All natural stone is fabricated with a particular type of surface texture or finish.
Some common types of surface finishes we see today are: polished, honed, acid-washed, saw-cut refined, flamed, split-faced, sandblasted, tumbled and brushed.
A polished surface is the only way to fully appreciate the colour and pattern of natural stone, and is far more popular. When a surface "closes" over and a polish is achieved the true colours of the natural stone can be fully appreciated, along with the intricacies of the pattern or veining.
A polished surface creates a beautiful glossy mirror shine from the natural reflection of the stone’s crystals.
The mirror-like shine is accomplished by using progressively finer polishing heads during the polishing process, similar to the way that sandpaper smoothes hardwood furniture - The finer the sandpaper, the smoother the surface.
The polish may last a long time or may be unstable depending on the type of stone.
Granite, marble and limestone are frequently polished, and require varying degrees of maintenance to preserve the shine.
A polished surface is not an applied finish, and cannot easily be replicated, but it has the advantage that it is relatively impervious to minor soiling by denying dirt particles a rough surface to adhere to. Accordingly, a polished stone surface can be very easy to maintain, in addition to looking great.
A polished surface doesn't change the nature of the stone, and cannot by itself protect the material from all the influences that may be encountered in daily use over the years.
Remember that we are dealing with a cross section of the stone. That cross section can unlock the secret of the stone's hidden colours and patterns, but in doing so it can expose the stone to elements for which no natural protection is afforded.
A honed surface provides a non-reflective flat, matte or satin finish creating a more informal and softer look.
This finish is created by grinding the cut face with successively finer grades of abrasive but stopping short of a full polish, and is a viable surface treatment for flooring
A honed finish do not show wear damage as dramatically and therefore are more economically maintained.
Less "compact" materials such as sandstones and some limestones cannot always be polished and routinely are offered in a honed finish. Other marbles and harder limestones that can be easily polished are sometimes honed to take advantage of the simple fact that minor wear and tear is not obvious on a surface that has an overall "sheen" rather than a "mirror finish" polish.
Marble, limestone, and slate would be your best choices for a honed finish.
A flamed finish is achieved by heating the surface of the stone to extreme temperatures, followed by rapid cooling.
The surface of the stone pops and chips leaving a rough, unrefined texture.
This process is usually done with granite. Flamed granite has a highly textured surface, making it ideal for areas where slip resistance might be a concern such external paving.
Sandblasted surfaces are becoming increasingly popular as they give a raw, organic look that is both natural and contemporary. To achieve a sandblasted finish, the stone is treated with a pressurised combination of sandy water, resulting in a highly textured (pitted) surface with a matte gloss. As with all textural stone surfaces, sandblasted stone is porous and needs proper treatment and maintenance.
A sandblasted finish is ideal for exterior applications as it provides more grip in wet conditions.
Brushed features a worn-down look achieved by brushing the surface of the stone, simulating natural wear over time.