Countertop - Natural Stone Finishes

Different Stone Finishes for Different Applications

Just as having the right tools makes completing a task easier and more efficient, choosing the right finish for the stone in your home can really make a difference in appearance, usefulness, and overall life. Here are some popular finishes, and examples of applications that they are most widely used for.

Filled & Honed

Most often, a filled and honed finish for stone is used with travertine, but is also found in marble and a few other natural stones as well. Honing is basically a grinding down of a stone product to give it a smooth and flat or matte finished look, while filling is the process of “plugging up” any holes that may be present in the natural stone. The combination is a finish that is easy to keep clean, and relatively strong. A filled and honed finish makes a good choice for flooring.

Filled & Polished

Much like the previous finish, a filled and polished stone is one that is grinded flat and filled in, but with an extra step at the end. This additional process is polishing, which uses a buffering mechanism to refine the stone surface until it is very smooth and quite reflective. Many people choose marble in a filled and polished finish, especially when using it for wall or floor applications due to its ability to conceal flaws and hide imperfections. It is also a very popular option for bathroom countertops.


Natural finishes are just as they sound…natural! This type of finish has the least amount of modification, before it is ready to install. Depending on the type of stone that you are working with, this usually equates to ridges and bumps, indentations and holes, as well as a relatively rough feel. While the natural look is often very beautiful, it can be harder to keep clean and less practical for many applications. It does, however, make a wonderful choice for backsplashes, fireplace surrounds, and other decorative stone applications.


Another technique that creates a unique finish is sandblasting. While limestone is the natural stone that is most widely sandblasted, it can be used on concrete and some other stones as well. Generally speaking, sandblasted finishes have a “dimpled” look that is rough and fairly consistent. It is most popular in exterior spaces, such as patios. Alternatively, sandblasted finishes are sometimes used when trying to match new portions of limestone with older, much more weathered pieces, to make them as uniform as possible.

Honed & Tumbled

If you are looking for a more rustic, or matured finish, then a honed and tumbled stone might be a good choice. Tumbling stone creates rough edges, and an appearance that is antiquated and weathered. Once the tumbling stage is complete, the stone is then honed slightly to smooth really rough edges out and give it a very matte, yet aged, appearance. This finish is popular for decorative applications, as well as flooring.

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