Natural stone tiles and countertops are available in numerous finishes. There is often some confusion surrounding these finishes on the part of homeowners, usually stemming from the fact that the appearance of the stone can be so different, it inspires them to think that the use or maintenance of the stone is also different.
Regardless of finish, one stone finished in a variety of ways reacts the same, which homeowners need to understand to treat their stone appropriately.
Polished stone is created by grinding down the surface of the stone to a high shine. The stone will have a silky smooth finish and reflects light when polished. Because of this finish, any scratches in the stone are usually more noticeable, as is etching, because it dulls the surface of the stone. This can lead some homeowners to believe that polished stone is weaker.
Honed stone has a smooth, matte finish and a crisp edge. Some stones are too soft to take a high polish, and may be honed instead. Other stones may be honed rather than polished to give them a more contemporary appearance. Honed stones don’t reflect light the way polished stones do, so they are less likely to show scratches and etching.
Tumbled stone has been placed in a drum with sand, water, rocks, and pieces of concrete. This mixture is tumbled or revolved over and over until the stone has a worn, weathered appearance, often with fissures and pin holes in the surface and a worn, soft edge. This rough, worn appearance often makes the stone appear more rugged than it actually is. This combined with the fact that the stone does not show scratches, chips, or etching the way that other stones do often leads homeowners to believe that tumbled stone may be more durable than it actually is. It may be sealed less frequently or installed in higher traffic areas than some softer stones can withstand.
By understanding that the finish of the stone affects only the appearance and not the function, homeowners can take better care of their stone, helping it last for a longer time.