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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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

  • 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
  • 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

  • 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
  • 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!


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  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.