Tile floors are frequently installed in many rooms of the home including the entry way, mudroom, kitchen and bathrooms. While there are many materials and types of tile to choose from, two of the most frequently used materials are marble and porcelain. Both have attributes that make them attractive to homeowners and builders alike. Both also have some drawbacks to consider when making a decision.
Marble is a soft, calcium based natural stone that comes in a wide variety of colors and finishes. Marble can be formal, dramatic or rustic depending on the type of stone and the finish given to it.
Marble is an ideal flooring material for those who enjoy natural materials. It is softer than some other stones, has a large amount of natural variation including veining and color variation and no two pieces of stone are ever the same twice. Choose marble for its natural beauty, variation and its ability to fit into any number of home designs.
While marble is a beautiful stone that will last for years, it requires a great deal of upkeep. To keep the marble looking the same as it does the day it is installed, care for it carefully. Seal it up to four times a year, keep it as dry as possible, wiping up water and spills whenever they are found and wash it with gentle cleaners. Marble scratches and stains easily, so use area rugs and floor mats, don't drag furniture across it and keep it out of high traffic areas where stains are most likely to occur.
Porcelain is a man-made tile created from compressed clay dust fired to extremely high temperatures. Porcelain is one of the densest, most durable tiles on the market today. It will not stain, scratch, burn or chip easily. Wash porcelain with any substance. It does not require sealing or high maintenance upkeep. In addition to these attributes, porcelain comes in a wide range of styles and can be created to look like stone, leather, fabric or metal. Some porcelain tiles can be much less expensive than real stone tiles, adding to their appeal.
Porcelain tiles have few drawbacks in comparison to other tiles. While they are created to look like other materials, some tiles can obviously look "man-made" which is a drawback for those who enjoy natural beauty and variation. Glazed porcelain tiles are often slippery, even more so than polished marble and other stones, and even when dry. Polished and glazed porcelain tiles need to be sealed prior to grouting to help release the grout that may stain their surface. Porcelain is so hard and dense that cutting it can be difficult. A tile wet saw is required even for small jobs.
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