Marble in the bathroom – an overview
What is marble?
Marble is one of the most sought-after bathroom materials and has been for centuries. Beautiful as the whole world thinks it is, it’s surprising how many people ask us: “what does marble come from?”, “how is marble formed” and “is marble a stone?”
Well, marble is what’s known as a metamorphic rock. That means it changes in form as it is subjected to heat and pressure. It is made of recrystallised minerals, usually calcite or dolomite. Its characteristic, multicoloured veins and swirls are most commonly due to impurities within the minerals – clay, sand, silt and iron oxides – that were originally just grains in the limestone.
What does marble mean?
The word marble comes from an Ancient Greek word, mármaron, which comes from the word mármaros, meaning crystalline rock or shining stone. So marble is pretty much what it says it is! When you buy a marble washbasin you are buying a basin made from shining stone.
What does marble look like?
When shopping for marble bathrooms, people often want to know if the marble on the market is going to be like the one they have in their mind’s eye. Well, there are lots of different types of marble and they all look very different to one another. You have:
- Pentelic marble – this Greek type of marble is pure white, semi-translucent and fine grained
- Creole marble – this is from the USA and is a mixture of white and beautiful blue-black
- Etowah marble – from Pickens County, Georgia in the USA, this pink, salmon and rose marble makes for an opulent bathroom choice
- Makrana marble – a beautiful white Indian marble from Makrana in Nagaur, Rajasthan
- Murphy marble – this American marble comes from Pickens and Gilmer Counties in Georgia and has amazing white swirls
- Nero Marquina marble – arguably the finest Spanish marble, you’ll find a number of products here at Riluxa made from Marquina marble; this beautiful black marble is swirled with white
- Parian marble – a very pure white, fine-grained marble from the Carrara, Tuscany area of Italy, which is why it’s also often better known as Carrara marble; you will see plenty of stunning Carrara marble on the Riluxa website as it is some of the world’s finest
- Ruskeala marble – as the name suggests, this is from the Ruskeala area of Karelia in Russia and it is a beautiful white colour
- Rușchița marble – this Romanian marble is white with pink and reddish swirls and it comes from the Poiana Ruscā Mountains.
- Bianco Sivec – a white marble from near Prilep in North Macedonia, this marble is fine grained, which is why so many people use it for sculpture, as well as architecture
- Swedish green marble – it’s green and it comes from Sweden, no surprises there; it’s fine-graned and has beautiful veining and is considered to be one of the hardest marbles in the world
- Sylacauga marble – also known as Alabama marble because that’s where this American marble comes from, specifically in Tallageda County, where it is cherished for its stunning pure white colour
- Vermont marble – another American marble from high up in the town of Proctor in Rutland County, Vermont, this chalky white marble was made to create the marble bust of JFK at the Vermont Marble Museum
- Yule marble – nope, it’s not a Christmas marble, it’s simply from the Yule Creek Valley in the West Elk Mountains of Colorado in the USA and is the stunning white marble that forms the exterior of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
- Wunsiedel marble – named after the town it comes from, this German marble is a creamy, greyish white and tends to be used most often to create cemetary slabs, town hall flooring and courtyard designs
What does marble turn into?
Like all other carbonates, marble has a melting point (far beyond that it will ever experience in the kitchen or bathroom), but the short answer is that marble lasts for many, many lifetimes. It doesn’t turn into anything. Just look at the Taj Mahal, the exterior of which is entirely made of marble. It has been there for centuries and it will be there for many more.
If you’re asking, “how can marble be used?”, well, that’s a different matter. Marble has been used to create everything from the exteriors of stunning neoclassical buildings to sculptures to everyday household items. Marble washbasins, marble vanities, marble tiles, marble countertops… The list goes on.
How can marble be weathered?
Marble bathrooms are not going to let you down. Ancient monuments made of marble that are exposed to the elements over many hundreds of years eventually begin to show signs of weathering, such the bowing of facades, caused by exposure to dramatic climate changes (post thermal shock). In the bathroom, however, the simple everyday usage of hot and cold water within a relatively climate-controlled environment (most people keep their house at around an even 20ºC) is not going to weather your marble for many, many lifetimes.
What happens if marble gets wet?
One of the first things people ask us when considering a marble bathroom is: “is marble porous?” Well, yes it is, but barely. Moisture almost never migrates through marble because it has such a low absorption of 0.2% (compared to 12% in the type of low-density limestone you’ll see on the exterior of old English houses, which are exposed to plenty of rain).
Most people seal their marble bathrooms with surface sealant once every year or two. To keep it looking pristine, they also make sure to squeegee or wipe down the surfaces after use and open the windows to let out moisture. If marble isn’t sealed, it can appear stained by excessive patches of moisture, but this is only if it isn’t looked after properly.
What happens if marble is not sealed?
If you’re wondering, “does marble stain easily?”, well it’s all dependent on the environment. It’s much more important to seal marble in the kitchen, simply because of the number of liquids it’s exposed to, such as cooking oil, vinegar and lemon juice. In the bathroom, however, it’s a different story. Problems can actually occur from sealing a marble shower, because the sealant may actually trap water inside the marble, causing it to degrade. The risk of staining in marble bathrooms is very low, indeed, unless you’re dousing them in acidic products, which it’s very advisable not to do.
Is marble sealant bad for the environment?
Some marble sealers are quite harmful to the environment, yes. So, it’s very important that you choose a low VOC sealant so that the environmental impact is minimised. VOCs are Volatile Organic Compounds are those which give off smoke when burned, so are damaging to the ozone layer. It might seem counter-intuitive, but a water-based sealant is actually the best option for marble, as it has little-to-no VOCs. Again, you don’t have to seal marble at all, but if you’re desperate to protect against staining, this is the way to go.
How can marble be cleaned?
Natural light soap or marble cleaner will give you a deep clean without damaging your marble. Never use vinegar on marble, contrary to what you might read about removing water stains (which are rare unless you fail to dry out the bathroom). If there’s one liquid marble doesn’t like, it’s vinegar. Plus, why would you have vinegar in the bathroom?
How can marble break?
The great thing about Riluxa products is that they come ready-built. The main concern in terms of breaking marble is the way it’s put together – if it’s done improperly, the marble can crack or break over time – but Riluxa marble products are built to the highest standards by experts in the material and will not be susceptible to weak points. Everyday use of your marble bathroom will give you and your family decades of enjoyment.
Why is marble expensive?
Marble is a natural material that is quarried from the earth, often in difficult-to-reach mountainous regions. It takes a large amount of expensive equipment and resources to extract it. Plus, it lasts for multiple lifetimes, meaning that people rarely need to replace it. For all of these reasons, marble is an expensive material to buy. The fact that it is so beautiful also makes it highly desirable, which means that those who can afford it are prepared to pay the price to have marble in their homes.
Which marble is best for bathrooms?
It all depends on the type of look you’re going for and how well you intend to treat your bathroom. If you want a low-maintenance bathroom in with a nod to neoclassical style, you’re going to want to get a less porous marble like Carrara. If you want a bathroom that looks stunning no matter how badly you treat it, you might want to look at Blue Macauba (Azul Macaùbas), which isn’t a marble at all but, rather, a beautifully veined quartzite, rich in quartz and completely non-porous.
Marble bathroom ideas
If you’re looking to make the most of your marble bathroom design, you might want to look into hiring an interior designer who can help you to extract the vision you have in your mind’s eye. Things to think about before you start to work with an interior designer:
- Do you want to go maximalist or minimalist? How much marble do you want?
- Will you mix and match various marble tones and textures or just have the one?
- Will you try to find matching marble slabs for your washbasin so that you can panel the whole wall in marble?
- Will you have a traditional marble bathroom or a more modernist marble bathroom?
- How big is your bathroom? Will it look better with dark marble or light marble?
- What is your budget? It’s better to have a little bit of high-quality marble than a lot of low-quality marble.
- What other materials have you seen that you think might go well with marble? Wood, Corian, Silestone? Porcelain? Will acrylic go with marble?! (Erm… no, probably not.)
Whatever decisions you make and however you decide to incorporate marble into your bathroom, we wish you the very best of luck with your endeavours. It truly is one of the most beautiful surfaces on the market for bathrooms and will give you many years of joy. Happy remodelling!