Pros and Cons of Marble Flooring in Kitchens

multicolored marble kitchen tile
A multicolored marble kitchen floor tile. You can see how the characteristic veins of color travel through the surface of the piece. © PebbleArt

Marble is one of the most elegant flooring materials you can choose for your kitchen. All natural, it is harvested from the belly of a mountain in great slabs of stone, which are then sliced down and refined into the individual tiles, slabs, and mosaics that are used in standard construction processes.

Historically, marble flooring has been associated with a sense of wealth and opulence. It is a material that has adorned the palaces of kings and queens, and it been used in some of the great works of art and architecture produced throughout human history.

When installed in a kitchen, it can create a sense of sophistication that will carry throughout the atmosphere of the room.

Benefits of Marble Floors in Kitchens

  • Color: Marble tiles and slabs are available in a wide variety of colors. There are also multicolored marble materials available, which feature a variety of hues arranged in the surface of each piece. Since marble is a natural flooring material, each piece is going to look slightly different from the other, giving each tile its own unique personality.

    When marble is quarried, it is extracted in large sheets called slabs. These slabs contain natural features that form a symphony of colors across the surface of the piece. When the slab is sliced down into more manageable sizes, each piece is a section of that original natural picture. While it is impossible to perfectly reassemble these pieces, an installation of a single material will feature pieces that tend to match one another.
     
  • Polish: Unlike many other stone flooring materials, marble is a very hard stone surface that can take an extremely high polish. This allows manufacturers to get the surface of marble extremely smooth and shiny. Polishing also tends to bring out the colors in the stone, making them more noticeable and dramatic.
  • Light transmission: One of the reasons that marble has so often been used in great works of sculpture is that it has a slightly translucent quality. When used for flooring, this quality allows illumination to penetrate the surface of some lighter-colored marble materials, giving the material a slight glow. Even in darker marbles, the play of light across the surface of the stone can be quite lovely.
  • Natural material: Marble is an all-natural material that is created by the earth. That means that it is eco-friendly and bio-degradable, and will not cause pollution at the end of its functional life.

Drawbacks of Marble Kitchen Floors

  • High cost: Marble is one of the more expensive kitchen flooring materials on the market, and individual 12” x 12” tiles can cost upwards of $5-$10 per sq ft. When dealing with mosaics, larger tiles, slabs and non-standard sizes, the price can be even higher.
  • Slippery surfaces: When polished, marble flooring has a very low coefficient of friction, meaning that it may present a slipping hazard. This is especially true in a kitchen where water and other liquids may occasionally spill on the ground. This can be offset to some extent by the use of floor mats.
  • Can be scratched: A polished marble tile is relatively easy to scratch; meaning that over time your kitchen floor may be marred by the moving of furniture and the clicking of heels. Repairing a scratched marble tile is a difficult job and usually requires the assistance of a professional.
  • Can be stained: Marble has a slightly alkaline composition, which means that whenever an acidic substance interacts with it, a chemical reaction will occur, in the form of a rather noticeable stain. In a kitchen, you will often have acidic liquids such as sauces and fruit juices splashing and spilling onto the floor, putting the marble in danger of permanently staining.
  • Complicated maintenance: In order to prevent stains, a marble kitchen floor will have to be properly sealed with a manufacturer- recommended surface-barrier sealing chemical. This creates an invisible layer over the marble, protecting it from staining agents and acidic materials. You will have to reapply this sealant to the marble floor periodically, every six to twelve months, in order to maintain the appearance of the tiles.
  • Expensive and difficult to replace: Marble is expensive to install and relatively difficult to remove. While proper maintenance should ensure that your marble kitchen floor lasts for years, when it does come time to replace it, you may find that installing a new floor directly over the marble is easier than trying to remove and replace it.
  • Environmental concerns: While marble is an all-natural product, there are some concerns that the quarrying process may cause environmental problems through the use of mining and equipment emissions. Marble is also heavy, so you have to consider the pollution effects and energy consumption that is inherent when materials are shipped from overseas.

More About Natural Stone and Marble Flooring

Marble Tile Flooring
A Guide to Natural Stone Tile Flooring

Kitchen Flooring Ideas

Kitchen Flooring Options
Ceramic Kitchen Floor Tile