With its popularity, many designers are now educating themselves on the various nuances and properties that natural stone comes in. These are the top 4 factors when deciding what finish to pick.
1. FILLED OR UNFILLED
Much like most designs in nature, the stone is perfectly imperfect. Most natural stones are formed with voids, nooks, and crannies. If you are after a textured, surface with contrast. However, it can be quite porous and easily stained. If needed, these voids can be filled with the material to colour match. When done correctly, the naked eye can’t tell the difference.
An industry term is given to the vein like, naturally occurring, markings across slabs of stone. Whilst there are no good or bad veins, no two slabs are ever the same vein. Therefore, it is critical to visually select slabs that match your aesthetic. What you see in a brochure, is not always what you will get.
3. GLOSSY OR HONED
As an end product, stone slabs are sometimes sealed with a transparent finish, often making them stain resistant. This is known as the glossy finish. A glossy finish does catch a lot of reflections and can be quite bling-bling, even for the humblest of stones. A honed finish is normally achieved by sanding down or shaving off a thin layer off the stone surface. This exposes a mild texture with a matte finish.
4. WILD CARD - BUSH HAMMERED
Much like a glossy or honed finish, the bush hammered finish is quite self-explanatory. However, the result is a smooth, bumpy, textured, matte finish. Depending on the stone, the end result can resemble a leather texture.
WHY DOES THIS MATTER?
The next time, you are selecting stone samples, you may want to ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you have a honed, unfilled finish in slabs?
- Do you have a glossy, filled finish in 60x60 tiles?
- Do you have a sample with better veins?
- Does this come in a bush-hammered finish?
While there are many more technical attributes to natural stone, such as thickness, weight, scoring, daylight and many more, the above should set you down the right path when it comes to discovering your own palette.
Alan George is an architect with Orange Design Group based in the UAE.
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