Stone Terms and What They Mean

We get a lot of questions about what we mean when using different terminology so here are a few definitions and the process that goes with them:

  • Grind – used on marble, travertine, or natural stones to smooth a surface and remove most scratches, etch marks, and other damage; performed with a hand sander or floor machine and diamonds or diamond impregnated pad.
  • Strip – the process of removing a coating that has been previously applied to a stone surface; common coatings are wax, topical “enhancer” and acrylic; most strippers are considered hazardous, excluding but not limited to Stone Pro’s Formula 51; requires application of stripper and stripping pad or by scraping with razor blades to remove; may require multiple applications and must be cleaned costantly to avoid build-up.
  • Polish – leaves a glossy/shiny finish on a stone surface and brings out the color and character of the stone; depending on the type of stone and if there is any artificial scratches or etch marks, a powder or liquid polish is used with a white, hogs hair, diamond or steel wool pad.
  • Hone – gives the stone a matte finish with little to no gloss/shine; process usually performed with honing powder and pad.
  • Clean – removes dirt, dust and other impurities from the stone surface; can be completed using a dust mop or hard surface vacuum or a floor machine and a neutral cleaner such as Crystal Clean.
  • Seal – application of a protective chemical which helps prevent liquids or particles from penetrating the stone; ALL stones need to be sealed; most sealers are applied by completely covering surface with the sealer using a sponge, mop, or applicator; see the different types of sealer in @thegraniteguy1409‘s blog Does Your Granite Need to be Sealed?
  • Etch – a chemical reaction when an acidic product is spilled or used on natural stone (most commonly marble) and leaves spots, rings, and/or dulls the stone in that area; stone would need to be re-polished or honed to remove the etch marks.
  • Stun Marks – occur when a sharp/heavy object strikes certain stones like marble, leaving a white mark; most common offenders are tools and a broken or sharp high heel shoe.
  • Spalling – the “popping” of a stone that occurs when moisture cannot fully escape, putting pressure on the crystals in the stone, causing them to “pop” out; to repair, the stone must be ground and the holes left filled.
  • Efflorescence – a white, chalky or powdery residue that can be found on brick, masonry, flagstone and other exterior stone; is the crystallization of soluble salts (found in saltwater pools, water softeners, concrete accelerators). 
  • Bull Nose – a convex rounding of a stone tile or slab; typically found on a counter or vanity top; normally performed prior to installation with a machine.
  • Expansion Joint – a join between the stone designed to expand and contract to prevent the stone from cracking.
  • Lippage – a term used to describe uneven tiles; when one tile is higher or lower than the next tile; requires the floor to be ground to flatten.
  • pH Neutral – as mentioned in @dristoneandmarble‘s blog Cleaning Marble & Granite Counters, in layman’s terms, pH neutral means a product is neither an acid nor alkaline; for example, pure water is pH neutral; on a pH scale 7 is considered neutral, 1 to 6 is acidic and 8 to 14 is alkaline; calcium based stones such as marble are very reactive to acids and cause etch marks; alkalines such as heavy duty stone cleaners and some strippers can be used on stone but the surface needs to be cleaned and neutralized with a pH neutral cleaner afterward.


We will constantly update this list to add more terms and definitions. As always, if there is a particular term you have questions about, let us know and we will be happy to help.


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