Marble is a luxurious finish for the interior of a home. It speaks of class and classic good looks yet is also practical. Marble has a crisp, polished elegance that brings to mind stately buildings. Installing marble tile in a home is smart on many counts but may not be for everyone. Thorough research of any permanent materials to be installed in a home is ideal, since changing mistakes down the road is not only extremely costly but highly inconvenient.
Learning how to tell marble apart from other stone finishes will give potential buyers a head start on selecting the right tile. Understanding the properties of marble provides a heads-up on the care and maintenance required for marble surfaces. Different uses for marble tile are listed as options. Last, tips on where and how to buy marble will have homeowners on their way to the tile of their dreams.
Distinguishing Marble From Other Types of Stone
There are other multicolored stones used in the building world that sometimes look like marble, so it is important to know the differences among the most common of these: travertine, granite, and marble.
Travertine is a type of limestone, which is essentially calcium carbonate. (Limestone is a sedimentary rock, meaning it is formed by layers of mineral
deposits over time.) As someone familiar with limestone would expect, travertine is almost always white or off-white to beige or buff in color, and
many people like the neutral tones. Travertine is typically quarried near
freshwater environments, such as streams and hot springs. This type of stone is porous; it is more plentiful than marble and, therefore, generally less expensive. There are more finish options available with travertine than with marble, even though color options may be minimal. One of the most famous examples of travertine construction is the Colosseum in Rome.
Granite sometimes has an appearance similar to that of marble, but granite is an entirely different type of rock. Granite is igneous rock, meaning it is formed from molten rock that has cooled and hardened. Most granite can be distinguished from marble appearance-wise in that granite, as its name would imply, has a grainy or speckled look to it. By contrast, marble is veined with fine lines running through it; however, there is some marble that resembles granite, and vice versa. Granite is far harder, more resistant to scratches, acid damage, and burns than marble. Granite is typically white to black or pink, although there are other natural colors, such as blue, which are rarer and more expensive. Mount Rushmore is granite, as is El Escorial in Madrid, one of the world’s largest granite buildings.
Like travertine, marble is also a variety of limestone, but there are many differences between marble and travertine. “Travertine marble” is a misnomer, and such references are common but erroneous. Marble is metamorphic, not sedimentary; it is denser than travertine and also offers many more color variations. There is certainly white marble but also blue, green, black, and other hues. These colors arise from mineral impurities in the forming rock. Marble is more durable than travertine but also more difficult to process and, strangely, prone to breakage when being shipped.
Whereas travertine is typically found in freshwater areas, marble is primary a saltwater rock, being especially plentiful near the sea, which is why it is associated with the ancient Mediterranean cultures of Rome and Greece. However, there are inland sources of marble, such as Colorado and Germany. One of the most famous marble buildings in the world is the Taj Mahal in India.
Qualities of Marble Tile
The qualities of marble tile should be considered before making a commitment to it as an interior finish. While the benefits are many, there are concerns with any type of purchase. Weighing the pluses and minuses honestly leads to a satisfactory buying experience.
Positive Qualities of Marble Tile
Marble tile has many good features, including its durability, hardness, easy cleaning, and beauty.
One only needs to consider the longevity of ancient rock formations such as Stonehenge or centuries-old marble sculptures to comprehend the durability of stone tile. Even gravestones, which are subjected to harsh weather conditions, last hundreds of years. Of course, all types of stone have different degrees of durability, but a marble tile floor, with proper care, will last indefinitely.
For the most part, the hardness of marble is a good thing; however, in a home with many breakables, especially with children or pets, anything dropped or knocked over is as good as gone. Still, hardness equates to a long-lasting material.
Because marble (and most stone) is naturally durable, it requires little daily and weekly maintenance. A good dust mopping every day will take care of dust and dirt, but to many people, daily sweeping or mopping is too much of a chore. Damp mopping can be done as needed or on a regular weekly basis with water or a special stone cleaner. Because marble stains easily, be sure to attend to spills and drips immediately. (Set stains will need to be dealt with by a marble specialist.)
Marble is one of the most beautiful stones. Many feel that veined marble looks more graceful and elegant than the crystalline look of granite (or of some granular marble). Polished marble has a lovely sheen and looks simply luxurious.
Concerns With Marble Tile
For all the benefits, there are some things that everyone must consider seriously before choosing marble tile for a building material. The main concerns are that marble is cold, sensitive to chemicals, prone to scratches, and expensive.
Like any stone, marble is good at conducting heat away from the body, so it feels cold when touched or walked on in bare feet. Homeowners need to consider the region in which they live, their climate control system, and their personal comfort level before choosing marble tile for flooring. It may mean always having to wear slippers, which some people are not accustomed to doing. Area rugs may be used, but then again, covering marble with rugs defeats the purpose of using this attractive material.
The calcium component of marble is particularly susceptible to etching by acids, such as vinegar, citrus juices, and soft drinks, as well as less obvious acids, such as ketchup, salad dressing, and many other food and household products. Spills from these items can ruin the finish and roughen the texture of marble tile. Marble tile is not an ideal finish for a kitchen floor for this reason. Moreover, chlorine bleach also ruins marble. Special, mild cleaning solutions must be used for marble care.
Keeping marble clean is of the utmost importance, as it can become scratched by sand and dirt that are tracked onto it. Most experts recommend not wearing outside footwear on marble tile for this reason; bare feet, socks, or slippers are ideal. There is some debate as to whether sealers prevent scratches or attract the grit that causes scratches, so a decision on this count must be made as well.
When compared to other tile and finish options, marble is at the higher end of the cost range. The installation adds even more money to the bill. Keep in mind also that while day-to-day cleaning is fairly easy, marble also requires regular professional cleaning and polishing and eventually, resurfacing and resealing.
The main thing to keep in mind is that any material has its downsides, and marble tile is still a highly desirable surface. People who like the look of marble but not some of the negatives may wish to look into modern vinyl flooring that mimics the look of marble, or concrete floors that can be stained to resemble marble.
Where to Install Marble Tile
Marble tile is not just for floors; it can also be used for a backsplash in a kitchen or bathroom, walls, or even deck and patio surfaces.
Where to Find Marble Tile
Marble tile is available from flooring stores, flooring contractors, home improvement stores, stone tile retailers, remodeling companies, and even marble specialists. Marble tile must be installed by a professional; it is quite heavy and requires careful matching.
Marble tile is a good choice for the home. Stone materials are known for their durability. While granite is harder than marble, it is also not as beautiful to many people. Travertine is a stone that looks very much like marble but has some distinct differences, one of the main ones being the lack of color variety. Marble is a beautiful, durable, easy-to-clean material. On the other hand, it is cold, expensive, and susceptible to damage from chemicals and scratching. Still, nothing matches the look of marble, so if a homeowner is ready and willing to stick to a frequent cleaning schedule and has the budget for it, marble tile can really improve the look of a home and add to its overall value.