A variety of igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks are used as structural and decorative dimension stone. These rock types are more commonly known as granite, limestone, marble, travertine, quartz-based stone (sandstone, quartzite) and slate. Other varieties of dimension stone that are normally considered to be special minor types include alabaster (massive gypsum), soapstone (massive talc), serpentine and various products fashioned from natural stone.
A variety of finishes can be applied to dimension stone to achieve diverse architectural and aesthetic effects. These finishes include, but are not limited to, the following. A polished finish gives the surface a high luster and strong reflection of incident light (almost mirror-like). A honed finish provides a smooth, satin-like ("eggshell"), nonreflective surface. More textured finishes include brush-hammered, sandblasted, and thermal. A brush-hammered finish, similar to a houndstooth pattern, creates a rough, but uniformly patterned surface with impact tools varying in coarseness. A sandblasted surface provides an irregular pitted surface by impacting sand or metal particles at high velocity against a stone surface. A thermal (or flamed) finish produces a textured, nonreflective surface with only a few reflections from cleavage faces, by applying a high-temperature flame. This finish may change the natural color of the stone depending on mineralogical composition, particularly with stones containing higher levels of iron.