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Split Face vs Honed – What's the difference when it comes to Stone Veneer?

One of the really cool things about working in the natural stone world is that the stone itself is really just one of many elements that we get to play with when designing natural stone veneer products. Size and shape, how the product gets assembled, and how the product gets installed are just some of the variables that dictate how a product ends up looking when it gets on your wall. One of the most noticeable ways that the look of natural stone can be changed is by how its finished, and the two most common finishes in the Stone Veneer world are split face and honed.

Split Face generally refers to products that have either been quarried or mechanically split using machines to create a rough hewn surface that shows off the natural cleft of the stone. Depending on the type of stone that is being worked, the end result can vary from a slightly smoother finished surface on a more quartz based stone, to a more inconsistent and cratered look on stones like limestone and sandstone. Natural stone splits along the cleavage layers and most of the time it can end up being fairly flat.

Norstone Split Face Stone Veneer in Aztec Color used on a Kitchen Backsplash

Split face finishes might tend to be associated with more traditional looking stone applications and colors, sometimes even described as “rustic”. Traditional stone colors that have been used in building such as greys, browns, and tans are quite common when it comes to split face stone veneers.

Norstone Split Face Stacked Stone Rock Panels used on the entrance lobby reception desk of a concert hall

The Norstone Standard Series Rock Panels, XL Series Rock Panels, and Slim Line Series Rock Panels are the products in our current offering that have a split face finish. You’ll find the traditional earth tone colors in these collections, but one of the things that we think allows these products to stand apart is some unique color offerings in split face like our White and Ivory Panels, as well as a very design oriented approach to assembling the panels, which creates clean lines and puts a modern twist on a classic stone look.

Honed finishes are also an incredibly popular finish in the world of stone veneer. Honed means that the stone itself has been cut at a gauged thickness and then polished to varying degrees of smoothness. On the spectrum of polishing, honed normally means a very light polish, resulting in a stone surface that is smooth to the touch, but not glossy.

Norstone Honed Aksent Series Modern Stone Veneer Wall Panels in Ash Grey color used on a bathroom backsplash

Honed finishes are currently most synonymous with modern design that embraces big open spaces and smooth surfaces like glass, concrete, and steel. Since honed finishes are just cut and polished and not mechanically split the way split face veneers are, they tend to be available in pretty much any color that stone can be sourced in. Honed finishes do require more labor and therefore often times are more expensive than split face veneers made from the same stone.

Norstone Honed Modern Aksent Series Stone Veneer in Ebony Color installed vertically on a two story feature wall

Norstone’s Lynia, Aksent, and Planc Series are all honed finishes. Aiming right at the modern design inspired project, the colors in these series fall mainly in the black, white, and grey range. A new color, Beige, was released in the Fall of 2017 in the Aksent and Lynia Series which also brings in the neutral tan colors that continue to be widely accepted in interior design.

Thanks for learning more about the difference between Split Face and Honed Finishes in the world of natural stone veneer. Probably the most important thing to remember is to keep your options open when considering projects for your next stone veneer project as you might happen upon a combination of stone color, size, pattern and most importantly finish that works just perfect for your project.

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Norstone's New Dimensions in Natural Stone blog aims to discuss design themes, sources of inspiration, and how the world around us influences our creative interpretation and buying preferences.

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