28 Dec 2012

Marble – Still a good choice!

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To understand the suitability (or unsuitability) of marble as a building material in the home, we don’t necessarily need to delve into the various types and species of the stone, which are myriad. To keep things from getting cluttered, I’ll lump all the varieties together and simply call them marble.

To say that marble is stone is not enough. It is actually stone that has been transformed from other stone, limestone specifically. Along the way, some marble picks up fossils (corals, for example) and incorporates them into its final makeup. From this we can judge marble to be very old, millions if not billions of years. Marble is not, then, a renewable resource for our purposes, but it is plentiful. There are marble deposits throughout the world.

Marble is quarried in large chunks, cut from the surrounding rock and brought to mills where the stone can be further processed. The largest slabs possible are sawn first, then smaller slabs, and finally marble tiles, which are cut in several sizes, most often 12 inches square and about a half inch thick.

So marble tiles might be considered leftovers. These “leftovers” will have been cleaved from a number of larger, more valuable pieces, and pronounced variations can be expected in color and veining from tile to tile. This variation is what makes a marble tile installation what it is. Do not expect the tiles to match one another. Many times they won’t even come close. Often, the final effect can be described as “scatter-quilt” or “checkered.”

Many varieties of marble tiles contain weaknesses we call “faults.” Faults run through the stone in random directions and at times appear to be veining. Often, these imperfections are filled with tinted resins before the tiles receive their final polishing at the factory. Some marble tiles are so inherently weak that fiberglass mesh is attached to their backs to strengthen them.

Marble, as stone goes, is soft, and it will scratch easily. It should not be used in areas of high traffic in the home. What starts out as a very elegant floor can become a dismal eyesore in very short order. Marble floors will also oxidize if not regularly cleaned and polished.

Credit for this content: John Bridge

One Response to Marble – Still a good choice!
  1. More info from Lynden Tree-

    One of the most important things to think about when considering marble tile is the use of the space in which the tile is being installed. While a high polished marble is beautiful and can provide a dramatic effect in a bathroom or on a backsplash, we wouldn’t necessarily recommend marble in a high traffic area like an entryway or laundry floor. While a proper sealer will improve the cleanliness of a marble floor the inherently soft nature will still show wear over time in a well used area. Honed and leathered finished marble may be more desirable in such installations (which will show less scratching due to a “matte like” finish) or moving into a harder stone such as granite or quartz. Also a good number of porcelain tiles do a nice job of emulating the beauty of natural marble but with the durability of porcelain.


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