Natural Stone Hardscapes Colors and Finishes

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.  

High Friction Surfacing

The Benefits of High-Friction Surfacing

Every four years, the ASCE Committee on America’s Infrastructure issues a report card grading the country’s many categories of infrastructure. In 2013, we received an overall grade of D+. In 2017, the country received the same grade—but the transit sector actually suffered, dropping from an individual grade of D to D-. Today, more than ever, America’s roadways need help. Businesses like Kafka Granite are developing solutions to issues like slippery bridges and deteriorating highways.

Whether you’re a Department of Transportation decision-maker or a contractor sourcing materials for a roadway project, you’ve probably come across high-friction surfacing treatments. High-friction surfacing is used to improve traction on bridge decks, entrance/exit ramps, curves, overpasses, and more. But it doesn’t just improve driving conditions—it also saves lives. Let’s take a closer look at the advantages of this treatment.

6 Advantages of High-Friction Surfacing

1. Increased Traction

High-friction surfacing consists of a layer of two-part epoxy topped with a hard, fractured aggregate. The most significant benefit of this roadway treatment is the increased traction it offers when applied to roadways, bridge decks, and other high-crash locations. With proper surface preparation, non-skid surfacing epoxy overlays can be used to improve driving conditions on pre-existing roadways and new installations alike.

2. Safer Driving

That increased traction helps vehicles stay on the road, which is essential when winter weather, low temperatures, and even simple rainstorms create slippery driving conditions. Bridge decks, in particular, are prone to ice, as cold temperatures from below cause these areas to freeze faster than the rest of the roadway. Ultimately, high-friction surfacing allows tires to better grip a hardscape, which helps cars, trucks, and other moving vehicles navigate potentially dangerous conditions and high-risk areas of the road.

3. More Efficient Deicing

In addition to improving driving conditions upon installation, non-slip aggregates like Kafka Granite’s also help to improve the condition of the road itself. The aggregate in high-friction surfacing traps road salt, resulting in a quicker, more effective deicing process. This is particularly useful in areas of the country that experience extreme winter weather, such as the Midwest.

4. Durability

High-friction surfacing is better able to withstand the day-to-day forces of heavy traffic, the freeze/thaw cycle, and other weathering forces that would otherwise cause significant deterioration in a roadway. This is all thanks to the extremely hard non-slip aggregates used in this kind of surface treatment.

5. Cost Savings

High-friction surfacing may require an initial investment, but it more than makes up for this cost when you consider the lifecycle of the installation and the mounting costs of America’s many deficient roadways. These treatments can last for approximately 10 years, saving motorists and the government significant funds over that period. Additionally, after the aggregate has set, the excess material can be collected and reused in another project, ensuring that you get the most out of your investment.

6. Quick Installation

Halting or altering the flow of traffic is a major concern for DOT projects. A huge amount of work goes into simply setting up a project site with appropriate signage, lighting, lowered speed limits, and more. Ultimately, the faster a project can be completed, the better. High-friction surfacing fits neatly into this mindset, as treatments can often be installed over the course of a few hours.

Surface preparation is essential to a successful installation, however. First, the pre-existing hardscape must be cleaned and inspected for damage like cracks and breakage. Once any damage has been repaired, the area may also need to be scarified with a grinder to facilitate the adhesion of the epoxy.

Non-Slip Aggregates for High-Friction Surfacing

A consistent, high-quality aggregate is crucial for a lasting high-friction surfacing treatment. Kafka Granite has supplied aggregate for these projects across the United States. We offer a selection of extremely hard aggregates that will hold up under heavy traffic, intense freeze/thaw cycles, snowplow usage, and more. We’ve worked with a number of state DOT offices and are fully prepared to supply aggregate that meets your specifications.

Our quartz, granite, and recycled materials are available in over 40 colors, meaning that we can match any aesthetic and even allow you to distinguish sections of the road for bike paths, crosswalks, pedestrian walkways, and other demarkation projects. Our non-slip aggregates are also ideal for use in more decorative epoxy overlay streetscapes.

Installing High-Friction Surfacing? Partner with Kafka Granite!

Kafka Granite is dedicated to doing our part in making America’s roadways safer and more efficient. We’re extremely proud to have provided high-quality aggregate for high-friction surfacing projects across the nation.

If you’re looking for a non-skid aggregate that can be customized to your project needs and Department of Transportation requirements, contact Kafka Granite today. Our knowledgeable sales team will be happy to help you source the perfect aggregate and get to work improving your roadways and streetscapes.