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Shaken or stirred – what’s the best finish for marble floors

  • Date:15th Dec, 2015      By: Admin
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Polished, Honed, and Tumbled Finishes for Marble Floors

Selecting the right finish for your marble flooring is a critical factor when deciding on the look and feel of the floors throughout your home.

Overall aesthetics are important to your design, but the finish for your natural stone may be more appropriate for certain areas of the home depending on traffic and nature of use.

Marble is a fantastic choice for floors. In addition to its natural beauty, resistance to moisture and durability, it is particularly good in areas of the home that can get damp or wet such as a bathroom or kitchen. Deciding where you want to put marble flooring for design purposes is only the first step – deciding the finish will be just as important to the future of the stone in the application you choose.

Though the type of finish you choose will not impact the type of cleaning product used for short-term maintenance, your polished, honed or tumbled marble choice will definitely affect your long-term ability to keep the marble looking the same as the first day it was installed.

Polished Finish

The most conventional finish for marble is a clean, polished finish. It lends an elegant, refined look to any room and is impressive when used in highly visible areas. To keep that high sheen on a marble floor, maintenance polishing will be necessary to take out normal wear marks like fine etches and scratches. These marks are expected when marble is located in a high traffic area or under furniture.

There are a number of easy polishing methods to bring back your marble flooring to its original state, but it is important to remember that polished marble should not be integrated with other marble finishes, such as honed or tumbled surfaces in a staggered or checkerboard pattern. It is difficult to restore the sheen of polished marble when combined with another finish that may be discolored or dulled by the same process. Additionally, mixing granites or other natural stone surfaces and polished marble in a combined pattern can also create problems requiring a more specialized process to maintain or restore it. It is best to let a beautiful, polished marble floor stand out on its own.

Honed Finish

A honed finish is an effect that comes from a unique method of polishing where the abrasives are applied differently than for a polished finish. Bits of stone are removed in this process to leave the surface smooth, giving the appearance of a matte finish with the stone color slightly lighter than before. Honing is both a starting finish and a process sometimes used later to restore damaged stone. 

A honed finish is valued for its more muted, less formal look and is suited to floors in high traffic areas, as it is less prone to scratches than a highly polished surface. It is also a less slippery alternative, making it a great option for bathroom areas. A honed finish is also suited to floors in high traffic areas, as it is less prone to scratches than a highly polished surface.

Although the honed surface lacks the shininess and reflective qualities that polished marble has, it makes up for it with a smoother, velvety feel.

Honed finishes are also scratch resistant due to the lack of glossiness and shine. Therefore, when honed marble does get scratched, it is not glaringly obvious when light hits it. 

Tumbled Finish

A tumbled finish on marble tiles is buffed rather than polished, resulting in a smooth but distressed or weathered look. Tumbled marble is commonly used by homeowners to finish specific areas around the house where a more rustic appearance is desired. 

Tumbled tiles get their appearance by going through a tumbling process.  The tiles are placed in a drum that is filled with abrasive materials such as rocks, sand or other coarse ingredients which causes the stones to appear aged producing a distressed look. 

Though it is possible to create a tumbled finish floor of marble tiles, it is more commonly used as in mosaics or backsplashes. The additional texture of a tumbled marble adds depth and texture to a room. Combined with smoother surfaces, such as honed or polished marble, tumbled tiles can bring interest and complexity to any design.

The aged appearance that comes with a tumbled marble finish makes it an ideal option for high traffic areas or areas that may get wet often. Scratches and dirt go fairly unnoticed with a tumbled finish as well due to its raw, unfinished look and texture. Instead, a tumbled marble embraces a patina that fits well with old world, antique or rustic themes - it is used in large expanses or as decorative finishing. Like any marble floor, however, regular cleaning is recommended for daily maintenance and a seal is helpful to prevent significant discolorations as well as to bring out the natural color of the stone, as tumbling may initially give the marble a more chalky appearance.