The Cool Elegance of Marble

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This beautiful natural stone not only looks luxurious but also adds coolness to the tropical heat

It’s the mid-year and the sun is beating down relentlessly. Humidity rates are soaring. If you’re adding the interior furnishing to your newly built home or are renovating, marble fittings are a good way of cooling things down.

There are hundreds of marble colours, looks, designs and sources, and no two pieces look alike as these are natural stone elements. Marble is an all-natural stone formed by metamorphism under heat and pressure of limestone. It is quarried from hillsides around the world. Blocks are cut from large seams of marble, which are basically open pit mines.

Marble beginnings

If you love natural elements in your home marble is ideal. It is a rock resulting from metamorphism of sedimentary carbonate rocks, most commonly limestone or dolomite rock. Metamorphism causes variable recrystallisation of the original carbonate mineral grains. The resulting marble rock is typically composed of an interlocking mosaic of carbonate crystals. Primary sedimentary textures and structures of the original carbonate rock have typically been modified or destroyed.

Pure white marble is the result of metamorphism of a very pure limestone or dolomite protolith. The characteristic swirls and veins of many coloured marble varieties are usually due to various mineral impurities such as clay, silt, sand, iron oxides, or chert which were originally present as grains or layers in the limestone. Green colouration is often due to serpentine resulting from originally high magnesium limestone or dolostone with silica impurities.

Production and quality

China and Italy are the world leaders each representing 16% of world production in 1998. Spain is third ranking with 9% of world production, followed by India in fourth ranking position with 8% of world production. The other marble producing countries of the world represent the remaining other half of world marble production. Five countries represent together 57 % of world marble exports: Italy (20%), China (16%), India (10%), Spain (6%) and Portugal (5%).

World production of marble has increased from 46 million tons in 1996 to 51 million tons, for average annual growth of 6%.

Carrara marble, from Carrara, Italy in Tuscany, is the best marble for sculpting in the world. It was the marble used by Michelangelo for his David and Pieta, and I think all of his other sculptures as well.


Colours and hues

Naturally marble comes in pure white or veined hues and a host of other colours. These include white, blue, grey, green, black, pink, salmon, rose, brown, yellow with violet, red, blue or white veins.

Traditional tones

Traditionally, marble flooring is white or black. You can mix the white and black tiles in a checkerboard pattern or choose one or the other for a traditional look that will match most decors. White marble ranges from pure, alabaster white to white with hints of grey. Both white and black marble will have some colour variation because marble is veined and not a solid colour, but the veining can be subtle or bold depending on the particular stone you choose.

Warm tones

Marble flooring is cold to the touch, so choosing a warm hue will help visually warm up your space. You can choose warm marble flooring ranging from dark and light shades of gold to deep brown. Marble also comes in a reddish-brown that tends to feature cream-coloured veining. All of these earthy colours will feature lighter and darker hues in the veining so you can choose a marble with less or more contrast.

Cool tones

Marble flooring also comes in a variety of cooling such as green, grey and pink. Green marble ranges in shades from light green to medium green to a green so dark it almost appears black. Grey marble often features pink veining but there are darker grey varieties with grey veining for less of a contrast. There is also a light pink marble with subtle veining in shades of blue and grey.

Marble flooring

Marble is a natural stone and all natural stone materials have porous surfaces. This makes marble susceptible to damage from a variety of stains and spills. New installation: should be treated with both a below surface sealer, and a surface finishing treatment which clogs the pores in the material, while also creating an invisible layer over it. Maintenance will require the reapplication of the surface sealing treatment every 6 – 12 months depending on the level of traffic in the space.

Acid stains: Marble is an alkalai and will have a chemical reaction to acid spills. The result of this reaction will be a permanent discolouration of the marble. Common acidic substances include fruit products and juices, sodas, vinegar based mixes, as well as a variety of soaps and cleaning agents. Spills should be wiped up immediately with a damp cloth.

Slip resistance: A polished marble floor is basically slippery especially when wet, making it a potential slip hazard in the wrong space. Honed, tumbled, or brushed marble tiles all have greater traction due to the dimensional elements in the surface of the stone.

Physical damage: Although marble is a hard stone it does suffer damage due to cracks, chips and breakage. Proper care taken during installation can prevent this to some extent, by making sure that there are no gaps in the thin set under the tile that can create weak pockets of air that will become faults in the floor. Place acrylic or rubber pads under furniture legs. Regular cleaning and keeping the floor clear of grit and dirt will help to cut down on smaller blemishes.

Range of cost

The cost of marble tile can range all the way from as little as US$3 per square foot, up to as much as $15 or $20 per square foot, making it one of the more expensive natural stone flooring options.

Generally the larger the tile, the more expensive it ill be per square foot. Some discount tile stores will offer you marble tile at extremely low prices. Make sure that they have a return policy as the materials you receive may be cracked or irregular.



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