Marble Effect Tiles - Opulence without the Cost
Most people are surprised to learn that common floor tiles offer such a precise replica of real marble stone, and at far less cost.
There are a wide range of marble effect tiles that precisely copy the appearance and opulence of marble, while eliminating almost all of its shortcomings. To understand just how closely marble effect tiles mimic the real stone, one would have to examine up close the pearly tones and delicate veining of marble effect ceramic and porcelain tiles. Most people are surprised to learn that common floor tiles offer such a precise replica of real marble stone.
What are Marble Effect Tiles?
Marble was formed over millions of year. Deep under the earth’s surface, in areas of ancient tectonic activity, is where it is to be found. The extreme temperature and pressure provided the correct conditions for limestone to undergo a stunning transformation of shape and form. It emerged from this protracted and natural process as marble. Because these conditions are found only along the edges of moving plates, marble can only be found in certain parts of the world.
Marble effect tiles, however, are the product of a man-made process, and take far less time to form. The two types of tiles commonly used are ceramic and porcelain.
Ceramic tiles are made from clay that is shaped and fired in very hot kilns. The clay usually comes from the dust of pulverized rock, slate, or marble. Between firings, the tiles are coated with a durable glaze. It is the glaze that gives effect to the colour and pattern. Recently, this has been achieved with digital printing. It is this glazing or printing that provides the characteristic marble effect or marble look.
Porcelain tiles are produced in a similar method. However, they use finer, denser, and more impervious clay than their ceramic counterparts. They are produced using a higher pressure, and greater temperatures. This makes them stronger, harder, and more durable.
Are Marble Effect Tiles Better than Real Marble?
Ultimately this comes down to personal choice. In terms of appearance, marble effect tiles are a perfect visual replica. A representative sample can be seen online at https://tiledevil.co.uk/collections/floor-tiles/marble-effect-tiles, which illustrates the range available. Porcelain tiles, in particular, have a superb ability to emulate the opulent marble look. However, their real benefit is that while doing so, they also mitigate many of the negatives of using marble in the home:
Tiles are less expensive than marble. And as they are not sold in large slabs, there is also less wastage.
Unlike marble, a tiler will spend less time installing a marble effect floor as opposed to a marble floor.
Easier to Clean
As tiles are less absorbent than marble, they do not stain. A simple wipe or mop will maintain their brand new look. On top of that, they are allergen-free. And with modern nano-technology, the raw material on the top layer of the tiles is composed of extremely small particles which are resistant to dust. Tiles do not need any polishing or specialised sealing, or the use of stone specific cleaning products.
No Staining or Etching
Tiles are acid and alkali resistant. They are also water proof, as a result of their low absorption properties. This means they are essentially stain proof.
Unlike marble, glazed tiles have an extremely high resistance to abrasion. Apart from a deliberate act, they are almost impossible to scratch. Porcelain tiles are more durable again, and have the added advantage of being frost resistant.
A Word of Warning
One might conclude that tiles neutralise every drawback of marble in the home. However, there is one drawback to be aware of: they are also slippery when wet. The reality is that all floors are slippery when wet.
However, being man-made rather than a natural creation, tile manufacturers have been able to create tiles with higher coefficients of friction, i.e. more grip. In the UK and Ireland, the gripping qualities of a tile are measured on the R-rating scale. The higher the score, the more slip-resistance a tile has. Manufacturers have recently crafted a tile that can be referred to as anti-slip. However, the term should not be interpreted literally. No matter how high the R-rating score is, a bare foot child running on soaking wet tiles at the edge of a swimming pool will usually result in an accident. No tile can be guaranteed anti slip if enough water and speed are present.
To Sum Up
Real marble will grant a look of opulence and luxury to any home. It’s a classic look that has withstood centuries of fickle shifts in fashion. However, it is not without its disadvantages, and is beyond the budget of many. By contrast, marble effect floor tiles offer the splendid, regal look of marble, with less maintenance and less cost.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
This article was prepared by Graham Grumley of Tile Devil.
Established in 1987, Tile Devil supplies ceramic and porcelain floor tiles to the UK market.