K&M Guide to Natural Stone Terminology

K&M Steam Cleaning is the Austin area’s premier provider of stone counter cleaning & restoration and stone floor & surface cleaning. K&M specializes in limestone floor cleaning and restorationmarble floor cleaning and restorationterrazzo floor cleaning and restorationgranite floor cleaning and restoration, and Travertine floor cleaning and restoration. K&M also restores stone counters. When it comes to granite countertop cleaning and sealing, marble countertop cleaning and sealing, quartz countertop cleaning and polishing, and slate countertop cleaning and sealing, K&M is the best in Greater Austin. When describing your natural stone and explaining the work you want K&M to do, it is helpful to know the terms that natural stone professionals use to describe materials, processes, and finishes. Here’s a listing of commonly used natural stone terms and their meanings.

Acid Washed Finish
Natural stone finished with an acid wash is shiny with small etching marks, i.e pitting on its surface. This type of finish shows fewer scratches over time. It also has a more rustic look than a smooth, honed finish. Most types of stone can be acid-washed. Marble and limestone are the types of stone that an acid wash is applied to. Property owners and builders who want to soften the luster on granite can use an acid wash to achieve this look.

Brushed Finish
To simulate natural wear over time, a brushed finish is often the route stone professionals take. It is accomplished, as the term implies, by brushing the surface of the stone.

Bull Nose Edge
Natural stone tile and countertops with a polished bull nose edge have a round or curved appearance.

When a stone slab is calibrated, the surface is worked down to a relatively uniform thickness.

Before natural stone is installed over wood subflooring, a CBU or cement backer unit is usually installed for structural support and to serve as a moisture barrier.

Ditra is an underlayment that provides a solid foundation and protective waterproof barrier behind or underneath natural stone tile.

Stone gabricators calibrate, cut, and finish natural stone slabs for specific installations.

Flamed Finish
Stone with a flamed finish crafted by heating its surface to extreme temperatures, followed by rapid cooling. The stone’s surface pops and chips leaving a rough and unrefined texture. This process is most commonly done with granite. Flamed granite has a highly textured surface, making it perfect for surfcaes where slip resistance might be a concern, like shower floors.

Granite is a light grey or pinkish, coarse-grained, igneous rock, that cooled slowly in large intrusions (it has the same chemical composition as pumice).

Honed Finish
A honed surface provides a flat, matte or satin finish creating a more informal and softer look. This finish is created by stopping short of the last stage of polishing. A honed finish shows fewer scratches, and requires very little maintenance.

Igneous Rock
Ingeous (volcanic) rock is formed when molten rock (lava or magma) cools and hardens. Granite is an igneous stone.

Another sedimentary stone, it’s formed from calcite and sediment and comes in many earthen colors.

Manufactured Stone / Agglomerate Stone
The most common agglomerated stone in Austin is terrazzo. Manufactured and agglomerated stone is a synthetic stone made from natural stone chips with a binder like cement or epoxy resin. Many of the most popular kinds of manufactured stone materials are made mostly of quartz. Natural quartz gives the product depth and shine combined with strength and consistency. Manufactured stone has four times the flexural strength of granite, lessening the odds of chipping or cracking issues. It’s also referred to as agglomerate stone. The most common agglomerated stone in Austin is terrazzo.

A derivative of limestone. It is a metamorphic stone that can be polished. Marble is characteristically soft and easily scratched or etched by acids. There are countless types of marble from around the world.

Metamorphic Rock
Metamorphic rock has re-crystallised due to heat and/or pressure. Types of metamorphic stone include marble, slate, and schist.

Polished Surface Finish
A polished surface creates a beautiful glossy 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.

Rock (usually sedimentary) has spaces between the grains, usually filled by groundwater at some pooint. Porosity measures amount of pore space in rocks.

Massive rock deposits where stone is extracted from the earth are referred to as “quarries”.

A sedimentary stone that is primarily composed of loose grains of quartz sand that are rough in texture. A number of varieties are available.

Saw-Cut Refined Finish
Saw-cut refined offers a matte finish. After initial cutting, the saw cut stone is processed to remove the deepest saw marks but not enough to achieve a smooth, honed finish. Granite, marble, and limestone are the most common types of stone with a saw-cut refined finish.

Sedimentary Rock
A sedimentary stone is composed of any rock made up of sediment grains. Examples include mudstone, sandstone, and limestone.

Slabs are blocks of stone that have been extracted and saw cut.

Slate is a metamorphic stone formed by compression and heating of mudstone. It is comprised of clay, shale, and quartz that has a sheet-like structure.

Split Faced Finish
Split-faced finishes have a rough texture, but not as rough as flamed finishes. A split faced finish is typically accomplished by hand cutting and chiseling at the stone quarry, leveraging the natural cleft of the stone. Slate tile often has a split faced finish.

Stone Tile
Stone tile refers to any tile made of natural stone. Common natural stone tile sizes are 12”x12”, 13”x13”, 16”x16”, and 18”x18”.

Straight 90-Degree Edge
When designers are seeking a clean, modern aesthetic, they often spec tile and surfaces with a straight 90-degree edge.

Substrate refers to the surface that stone tile is laid on.

Thinset cement-based tile adhesive that is applied to the surface with a notched or grooved trowel. After application, tile is pressed firmly into place on the wet thinset.

Travertine is a crystallized and partially metamorphosed limestone that, because of its molecular structure, can be filled and honed. The stone is dense enough to be a kind of marble.

Tumbled Finish
Delivers a smooth or slightly pitted surface, and broken, rounded edges and corners. There are several methods used to achieve the tumbled look. 3/8” thick tiles can be tumbled in a machine to achieve the desired look, or 3cm tiles can be tumbled and then split, creating two tiles that are tumbled on one side.

Unsanded Grout
Unsanded grout is a dry, Portland cement-based grout mix that is combined with water at the job site. The unsanded grout mixture is spread over the tiled area with a grout float tool to fill in all of the joints. A wet sponge is used to remove excess grout from the tile while leaving the grout to cure in the joints. Unsanded grout is used in natural stone installations because it can fill small joints more easily and does not scratch soft stone materials.

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