Marble vs Porcelain Tile: What's the Difference?

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What Are Marble Tiles?

Marble is a natural stone material that can be used for many applications: marble countertops, marble floors, and marble tile. A marble tile is formed differently vs porcelain, in that the natural stone is cut into small, manageable slabs to fit the size and shape of the needed tiles. 

A marble tile would have a visually-appealing vein pattern that is unique to each tile as formed by nature. No two marble tile patterns are the same, and the material is extremely durable - even ancient structures built from marble still stand strong today. 

As far as any natural stone product is concerned, marble holds the top spot in both popularity and luxury. The price for designer marble is difficult to replicate in other natural stones such as granite and limestone. Marble is also a very heavy floor material, and does best in kitchens and lounges where its design can be appreciated.

Marble comes in multiple colors that range from cool white to ebony black, and even beige or coffee-colored hues. The colors of the stone are due to the mineral composition of the material, and some types are more expensive per square foot than others, especially when used as flooring material.

What Are Porcelain Tiles?

A porcelain tile is made the same way as ceramic tiles, but with different materials. Mixtures of kaolin clay, quartz, and feldspar are heated at extremely high temperatures. Much like ceramic tiles, meaning porcelain tiles are man-made, these can be customized with various painted, embossed, or glazed designs to give each tile a unique look.

The Porcelain Enamel Institute rates the hardness of porcelain materials, with a rating of 4 to 5 on the hardness scale being good for commercial use, 3 for residential use, and 2 below would only be suitable for light use. A hardness scale of 1 would not even be suitable for the pressure of outdoor shoes. 

Porcelain is regarded as an elegant material that is popular for use in bathrooms and kitchens, as well as tiles for outdoor areas where designs can provide a stunning contrast against green gardens and natural flora. 

Overall, porcelain is a stain-resistant material with a glassy finish that has a smooth surface, and can be customized in design. Popular designs include textured glaze designs, as well as Chinese painted designs that can be traced back to ancient times.

The Pros and Cons of Marble and Porcelain Tile

Durability Pros: Marble

Marble has proven to be much more durable than modern porcelain. You may have heard of ancient Chinese artifacts made entirely out of porcelain that have been preserved through the ages, but the same goes for marble structures built during the Roman Empire. 

As tiles, a marble tile would typically be manufactured thicker and more pure than modern porcelain. This is due to pricing and luxury reasons, but also because marble can easily crumble when made as a thin tile. 

Maintenance Pros: Porcelain

Porcelain is much easier to maintain as the material is resistant to staining, and is waterproof as well when properly glazed. Unlike natural stones, porcelain does not react to acidic solutions, and can be easily cleaned by most commercial and homemade cleaners without any issues.

Glazed porcelain can be easily wiped clean, and can be protected with a sealant or layer of protective coating to keep moisture away from the porous material. Porcelain, however, cannot withstand heavy impacts from construction tools and furniture. 

Designer Pros: Marble

The stunning, striking veins and patterns in the natural stone gives it an edge over porcelain in terms of design. While porcelain may have the upper hand in custom, man-made designs, nothing can replicate the natural aesthetic and swirling patterns of the natural stone material.

Even granite cannot hold the same natural swirling patterns as marble. The latter is also in limited quantity, which ups its price as these stones are only quarried in select parts of Europe, South America, and a few other locations. Depending on the stone, the natural designs are highly sought after by luxury homes.

Customization Pros: Porcelain

For custom designs that can range from festive to rustic, porcelain is your best bet. The tile material can have replicated designs to fit your home aesthetic, or mosaic-like puzzle pieces that show a bigger picture when installed together. 

Porcelain, much like ceramic, can be painted on as well, which is not something that is typical for natural stones. Swirl-like designs can give the same rustic and natural feel of natural stone without the heavy price tag. Hand-painted designs can show off some creativity for the tiles, as well as craftsmanship. 

The Better Choice: Marble or Porcelain?

modern bathroom marble tiles

The choice between marble or porcelain tile floors and walls is a matter of budget, preference, and design. If you're on a tight budget, then porcelain would be your top choice as the more affordable option still gives you the stylish and sleek look. 

If you prefer a natural aesthetic, however, you may opt for fully marble tiles, or porcelain tiles that mimic the natural stone. Natural stone will have a cooler feel and touch, with softer, toned hues that give off a natural feeling, while porcelain will give you a brighter, more striking design on your floors and walls.

The installation: porcelain tiles and marble ones are installed nearly the same way. The most important area to clean is the grout. The grout can easily get mold and stains whether you have marble or porcelain tile. Consider grout with mold-resistant properties, and clean grout regularly.

Professional Cleaning

Whichever your choice, Luce SG is here to help you keep your home extra neat and tidy. Our decades worth of experience makes us knowledgeable in cleaning any type of material, so you can be assured that we'll get your home cleaned the right way!

Give us a call today, and we'll discuss a schedule that works for you!

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