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Marble Tile Finishes: Everything You Need to Know


Have you ever wondered why marble has so many usages and looks good in any shape and form no matter how long it has been in service? The answer is simpler than you might have thought – it is due to the different finishes applied to its surface in order to enhance a certain quality of the natural stone.  

There are two quite popular finishes associated with marble – polished and honed, but these are far from all the possible ways to treat the surface of this luxurious stone. Below you will find some more information about the difference between polished and honed marble, as well as details about the other surface finishes that you can choose from. 


Polished vs Honed marble: Which one to choose? 

As already mentioned there are two main surface finishes that are associated with marble tiles – polished and honed. Here are their main characteristics and possible application options in a nutshell. 







Polished marble 

Smooth surface with shiny, glossier, reflective look  

Withstands stains better but scratches easier  

Yesbathroom countertops, powder bathrooms, fireplaces, and walls 

No: bathroom floors, high-traffic area floors 

Wipe any stains immediately to avoid etching. Use water, mild detergent or bleach solution and a soft brush to clean it 

Honed marble  

Satin-feel, smooth and velvety surface  

Scratch resistant but absorbs spilled liquids very quickly  

Yes: floors in high-traffic areas such as bathroom, kitchen, living room, foyer 

No: vanity or countertops due to the lack of shine 

Wipe any liquid immediately. Don't use soap as it will soak through the surface and change the colour of the stone. Clean with mildly abrasive household detergent with bleach 





Other types of marble finishes 

In addition to the two finishes described above, the following surfaces can also be found when talking about marble tiles: 

  • Tumbled marble – this finish is used to create an aged appearance of the stone by using sand, pebbles and water. As a result, the marble tiles look like as if they have been walked on for centuries; 
  • Antiqued marble – to achieve this surface you need special machines that brush the surface of the stone. The finish gives a worn out look to the tile and helps its aging over time. It not only enhances the beauty of marble and makes it more attractive but adds to its durability; 
  • Brushed marble – for the finish you need metal brushes and certain force to remove the softest particles of the stone. The result is a non-slippery surface that looks somewhat older and resembles a bit the tumbled and antiqued finish; 
  • Sandblasted marble – it is a textured surface with matte gloss that is achieved by blasting the stone surface with pressurized sand water. This treatment makes the surface slightly scratched and the colours a bit dull. It is more popular for sandstone but can be used on marble as well.  

This is far from a comprehensive list of all the possible finishes that can be applied to marble, however it includes the most popular ones. As you can see, each treatment changes some quality of the stone and enhances another. Some of the finishes look better on warmer and lighter colours, while other match the darker nuances of this stone. Some of the surface techniques are applied only to marble slabs that are not used for tiles but rather for other applications such as accessories, furniture, etc.  



Should we seal marble tiles? 

One important thing that you should always remember when working with marble tiles is that you need to seal them regardless of their surface finish. The sealant protects the stone from stains and reduces water absorption because it fills the pores. You should be aware that sealing will darken the colour of marble a bit. 

Before you apply the sealant make sure that the surface of the stone is absolutely clean and dry. Then follow the instructions of the manufacturer and let it dry as long as it needs before placing any objects over it. Make sure to reapply the sealant as per the instructions – usually it is once a year but in some cases it may be more often. This is necessary for areas that withstand high traffic or harsh weather conditions. In addition, honed marble, for example, needs to be sealed more often compared to polished marble.  


What can damage marble tiles? 

Marble is both quite resistant and gentle stone at the same time. It can withstand harsh weather conditions, so it is the perfect solution for outdoor usage. Marble also handles well great wear and tear and is the best floor tile for kitchens and entryways where the usage is heavy.  

No matter what the tile finish is however, you need to treat marble with the necessary caution since quite a few everyday substances can damage the surface. Therefore, if you have a marble kitchen island, kitchen top or floor, try to avoid using the following stuff near it: 

  • Alcoholic beverages, especially red wine  
  •  Fruit juices 
  •  Vinegar 
  • Salad dressing 
  • Tomato products 
  • Lemons  
  • Mustard 
  • Carbonated beverages 
  •  Tea 
  • Coffee 
  • Butter 
  • Cosmetics 

If you have marble in the kitchen, naturally, you cannot avoid the above listed food items and drinks at all. The point is to try and use large cutting boards for the lemons, for example, and never forget placing a mat or coaster under the cups and glasses. And whenever there is a spill, make sure to bolt it right away to avoid stains. With a bit of caution, your marble items will stay as new for quite a long time.  


The final conclusion, based on the information above, is that marble is beautiful no matter what finish is applied to its surface. The difference comes only in the usage – some types are better used outside or for smaller items and accessories, while other finishes are perfect for floors or decoration. We hope that the guide above will help you choose wise and if you have any doubts or you need further information, we are at your disposal 

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