Marble is a luxury element that is quarried in massive slabs and then split down into tiles and marble pieces. Compared to a standard tile, which is more affordable, you can easily say marble slabs are luxurious.
By the time marble slab makes it to a tile store, you may have forgotten about the large slabs, but they can still be used for flooring and countertops. You can consider the following seven criteria to help you figure out the pros and cons of using tiles vs. marble slab.
Tiles need more time to manufacture because they need to be cut and grouted. This particular process is in place because this can make a slab installation easier.
Tiles need to be matched and laid out ahead of time to ensure everything looks okay before the final installation. This is the case for marble tiles (which are different from marble slabs) as well.
Contrarily, the veining might seem off in different areas for slabs, as they basically look the same, and don’t require all that extra work.
Weight and Thickness
Despite not requiring to be cut or grouted, there is still some development that needs to be done for a marble slab. Marble slabs, compared to tiles, are thicker, and they weigh more than tiles too. It’s because the flooring underneath has to be prepared to support not only the weight but also enough space for the marble slab’s thickness and the mud beneath it.
Besides, a slurry needs to be added to make sure the slab adheres to the deck mud underneath. With all that added up, you can expect your marble slab floor to be up to five inches thick, which is massive!
This is the main reason people buy marble in the first place, right? If I were trying to install marble slabs in my home, the only reason I’d be willing to spend that much money is for premium aesthetics.
Marble comes in various grades, and the really high-quality marble slabs, like Calacatta, have bold, distinctive, veins that literally take a person’s breath away for their natural, stunning beauty.
Those veins are less likely to match up the downside of using standard or even marble tiles instead of the marble slabs. That’s okay if the threads are light and feathery, as with Carrara marble, but when you want vast expanses of uninterrupted veins, go for the marble slab.
Similarly, if you want a vast expanse of continuous monochrome marble with no veining or grout lines, you should definitely go for the marble slab option. Still, if you prefer to make mosaics or even herringbone patterns with marble, then use tiles. Because patterns are what tiles are best at.
Since a marble slab is more substantial, it tends to be stiffer and more permanent than thinner tiles. Marble slabs are so durable they are said to be fire and earthquake resistant.
On the contrary, the same cannot be said of tiles. It might chip and crack as the grout is pulled out during an earthquake. Marble slabs survive these natural disasters and the test of time, as many ancient Roman tourist sites prove.
Mosaics and tile art may need to be re-grouted and put back together, and marble slabs don’t need any of that to be as good as new. If you’re not in earthquake territory, you can still opt for tiled marble floors that will be somewhat durable.
Marble slabs have an inherent quality that makes it excellent for heat transfer. That’s why chefs love marble slab countertops to work with either really hot or icy foods on a very smooth surface.
Marble tiles, on the contrary, will not work as well because they have the grout preventing the smooth surface. You run the risk of tarnishing individual tiles if you leave hair styling equipment on marble tiled countertops in your bathroom.
The heat transfer is also an excellent quality for floors. With it, you can feel a coolness coming off the marble in spaces that might feel hot during hot weather.
Marble slabs do need to be sealed against unexpected spills that might cause staining. Marble, the material, can be easily damaged with acidic liquids like wine, juice, or vinegar without this type of preservation.
Marble needs to be lightly cleaned at times, but when you install tiles, you have the added stress of trying to clean the grout. The wider the grout will be, the harsher it is to clean the tiles.
It can be challenging to keep both the marble and the grout in a tile layout, being at their best at the same time. The same is not valid with a marble slab. It just needs periodic maintenance and gentle cleaners, making it a lot less of a hassle to keep looking clean.
Slabs are more costly than tiles, and for a good reason. They seem to last longer and be more accessible to maintain than tiled floors. They are suitable for a luxury home entryway or a grand lobby, where you want to make a significant impact and impression.
These marble slabs are great for heat transfer and thus favored by chefs around the world for their kitchen countertops. It makes sense that you would pay more for marble slabs than for marble tiles.
Otherwise, how would you get such exciting veining in your countertop, unless you used marble slabs?
The Bottom Line
While the marble slab has many positives, there are times when you might want to just go for standard tile. If budget is a factor, tiles are cheaper than using slabs.
Maintenance is also more comfortable on a marble slab. It may be the reason why hotels tend to favor marble slabs for their entryways and grand lobbies.
However, for most luxury homeowners, it will be more of choice between one aesthetic over the other. They simply might like the look of tile, or it may be that they want patterns more than the uninterrupted marble slab.
In my opinion, both are excellent choices. However, slabs may be too massive for some floors and take up more space than tiles. That is why this is a factor that needs to be regarded when choosing between tiles and marble slabs.