One Stone, Many Expressions

Mesabi Black Finishes

4 Reasons to Incorporate Multiple Finishes

Think choosing one stone for your project means a boring design? Not if you choose multiple finishes! Different finishes can create a variety of shades and tones and strikingly different looks while unifying the space. Here are four of our top reasons to incorporate multiple finishes into your next project:

1. Provide subtle, cohesive contrast.

Applying multiple finishes to one natural stone creates a subtle contrast, compared to the stark contrast of different stones. And when several finishes of the same stone are used throughout the project, the slight variations can help coordinate the entire look. Additionally, choosing one stone with multiple finishes can reduce the number of pieces requiring installation. This can transfer into lower installation costs by setters having to handle less pieces on the job site. Therefore, aesthetic variation can be achieved within the same piece versus using multiple pieces.

Fountain at St. Joseph CathedralA great example is in Wheeling, West Virginia, where the design team for a major reorganization of the St. Joseph Cathedral campus chose one granite color – Coldspring’s Mesabi Black®. Mesabi Black was used for many elements – from fountains and pools to paving and steps – and the three finishes (Diamond® 100, Diamond® 10 and Diamond® 8) produce a variety of shades – light, medium and dark. By selecting multiple finishes, the same stone subtly coordinates the entire space.

2. Create a design element.

Sometimes, a change in finish is used as a design element. For example, a hardscape might change finishes to signal a change in space, such as moving into a seating area. You can also use texture changes to accent or draw attention to key features within a project.

Penn State UniversityAn example of using different finishes as a design element is found at Penn State University. Penn State renovated areas of its main campus to create a lively pedestrian corridor with a variety of student gathering spaces. One of them, HUB Plaza, incorporates large blocks of locally quarried stone to serve as an outdoor seating area, while a Mesabi Black water feature creates a visual point of interest for students and faculty.

The granite water feature is a focal point for the University’s HUB plaza. The varying textures of the multiple finishes (Polish, Thermal, Diamond 8 and VM), all in Mesabi Black, help create the design elements for a dramatic water feature.

3. Achieve functionality.

When a project specifies the need to meet certain requirements, such as the American with Disabilities Act [ADA] requirements, utilizing multiple stone finishes can help. While polished or honed finishes alone do not generally meet ADA requirements in exterior paved environments, the application of a flamed, thermal or sanded finish in conjunction with a polished or honed finish may achieve the minimums. Different textures can also be used to delineate traffic and walking lanes within a larger paved area.

Granite finishes at National MuseumOther elements of functionality can be achieved with varying finishes, such as glare and SRI (solar reflective index). Based on your project conditions, you may be trying to minimize light reflectance. For example, the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. features Mesabi Black in various finishes. Most of the walls feature a highly polished finish.

However, a combination of polish coping and Diamond 8 facing was selected for the museum’s north wall, which serves as the museum’s main entrance. The north wall spans approximately 340 feet across the front of the museum, running parallel to Constitution Avenue. The less reflective, Diamond 8 finish was selected due to concerns over too much reflection off the wall at the highly traveled entrance.

4. Maximize the budget.

Finally, don’t forget the benefits of quarrying one stone to maximize the project’s budget. To avoid a monotonous appearance, designers often select numerous stones to add different colors and shade variations in the finished product. But doing so can quickly stretch a project’s budget by requiring material to be brought in from multiple suppliers, thus adding to the procurement and project management costs of construction. By optimizing the material being utilized from a single quarry, efficiencies can be gained and overall costs stay significantly lower. In some cases, design teams may have a specific appearance in mind but don’t realize the various available finish options to achieve the look. Discussing the overall goals of your project with a natural stone provider can help maximize your budget and bring your vision to life.

When you’re considering natural stone for your next project, view all of our finishes to discover how you can create a cohesive, striking look.

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