Marble needs to be sealed on a regular basis (annually is ideal) to keep vulnerable pores from penetration via acids, dirt, dyes, chemicals, etc. While sealing is a straightforward, DIY task, it is time and energy consumptive. Alternatively, you can hire professional tile sealers to do it for you. If either of these is discouraging, read,
On the other hand, you may find that marble's higher-maintenance requirements and potential for staining or etching - particular in watery environments - is not worth the risk.
Things to Consider When Designing Marble Shower Walls and Floors
Reviewing the following considerations can help you determine whether or not marble is the right choice for you bathroom. Consulting with an experienced Chicago kitchen and bath design-build team is also recommended to ensure you’ve evaluated all of the pros and cons.
Where is the marble sourced?
Marble is a metamorphic rock that is made when limestone is exposed to intense heat and pressure over thousands of years. The minerals available in that composite affect things like veining and color variations – as well as durability. There is a difference in marble quality - and inherent mineral composition - depending on where it was formed, and where you source it.
Geologists and tile experts can tell you firsthand that marble derived from Greece and Italy are known for holding up the best in wet environments. If you aren’t able to find a high-quality marble from these areas that fits your budget, you’re better off looking for durable, marble-esque alternatives such as porcelain or quartz lookalikes.
It’s sensitive to acids
Acid dissolves limestone and calcite – which means it etches marble. If you have acidic water, you may want to install a water softening system to preserve your marble. If your water is sourced from a well, iron or other minerals may add red or green hues to your marble aesthetic - so a filtration system may contribute to preserving the marble's original look.
Similarly, check in with your natural stone vendor about what to look for in cleaning products, soaps, shampoos and so on. If any of these products are acidic or contain dyes or marble-sensitive chemicals, there is a chance they’ll compromise the look of your beautiful marble work – or destroy it. You may find your bathroom marble installation forces an overhaul of your health and beauty care lineup.
Latent minerals can “activate” when wet
As we mentioned above, iron turns marble a rust-red, copper turns greenish and some minerals add a yellow or brown hue when they react with water. When marble remains dry, this is a non-issue. However, marble that gets routinely wet is another story.
Perform a “soak test” with a sample tile(s) of your desired marble by leaving it in a bucket of water for a few days. Remove it and let it dry for a few more. If it changes, it may not be the right choice for you unless you’re open to nature’s unpredictable changes.
Are kids using the space regularly?
We’ve found that marble isn’t the best choice in bathrooms with lots of heavy kid usage because it’s a softer and more vulnerable stone. Even the best-laid rules and boundaries aren’t enough to stop the fiery and passionate nature of children’s curiosity and creativity.
We recommend installing marble shower walls in floors in master baths that are mostly off-limits to children, or for hall/guest baths that are lightly used. If you wanted marble in a heavier-used bathroom, read our post on, Points to Ponder When Remodeling a Kids’ Bathroom, which offers lots of great advice on durable, low-maintenance features that still look luxurious.
Plan to seal regularly
Marble needs to be sealed on a regular basis (annually is ideal) to keep vulnerable pores from penetration via acids, dirt, dyes, chemicals, etc. While sealing is a straighforward, DIY task, it is time and energy consumptive. Alternatively, you can hire professional tile sealers to do it for you. If either of these is discouraging, read, Chicago Bathroom Design Ideas for Easier Cleaning and Maintenance.
Would you like professional, experienced insight as to whether your bathroom showers and walls are a good place for marble? Schedule a consultation with Kitchens & Baths Unlimited. Our representatives are always honest and work to provide personalized bathroom design recommendations based on your lifestyle and taste.