The Different Types of Natural Stone Finishes

Natural Stone Finishes

Structural design aesthetics are important when creating any space. Everything from changing the mood, to coordinating themes and motifs and even including practicality are all reasons for using different types of stone finishes for an application. In this post, we’ll be providing an overview of the different types of stone finishes to choose from, their benefits, and some tips on how to use them in your designs.

First, let’s describe seven different finish types:

  • Flamed or Thermal – This process, as the name indicates, involves using a hot torch flame and running it over the surface of the stone to create a textured, non-slip finish that has a semi-rough surface.
  • Honed – This matte-like finish involves the use of abrasives to smooth the stone down to a flat, even surface that’s not shiny or reflective.
  • Bush Hammered – Stone that has been finished with a bush hammer has a very textured look. Using a masonry tool that resembles a meat tenderizer, the surface of the stone is hammered to the point where it breaks up the surface enough to create deep pockets and ridges, resembling a natural rough texture.
  • Sandblasted – The stone is blasted with a high-pressure spray of air, sand, or other grit, moving back and forth across the surface until there is a fine, textured look – similar to that of a perfectly combed beach. Or, if desired, designs or etch marks can be created on the surface of the stone.
  • Polished – Polished stone is created using a process in which the stone is mechanically rubbed with different diamond pads until it naturally shines. This finish showcases the natural beauty of a stone by enhancing the stone’s natural color and veining. Similar to if you were to rub a beach pebble repeatedly, the stone is rubbed with different diamond pads using a machine until it naturally polishes.
  • Brushed – If a textured finish is desired, a brushed finish can be applied. Using tools like wire wheels and brushes, the stone has a texture that is smooth to the touch, creating a casual, worn feeling to the stone. A brushed finish can also be combined with other finishes in certain scenarios. When combined with a sandblasted or flamed finish it will smooth out the nooks and crannies within the stone. It will make it softer to the touch and it will look more antiquated – like it has been walked on for centuries.
  • Natural Cleft– This is typically seen on natural stone products like bluestone or slate. When the stone is split from the earth, a natural ridge will appear. This finish doesn’t require a saw or materials to smooth the top, it is simply the natural break of the stone.

Choosing a Stone Finish for Your Application

If your intention is to show off the vibrant color or unique veining of a natural stone, you may want to consider a polished finish since this is going to highlight the characteristics of the stone – showing off its best features. However, keeping practicality aspects in mind is important when picking out natural stone and a finish for it. For example, if the client has a strong desire to have polished marble as flooring in a children’s bathroom, you may want to advise them to reconsider and use something with a non-slip and more texturized surface. By choosing a honed or brushed finish, you can still have the classic marble look while keeping the bathroom safe, kid friendly, and slip-resistant.

With a brushed stone finish, you can add important design characteristics to alter the look and feel of the stone. Typically used for flooring, natural cleft, flamed, or sandblasted finishes are best used where there will be high amounts of traffic passing through – especially for outdoor applications such as a pool patio or deck area.

However, when choosing a finish and stone type for countertops, there is more room for creativity. For example, if the client is looking for something that’s easier to clean, they may request a polished or honed stone finish. Or, they may want something that has a more textured look like a brushed finish or combining a flamed and brushed finish. Make note to steer clear of a strictly flamed finish on counters because of the rough texture. This will make cleaning hard and can rip apart a sponge.

What’s most important when discussing different stone finishes with clients is letting them know the pros and cons of each finish type and then finding an even balance between what’s practical and what will make the design magnificent. Once you find that sweet spot, you can let the design speak for itself. If you’re ready to get started picking out natural stone and finishes for your client, contact Connecticut Stone today.

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