What Finish Is Right for Your Natural Stone
When carefully done by a professional mason or landscape contractor, the right stone finish will provide superb functionality and elevate the visual attraction of your masonry or hardscape project. Deciding which color is only half the battle, but choosing which finish is best is simpler than you think. There are generally two main considerations when choosing a stone finish for your natural stone accents or natural stone hardscapes: aesthetics and functionality. For example, you may love the contemporary accent a sawn or honed natural stone sill provides, while it is important your natural stone steps have a finish to increase traction. Kafka Granite has put together this list of our most common stone finishes to give you a more up-close look at their purpose and how each look is achieved.
5 Stone Finishes, All with Unique Qualities
From hand tools to machinery and even open flames, the process for finishing natural stone hardscapes and other natural stone products is one of the many ways Kafka helps customize your project. And while each of these approaches differs from start to finish, they share one thing in common: every finish adds multi-faceted value to stone projects.
Using a rock hammer or pitching tool, our experts chip away at the face of the stone slab to produce a rugged-yet-crafted, natural appearance. This process is known as rock-facing. Rock-facing is typically reserved for the edges or faces of a natural stone product. You’ll commonly find rock-faces on Kafka’s natural stone sawn cut drywall, thermal top steps, caps, and sill.
Also known as a flamed finish, a thermal finish is produced by running a high-temperature flame over a moistened stone surface. Layers of the stone flake away due to the expansion of the moisture, resulting in a textured surface. Once treated, the thermal finish process produces a subtle, non-skid texture that is an excellent choice for stone walking surfaces like flagstone and thermal-top steps. The act of thermalling also further accentuates the natural character of the stone, which also makes it a preference for purely aesthetic reasons.
Stones are “bush hammered” using a repeated impact method, which causes the surface of the stone to develop a rougher texture. Consequently, bush-hammered finished stone provides more slip resistance than other finishes while still achieving a visually appealing, robust texture. Bush-hammered stone finishes are a popular choice for natural stone steps and flagstone, especially in commercial or high traffic areas.
The sawn finish gets its name from the means by which it is applied – that is, the sawing of the stone to create a flat, sleek surface. Unlike some other methods, the process of applying a sawn finish doesn’t require treatments. You’ll find that many stone products will come standard sawn on one or more sides, depending on the order or purpose. When sawn on top and bottom, stone slabs may be easily stacked and installed for a variety of applications. Sawn finishes will show fine lines of the saw on the surface of the stone.
For a stone surface with a clean, contemporary, and easy to clean surface, a honed stone finish is a classic option. Finished by way of grinding and sanding, these surfaces are smooth but not glossy and complement both exterior and interior environments. Honed finishes are commonly applied to more contemporary coping and sill, or to elevate fireplace mantels and hearths.
A Common Scenario with Simple Solutions
Still unsure which finish is right for you? Consider the following example. Suppose that you’re working with natural stone hardscapes and you’re assisting a property owner with an extensive outdoor application – let’s say you’re installing a retaining wall, a walkway, and steps leading up to the property.
For the retaining wall, you may want to go with a rock-faced stone finish as the rock facing will complement the natural elements of the outdoors, while our sawn heights allow the cut drywall to be installed without extra time sorting and shimming. Steps and walkways have some leeway in terms of how they’re finished. But, at the very least, these should have a finish that provides traction while also withstanding the elements – thermal, for example, or bush-hammered finishes.
Over 40 Years of Natural Stone Solutions
Since 1979, Kafka Granite has provided stone products for applications ranging from large-scale, commercial projects to private, residential renovations. Whether you’re working with a commercial property in need of a facelift with an updated landscape design or you are tracking down thin stone veneer for a new façade, our extensive catalog of natural stone products and their various custom stone accents will allow for endless possibilities. Connect with our office today to learn more about our natural stone hardscapes, the finishing options, or to place a custom order.