Marble is one of the most lavish and elegant flooring options available. It has a rich history, and has been the material of choice for designers, architects, and artists throughout all of human history. All natural, marble floor tiles are quarried from mountain ranges in countries around the world, and are available in a number of different finishes, sizes, and colors.
While marble is an elegant and sophisticated flooring option, it does require a certain amount of care and maintenance. It needs to be treated on a regular basis to protect it against spills and moisture. It is also susceptible to certain kinds of stains and damage.
Considerations When Installing Marble Floors
Marble is a natural stone and all natural stone materials have porous surfaces. This makes marble susceptible to damage from a variety of stains and spills. In order to offset this, a new installation of marble should be treated with both a below surface sealer, and a surface finishing treatment. This will serve to clog the pores in the material, while also creating an invisible layer over it.
Maintenance will require the reapplication of the surface sealing treatment every 6 – 12 months depending on the level of traffic in the space.
Acid Stains: Marble is an alkalai, which means that it is a base in an acid base relationship. This is important in flooring because if any acidic substance falls on an untreated marble floor it will cause a chemical reaction. The result of this reaction will be a permanent discoloration of the marble.
Common acidic substances include fruit products and juices, sodas, vinegar based mixes, as well as a variety of soaps and cleaning agents. Spills should be wiped up immediately with a damp cloth. Regular sealing of the tiles will help to protect them to some extent. Never use acid based cleaning solutions on a marble floor.
Slip Resistance: In flooring slip resistance is measured by the coefficient of friction, which calculates how much force it takes to move a specific weight over a surface. The higher the coefficient of friction the less slippery a floor is.
The coefficient of friction of a marble floor depends on the type of finish that the stone has. A polished marble floor has a very low coefficient of friction, especially when wet, making it a potential slip hazard in the wrong space. Honed, tumbled, or brushed marble tiles all have greater traction due to the dimensional elements in the surface of the stone.
Physical Damage: While you usually think of stone as being a very hard substance, marble is actually quite soft and can suffer from damage due to cracks, chips, and breakage. Proper care taken during installation can prevent this to some extent, by making sure that there are no gaps in the thin set under the tile that can create weak pockets of air that will become faults in the floor.
With polished marble you also have to be aware of scratching that can occur. Placing acrylic or rubber pads under furniture legs and taking care when moving large pieces can help to cut down on noticeable scratches in the tile. Regular cleaning and keeping the floor clear of grit and dirt will help to cut down on smaller blemishes.Evaluating Tile For Scratch Resistance
Cost of Marble Floor Tiles
The cost of marble tile can range all the way from as little as $3.00 per square foot, up to as much as $15 or $20 per square foot, making it one of the more expensive natural stone flooring options.
- Generally the larger the tile, the more expensive it ill be per square foot.
- Some discount tile stores will offer you marble tile at extremely low prices. Make sure that they have a return policy as the materials you receive may be cracked or irregular.
- Some dealers will allow you to negotiate a discounted price for larger jobs.