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what are honed and filled tiles?

If you are looking to buy natural stone tiles then you might well have come across the terms, "honed" and "filled". If you are not sure what these mean, this article explains these stone finishes and how they are achieved.

26 November

Honed & filled are terms associated with the processing and finish of natural stone tiles. A honed finish is even, smooth in texture and generally matte, as opposed to a polished finish which is a shiny and glossy.

Filled refers to the process whereby any holes, puck marks and voids in tiles are filled with an epoxy resin, or cementous filler and sanded to give a flat even surface. Generally, honed and filled tiles are left with a straight cut edges to give a contemporary clean finish.

Many limestone and marble tiles require filling to make them more aesthetically pleasing and durable. The amount of filler in a tile is a key issue when determining whether a tile is cheap commercial, or premium grade. At StoneStore, we pride ourselves in sourcing only premium grade material and selling at below high street prices.

An unfilled tile is one where the holes remain unfilled giving the tile an aged appearance. The surface and/or edges of unfilled tiles are often subject to tumbling, brushing or chiselling, to enhance the aged characteristic. Typically, travertine tiles come unfilled with tumbled edges, such as StoneStore’s premium grade Verona tiles, with soft beige and light brown shades.

All natural stones tiles start life as large blocks typically measuring 3m by 2m, with lighter Travertine blocks weighing from 7,000kg, to heavier Granite blocks weighing in at over 18,000kg. Blocks are inspected for cracks and flaws, and tested for hardness and durability before being shipped to a processing plant.

The Finishing Process

After the blocks are cut into slabs using a gang saw, the finishing process begins. Working on one slab at a time, slabs are laid horizontally on a large conveyor line called a 'polishing' line. The slabs pass under heads fitted with diamond/ grit abrasive pads and grind away the rough surface, starting with very coarse grades and graduating to finer grades. Depending on the finish required and the toughness of the material, the process is repeated a number of times. If a honed (matt) finish is required the process stops with courser grades than if a polished surface is required.

One misconception of natural stone tiles is that they’re prone to being slippery. In reality all tiles, and most flooring surfaces – regardless of finish – are slippery when wet. There is no official safety standard for measuring the slipperiness of stone tiles due to the intrinsically variable nature of stone from batch to batch and tile to tile.

Some customers worry about installing natural stone tiles due to concern over the tiles being a slip hazard. To allay those fears, consider the tens of thousands of installations of marble floor tiles around the world in hotels, shops, and restaurants without any issues.

Honed & filled kitchen floor tiles are particularly popular at StoneStore, where we offer a selection of travertine, limestone and marbles are in this smooth matte finish. The honing process unveils the natural colour tones and characteristics of natural stone tiles. Marble tiles which are cut so the intricate detail of veins are exposed, and limestone tiles are cut exposing unique fossil detail. The action of honing enhances the unique properties of all types rock.