Monday, November 16, 2009


LIGHT CHISEL - Used primarily for exterior cladding on buildings and landscape walls.  Could be used at the lower part of a building or column and honed or bush-hammered for the upper part.  Another choice would be for interior walls adding texture to the same stone used on a honed floor.

HEAVY CHISEL - Also know as pineapple finish for it's resemblance to the skin of that fruit.  Mostly used for exterior building cladding and landscape wall applications.  This is a great choice for the back of a fountain, the flowing water down the heavy chisel is wonderful.

SPLIT LINE - On a rough surface, lines are etched into the stone.  A modern look can be created by installing the stone with the lines on the vertical. 


SPLIT FACE - The Getty Museum is an example of split face and honed travertine.  Over 108,000 square meters of  Classic Roman travertine from the Lippiello family quarry at Bagni di Tivoli were used at the Getty Center.  The Roman Coliseum was clad in travertine from the same area, you can visualize the huge Coliseum clad in brilliant stone when you look at the Getty Center perched on the hillside.  When a stone is split along its natural bedding plane the backs of the stone vary in thickness and make intallation impossible.  In order to create a uniform thickness, an automated guillotine was created by Mariotti to cut the backs off the stone.  The honed tiles on the ground are actually the backs of the split-faced wall cladding.

TUMBLED -  Travertine is the most common stone that is tumbled.  Backsplashes are painted on tumbled Botticino or Crema Marfil marble, so sometimes a match of the material is more of a design choice.  Double thick pieces are placed in a cement mixer with rocks to knock off the sharp edges.  The tumbled pieces are sawn in half to make the tiles.  Some of the pieces are left intact and used as pavers.  The travertine tiles are full of holes which is the nature of the stone, however, these holes are filled with grout.  Because of the breakage in the tumbling process the larger tiles of 18" X 18" are hard to find and expensive.  I don't recommend tumbled travertine on the floor, especially in high traffic areas, the grout fills are soft, can crack and then fill up with dirt.  The maintainance may outweigh the design choice in the short run.  Tumbled is fine for walls and backsplashes.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


POLISHED - The most common factory finish for marble and granite, some limestone, travertine and quartzite. The marble and granite are buffed to a high gloss finish. Travertine is softer and very few will hold a high gloss finish and will show traffic patterns over time. Quartzite has a few colors that can be polished and some come in solid surface slabs in addition to the tiles. It takes twice as many buffing machines to polish granite as opposed to marble. (Photo is polished silver shine quartzite.)

HIGH HONE - Finish between polished and honed.  Found on travertine, limestone and quartzite.  Not a high reflective polish but more reflective than honed.

HONED - Smooth dull finish available on tiles and some slabs. Some clients don't like the shine of granite and honing the stone may make the counter top surface more acceptable.  Honed black granite is a softer look than the polished and is perfect for arts and crafts decor.  Polished would be perfect for traditional or modern.   Honed granite can sometimes appear dusty, always have a small piece honed before you make a final decision. Limestone and travertine are most commonly produced honed.  Brazillian slate comes in both tiles and slabs in a smooth honed finish.

SAWN - Diamond saws are used to cut the stone, in a sawn finish the raw saw teeth marks are left in the stone. The best examples of sawn finishes are found on the back side of slabs.  If the stone went through the next step with polishing heads the stone would be honed.

NATURAL CLEFT - Slate and quartzite come in natural cleft.  Both should be sealed before grouting, it will save hours of cleanup time.  Natural cleft if great for outdoor patios and pool areas.  Quartzite does not hold heat the same way that slate does so pool areas stay cooler underfoot.  Slate is not recommended for outdoors in snow or freezing temperatures it has a tendency to flake off the surface.  Natural cleft slate comes in lots of thicknesses from 1/4" to 1".  Gauged slate is where the back is ground down and ranges in thickness from 3/8" to 5/8".  You pay more for the Gauged, but it is much easier and cheaper to install than the natural.  Flagstone can also be included under natural cleft, the difference is the irregular shape of the pieces as opposed to the tiles.  Flagstone comes in crates that cover 200 to 240 square feet. 

BRUSHED - Factory finish where course wire rotary brushes are used on stone to slightly dig out some areas.  This is also know as an antique finish as it resembles the wear patten on old reclaimed stone.  The limestone shown on right is Jerusalem Gold.   

ACID WASH - Muriatic acid is used in different strengths to wash the stone.  The acid dissolves crystal veins and soft spots on the face of the stone creating an antique finish very similar to the brushed. I've found this process to be most effective with Crema Marfil, Emperador Light and Dark and Rojo Alicante.

BUSH-HAMMERED - A mechanical hammer hits the stone's face to create a dimpled surface.  Textures will vary from very subtle to rough.  Bush-hammered surfaces are used as building cladding, outdoor floors for non-slip finishes and interior textured walls.Combining finishes in the same stone or similar ones will build textures into your designs; honed floors, bush-hammered steps and split faced walls will change the direction of your room's design from ordinary to spectacular.  Slab edge finishes can also be three dimentional, chiseled edges on honed solid surfaces can maintain a rustic look for a commercial lobby or residential outdoor kitchen.

SANDBLASTED - There are several grades of sandblasting available from light to heavy.  Sandblasted granite can make a beautiful fountain with water rippling down the rough surface.  If granite was used outside or in a lobby area with pedestrian traffic where slipping was an issue, sandblasting the stone could fix the problem.  Re-seal with an enhancing sealer and the color should come back up in the stone.  I've seen sandblasted counters on outdoor and indoor kitchens to remove the gloss of polished granite.  I always recommend that you have sample pieces done to make sure you are happy with your fininsh choice.  Work with your fabricator and/or designer to get samples of different finishes.

FLAMED - The most interesting flamed stone is Jerusalem Gold, which when flamed turns pink with gold undertones.  This is another finish for granite that creates a rough texture that makes granite slip resistant.  If slabs are badly scratched, flaming will make them usable for outdoor applications or cladding.  Flaming may not work on standard 3/8th" tiles, they have a tendency to crack under the heat, it is best to use this on slabs.  This is also known as a thermal finish. To have this finish on tiles they should be purchased that way from the supplier, factory or quarry.