LIMESTONE & SANDSTONE COLORS 101

Every project created using stone is uniquely beautiful.

Since stone is a product of nature, creating exact matches for specific colors or projects can be difficult. Many additional factors can impact the final aesthetic including the type of mortar joint (flush, smear, concave, dry stack), mortar color, and quality of installation. Even the environment (direct vs. indirect light, landscape surroundings, paint/stucco/trim/roof) can impact the look. However, our knowledgeable staff at Salado is proud to work extensively with design and installation professionals to replicate a look similar to another project.


Stone gets its color a number of ways: from the way the stone is produced, to varying percentages of minerals present in the stone, and the environment in which the stone was produced. Organic materials such as plants, animals or mosses coming in contact with the stone can create unique colors or textures on the outside or within seams.

When using full thickness stone, the color will almost always have some range, although some stone colors that are primarily created from the insides of blocks—such as White, Buff or Cream Limestone or Tan Sandstone–can be fairly consistent. Many times, the most colorful stone choices often achieve their color from the patina or outside ‘skin’ of the rock (Gold, Hickory). This presents two important issues to customers:

  • If a piece of rock gets its color—and/or texture—from the outside layer only, only one side, or as little as 16.7% (1/6") of the surface will have color. Occasionally when people see the stone in a pile on our yard—or their jobsite upon delivery—they have the reaction that the stone does not have as much color as they wanted. We encourage customers to take the pieces and start turning them or washing the dust off. The overwhelming majority of the time customers who do this ‘find’ the color they want. 
  • It is important to communicate your vision with your masonry/installation crew. If every piece has one side of color, but the colored side is turned to the inside of the wall, a very different look will be achieved than if the color is managed to provide your desired outcome.

Natural Thin Stone Veneer can be more consistent because the desired/specified color is the portion harvested from the full thickness stone (although color ranges still exist). This procedure leaves only one viable side to be installed for display. Using natural thin stone veneer eliminates the choice of whether to turn the color ‘in’ or ‘out’—but it still leaves the need to distribute variances throughout the project.

The end results of any project will depend on the masonry/installation crew. Photographs, brochures, a sample panel along with a good flow of communication with your installer about the look you are trying to achieve is your best bet to ensure your satisfaction with the finished project.

*Stone is a product of nature. Because of this, actual results of colors, weights, and coverages may vary.