There are many different varieties of surface finishes for natural stone. The finish you choose adds contrasts and enhances the natural look for your material.
So what do you have to consider before choosing a certain surface treatment? Here is a clue: area of use, environment of your project location like temperature aggressiveness for example salty areas close to the see and humidity, appearance of the material, technical performance and the quality of the material.
Different finishes are obtained through different machinery and application and give different texture, gloss and color appearance of the material.
The most common finish is the polished finish. As it implies, it is the most shiny and reflective surface. The full color, depth, and crystal structure of the stone is visible. It is very easy to clean, and it is most often used for counter tops. It gives the smoothest surface all the different finishes.
Other typical finishes are cut, honed, silk/leather, acid, river rinsed, caress, water-jet, hammered, flamed.
New applications such as silk or leather finish give a smooth, but still textured finish, that comes with different gloss levels. Flamed and hammered are the roughest surfaces, which give least gloss and a lighter color appearance.
Finish depends on area of use
Indoor flooring requires polished surface for easiness of cleaning as well as appearance. Honed, silk or leather finish is also popular for similar areas. Polished finish is not recommended for outdoor flooring or flooring in wet areas such as swimming pools or spas, due to slippery surface. Outdoor flooring and wet areas require a finish with higher friction, such as flamed or hammered finish.
Polished finish is the most common for cladding facades and shop fronts. But sometime this type of finish gives a high reflection or mirror effect, and therefore not suitable for cladding. It is quite common to use the same stone on a facade, but with different finish to give a contrast between different areas.
Another issue could be the cost, since e.g. hammered or flamed finish ‘hide’ defects in the stone and therefore stone of lower quality and cost could be used without affecting the appearance significantly.
Things to consider for different finish
Keep in mind that some finishes are more exposed to fingerprints, and some finishes are more difficult to keep clean than others.
Think about a swimming pool. We would choose a polished finish for the floor and the walls inside the pool, to gain smoothness and for cleanliness. The stairs leading into the pool would be too slippery if it was polished. They have to be flamed or hammered finish. Normally these two finishes give a color variation compared to polished finish, but when sunk in water they have the same color as the polished version.
This should also be considered for a facade. The color of a wall will change in appearance when it is soaked wet by rain or when it is dry, either it is wanted or not.
|Area of use||Recommended finishes||Keep in mind|
|Facade||All||Mirroring effect. change of color when wet. Easy to clean.|
|Floor indoor / dry area||All||High gloss or smoother finishes shows easier wear from high traffic|
|Floor outdoor / wet area||Flamed and Hammered||Should be sealed if area with food / chemical spill|
|Counters / bar||All smooth finishes||Rough finishes difficult to keep clean/ damage clothing|