One of the most frequent questions I get as a general contractor, is whether or not homeowners should use marble in their bathrooms. Marble can be used as tile, for countertops, flooring, walls, trim and molding. The obvious reason to use marble is its beauty. The soft veins in high-end marble create a sense of movement and design in a bathroom. Marble speaks to luxury, wealth and style.
However, while there are obvious reasons for using tile, there are other considerations to factor in before purchasing marble that can cost anywhere from $100.00 to $300.00 per square foot.
Marble is a soft stone, which means it’s great for sculpture, for cutting and shaping and working with to customize a bathroom. However, marble is not a sustainable resource. There is a finite amount of marble on the planet and when it’s gone, it’s gone. Those looking to build an eco-friendly or LEED certified home might want to consider porcelain as a substitute for marble. Quality marble tends to come from Greece or Italy, meaning the carbon footprint to transport the material is going to be high.
Another thing to consider is how marble wears. Less expensive marble may have iron content in it that appears with age, yellowing the marble in a non-uniform manner. One way to gauge the amount of yellowing that can occur is by the amount and pronouncement of veining in the marble. The more prominent the veining, the more likely it is to have a higher iron content and yellow over time.
Marble is both porous and absorbent. Coloring in hair dyes, shampoos or conditioners can stain the marble. As for sinks and vanities, mouthwash, toothpaste and cosmetics can all etch the marble. Etching is a dulling of the surface of the marble. Even with sealing, marble can become etched. Sealing is recommended when the marble is installed and should be maintained fairly often. Cleaners that use lemon or anything acidic can also etch the marble. For cleaning, some recommend soap and water while others recommend a light bleach solution.
Before making a final decision, the best bet is to test the marble. Order some samples. Spill things like soaps, cosmetics and toothpaste on it and see how it reacts. Try using the cleaners that are commonly used in your house. Soak the tile for several days then dry it and see if the humidity or moisture of the bathroom area cause the tile to change color or yellow.
Marble is an exquisite material, however for some the upkeep and maintenance may not be practical. Sustainability is another consideration. If you have questions about using marble in your bathroom remodel or new construction job, call SoCal Construction and Design, San Diego’s trusted general contractor.