Marble Floor Tile Pros & Cons

All varieties of marble are metaphoric rocks that start life as a limestone. When subjected to extreme pressure and temperature beneath the earth, limestone morphs into marble, the beautiful rock known today for its association with luxury and refinement. Marble flooring is more popular than ever. In the past five years, marble sales have grown more than 400 percent. While marble flooring can be extremely beautiful, like any material, it has its drawbacks. Carefully weigh the pros and cons before installing marble floor tiles in your next building project.

Pro: Aesthetic Beauty

Perhaps what first attracted you to marble floor tiles is the aesthetic appearance.  Few building materials are as beautiful as marble.

There are dozens of different varieties of marble that you can use as flooring in your home.  You can choose exactly the color of you want from a gorgeous array ranging from black to pink to white, or even a rich deep green with white veins, such as "verdi antique" (one of the costliest marbles).

An elegant, expressive material, marble conveys good taste and refinement.  Marble will complement many different styles of decor, from the classical to ultra-modern.

Con: Cost

A typical marble tile costs about $4 to $8 per square foot, and depending on the type you choose, you could easily spend upward of $8 per square foot.  Also keep in mind that certain marbles, especially dark colored varieties such as black and green, require special installation at an additional cost.

Pro: Durability

Marble is a very durable, hard stone.  If you drop a ceramic dinner plate on linoleum, the dinner plate may not break.

Rest assured, however, that if you drop a ceramic dinner plate on marble, it will shatter into a hundred pieces.  The exceptional hardness inherent to marble is actually a benefit.

You will never have to be concerned that your dog's claws are scratching up your floor, as you might with hardwood flooring. 

Con: Low Stain Resistence

People often confuse granite with marble, or think that they are interchangeable with one another.  They are not similar, however.

Marble is almost never used for counter tops, while granite frequently is.  This is because marble is a porous stone with low stain resistance.

As a floor tile, marble is less susceptible to stains than it might be if installed as a counter top.  However, a spilled glass of red wine may require replacement of a tile if it hasn't been appropriately polished and sealed.

Marble floor tiles will not be appropriate for an area of the house where accident-prone children are likely to drop a cup full of juice. 

Pro: Longevity

The lifespan of marble is exceptional, thanks to its durability.  Marble is one of the oldest building materials, favored by the Greeks and Romans.

Evidence of their exceptional marble-work still exists today.  If installed correctly in an appropriate area, such as flooring in low-traffic parts of your home, you will likely not have to replace the marble in your lifetime.

In order to ensure longevity, always hire a trusted installer. 

Con: Maintenance

Maintaining marble floor tiles is not quite as easy as maintaining ceramic or granite floor tiles.  In order to keep marble tiles shiny and clean, you need to regularly polish them.

Marble requires special cleaning products, as most cleaning detergents contain chlorine, which will immediately ruin the polish of the tiles.  In addition to cleaning and polishing, marble floor tiles need to be resealed every 9 to 12 months, depending on where in the home the marble is applied (such as on the floor of the bathroom or in the foyer).

This generally needs to be done by a professional, which can be costly. 

About the Author

Based in Chicago, Annie Wang has been writing since 2008. Her work has appeared in World Architecture News and other online publications. She holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and art history from the University of California, Davis.