What are the Different Types of Stone Textures and Finishes

What are the Different Types of Stone Textures and Finishes

Natural stone is gaining popularity in recent years and people choose granite for their flooring and marble for their bathrooms more often nowadays. There is a variety of natural stone types and in order to enhance the beauty of the stone and improve some of its qualities, the surface of the tiles is treated to get a unique finishing. There are various stone finishing textures and some of them are quite famous such as the main options polished or honed marble, granite, travertine, etc. Depending on its finishing, the same type of natural stone becomes appropriate for different purposes since it enhances its durability or aesthetic appearance. Sawn granite, for example, is a better choice for outdoor application, while polished granite makes perfect counter or table tops.


To facilitate your choice, we are going to present you with a short guide on the different natural stone textures and finishes. We can categorize them mainly in four groups:

  1. Natural finishing 
  2. Mechanical finishing 
  3. Impact finishing 
  4. Chemical finishing

Just keep in mind that there are new finishes emerging everyday or a combination of several well-known to form various textures for natural stone. Sometimes the market name of certain stone finish may also vary, depending on the manufacturer or seller.

  1. Natural finishing

Sometimes, though not very often, natural stone tiles can be ready for installation without additional treatment of their surface. This type of natural finishing is generally known as rough stone finish and can be subdivided into two categories:

  • Sawn finish – this is the result of cutting the stone into tiles by using a gang saw or block cutter. This type of finishing is suitable for granite, sandstone and slate and then the tiles are used mainly for exterior designs, such as patios, or for walls and gate entries. You can find pavement sandstone with sawn surface finish quite appealing for your garden landscape project.

  • Riven finish– it’s a textured finish that is the result of splitting the natural block along its line of cleavage. Usually this natural cut is done manually by guillotine. You can find raven finish mainly at slate and quartzite tiles, since they are layered and can split easily, and it gives the stone a natural look by revealing its grains and clefts. One of the disadvantages of this otherwise beautiful finish is that the thickness of the tile varies, so you can expect a batch of 15mm tiles to include 10 or 20 mm ones. So, be careful when laying these tiles, since an uneven surface may cause a trip hazard. It is also possible to have calibrated tiles, which means that the back surface will be additionally treated to make the thickness of the tile even, while the face maintains its natural look. Some other names of this finish include natural cleft, riven cleft or split face.

  2. Mechanical finishing 

This type of finishing includes different processes that can change the natural stone surface in order to achieve or enhance some of the tile qualities. The group includes perhaps the most famous textures, which are often preferred by the customers. There are three main types:

  • Polished finish– if you want a refined glossy surface of your natural stone tiles, then this finish is exactly what you need. The shine comes from using abrasive materials, such as polishing bricks or powders during fabrication. It highlights the natural colors and grains of the stone and makes the surface reflective. This type of finish is suitable for almost all kind of stones. Some of the disadvantages of this finish is that it wears away by foot traffic, requires regular maintenance and makes the surface quite slippery. A plus is that it can be applied to stones used both as interior and exterior tiles.

  • Honed finish– it is a finish that makes the surface of natural stone smooth and matted, without or with limited reflection of light. The same method and abrasive materials are used to achieve this finish as in polished finish, but polishing stops at an earlier stage and the stone is not buffed. The surface has a lighter shade but the overall color and depth of the stone are preserved. Tiles are smooth but quite porous and should definitely be sealed. In general, this type of finish can be applied to different stones and is preferred for locations with heavy traffic, such as floors, stairs, thresholds.

  • Satin finish– it’s a surface finish that is somewhat in the middle between the previous two options. It brings some shine and gloss to the natural stone surface, but it is neither as reflective as the polished finish, nor as matte as the honed finish. It is still new and not so common finish but has great potential. You can find it under the name Satinato as well.

3. Impact finishing

This is the largest group offering a great variety of textures, most of which are quite famous. As its name suggests, the finish is formed by applying external force to the surface of the stone. The result is uneven, rough texture, which makes the tiles not slippery but also needs to be cleaned quite often as it catches dirt easier. There are several sub-groups in this category, depending on the tool and/or method used to achieve the desired effect.

  • Brushed finish– the roughness of the surface is formed by means of metal brushes that take away the softest particles of the stone. Certain force should be applied to achieve the desired result. The stone tile is not slippery and looks a bit worn-out. This finish resembles the more popular antique and leather finishes and can be found under the name bush finish as well.

  • Letano finish – the surface of the stone is softly brushed to highlight its natural color.

  • Bush-Hammered finish– the stone surface is mechanically treated by a multiple pointed tool and the hammering action develops a non-slip textured look. The surface is generally smooth and a little lighter in color. As the tool used for this finish has a relatively small head, it takes quite long to achieve the final result, which can be done faster and cheaper by using flame or water to get a similar look.

  • Tooled finish – this is an alternative to the bush-hammered finish, which is achieved with a similar tool that instead of multiple point has only one. The technique is not very popular as is time-consuming and is usually applied only to a part of the tile as a highlight and not to the entire surface.

  • Rigato finish– this is yet another type of machine finish that can be applied to all types of natural stones. It gives the surface a linear pattern, which is quite appropriate for walls.

  • Flamed finish – this is a rough textured surface that is achieved by heat and that is why it is also called thermal finish. A blowtorch is used to heat the stone at very high temperature, which makes the crystals in it to pop. The stone is then rapidly cooled. The process affects the color and some gold or yellow stones will become of a more reddish color as a result of the flamed finish. The tiles with such finish are rough, non-slippery but quite porous and are suitable mainly for floors, both as interior and exterior material.

  • Water finish – a high pressure jet of water is applied to the stone surface in order to wash out the softer particles. The resulting surface resembles the flamed finished one in roughness but the method does not affect the color of the stone, unlike the heating process. Therefore, most people prefer water to flamed finish. There is also the variety called water jet finish, which resembles the honed one but the surface is less slippery.

  • River Wash finish – this is a new type of surface that, unlike flamed or honed finishes, allows the stone to keep its color and thickness. It makes the tiles non-slippery, while maintaining the natural qualities of the stone.

  • Tumbled finish – using sand, pebbles and water to tumble the surface of the stone in order to create an aged appearance. It is a finish that can be applied to variety of stones to give them the impression that they have been walked on for centuries.

  • Sandblasted finish – it is a textured surface with matte gloss that is achieved by blasting the stone surface with pressurized sand water. The tile looks slightly scratched but feels nice when touched. The colors are a bit dull. This finish can also be found under the name grit blasted finish.

  • Shotblasted finish – it is similar to the above finish and is also mainly used for sandstone tiles. The shot-blasting process applied gives the stone natural aging properties as of erosion or weathering, softens the color and leaves a matted finish.

  • Antique finish – this surface can be achieved by machines that resemble commercial washing machines for smaller items or by first flaming and then using abrasives to brush the surface of larger items. It gives a worn look to the stone and also stimulates its further aging over time. The antique finish is quite popular as it makes the stone look more attractive, while also enhancing its durability. You can find it also as vintage finishing.

  • Leather finish – this is a process very similar to the antique finishing, which is used mainly for granite and marble. The idea is the surface to look less glossy and to be easily cleaned and maintained. Very suitable for counter tops.

4. Chemical finishing

The texture and appearance of natural stone can be changed by applying chemicals to its surface thus creating a chemical finish. This type of finishing can be combined with other types of stone treatment and can be used on tiles that are already made and even installed. There are four main sub-categories in this group:


  • Acid wash – acids can be used to simply clean the surface of natural stone or to change its appearance, depending on the type of acid and the length of its application. Acid wash is an alternative way to achieve antiqued look and it also can have similar results as the water finishing. The good news is it can be applied retrospectively, meaning that you can change the look of an already installed countertop, for example.

  • Epoxy treated – it is a multi-step method that combines several techniques. First the stone is honed so that it has a smooth surface to which the resin can be applied. Then it is dried in a special oven and the process of applying resin and drying is done one more time. At the end, the stone is polished. The process improves the visual characteristics and the resistance of the stone tiles.

  • Meshed – this is mainly an additional step to make the stone stronger, used mostly for defective marble or stone slabs. During the epoxy treatment of the stone a thin net of fiberglass or plastic is applied to the back side of the tile. It has no decorative functions.

  • Protective treatment – this is not an actual surface finishing, but rather the final step to protect the stone tiles by applying oil-repellents or anti-graffiti treating substances. In a nutshell, this is the process of protecting already installed tiles by treating them with the respective substance.

There can be various combinations of the finishing depending on which feature of the stone you want to emphasize and what is the purpose of the tiles – interior or exterior, for kitchen tops or flooring.

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