Glossary of Terms

Researching and buying stone can be a bewildering and confusing process if you are not familiar with the language and terminology.

Below is a list of key building and stone terms and phrases to help you work out what it is you are looking for. It will also help us to help you as we are all speaking the same language.


Different types of stone have different physical properties, with one of the key important ones being absoption rates – the amount of water absorbed by a stone expressed as a percentage by weight.

Acid Wash

An acidic chemical treatment or wash can be applied to the face of a calcareous stone in order to achieve that distressed finish or texture.


A small mass of naturally occuring rock – usually sand or gravel used in a loose state as an ingredient of mortar of concrete.

Antique Finish

An antique finish is another way of descrbing that rustic or distressed texture that can be applied to an otherwise new piece of stone. Antique finishes can be applied mechanically or by using chemicals to simulate the naturally-occuring effects of the aging process.


Ashlar stones are generally square or rectangular in shape having been sawn or dressed. There are generally three types: random ashlar, coursed ashlar and stacked ashlar. Random ashlar are stones are varied lengths and heights such that neither the vertical nor horiztonal joins are continuous. Coursed ashlar stones are set to form continuous joins across the horizontal, while stack ashlar stone form joints across the vertical.

Backing Stones

Backing stones are typically used at the back of a load-bearing wall to support the load or weight of the ground behind.

Bullnose Paving

Bullnose paving stones are a modern and contemporary type of stone used in modern lanscaping to give steps a clean rounded finish. Bullnose refers to the rounded front of the stone and these can be used for steps or wall tops.


Cills are also known as sills  and are long horizontal load-bearing stones that site above and below a window to support the surrounding brickwork. Stone cills can also be decorative and add a lovely finishing touch to a home-build.

Clean Tumbled

Tumbled stone is stone that has been processed in what is essentially a large tumble dryer but for stone. A round barrel full of abrasive grit and water, and stones, continually turns causing the stones to grind and bang against each other leaving them with a beautiful rustic finish that adds that perfect finishing look to your building or property development.

Cobble Stones

Cobblestones are a natural building material made of cobble-sized stones. The word ‘cob’ means a round lump which perfectly describes this type of stone.

Cobblestones were traditionally used during Victorian times as a road surface and tend to be used today in historic buildings or listed buildings.

Coping Stones

Coping stones are the stones used to finish or cap a wall. They perform an important role, too, preventing rainfall and the elements from penetrating the wall and compromisings its integrity. Usually angled or sloped, they allow the rainfall to drip away from a wall before dropping onto the floor.

Coping stones are also used to add a decorative finish to a wall.

Corbel Stone

A corbel stone is a structural corner stone that juts out from a wall to carry a heavy weight above. Corbel stones often appear decorative thanks to their distinctive,  often intricate appearance but they’re actuall an essential part of providing strength and integrity to a wall.

Crazy Paving

Crazy paving is a type of paving that uses random sizes, shapes and colours of paving slabs to create a random and irregular effect.

Crushed Stone

Crushed stone is a form of aggregate that is made up of angular rocks formed by the crushing of larger rocks. It is different from gravel which is produced naturally by weathering and erosion. Crushed stone is produced using industrial crushers.

Delph Walling

Delph walling stone is a high quality natural stone named after the Yorkshire quarries in which it is found which were known as Delphs or Delfs.

Delph walls have a traditional rustic appearance and are often found on farms or in rural locations. Delph walling stones are extremely durable and look even better the more they weather. Reclaimed delph stones are an excellent choice for extensions, garages or anywhere you wish to add a bit of character to a development.

Diamond Wire Saw

An extremely sharp saw that uses diamond-impregnated cables to cut quarried stone into slabs.

Dimension Stone

A dimensions stone is simply a stone that has been cut or finished to a specific size or shape.

Drip Stone

A drip stone is a form of hood stone that sits above a doorway, window or archway used to drain rainwater away from the threshold.

Dry Stone Walling

Dry stone walling  is a building method by which structures are constructed from stones without any mortar to bind them together. Dry stone structures are stable because of their unique construction method, which is characterized by the presence of a load-bearing facade of carefully selected interlocking stones.


A guillotine is a hyrdraulic device used to cut stone slabs to size.


The head, also known as the return head, is the exposed surface of the jointed edge of a piece of stone.


A stone hearth is a large slab floor that sits in front of a fireplace and extends into the room.


Hearthstones are simply the large stone slabs that make up the hearth.


Kerb stones are edging stones used to finished pavements or raised paths. Also known as curbs they can channel run-off water into drains or simply act as a formal finish to a pavement.

Kneeler Stones

A kneeler stone is a large, often triangular stone that is used at the foot of a gable to provide an anchored stop.


A lintel is a horiztontal stone that spans across the opening of a door or window and support the weight above.

Machine Finish

Machine finish, or machine smoothing is the name given to the final smoothing process applied to stone by the planers.


Masonry refers to the built up construction of a building or wall, specifically stones set in mortar.

Natural Bed

The natural bed is the horizontal stratification of stone as it’s formed in the natural deposit.

Natural Cleft

Natural cleft refers to stone that has been split, or cleaved, parallel to its stratification, revealing a surface that is often regular to a degree corresponding with the flatness of the material’s natural layering.

Natural Stone

Natural stone is simply stone that is a product of nature – in other words not man-made. Examples include granite, travertine, slate, marble, limestone or sandstone.

Pitch Faced

Pitch faced refers to the front-facing finish of building or walling stone after a stone mason has chiselled a margin back from the front of the stone. Pitched face stone is an excellent choice of building material.

Open-Faced Quarry

An open-faced quarry is a quarry that is large and wide open but with a shallow depth. The opposite is a derrick quarry which is short and narrow but deep.


Paving stones are stones used externally for walking on.


Pitch-faced is a traditional and rustic stone finish that is created with a split or chiseled face.


A plinth is almost the opposite to a lintel. Plinths sit at the base of a door or opening and form the stone base or trim.

Plucked Finish

A plucked finish is produced by setting a planer blade deep enough that it removes stone by spalling isntead of shaving it off.


A portico is a type of porch formed by a roof supported by columns.

Quarried Stone

Quite simply stone that has been extracted from quarry either by man or machine.


A quarrier is the person of company that extracts the stone from a quarry.

Quarry Block

A quarry block is a rough piece of stone extracted directly from the quarry, dressed or sawn to the shape of a regular rectangular prism, ready to be shipped.


Quoins are the cornerstones or masonry blocks used at the corner of a wall on a brick building. Stone quoins provide strength and rigidity to a wall or building and are usually cut from a high quality, hard-wearing sandstone.

Retaining Wall

A retaining wall is a strong rigid wall built to the support the weight of a mass of adjacent soil. Where a garden has different levels, a retaining wall is built to seperate the two elevations.


The exposed portion of stone between its outer face and a window/door set into an opening.

Riven Paving

Riving paving stones are a natural, uneven type of paving stone. Riven refers to the surface of the stone which is a natural plane within the rock from which the paving was quarried.

Rock Faced

A traditional/rustic finish created with a split or chiseled face to produce convex projection.

Sawed Edge

Sawed edge is a clean cut usually achieved by sawing with a diamond-wire blade.

Sawn Paving

Sawn paving stones are the opposite to riven paving stones in that they are cut by a stone saw to produce uniform shapes with a consitent smooth, clean finish.

Sawed Face

A finish obtained from the process of cutting blocks and slabs without any further embellishment or processing. Sawed face can be rough or smooth and is usually further described by the type of tool used to saw. For instance diamond sawn, sand sawn, show sawn and chat sawn.


Stone setts are rectangular quarried stones used to lay roads and walkways. Similar to cobblestones but squarer and somewhat more uniformal, stone setts are used as decorative stone paving in landscape architecture.


A stone sill sits at the bottom of a window an is a long horizontal slab.

Slip Joint

A connection which permits both the horizontal and vertical movement of a stone relative to its adjacent unit.

Smooth Finish

As the name suggests a smooth finish giving the least interruption across the surfac of a piece of stone.

Split Faced

Split faced is quite similar to pitch faced in that it essentially means having a rough or uneven front texture as opposed to a clean smooth sawn finish.

Stone Matching

Stone matching is as simple as it sounds. Where a property is built of a certain type of stone, when supplying stone for an extenstion, for example, we try and match the stone as closely as possible to maintain consistency and appearance across both properties.

Textured Finish

A general term used to describe any of the rough finishes that can be applied to stone.

Wire Sawing

A method of cutting stone using wire or cable, usually impregnated with diamond and cooled with water.

Tumbled Finish

An aged/weathered finish created by literally tumbling stone with other abrasive materials such as sand, pebbles or steel bearings.

Tooled Finish

A finish that typically has 4, 6 or 8 parallel concave grooves.