MARBLE Flooring: Elegance from the Mist of Time

by Raymond Alexander Kukkee

image of marble tiles

Elegant marble from the mists of time


There is something about a marble floor that discreetly speaks of status, but also boldly offers a statement of luxury demonstrated by breath-taking elegance. To the average homeowner/renovator, marble must seem rare and out of reach. It is often perceived as too expensive, perhaps too magnificent, presumptuous, or over-done, but somehow different than lesser ordinary flooring.

Such homeowners must confidently assure themselves that yes, once marble is installed, it will be more beautiful than average. It will elevate pride of ownership; it will tweak the perception of luxury, and admittedly even increase the long term resale value of the home. For the practical-minded, however, it will also offer durability, function, and low-cost permanence. And yes, you can install marble flooring yourself.

Marble is a natural stone more rare than slate, and like slate, it is sawn and processed into tiles and other architectural panels. It is admittedly more expensive than other stone or high-quality ceramic tile flooring, but easily returns a higher bang-for-the buck to the renovator and discriminating homeowner. Paradoxically, although pricey, the lifetime cost of marble is actually very low. Marble is as durable as history itself because it lasts for centuries. What better flooring could you install in your own private bathroom, castle, or Taj Mahal? Globally, marble has been widely used in fabulous buildings of note for centuries, so why stop now?

“Marble can be used in foyer, hallway, ballroom or bathroom ”

Why is marble considered to be so exotic? The fact is, even if carefully “book-slabbed”, no two pieces of marble are identical. Marble is a form of dolomite or limestone that has been metamorphosed in the mists of time, altered by intense heat and pressure in a natural geological setting. As it was changed, impurities in the rock colored the marble, making intricate, beautiful, and unique designs in the rock revealed only when the rock is finally sawn into slabs or tiles. Marble can be polished to a high degree, fire-finished, or honed and left with a matte surface, depending upon the specific application or desired appearance.

Application of marble is universal. Marble can be used in foyer, hallway ballroom or bathroom. It can be installed on your bathroom floor using thin set cement just as ordinary ceramic tile is installed; but extra care is required in handling marble tiles. Cutting is accomplished using a tile wet saw using a continuous porcelain blade. Careful, uniform spacing and suitable cement grout is typically used to complete most residential-type applications.

Marble can also be meticulously fitted to create a visually seamless floor by professionals using equipment for accurate honing of the edges, but that process requires additional equipment, skill and expense.

If you’re planning on marble for your project, extra care will also required in preparing the substrate. To avoid cracking of the tile at some point in the future, make sure you use a backer board to ensure there is little or no flex in the flooring surface.  Why? In some marbles, the unique vein and grain patterns caused by impurities can also introduce a point of weakness along those same beautiful markings, so adequate support is essential.

To minimize breakage, cracking, and extra cost, avoid flexible substrates, ensure uniform thin set cement coverage, and handle marble tile carefully from start to finish. It’s also always a good idea to allow yourself a few extra tiles from the same color batch because some breakage is likely to occur when cutting.

The future maintenance of marble flooring in your bathroom is something that should be considered carefully. Although marble can be easily sanitized and is waterproof, mold and bug-proof, it can also be stained, scratched and damaged.  Marble must be properly sealed at the time of installation with an invisible, high-penetrating stone sealant such as Stain-Proof Original™ or Enhance-PLUS™ to prevent stains from oils or other spilled liquids.

Some acidic cleaning compounds can damage marble, leaving a permanent etched spill pattern if left on the surface too long. Spills of soda-pop, lemon juice or other acidic liquids should be addressed immediately. The surface of some marble is slightly porous, especially if unpolished, and it can absorb liquid enough to leave stains, so spills of colored liquids should be removed , or you’ll end up having to remove them with hydrogen peroxide. For the ultra scrubbing-minded, let’s avoid using those favorite abrasive cleaners on marble which can scratch and remove that beautiful high polish.

Worth repeating, marble should be sealed using a penetrating sealer at the time of installation, and cleaned only with marble-friendly cleaners. Water alone will not harm marble. A bathroom floor can be polished and eventually refinished if necessary.

Warranties offered on natural marble may vary substantially depending upon the grade of marble, type and source, as well as the installation. Warranty against cracking is usually one year even with a professional installation, and warranties typically do not cover natural defects, staining, abrasion, or damage by impact.

A classy, beautiful flooring that installs like ceramic tile, marble also comes in a surprising number of colors. A fascinating and wide variety of marbles is available, each with it’s own natural, unique and interesting patterns.
Marble may be the ultimate choice in bathroom flooring . It also may well be the last time you will ever have to replace your bathroom floor. Go ahead, show it off.

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