Is Marble The Right Material For Your Home? | Blog Post #10
Walking through a Greek temple or watching a Roman gladiator movie, you may have wondered: would marble look good at home?
Marble has been used as an interior surfacing material by the rich and powerful for millennia, from ancient palaces and temples to modern-day rock star mansions. However, marble is not one single material. Rather, it is a catch-all term for certain types of limestone, with different names for each variation of the rock. Some marble types include Calacatta marble, the rarest and most expensive marble, and Carrara marble, one of the most common and most affordable marbles, named after its main source, Carrara, Italy.
Today, the Metallic Epoxy Singapore Interior begins its four-part series, starting with this highly premium and coveted material. While each type of marble varies in its appearance, porosity, and hardness, they generally retain a close semblance to one another in the context of interior surface protection. Thus, a meaningful grading of the stone’s general ability as an interior surfacing material can be achieved.
This section describes how well marble withstands daily abuse in a house over the course of its entire lifespan, from the mundane, like falling objects and age-related discolourations, to more insidious evils like algae and bacteria.
Scratch Hardness: 5/10
Quite simply, scratch hardness describes how easily a material is scratched. On the Mohs scale, ratings range from 0 to 10, higher being harder. Depending on the type, marbles rate between 3 to 5. For context, fingernails rate 2 to 2.5, steel knives rate 5.5, and epoxy coatings rate 6.5 to 7.5.
While you’re not going to scratch marble with your nails, you’re going to want extra caution around marble surfaces, especially if you’ve installed some of that sweet, expensive Calacatta marble in your kitchen, where forks and knives drop all too often.
Indentation Hardness: 5/10
Indentation hardness describes how easily a material gets dented by a prolonged force, such as from an incredibly heavy stone table. Two popular industry standard for construction materials are the Shore scale and the Rockwell scale. During testing, a hard indenter is pressed into the material with a fixed amount of force to reveal how deep of a permanent indentation is formed — the shallower the dent, the harder the material, and the higher its rating. Marble has an apparent rating of 35 to 55 Shore A hardness — for comparison, granite is almost twice that at 70 Shore A hardness. Thus, marble is considered a softer stone that chips easily.
Yes, marble ages. Don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly not going to demand its pension and yell at kids to get off its lawn. But it does take on great changes in appearance from regular usage, such as the dreaded etching — a very evident dulling of the stone in specific spots.
Marble contains calcium carbonate, which reacts with even the mildest of acidic liquids, including tomato sauces, citrus juices, or even vinegar. Thus, etching first shows in areas which are often wet, with locations used for cooking or dining being most badly affected.
However, some people cherish etched marble. In much the same way that a wooden dresser passed down through the generations has small changes in colours from its age, etched marble is seen as a sign of a well-used and much-loved part of a household.
While etching is a matter of taste, marble’s vulnerability to staining isn’t. Marble is a highly porous stone that absorbs substances readily. Any liquids you drop on it, even with immediate cleaning, may stain it permanently. As such, contractors often recommend sealing your marble with a layer of sealant to protect it. But be warned, to maintain the effectiveness of the sealant, it has to be reapplied 3 to 4 times a year without fail. This is a huge con for homeowners who dislike the disruption of privacy when contractors come in all year round.
Overall, we give marble’s debatable age-related colouring and indisputably terrible stain-resistance a 5/10 rating for the private or practical homeowner.
In this section, marble’s notoriously porous nature is a far more serious matter than unsightly stains. The pores on its surface trap organic matter and liquids, allowing bacteria and mould to grow in these nearly-microscopic recesses. These tiny pores are also difficult to clean, making an acceptable level of hygiene a highly demanding task. In a household with pets or young children, animal urine or spilled food can make cleaning a very detestable, round-the-clock task. And don’t forget marble’s low scratch hardness and propensity for etching — too much cleaning may just ruin your marble floor.
Corrosion Resistance: 3/10
While we’ve covered marble’s vulnerability to acids, it is unfortunately just as weak against alkalis, the ‘opposite’ of acids. Common alkalis around the house include strong cleansers such as bleach, which will rapidly etch marble when it is used in higher concentrations. This makes it difficult to clean marble regularly and thoroughly. Coupled with marble’s porosity, maintaining the hygiene of your marble surface is an incredibly time-consuming and physically-exerting task. Marble experts recommend using no more than a soft cloth, warm water, and gentle dish soap for normal cleaning, or light soaps or a marble cleaner for deeper cleaning.
This section is all about the looks, feels — heck, even the sound — of marble. Since these properties are perceived so subjectively, this section will omit any scoring. It’s entirely up to you, as a homeowner, to decide if the following details entice or repulse you.
Despite the common perception of a white-base and grey/black-streaked marble slab, the material is more than a one-trick pony. Marble comes in both an astounding range of subtle shades, as well as completely different base colours, making it versatile and elegant. Its characteristic streaks can’t be imitated by printed material like vinyl either, since such prints lack depth. However, some have found a good level of similarity in metallic epoxy patterns, a material which trumps marble in every practical aspect.
Marble is a great surface in warmer climates, as it remains pleasantly cool indoors. If you enjoy heat like a sun-basking lizard, however, marble may convey a shocking chill upon contact instead of the respite that some enjoy.
The Big Question
So, is marble right for you? For most homeowners, marble is a bit of a nightmare. Between scratches, chips, stains, and the incredible amount of high-effort, low yield cleaning, having a marble interior is practically a full-time job. However, its elegance and signature look are unlike any other material. For those with the resources to spare on multiple coatings a year and a domestic helper, marble is a classy look that makes for comfortable living and impressed guests. However, homeowners more inclined towards practicality will find metallic epoxy coatings a far more robust and customisable fit. Besides capturing marble’s character almost perfectly, metallic epoxy boasts far greater durability and flexibility of use than its premium cousin, marble. To find out more about metallic epoxy coatings, visit the rest of our site here.
While this concludes the first of our four-part series, do stay tuned for next Sunday’s material, hardwood.
For more information on this current series, check out our previous post “The Best Interior Surfacing Materials For Your Home: A Prelude“.