Think marble is only for the kitchen, the bathroom, or the outrageously wealthy? Think again! For modern marble, there are few if any rules about how to use it. Follow my tips for how to work with this sought-after material and get a rock-solid look for your next renovation. Then hire a tile expert to complete the project!
On a budget? Use it in small quantities
Marble can be one of the most budget-busting materials, but the unique, luxe appeal can really enrich a room, or even a whole home. To satisfy your craving for marble on a budget, consider using it for a bathroom vanity top or backsplash (especially in a powder room), where the amount of material needed will be relatively low compared to a full kitchen counter.
Tip: Alternately, consider applying a marble backsplash to just a small area:
- The space between the range and rangehood;
- A single wall;
- Short backsplash a few inches tall.
Then, use sleek white subway tiles for the remaining walls, and the precious stone will be the star of the show.
Let the tile experts show you what you can do with the many colour options available!
Water Under the Bridge
Although most marble tile is naturally porous, and must be properly sealed (more on that in a minute), you can safely use it in wet areas when prepared correctly. The larger concern for most natural stones is the tendency to absorb oil-based stains, so avoid storing oily products directly on the marble. In the shower, this where a niche lined in a contrast tile saves the day.
Warning: clean up spills on marble quickly!
But don’t overreact by using household cleaners. Mild soap and water will typically do the trick.
For accidental oil stains, mix the following together:
- Gentle stone cleanser
Sealing the Deal
Most forms of stone require a sealant to prevent moisture from creeping in, and this is typically applied by the installer. Always check with your stone supplier for their installation and maintenance recommendations, and ask to keep some of the sealing product: reapplying a few times after installation will often make sure it’s thoroughly absorbed (following supplied directions). The tile contractors you work with can help you out with this!
Are you getting the whole picture?
Sealant can affect the exact look of a stone, often making the final look a touch darker and richer – in a positive way. Make sure the samples you review when choosing a material are already sealed, so you have a more accurate picture of the final effect—or in a pinch, simulate a sealed look by getting the tiles wet.
If you are ready to embrace wall-to-wall marble, over-sized tiles is the best way to achieve a seamless, haute couture look. Offset the tiles in a simple brick layout (with a 1/2 to 1/3 offset) and the stone surface will appear to blend into one singular and powerful statement.
The finishing touch: I always recommend choosing a less expensive—but authentic—stone, or tiling only a few walls of a bathroom, over accepting a faux stone finish. Simply fill empty walls with a slab-mirror and clean paint, and the beauty of a true stone tile will elevate the look of your space.
On the opposite end of the size spectrum, a marble mosaic creates a unique look by breaking up the graining for a more dynamic effect. Pale marble varieties like calacatta with soft grey veining will look richer this way without getting too busy, perfect for an elegant bathroom floor or feminine backsplash.
Tip: As Danielle from Sarana Tile points out, “If you have a small space, you may not be able to see the whole pattern” with large tile formats. This is why simpler mosaics like a chic hexagon or classic herringbone work well for tight bathroom floors and short backsplashes, with an easy elegance that works every time.
Final Quick Tips
- Sealed marble can be kitchen safe, but for a budget friendly look use it in a compact powder room for a big effect.
- Clean marble gently using water and soap, and absorb oil stains rather than bleaching.
- Your marble should be sealed thoroughly—including when looking at samples.
- Large tiles with matching grout create a seamless look for the ultimate luxe statement.
- Marble mosaic doubles the grain effect and fits a compact surface perfectly.
Ready to get renovating? Take a look at our list of tile contractors. Scroll through image galleries and start imagining marble in your home. It doesn’t have to be a big project; a touch of marble can transform any room!
About the Author: Yanic Simard is principal designer at Toronto Interior Design Group and TV design expert on Cityline.