. 

Emir Joanides: I think that the brushed finish is here to stay. At European Marble we make a concerted effort to match custom finishes with the clients’ design style and architectural needs. The brushed finish allows us to add an element of texture that does not overwhelm the final look of the project. It is much subtler than a chiseled edge, so it can be incorporated into more delicate and refined installations. 

When combined with a large-scale mitered edge it can enhance a contemporary space. For a natural “cottage look,” we would simply brush the edge with a square or quarter round shape.  

We have been especially successful using the brushed finish at vertical areas. When lit properly, the undulations at the surface of the material make it a commanding focal point. This is a beautiful compliment when paired with highly polished natural or man-made quartz countertops. 

There seems to be a trend to brush the material more deeply. The deeper brushing does increase the risk of breakage, so great care and testing of material should be paramount. 

We all learned the lessons of over use with the “Miami Vice” teal and mauve palette. Therefore, at European Marble, we try to look at the entirety of the project before recommending the brushed finish to a customer. 

We also discuss budget and performance of the brushed finish with our clients as part of the criteria when making the final decision. On average the brushed finish adds about 5-10% to the cost of the job, and it is critical to adequately seal marble, limestone and travertine that have been brushed. 

Personally, my favorite spot for a brushed finish is the wet bar, because friends and family often congregate around the bar and can really take the time to appreciate the nuances of the stone and follow the patterns and enjoy the natural variation of the material. 

I am always happy to find the clients who will be a perfect match for the brushed finish. It is here to stay. 

Clearly, if you already have a radial arm polisher or a Fab King work center, you are golden at this point, and if you’re willing to invest a few bucks to jump into this very lucrative option, a call to your Braxton-Bragg representative will get you focused!

Peter J. Marcucci has over 25 years of fabrication experience in the stone industry. Send your comments to our Contacts page on SRG website,