An interior design featuring a beautiful marble floor conjures up luxurious images of Greco-Roman splendour
. And though natural marble flooring is very adaptable and easy to work with, many homeowners choose to lay marble floor tiles in areas where they are likely to capture attention and act as a focal point.
Marble in antiquity
Greek civilizations valued marble flooring for its subtle translucence, especially marble in lighter tones which appeared to glow when its surface was
illuminated by the sun’s rays. In fact, the Carthaginian kings actively sought certain types of Turkish marble for precisely these reasons, which they
then used to build opulent palaces as symbols of their absolute power and prestige.
Roman architects took innovative natural stone flooring to new levels of comfort and luxury by incorporating underfloor heating systems, using lead pipes
to distribute hot water. So affluent Romans were actually the first to enjoy the benefits of radiant heat underfoot.
After the fall of the Greek and Roman empires, such luxuries were seen more rarely as the skills of the ancient builders were lost. Europe in general had
to wait until the early Renaissance, which finally re-awakened interest in Greco-Roman art and culture, before fine buildings with exquisite marble
floors were once again built to impress with their visual appeal.
Marble finishing techniques
Marble tiles respond well to a range of treatments which produce different surface effects:
Polished marble: This is a very common finishing treatment which leaves a shiny, gloss surface that reflects light. Whilst a polished finish looks very
impressive and is reasonably stain-resistant, it is quite susceptible to scratching. Marks will be particularly noticeable on darker marbles, especially
with a single-colour floor. Polished marble floor tiles also tend to become slippery at times, so aren’t recommended for bathrooms.
Honed marble: Honing gives marble a satin finish which has a smooth velvet appearance. Without its high-gloss finish, marble is much less slippery but
the honing process also means its natural colour will seem more muted. Honed marble is more resistant to scratching, and so is often chosen for high-traffic
locations, but it can be prone to staining if liquids are allowed to penetrate the surface.
Tumbled marble: The tumbling process gives marble floor tiles an aged appearance by using sand, pebbles and water as abrasive materials. As a result, tumbled
marble tiles develop a time-worn appearance with plenty of individual variance in the tile set. Some may appear slightly honed, while others may still
have a slight polish. Though all tiles will be well-matched in size, a few may not look completely square, and all will have rounded edges and an overall
Antique marble: This process uses a machine to brush the stone surface in order to simulate the effects of wear over time. As well as enhancing the look
of the marble, this technique also makes the tile finish more robust and durable.
Brushed marble: Forceful brushing with a firm steel brush is a technique which removes softer material from the surface of marble floor tiles. This creates
a profiled, non-slip surface similar to that produced by tumbling and antiquing.
Sandblasted marble: Sandblasting with a pressurised mixture of sand and water produces a matt gloss textured finish. This technique creates a marble tile
with a uniform etched surface and a slightly muted colouring.
Marble tile colouration
The Indigenous collection of marble tiles has a glorious selection of colours and textures to create a range of different moods:
Nero is a rich black marble with white veins, while the fine-grained Dark Emperador is an opulent dark brown colour with extensive veining. Light Emperador, on
the other hand, has a similar vein pattern, but in a much lighter ‘cream and honey’ shade. The subtle-veined Botticino,
the beautifully patterned Breccia Sarda and the sumptuous Crema Marfil are all delicate creams, while the exquisite Carrara is a classic white marble with
the most delicate blue-grey veins.
Besides looking ultra-chic and stylish, marble is a natural stone, so each tile will have a unique appearance. So whenever a marble tile floor is installed it’s always wise to order an extra box of the same tiles to ensure that the appearance of any replacements matches the existing floor.