Honed and Textured Stone
There are basically 3 categories of stone surface finishes. We have covered these in some limited detail in previous articles. There is of course polished, which everyone should recognize by the highly reflective glossy appearance. That leaves the other two categories of honed and textured, both of which have many subgroups.
Honed materials are becoming very popular here in the USA. They have always been the norm in Europe. In fact, those of you who have been to Europe know that most of the stone there that is subject to traffic, maintenance, or the elements, is honed. This of course is for many logical reasons.
Honed stones can be anywhere between 120 grit at the lower level and 800 grit at the upper level, depending on who you ask. Just like with many other professions, if you ask 10 fabricators or restoration contractors what a hone is to them, you may get 10 or more different answers. For me, I define the following categories as 120 grit and lower as grinding, 120 grit through 800 grit as honing, and higher than 800 grit as pre-polishing and polishing. Of course, that is my opinion.
Honed stones are normally much easier to maintain. Depending on the level of the hone, foot traffic can actually improve the patina. Remember, foot traffic abrasion can be equated to between 200 grit and 400 grit. If you have a 180 grit hone then the traffic lanes could very likely have a higher patina (sheen) than the rest of the floor. Etching may not be as noticeable on honed surfaces as it is on polished surfaces too.
As we have discussed before, the level of hone controls how much of the stone’s color is present as well as how much patina or reflection the material has. The higher the hone, the more color and reflectivity the stone will have.
Of course one of the drawbacks is that the material will have more surface area and therefore more open and interstitial pores exposed. This can lead to contaminants entering the stone easier, causing more staining. For this reason, honed materials are most always recommended to be sealed or impregnated to help resist contaminant penetration and staining.
Another issue may be honing marks or swirls. This can be from the abrasives on the line machine at the tile production plant or even if the stone has been honed in place. Honing powders and/or diamond impregnated buffing pads can help alleviate this issue to help assure a consistent looking surface.
Textured stone is another surface finish that has many subcategories. For instance, flamed granite and natural cleft slate are two well-known textured materials. There are many ways to texture stone such as sand blasting, chiseling, bush hammering, splitting, and so on.
I define textured as a rough or uneven surface. It does not matter how rough, just so long as it is uneven. Tumbled, antiqued, and leathered surfaces are in this group as well.
These surfaces are used for many reasons. Among these are slip resistance and contrast. You will see flamed granite used throughout the north and northeast sections of the USA because of the slip resistant properties. Architects use both honed and textured materials as contrasts to polished stone and other materials.
Textured material has even more surface area so therefore more open and interstitial pores are exposed. This of course means that textured materials are subject to staining more so than other finishes. Textured materials are always recommended to be impregnated, color enhanced, or sealed. These choices offer natural appearance, color enrichment, and gloss.
Slates, limestones, sandstones, and other similar materials can be subject to freeze/thaw, efflorescence, and delamination issues due to water related factors. Therefore by protecting the stone from water penetration, these issues should be reduced or avoided altogether.
Of course textured materials, as a rule, aren’t generally refinished. There are exceptions such as re-flaming granite but this is a very specialized procedure when done in place. So when the material is smoothed due to traffic or weather wear, the affected area can only be repaired by replacement. It is therefore important to implement proper maintenance procedures to ensure the natural beauty and life of the material.
Both honed and textured materials should be protected from foreign contaminant and water penetration by use of impregnators or sealers. Daily maintenance should be conducted with the use of a quality stone soap or neutral cleaner. Stone soap will not only clean but add additional protection from penetration by conditioning the stone. This will also keep colors brighter. Neutral cleaners are used for textured materials that have been sealed with a topical coating.
Of course there will be other products that are necessary for heavily soiled material or for specific purposes. A good relationship with a knowledgeable distributor is your best resource for these situations.