Ceramic and marble tile are used frequently in flooring designs. These tiles come in a range of colors and textures. Both materials withstand wear better than vinyl or linoleum. The type of tile that works best depends on factors in the home that will potentially shorten the lifespan of the tile. Generally, marble tiles are higher quality, but also require more maintenance to preserve than ceramic options.
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Marble is cut into thin sections for tile work, lowering the cost, which sometimes allows manufactures to include backing. The most common colors in marble are white and black with various types of striations, but some other shades exist. Marble is softer than ceramic tile, which makes it more prone to cracking.
Ceramic tiles are made from clay. The clay is molded into tile shapes and heated in an industrial oven to cure and harden into a permanent design. Clay tiles are glazed to provide protection and a glossy appearance. They are available in a wider range of colors than marble and can be set in artistic mosaics more easily.
Marble generally costs more than ceramic tile. Marble must be mined and properly cut into tiles. This can increase costs considerably. Marble also takes more time to install and often requires additional baseboard support. Slightly more marble tile is required to cover the same space as ceramic tile. Ceramic tile grout lines tend to range from 3/16 of an inch up to half an inch, while marble tiles are set with a 1/16th inch-wide grout line.
Ceramic tiles are maintenance-free once installed. The glaze and hardness tend to protect ceramic tile from common wear. Marble, however, needs to be regularly maintained. The stone is absorbent and will stain easily so it should be sealed with a resin sealer and resealed every several months or as needed. Some marble tiles are glazed to help them repel stains more easily. All marble tiles need cleaning at least once a year to remove any deep-seated stains the stone has absorbed.
Both marble and ceramic tile have excellent durability, but are weak against different types of damage. Marble tends to be more resistant to cold than ceramic, while ceramic tiles are harder than marble. Ceramic tiles can be more easily cracked under force, but marble tiles can be more easily scratched and dented. Foot traffic wears down marble more easily, but sealed marble tends to last longer on kitchen counter tops than ceramic. Both materials are typically rated to last the lifetime of the house.