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12 Types of Limestone Finishes: How to Choose the Best Natural Stone Finish for Your Design

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When it comes to natural stone finishes, there are many options to choose from. In this blog post, we will discuss 12 different types of limestone finishes and how to choose the best one for your design project. All types of stone finishes have their own unique look and feel, so it's important to select the right one for your needs, especially due to the fact that Indiana limestone finishes are rising in popularity among designers and homeowners alike.

Although some people may be able to imagine what a polished marble tile or an antiqued limestone tile would look like, there are lots of other options for surface finishes on a natural stone that may not be as easy to picture.

By employing a few separate processes, we can create many distinct surface finishes on the same stone type. This is useful when wishing to achieve the "inside-outside" no-seam look that has become popular recently. Quarried natural limestone comes in large blocks which get cut into smaller pieces at stone processing units. Because it is a rough-textured stone, limestone is used for various construction projects both residential and commercial all over the world.

#1 Natural Hand-Cut Limestone for a More Rustic Look

Rustic stone wall

Natural hand-cut limestone is a popular choice for those seeking a more rustic look. This is the most basic limestone wall finish and it's created by manually cutting the limestone into the desired size and shape. This makes it ideal for outdoor uses such as flooring, paving, and wall cladding. In addition, the naturally rough surface of hand-cut limestone imparts a unique look to the vertical structure. This finish also has the added benefit of preventing surface slips and falls.

#2 Natural Cleft Stone for Cladding

If you're into the raw look, you'll love natural cleft stone. This machine-cut limestone finish prominently features the shapes and variations of a freshly quarried stone without any additional finishings. Each piece is one-of-a-kind and irregular, giving a "sawn limestone finish", providing it with a rustic feel that many adore. The uneven surface and texture make it the perfect material for outdoor areas. Additionally, its natural anti-slip properties are great for poolside patios and garden paths.

#3 Polished Limestone Finish for a Sense of High-End Refinement

Achieving smooth polished limestone can require grinding with successively finer diamond grit pads or compounds. Sometimes, oxalic acid or a crystallizing compound is used as a final step to create a mirror-like effect. Some of the stones that can be polished to a high shine are marble, granite, and some types of limestone. This results in a smooth and reflective polished limestone tile finish which enhances the natural beauty of the stone. It's used in stairs, tiles, columns, and much more.

#4 Honed Limestone Finish for Smooth, Matte-Like Surface

The honed finish is created by stopping the polishing process at a coarser grade of grit. This results in a less glossy and reflective surface that is still smooth to the touch. Many quarries will alter the degree of honing to meet customer requirements.

For example, if the honed limestone tiles need to be slip-resistant, we can ask for the stone to be honed to a lower grit so it is more matte. Honed limestone flooring is commonly used in pool surrounds, patios, and terraces because of its non-slip properties.

#5 Brushed Limestone Finish for Creating a Naturalistic Design

As the name suggests, brushing is done by using steel or hard nylon brushes to brush the stone. It leaves a lightly textured surface that is more resistant to scratches and marks. Limestone, sandstone, and tumbled marble work best with this method, but they can be used on other types of stone as well.

It's commonly found in bathrooms and kitchens where a naturalistic look is desired. You'll also see it frequently in columns, stairs, and more. And fossil brushed limestone tile is a popular choice for flooring, as it creates an interesting look that you don't see often.

#6 Antiqued/Tumbled Limestone Finish for a Worn Look

Limestone stone

Tumbling is a popular method that involves harming the stone's surface and edges by vibrating it in a mixture of sand and debris. There are two types of machines that people use to tumble stones; one looks like a large container that shakes from side to side, and the other resembles a cement mixer and rotates the rock.

The tiles go into the tumbling machine for 10 to 20 minutes to soften the sharp corners. To further create a worn look in the limestone surface finishes, it is sometimes hand-finished to chip the edges.

#7 Flamed Limestone Finish for Non-Slip Surface

A flamed finish is created when an oxy-acetylene torch passes over the surface of the stone and is followed immediately by a cold pressurized jet of water. This fractures the top surface of certain stones, such as limestone and sandstone which creates a non-slip surface - perfect for public terraces or paved areas. However, not all quarries have this equipment on site and it requires specialized training to operate correctly.

#8 Bush-Hammered Limestone Finish for Exterior Use

Bush-hammering is a stone finishing technique in which the stone is hammered with a series of steel points to break up the limestone surface and create a pitted look. Similar to the flamed finish, bush-hammering is a great way to create slip-resistant surfaces. The number of pits can be varied depending on your preference.

#9 Sandblasted Limestone Finish for a Slightly Rough Surface

Sandblasting limestone is a method that roughens the surface to make it less slippery, perfect for outside or wet areas. It's done by spraying sand, ceramic beads, or other tiny particles onto the limestone surface of the stone at high pressure. This usually lightens colors and can change the character too much for some people's taste because it hides features like veins and fossils.

#10 Leathered Limestone Finish for an Undulating, Pebbled Surface

"Leathering" is the term used to describe textured granite or marble which appears less glossy. This finish is achieved by brushing the slab with different types of brushes, resulting in a slightly curved surface that's very soft and smooth to the touch. Compared to honing, leathered stone also closes pores and retains color better.

#11 Chiseled Limestone Finish for Rough Surface

The diamond teeth mill grinder is applied perpendicular to the surface in order to create a typical flat limestone texture profile - the grooves always run parallel and the distance between them remains constant. A chiseled finish is created by breaking stone with either a hammer or chisel which then produces either a very rough or slightly irregular surface (depending on both the type of chisel used as well as the skill level of the person using it).

#12 Acid-Washed Limestone Finish for Alternative Antiqued Look

Depending on the type and concentration of acid, acids can either clean or alter the appearance of natural stone. Acid wash is one way to achieve an antiqued look, similar to water finishing. And if you change your mind about the look later, no problem! Acid washes can be applied retrospectively to already installed countertops.

Epoxy-treated limestone can be used in outdoor areas to create a smooth, non-slip limestone surface that looks great. It's resistant to stain and impact, making it an ideal material to use in outdoor living spaces, such as patios, pool decks, and walkways. Meshing as an additional step can also be used to further enhance the durability of epoxy-treated limestone. The final step involves protective treatment with a special sealant.

Tips to Select the Right Limestone Finishes

honed limestone
Stone Center
  • Consider foot traffic: High-traffic areas can wear down finishes like Antico or Chateau because they have rough surfaces. And glossy finishes like Leathered can become slippery when wet, so they're not ideal for areas with water spillage.
  • Consider Weight: Of course, the vertical application concerns itself with different issues; instead of worrying about traction, now the weight of the stone becomes a factor. Some finishes like French Quarter and Maison have additional minimum thickness requirements that make them much heavier.
  • Location: The location of your project installation should guide your general limestone finish selection. Projects installed inside are typically more protected than those placed outside because finishes can degrade over time due to things like saltwater, freezing, and thawing cycles.
  • Maintenance: Keep in mind how often and easy it is to clean different limestone finishes. Finishes such as Honed, Polished, Pickled, and Riven are the easiest to clean because their smooth surfaces repel dirt, stains, and other debris.

Natural Stone Finishes from Stone Center

Natural stone is an excellent choice for home improvement projects because it offers beautiful design, durability, and many other benefits. There are so many options to choose from!

At Stone Center, we're proud to offer a variety of limestone finishes that are sure to match your design style and complement the natural beauty of your space. We are the top natural stone supplier in Ohio and our experts can help you make the right decision for your project based on your unique needs.


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Jon Smiley

Jon, the owner of Stone Center, is a knowledgeable expert in natural stone products, specializing in various types of stone for landscaping and architectural projects. Passionate about promoting the beauty and versatility of natural stone, Jon aims to use these blogs to inspire readers with creative ideas to upgrade their homes.

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