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Natural Stone Finishes Explained

Posted on 26th February 2021

Natural stone is one of the best materials you can buy if chosen correctly, ensuring the correct type of stone is used in the proper application. An example is that most marbles are usually only used for interiors, whilst some limestones' geological composition means they can be used in both. The most widely used materials in the UK for patios and gardens are sandstone, limestone, and slate paving products for exteriors. The type of finish and texture applied to the stone can change its look and feel. 

The following gives a brief insight into the differences often described in brochures and on websites.

A honed finish is achieved where the stone is sawn on all sides to create the tile, and the saw marks are typically removed by a secondary polishing machine that rubs the top surface to create a smooth flat finish, generally with a light shine. Different polishing heads can change the polish to a gloss, which is often more applicable for interior applications. A polished tile surface is thus a smooth, level, shiny surface creating a high-gloss look that can be slippery when wet and more prone to scratching. This should be used in low-traffic flooring areas and on walls. A honed surface often provides a more contemporary look.

A riven surface is the most common finish used on stone paving as it will provide a rustic, traditional finish with good slip resistance. The surface finish on riven paving tiles, particularly natural sandstone paving, is often an uneven surface created when a slab of stone is split along natural bedding lines. Riven tiles can be used inside and outside.

Tumbled or weathered finish natural stone tiles are where the riven tiles are typically placed into a tumbling drum so they can be rotated with ceramic beads applied to the surfaces that have the effect of softening the riven finish and tile edges to create a more aged appearance that is slightly smoother to walk on or place the furniture. This finish is the most authentic if wishing to achieve a traditional aged effect. In some instances, a secondary process is applied, such as heavy-duty brushing heads to the surface of the natural stone material to further help the aged look and appeal of the tile.

Flamed or sanded/grit finish stone tiles are ideal for use outside due to the rough, non-slip finish created when the surface of the stone is burst using an intense flame or shot blasted with grit. This also affects dulling the colour if not sealed to enable the stones natural tones to be enhanced after this process is applied. This effect will give a flat surface often popular for achieving contemporary styles.

The use of samples to distinguish between the various finish types can ensure that you get the right look, texture and performance for your particular project.

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