The major factor in causing stone to become lifeless and dull is the scratching that occurs from everyday usage. To return the stone to its original condition, a procedure called honing, performed with graduating grit diamonds, removes the scratches and returns the stone to a smooth matte finish.
Stone, which is honed to a matte finish, is extremely vulnerable to staining and should always be impregnated with a sealant. The sealant will not change the look of the stone, but will help to retard the absorbency of the unpolished product.
Polishing, with the use of a gradation of fine grits, produces a satin sheen or a high mirror gloss. Simultaneously, a tightening of the "skin" of the stone occurs which protects it from soils that might otherwise be absorbed.
Flamed granite, which presents the rougher, unpolished finish, need only be scrubbed to keep it clean and attractive.
If the first impression is the most important, maintaining the beauty of these stone finishes is, undeniably, the way to make the most of that impression.