Exploring the Different Types of Stone Tile

types of stone tile flooring

Stone tile offers a timeless beauty and uniqueness to any home. Many finish options are available for your flooring, including polished, honed, brushed, and natural. These finishes will impact the appearance and durability of your tile. Some types of stone are more porous than others and require more regular sealing to prevent staining.

Hand Chipped

Natural stone tile with chipped edges can provide the right texture for a more rustic look. It’s smoother than honed or filled tile, but the hand-chipping process creates uneven edges for a unique appearance that pairs well with country cottages and barn conversions.

If a chipped-edged tile gets scratched or damaged, patching is easy. You’ll want to choose a grout that matches the color of the tile and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for mixing. It’s also essential to clean the surface before attempting any repairs.

A stone sealer can protect your natural stone flooring from spills and abrasions. It’s a great way to keep your stone looking new, and some types of stone sealers can even improve traction.

Porcelain tiles are easier to install than natural stone because they’re typically uniform in size and shape. They’re also less prone to staining and etching than some natural stones, making them the better option for high-traffic areas. However, they can absorb heat from sunlight, which may make them less comfortable for outdoor patios during hot summer months. Natural stone tiles can add a warm and elegant touch to any space but require more care and maintenance than porcelain tiles. Regular sweeping and mopping are necessary to prevent water spots, and natural stone tile should be stripped and resealed at least once every five years.

Honed & Filled

This category includes a wide variety of finishes used on natural stone tiles. An honed finish is even, smooth in texture, and generally matte, whereas a polished finish is shiny. This type of tile is very popular because it is slip-resistant and great for areas like bathrooms, kitchens, and other floors where water and dirt accumulate.

A filled, honed finish has all of the pits and air pockets in the stone that give it its unique porous texture filled with a material to make the surface more level and less slippery. This is very common on travertine tile. A standard-grade honed travertine will have several of these filled pockets, while a higher-end honed travertine may be filled with a material to create a more uniform appearance.

Unfilled travertine has all of the holes and pits in the stone on its surface left as is. This is more rustic and can look very beautiful, but it can be more of a challenge to keep clean since dirt and water tend to get caught in the small cracks and holes in the tile. This finish is trendy on travertine and can be used anywhere in a home. 

Natural Cleft

Natural cleft stone tile has a rugged texture that gives your home a rustic appeal. It is created by cleaving the stone along its natural layers, resulting in a slightly rough texture with grooves and ridges that create a unique look. This style is a favorite for outdoor paving, such as patios and pool decks, where it can complement traditional or historic design.

A natural cleft finish is one of the least expensive options, as minimal processing is required to prepare it for installation. It is best used for areas exposed to heavy foot traffic and spillages, as it can withstand wear and tear.

Like all stratified stones, a natural cleft tile must be sealed to protect it from moisture and staining. Using a mild soap with warm water for routine cleaning will help the stone build up a patina that will keep it conditioned and stain-resistant while creating a soft sheen.

This type of stone has many colors, from blues and grays to warm browns. It can be found in flagging sizes ranging from 12×12 up to 24×36. Thoughtful preparation ensures a good bond and trouble-free installation. This is especially important on a cleft-finished stone, where the installer must be able to compensate for the variation in thickness and surface texture.


Whether you opt for the rustic charm of a tumbled surface, the understated elegance of a honed finish, or the casual nature of a brushed stone tile, your selection’s texture will significantly impact how your space feels and looks. Each option has unique characteristics and offers various design possibilities to match any style.

Tumbled surfaces are created by running the tiles through a machine with abrasive materials that create a worn and weathered look. This gives the tile a natural, rugged, and aged appearance, perfect for flooring. This finish is also forgiving to wear and tear, making it an excellent choice for busy family areas and kitchens.

A honed finish is achieved by running the tiles through a process that smooths out the natural crevices and pits on the stone’s surface to create an even, matte finish. This is the most common finish for travertine and marble tiles, which offer a polished look with a durable texture that’s easy to clean.

Gabriel Montgomery

Gabriel Montgomery

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