Marble Flooring - The Sophisticated Choice
Marble Flooring Finishes and Installation
Marble flooring was a firm favorite of the ancient Greeks and characterized an era full of grandeur, elegance and self-indulgence. Marble is a truly beautiful building material that has been utilized by architects all over the world. This page provides insight into this stone and its characteristics; as well as providing installation and maintenance guidelines.
Marble is in essence a metamorphic descendent of limestone and is a hard stone that comes in a number of shades and hues ranging from off-white to brown, gray or pink. Stone with differing colored steaks is termed "statuary marble." Although hard, marble is softer than granite and is therefore more prone to staining and scratching. These can easily be repaired and can also be corrected by polishing.
Marble flooring can either have one of two finishes - polished or honed:
Polished: This is a highly reflective finish and brings out the stone's natural shades and markings. A polished finish will not last in areas which continually have a flow of traffic over them.
Honed: This is a matte finish (non-reflective) and is better suite to areas where there is a greater flow of traffic. It is also a lot harder to see scratches on this type of surface finish.
The material itself comes in the form of tiles that can are usually found in two dimensions: 12'' by 12''and 12'' by 18'' - thickness usually averages around ½ inches.
Installing your Marble Flooring
The first thing to do is to make sure the surface you will be working over is all one level and has been cleaned, dusted and allowed to dry. An uneven floor may require installing a chipboard / plywood under layer. To protect your hands it is also highly recommended that you invest in a pair of HEAVY work gloves
All manufacturers will recommend different adhesives and each will have different instructions for applications. Generally speaking though, you will need to use a notched trowel to spread the glue.
Undoubtedly you will need to cut some of the tiles to fit round the sides of the area being worked on. You have to be careful with marble tiles as they contain natural fissures which can cause them to break unevenly. To avoid this the tile should be cut ¾ of the way across, the tile then needs to be turned around for the last ¼ to be cut. If you find the tile is still breaking in the wrong places you may want to secure the tile in masking tape before beginning the cutting.
When it comes to putting the tiles down they literally need to be laid down - avoid trying to slide them into place because this will just cause the glue to collect in the joints. Typically with marble floors you do not want very wide grout joints - but at the same time you want to leave enough space to accommodate for any badly cut tiles (1/7 inch.) Wipe the face of the tile if you have a mishap with the glue. Areas will need to dry overnight before work can be started in other areas.
Non-staining cement is then applied to fill the joints. First moisten the gap between the tiles using a damp sponge and only then fill with the cement using a squeegee to ensure an even application. After about ten minutes shake a little dry cement over the recently filled gaps and rub it in with burlap cloth.
The surface should then be cleaned before any hardening occurs - use water or acetone.
Marble, although strong, is susceptible to damage:
* The stone can scratch. But these can be eliminated by a process called "wet sanding."
* Tiles are porous to a certain extent and are therefore are susceptible to staining. The best way to protect against this is to apply a layer of furniture paste wax followed by a good buffing.
* Breaking can be simply fixed by gluing.
Regular wet mopping with a little mild detergent will keep the surfaces clean and hygienic.