Why Is Marble Cold?

Rachel Zohn

Marble feels cold because it conducts heat differently than other surfaces, such as wood or carpeting. Heat dissipates quickly in marble.

Marble has a classic elegance, but it has another benefit: On a warm day, a room with marble floors or countertops may feel cooler. Place a hand on a marble countertop or walk barefoot across a marble floor, and your extremities will confirm that marble feels colder than other surfaces. This characteristic makes marble an ideal choice for floors and countertops in warmer climates. Marble is also often a top choice for avid bakers, who appreciate the ease of rolling out dough on a cold surface.

Marble as a Heat Conductor

The reason that marble feels cold is because it conducts heat differently than other surfaces. Marble is a very dense, hard stone, and this makes it easier for heat to transfer from a warmer object, such as the soles of your feet. The heat will then dissipate through the marble quickly, so the marble doesn't feel any warmer. When you stand on wood flooring or carpet, the fibers and tiny air pockets within those materials heat up, but they do not dissipate quickly as does on marble. Instead, those surfaces warm up and stay warm to the touch.

Air Temperature vs. Body Temperature

Keep in mind that while a marble surface may feel cold, it is actually the same temperature as the air around you. It's your body, including your feet or hands, that are warmer. Any surface you touch probably feels slightly cooler to you, at least at first, because your internal body temperature is higher than the air temperature.

Heat as Energy

Marble's density, coupled with its ability to conduct heat quickly, means that it takes a lot more energy it to feel warm. When you touch something that is cooler than your skin, you are imparting some of your heat, or energy, to that object. Marble continues to transfer and dissipate that heat quickly, so it takes longer for it to warm up. This means that marble will continue to feel cool to the touch, even on a hot summer day.