High surface finish quality of the produced slabs is generally desirable in the stone processing industry. This paper presents the results of an experimental investigation into the effects of mineralogical-petrographical and chemical variables on the surface roughness and glossiness of some selected ornamental marbles subjected to grinding-polishing processes. For this purpose, a series of grinding-polishing procedures were performed on the slabs of three distinct marble types. Roughness and brightness measurements were carried out on predetermined surfaces of marble samples using a stylus profilometer and a glossmeter, respectively. Thin sections were examined by a polarizing microscope for mineralogical-petrographical characterization of the studied marbles. Scanning electron microscopy was used to aid in the identification and characterization of the slab surface morphologies at each polishing stage. X-ray diffraction and scanning electron microscopy with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy were used for the determination of mineralogical and chemical compositions of the samples. Mainly because of the differences in textural and chemical compositions, different levels of microroughness and gloss values were observed for the studied marble varieties. The presence of different mineral phases such as the grain (i.e. calcite to calcite) and phase contacts (i.e. calcite to epidote) greatly affected the heterogeneity of the marbles, resulting with different removal mechanisms under the action of abrasive grits. Copyright (c) 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.