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Marble Tile vs Marble Effect Tile: Which Is Best?

This post is sponsored by Alexander James Tile Studio.

The pros and cons of marble tile against marble effect tile and how to know which is best for your kitchen or bathroom remodel.

The great debate between marble tile and marble effect porcelain tile is heated around here.

Okay, not really.

Marble Tile vs Marble Effect Porcelain Tile | The pros and cons of marble tile against marble effect porcelain tile and how to know which is best for your kitchen or bathroom remodel.

The debate is just between two voices in my brain apparently. Robert has reached the point of, “Babe, pick whatever. I’ll be happy with either one.”

Man, pick a side, dang it!

No, I’m kidding.

Making the decision just puts us that much closer to making magic happen in this bathroom remodel plan.

comparing marble tile with marble effect tile porcelain

Turns out choosing between marble and porcelain tile is rather complicated in a bathroom remodel.

But nerdy me jumped down a rabbit hole to do some research on the matter to bust out the good ol’ pros / cons list… Rory Gilmore style. (If you get that reference, I love you.)

I ordered a ton of different marble tiles and marble look porcelain tiles from Alexander James so that I could see and feel all of the options in person.

comparing marble tile with porcelain marble effect tile

Semi-Polished Calacatta Porcelain | Matte Calacatta Porcelain | Polished Carrara Porcelain | Polished Calacatta Gold Bettogli | Honed Calacatta Marble | Polished Carrara Marble | Honed Carrara Marble

If you’re ever in the same debate, maybe this breakdown will help.

Marble Tiles vs Marble Effect Tiles: How to Choose Which is Best for You

comparing marble tile and porcelain look porcelain tile

Marble Tiles

Pros:

  • Natural veining and variation
  • Depth and character
  • Less likely to shatter than porcelain if heavy objects are dropped on them
  • Is a better insulator than porcelain – stays relatively cool under direct sunlight but retains warmth in winter
  • Has light reflecting properties
  • Can increase a home’s resale value because of its wide appeal

Cons:

  • Are porous – can easily stain
  • Requires regular cleaning to retain its quality
  • Are soft – can more easily chip or scratch than porcelain
  • Difficult to clean – can etch
  • More expensive in comparison to porcelain
  • Difficult to match to existing marble tile because of its natural stone variation
  • Must be sealed regularly for maintenance

Marble Look Porcelain Tile

Pros:

  • The best material for resisting stains
  • Very little maintenance without the need to be sealed
  • Cleaning frequency will not affect its quality
  • Resists scratching better than marble tiles
  • Easier to clean and can withstand abrasive cleansers
  • Less expensive than marble
  • Easier to match to existing tile than marble

Cons:

  • Manufactured veining design – not as natural looking as marble
  • Less variation and character
  • More likely to shatter when heavy objects are dropped on it
  • Typically feels cold and can feel harsh in winter
  • Other than tiles with a synthetic glossy finish, reflects less light than marble

Polished Marble vs. Honed Marble

pros and cons of polished marble vs honed marble

Polished Marble Tiles

Pros:
  • Bounces light – well suited for small rooms to make them feel larger
  • Easier to clean than a honed finish
  • More stain resistant than honed marble
Cons:
  • Can scratch more easily than honed tiles
  • Tiles can become more slippery than honed when wet
  • Smudges and hard water spots are more noticeable on polished tile

Honed Marble Tiles

Pros:
  • More scratch resistant than polished and if scratched, it’s less noticeable
  • Has a more “non slip” reputation when in contact with water
  • Conceals smudges
Cons:
  • Doesn’t help a room feel quite as large, unlike polished tiles, since it doesn’t reflect as much light
  • Requires more scrubbing when cleaning than a polished finish
  • More susceptible to stains than polished

Warm Toned Tile vs Cool Toned Tile

comparing warm-toned marble tile with cool-toned marble tile and which is best for a bathroom

Warm Toned Tile:

  • Can be used to make large spaces feel smaller and more intimate
  • Promotes feelings of comfort and coziness

Cool Toned Tile:

  • Can make a small space feel larger
  • Promotes calm, soothing feelings of being refreshed

Hashing out this huge list helped me hopefully as much as it helped some of you if you’re up against a bathroom remodel too.

I cannot wait to see this vision come to life.

marble tile bathroom mood board

Which one do you think we decided to use? I’m crossing fingers and toes that we’ll be installing it in the next couple of weeks!

signoff

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13 Comments

  1. Choose porcelain. I put marble in all my bathrooms and I really regret it now. Stains so easily especially around all the toilets.

  2. We chose real marble for our new master bath. I do not regret it even tho it is a little more work. You will love it!!

  3. We just put in a porcelain shower. Love it. You would be hard pressed to tell the difference beween it and marble. Our tiles are 12 x 24 with beautiful veining.
    Good luck with whatever you chose!

  4. I grew up with real marble and love it and don’t want to deal with the upkeep. We are doing a porcelain marble-look tile bathroom right now. I picked big tiles, apparently they are also thick. My husband is the tile guy’s helper and they are having quite a hard time of it! It’s gorgeous, so far.

  5. I would lean towards porcelain. I’ve reached the point where, while I definitely care about beauty in my home, functionality is more important. I want surfaces that are easy to keep clean and maintain, and also slip resistant for sure in a bathroom (I have fallen several times on hard surfaces and hurt my knees, not fun!). You are probably a lot more likely to drop something heavy in a kitchen than a bathroom. Also, I spend a lot less time in my bathroom than in other rooms in my home, so I’m not looking at the bathroom near as much, and other people probably aren’t seeing them much at all. Just helps me prioritize where I spend my money. I would rather spend it on things I look at more in my home, or in other ways like travel and other memory making experiences with my family. When we built, we opted to spend more on kitchen upgrades like higher end hardware, pull-out shelves and deep drawers, and nicer appliances and faucets. Our ceramic tile floors and shower walls and cabinet hardware in our bathrooms were more basic. We spent more on widespread faucets (easier to clean around), brushed stainless fixtures including a shower head with a spray hose, a special finish on our glass shower door to help keep it clean, and a water softener for the house that also really helps reduce spotting and mineral buildup. Also, squeegees for the win! I love ours except the suction cup holder didn’t last long, but I now rest it on two command hooks instead. I know whatever you do, it will be beautiful, and I look forward to seeing it! By the way, your backyard/pool area is amazing! That is money well spent for creating wonderful family memories! I know you’ve had a rough summer, I hope fall is much more calm!

  6. I hope you choose porcelain. I have had porcelain tile for two kitchen floors and have dropped some pretty heavy things on them. It didn’t shatter or crack or chip. I plan to use it in my bathroom remodel, too, on the floor. On the shower walls I plan to use a glossier tile, either porcelain or ceramc, for easy cleanup. Can’t wait to see what you do. Maybe it will inspire me to start my bathroom project.

    1. That is impressive. Thank you for sharing this information for choice considerations. It is truly helpful. 🙂

  7. Thank you for this post. Bathroom remodel is in my future and I’m clueless about picking marble.
    I think you chose Honed Carrara Marble, but no matter which one you picked it will be gorgeous. Can’t wait to see the reveal!

  8. I love your pros and cons about the bathroom tile, just note that whatever you choose for the floor, make sure it isn’t polished as this can be very slippery when wet.

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