The Different Aesthetics and Appearance of Stone

stone typesArchitects and builders throughout the ages have chosen stone for its permanence and beauty. Today’s stone marketplace is almost worldwide as suppliers are able to ship it from all over the world. As our stone options have increased tremendously over the recent years, the stone selection process has become more complex for many reasons.  Stone has its own unique qualities that will distinguish it from man-made materials, but also should be considered in selecting it for a particular project. Stone is not manufactured; it is a product of nature. Blocks of stone are removed from the quarry, slabs are cut from these blocks, and the slabs are then fabricated into the final stone to be installed for counters. Each block and slab are completely different in appearance.  Manufacturers are able to blend and match the stone blocks and slabs to make a beautiful stone pieces.  Dimension stone has wonderful character and its uniqueness needs to be considered when determining value.  When you make a stone selection for your home or office, understanding the difference in type of stone, appearance and aesthetics will help you make the right choice.

There are many factors that distinguish stone from each other.  They include aesthetics, color, strength, durability, design, texture, finish, size, thickness, availability, stone testing, stone sampling, and cost. These factors can have a number of affects on the stone your choose.


Factors Other Than Appearance. The obvious color and texture differences are not the only differences between stone.  Selection can depend on strength, durability and usability.

Fleuri Cut Stones. Many dimension stones today are being cross cut or fleuri cut.

This is true in travertines and some granite, for example. Many times, the reason this is done is to avoid a directional vein and achieve a more “cloudlike” effect. In any case, the stone supplier should know if this is done and the test data, as it may change from normal, conventional means.

Filling Might Be Required.

Another issue is where cross cut (fleuri cut) stones are used. As in the case of travertine, a limestone, it may require filling with cement or epoxy, which may or may not hold up under heavy traffic conditions, and the fills may come out.

Sample Variations. Assuming that all critical factors support the desired choice in a given application, expectations as to final appearance must be realistic. Unless a choice is made and marked on an actual slab, variation from a submitted sample is a fact and should not come as a surprise.

Translucence occurs in some white or very lightly colored marbles and onyxes having a crystal structure that will transmit light to varying degrees depending upon stone thickness and finish. Translucence can be an aesthetically intriguing decorative attribute.

Variegated or veined materials, especially marbles, that offer interesting colors and patterns and that are by their nature “faulted” and not generally suitable for exterior use are often highly valued for their decorative qualities in interior installations.

For most people they identify stones with the type of finish they have.  There are several types of finishes in stone, here are the most popular in stone counters:

stone finishes

Acid Washed: Usually applied to a sawn finish to lower the degree of sawn marks showing, yet maintain a natural textured finish.

Bush-hammered: Coarsely textured surface produced by hammering, and may vary according to the metallic head used, from fine point to very coarse, and may leave high, lighter-colored markings.

Face: Using a chisel or other metallic object that gives deeper indentations and cleavage to the stone.

Fine Rubbed: Smooth and free from scratches; no sheen.

Flamed or Thermal: Plane surface with flame finish applied at high temperature by mechanically controlled means to ensure uniformity; changes the color of the stone.

Gauged: Done by a machine, usually with circular abrasives to grind the material to a specific thickness.

Honed: Dull sheen, without reflections, achieved by abrasive heads. The degree of honing depends on the stone, but may vary from light to heavy.

Natural Cleft: A cleavage face formed when the stone is split into any thickness.

Planed: Usually refers to slate, where a metallic scraper peels a layer of stone, making the stone flat and smoother.

Polished: Mirror gloss, with sharp reflections.

Sandblasted: Coarse plane surface produced by blasting an abrasive, allowing a fine-textured finish; may lighten the color.

Sawn: Usually refers to slabs coming from a gang saw, with blades that are applied to the block of stone using water and fine grit.

Tumbled: Method of putting tiles in a mixing container with sand and rotating them, allowing the edges and corners of the tiles to chip.

Water-jet Flamed Finish: Gives a more uniform, textured finish and allows more of the natural color to show.


How to Choose A Stone Finish. Choosing your stone’s finished is the biggest part in buying a stone.  Finish can include anything from saw cut to high polish. A high polish brings out the color of the stone to its fullest, because it will optimally reflect all light and a textured finish will always appear lighter. A combination of finishes can add interest to a chosen stone. New finishes are appearing on the market all the time, so check and investigate all finishes available with your local stone supplier.

For a breakdown of our stones, check out our Granite and Tile products.

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