Stone finishes and appearance
While features such as the high-gloss sparkle of a pristine marble floor or the legendary durability of a granite surface may be well understood by most,
the extent to which the look and feel of all natural stone can be subtly transformed by a whole range of different finishing treatments is perhaps
less well known. The following offers a general guide to the options available and the kind of appearance and outcomes which may be anticipated:
- Tumbled stone flooring such as the charming Abbey Tumbled, a creamy limestone tile, is achieved by tumbling stone tiles in the presence of water, sand
and grit. This produces an aged look which replicates the timeworn appearance of a well worn stone floor.
- Honed stone is created by grinding one face of the stone to a flat, smooth and consistent surface. In particular, honing stones which possess a natural
shine – marble or granite, for instance – will remove the topmost shine layer to leave a matte, non-reflective surface. This gives stone floor
tiles a sleek contemporary appearance.
- Polished surfaces are achieved by using powder and/or light abrasive materials during the final manufacturing phase. As a glance at the classic Nero
marble tile will illustrate, this creates a refined glossy surface with a pleasing sheen which brings out the full colour and character of the
- Acid wash treatments will chemically etch the stone surface. While this itself can sometimes create a type of aged look, this technique is mostly
used to add a textured feel and thus improve the non-slip performance of stone tiles.
- Sandblasting and brushing with a steel brush are treatments which tend to remove small, looser stone particles. A technique which has proved most
effective with the Shire Sandblasted stone tile, this treatment really opens up the surface of the stone, creating a textured effect while also
muting and softening its natural colours.
In many cases, a specific look can be achieved by combining several of these finishing techniques. So a honed surface may afterwards be carefully re-polished,
or a rustic stone may be tumbled and then later brushed to even further accentuate its ‘antique’ appearance.
The aesthetic impact of different edging effects
Edge finishing techniques also affect the look of stone flooring:
- Pillowed edges are created by honing a stone tile before all its edges are then gently and evenly rounded by hand, thus giving the tile a softer
edge and a smooth pillowed look.
- Sawn edges are the result of using a cutting machine to produce a neatly squared edge. This clean-cut effect helps to create a sharp, contemporary
look when the flooring is laid.
- Chipped or broken edges can be introduced by hand working the stone, or may also be the result of ageing techniques such as tumbling. In either case,
the intention is to give the stone a more aged appearance.
- Chiselled edges are also intended to give stone tiles a rugged look and are produced by using a chisel tool to create an ‘inward’ chip along the
edges of the tile.
When stone floor tiles are laid, the appearance of the joints as well as the kind of grouting used must also be carefully planned to complement and
contribute to the impact of the interior design. Laying square-edged tiles such as Ink – a stunning blue-grey limestone tile – with a narrow grout
joint suits a more contemporary design, while spacing them a little further apart accommodates the often ragged-edged appearance and rougher texture
of stone tiles finished in a rustic style.
There is perhaps more leeway with the choice of grout colours, but paler, pastel shades which complement the tiles will highlight the attributes of the flooring, while grouting in a contrasting tone will tend to emphasise
the chosen layout pattern.