Filippo Emanuel
Tenax USA

The natural evolution of stone processing is to look for new and “different” finishes. The designers, architects and trendsetters of the world always want to achieve something different, something that differs from the norm and has a classic style but trendy new look.

Experimenting with brushes and carborundum brought “river washed” and antique finishes on the market about ten years ago. It worked great on softer stones, marbles and travertine giving them a classy soft and warm feeling compared to a cold polished effect or a dull honed finish.

Transferring this experience into world of granite tops was a costly and seldom successful experience. The best results were achieved with a combination of sanding, flaming, bush hammering, water blast and a brush at the end to smooth out the roughness of the first processes.

In few cases this double processing achieved a nice end product, although it was always very costly and never succeeded in becoming mainstream look. Another major issue at a fabricator level was that the first part of the processing was almost impossible to achieve and just the carborundum brush would not even scratch the surface of the edge, just leaving a slight reflective surface that was really not visually pleasing and was a disjointed style from the top.

After years of research Tenax finally came up with a solution for antiquing granite. Using a patented brush with diamond embedded in both soft and hard plastic bristles, Tenax was able to finally dig into the softer part of the granite without any surface preparation, and then increasingly pull out the color of the stone until the right texture/finish was achieved.

Tenax named their innovative tooling Airflex and Filiflex, and used in the correct sequence they will let any fabricator achieve various different textured antique finishes like caress, leather, river wash, and so forth.
Tenax brushes also come in different attachments/shapes so they can be used on manual grinders, edge polishers, CNC machines and floor polishing machines.

The most common and most effective procedure is to bring the surface to a regular 60-80 grit honed finish. This will eliminate any rough surfaces and also open up the material to give more grip to the brushes. Experience and testing has shown an optimum sequence of grits to follow for best results:

• Filiflex 36
• Filiflex 46
• Filiflex 60
• Airflex 120
• Airflex 220

Final finish is worked up using the Airflex 300. At this point you will achieve a very nice antique brushed finish. After this finish it is actually possible to increase the gloss and bring the finish to a polish (still maintaining the textured effect). This finish is often referred to as “caress” finish but there are different trade names in use depending on the manufacturer of the stone.

For a caress finish, Airflex Lux brushes are needed, 400-600-800 grit. The next step involves using special soft, fine-grain diamond abrasives called Fusion G that will bring up the shine to a complete polish.

Lately a new type of brushes have appeared on the market. They look almost identical to carborundum brushes, but have diamonds in the filaments. Tenax recommends their use on very hard granite and stone to help the texturing on the very first grit of the process (usually just grit 35 and 46 are necessary) and then to finish off with the Airflex/Filiflex sequence described above.

Trying to finish the sequence with just the diamond filament brushes usually produce a very harsh and deeply scratched kind of finish, very different from the smooth, clean and warm look the Airflex and Filiflex brush will achieve.

A lot of different sources are available to learn more about the techniques of achieving a good finish. Youtube has a couple of interesting videos on how to use and what to expect from them, and the and the Tenax website both feature product video demonstrations.