Using Marble in the Bathroom: Everything You Need to Know
Marble is known worldwide for its unique and charming veined texture and its rich assortment of colors. Having been used to adorn castles and mansions for hundreds of years, it’s a metamorphic rock with a long history. Its durability and versatility have helped this natural stone make its way into average home designs worldwide, adding lasting value and marketability to a house.
Marble has a natural warmth that delivers a refined element to any space you place it in. Its inherently unique appearance, range of features, and simplicity of care make it an exquisite choice for flooring, vanity tops, and wall claddings. Many marble types are suitable for wet area installation, which broadens this natural stone’s flexibility to include showers and tub decks.
Marble is always on-trend and can stand up to anything if appropriately treated. Although it’s a symbol of luxury, current manufacturing and technology provide attractive marble options even to homeowners on a budget.
Suppose you’re thinking about adding a touch of luxury and charm to your bathroom using this unique and exquisite stone. In that case, it’s essential to understand the various types of marble, its attributes, and the general maintenance that’s required to keep it looking as good as new before you commit.
Types of Marble
Marble is a metamorphic rock formed inside the Earth by natural compacted materials like dolomite, calcite, and other carbonate substances. The crystallized forms of these materials interlock and form marble when put under intense pressure and heat. Each piece of marble is unique, and it comes in a wide range of colors and textures, based on the levels of impurities present in them, combined with the unique materials that formed it.
Hundreds of thousands of marble types exist around the world. Some provide cleaner, lighter-colored backgrounds, while others have darker, stronger colors. You can find marble colors ranging from white and pink to emerald, black, and gray. Here are the best types of marble to use for a bathroom.
When you think of the most classic, elegant, smooth, and shiny white marble surfaces, you’re thinking of Calacatta marble. This type of marble is the epitome of luxury and remains unparalleled in its beauty and quality. Dark, thick veining complements the bright white color of Calacatta marble. It’s one of the best types of marble for bathrooms for many reasons. One, the bright white color creates the illusion of a larger space. The white hue is also easy to pair with pretty much any other color. Calacatta comes in a few variations that can be told apart mainly by the color of their veining:
- Calacatta Gold marble has an opulent hue with golden veining and taupe highlights
- Its intricate gray veining distinguishes Calacatta Michelangelo marble from others
- Calacatta Borghini marble has a combination of gold highlights and dense gray veining.
Carrara Marble is the most widely available marble in the world. It’s often mistaken for Calacatta marble but has a slightly darker light gray background with delicate veining. It’s a classic, dainty type of marble, but don’t let its looks fool you. It’s more durable and robust than Calacatta Marble, making it ideal for use in bathrooms.
Talathello marble has an elegant look with a light gray background. It features tones of beige and silver that compliment the background seamlessly.
Emperador marble comes in a medium to dark brown color and features bold white veining. It’s a challenging type of marble, making it a unique and practical choice for flooring, vanities, and walls.
Crema Marfil Marble originates in Spain. Its stand-out feature is erratic veining that comes in natural tones over beige colors. It has a unique look that adds to its magnificent appeal.
If you’ve ever seen a striking black marble room, you’re looking at Nero Marquina. This one-of-a-kind marble has a jet-black background that’s contrasted with bold white veining. Nero Marquina marble is the epitome of modernist style.
Physical Attributes and Characteristics of Marble
Being the unique natural stone that it is, marble has an array of physical characteristics that make it appealing. When choosing marble for a bathroom, consider the following:
A honed finish is practical and adds a luxurious depth to the surface, while low-gloss and brushed marble hide little messes like watermarks, dried toothpaste, and powder well.
All marble stone has natural veining. Veining refers to the black, gray, or charcoal lines that run through the stone, lending it a unique and exquisite look. However, you must not forget to envision how the veins will look if you’re planning on using marble in areas where it will need to be cut and seamed together. You must also consider how it will look if you’ll be balancing lightly veined areas with heavily veined ones.
The appearance of marble changes as time passes. The iron that’s naturally embedded deep within the stone turns to rust and rises to the surface, especially after being exposed to moisture and humidity. Eventually, this will give the marble a rust-hued patina. You can see how different shades of marble will look after this happens by doing a simple 3-step soak test:
- Take a sample of marble and place it in a bucket
- Fill the bucket with water and let the marble rest there for 2-3 days
- Take the marble out of the water and let it dry for two days
Once the marble is dry, you will be able to see whether there were changes in the shade of color and decide whether or not you find the change appealing.
Marble Pros and Cons
While adding marble to a bathroom or doing an entire bathroom in marble will undoubtedly add aesthetic appeal and raise the home’s value and marketability a bit, there are downsides to choosing this classic natural stone to use in a bathroom. Here’s the good and the ugly of working with marble.
- Marble lends the space an elegant and luxurious look that’s hard to match with other materials
- It raises the value and marketability of the home
- Marble comes in a wide range of color palettes and shaping options, which allows its use in various complex designs
- Every piece of marble is unique
- Marble is a good heat conductor, making the bathroom warmer in winter
- It also feels cool to the touch in summer, creating a comfortable environment year-round
- Marble is prone to scratches and can be stained
- It can’t withstand harsh chemical cleaning agents
- Deep stains can be problematic because chemical cleaning agents will damage it
- Marble requires regular surface sealer treatments due to its porous nature. However, the sealing can cause discoloration if water is trapped beneath. Another potential issue arises if you use a sealer when it isn’t required (not all marble types require sealing). In such cases, the sealer can harm the surface
- To retain the beauty and sheen, marble floors need professional cleaning treatments every 6-8 months
- Marble is slippery, so older people and children need to exercise caution when walking on a marble floor or bathing in a marble shower
- High-quality marble is expensive and can be difficult to source
Suppose you love the idea of adding marble to your bathroom but are put off by the cons or have budget constraints. Fortunately, marble is an elegant stone that you can use judiciously to create a luxurious ambiance without giving yourself too much stress.
Style Tips for Using Marble in the Bathroom
Marble is a versatile stone that can be used anywhere in the bathroom. It can make up shower walls, countertops, sinks, and even the entire floor. However, there are aspects of marble that you must consider depending upon where you want to place it.
Look for marble with lots of natural variation in the stone as it will add more character to the space. You can mix different sizes and shapes for enhanced visual interest. Part of marble’s versatile charm is that it coordinates well with all other materials, including wood, stainless steel, and other stones like quartz or granite. To save money, time, and energy on maintenance and upkeep, you can easily pair natural marble with some porcelain or quartz that looks like marble. For this approach, use marble in light-traffic areas, like a tub or wall, and quartz in high-traffic areas, like countertops and floors.
Here are some style ideas for using marble in the bathroom.
Style the Entire Bathroom with Marble
If you don’t mind the maintenance that a marble bathroom requires to stay looking shiny and new and budget isn’t a concern, there’s nothing that screams elegance louder than a bathroom decked out entirely in marble. Whether it’s classic white, modern black, or a combination of marble types, you can do everything from the floors to countertops, walls, and even the whole shower in marble.
Keep in mind that marble is heavy, weighing in at around 110-165 lbs. per 10 square feet. If you’re planning a marble wall, floor, or countertop, consider the weight to make sure it won’t be a structural issue. You’ll also want to hire an installation team knowledgeable about marble types and how to handle marble properly. A professional can also ensure the correct templating and that all the grains and veining line up evenly.
Use Marble to Feature Different Areas
If you aren’t looking for the intense level of luxury that an entire marble bathroom provides, you can use marble to highlight different areas of the bathroom for a modern, elegant touch. Marble goes well with any other material, so whether the rest of your bathroom contains elements of wood, porcelain, metal, or stainless steel, you can add marble to any bathroom to elevate the look.
Marble flooring, countertops, vanity tables, and showers are all popular options for any bathroom style. If you’re planning a marble shower, make sure that the floor tray is a single piece of marble with no joins. For flooring, you must regularly seal the stone and always ensure that excess water is dried up. Choose mosaic or large-format marble. Mosaic is best as it has grout lines that provide a better grip on the floor.
Many marble dealers keep an excess of marble cut-offs, so you can likely find a perfect piece for detailing bathroom areas, such as adding a vanity top or using pieces for a shower niche or behind a sink or tub.
Use Marble to Add Detail and Designs
Add class and personality to a bathroom while saving money using decorative marble mosaics to style the walls. These mosaics come on mesh-backed sheets and are much more affordable than full marble slabs. You can make mosaic patterns in different shapes, depending on your aesthetic or the bathroom theme. Place these mosaics around the bathroom borders or have them done on single tiles placed strategically on the walls, in the shower, or even on the floor.
How to Care for Marble in the Bathroom
Marble is a beautiful stone that requires regular maintenance, primarily when you use it in a bathroom. Here’s how to make sure that your marble stays looking glossy and gorgeous.
- Marble remains porous until it’s sealed, so you need to use a solvent-based sealer on it regularly. Seal it when it’s installed and then every few months.
- Do deep cleaning at least once a week, but don’t use any harsh chemicals. The best way to ensure that marble stays clean is to wash it often with soap and a soft towel, making sure to dry it after washing.
- Always dry up excess water.
- If you use makeup or place bottles on a marble surface, always put them down on top of a cloth to avoid color transfer and stains.
Whether you’re planning a complete marble makeover or simply want to add a few luxurious elements to your bathroom, contact us to discuss your vision and learn more about which marble is the right choice for your bathroom.