The beauty of tumbled marble tile is in its natural finish and blending of earth colors. Rich browns, rusts and grays make it a great choice for complementing most any décor, but thorough application of sealers and careful selection of appropriate cleaners are needed to keep tumbled marble tile as exquisite as the day it was installed.
What is Tumbled Marble?
"Tumbled" refers to the process of spinning the marble tile in a machine to remove the sharp edges and to facilitate a dull finish. Tumbled marble resembles a natural unpolished stone and has a dusty appearance; it is porous, often with large pits and chipped crevices in the tile, and because of its porosity, considerations must be kept in mind when deciding where to use it and how to care for it.
Tumbled marble is often used on floors and backsplashes. Unlike polished marble, which is susceptible to stains, tumbled marble works fine for countertops as well. It's important to wipe up spills quickly; however, if a spill does result in a stain, it will likely not be permanent. The porous surface will draw the stain down deep into the tile, and it will eventually disappear. Care should still be taken with acids--juices--because tumbled marble is susceptible to acidity.
Tumbled marble should be sealed before and after installation with a sealer formulated specifically for stone. Pre-sealing is recommended to keep the grout and adhesive materials out of the pits and crevices in the tile and to keep the adhesives from staining it while it's being installed. It should be sealed again after installation to maximize protection against dirt, dust and debris becoming trapped in the pits.
There are two types of sealers for tumbled marble: penetrating sealer, which will not alter the color, and color-enhancing sealer, which will deepen the color of the tile. Testing a sample tile before applying the sealer to the entire tiled surface is recommended.
Applying the sealer is easy; brush, roll or wipe it on the entire surface and allow it to dry. It should be re-sealed once every six months to one year, depending upon usage.
Don't use cleaners that contain bleach; they may damage the surface and discolor the tile. Abrasive cleaners can also damage the tile's surface; plus, the gritty substance can get into the pits and harden. Jim Carlin, Certified Stone Specialist at AllExperts.com, says, "Simply follow the guidelines for any and all stone cleaning. This consists of a pH neutral cleaner used on a regular basis."
For tumbled marble floors, use a soft-bristle broom, and dust mop it often to keep dirt from collecting in the pits. Dirt and sand are abrasives and can scratch the surface.
Tumbled marble tile is durable; however, in high traffic areas, it's possible for the color to fade and wear a visual path. Use a color-enhancing sealer to bring back the beauty and minimize the fading pattern. Jesse Sanchez, of Jesse's Tile in San Antonio, Texas, says, "...always read the label on the bottle of any cleaner and follow the manufacturer's instructions. If cleaned regularly, tumbled marble tile is actually one of the best tiles for maintaining its original beauty."
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