With its light shades and subtle veining, marble is the most commonly used natural stone in interiors. Marble surfaces look delicate, elegant and classic. The texture of marble reminds that of crystal. Its colours can range from the most favoured bright white to black, brown, red, green, blue.
The name marble comes from the Greek word marmaros, which means a shining stone. Due to its eye-pleasing partial transparency and variety of colours, marble is widely used for decorating fireplaces and walls, for laying floors and stairs, for making window sills and columns. Even Michelangelo's sculptures have been carved from Carrara marble! Isn't it amazing that you can use the same material for your kitchen countertop?
The purest white marbles look almost translucent as light can penetrate into them 1-2 cm deep and reflect itself from the inner planes. Light scattering in the marble gives it a waxy appearance. The cleanest marbles are those with the highest calcite content. Clear marbles are found in different countries, but the most famous Carrara marble comes from Italy. Marbles that are predominantly calcite are the softest, as calcite hardness equals 3 on the Mohs scale. Marbles that have more impurities and are therefore darker tend to be harder. They can be as hard as 4 on the Mohs scale.
Marble is not only valued for its romantic appearance. This charming stone is also resistant to fire and erosion. White marbles look great as windowsills because of their light reflecting abilities, black marbles make fantastic countertops. Columns, floors and stairs are often made of pink, grey, red marble. Marble surfaces can be honed, aged, combed or polished to a high gloss, worktop edges can be straight, classic or uneven.
Marble is a metamorphic rock. This means that it formed in the earth's interior from other rocks such as limestone or dolomite. Extremely high temperatures and enormous pressures are needed for the transformation (metamorphosis) to happen. When the limestone crystallizes into marble, no fossils are left in it.
Before getting underneath the ground, sedimentary rock deposits are formed at the surface. Over millions of years, as the earth's crust moves, thick layers of sand, clay, chalk and other rocks slowly sink downwards. The further down they go, the higher the temperature and the higher the pressure. These two factors cause limestone to change when it reaches the certain depth. Thus limestone transforms into a new rock - marble.
The whitest marble is the result of the transformation of extremely clean limestone and is composed of grains of a single mineral calcite. Other colours, veins and bands in the marble are due to impurities - admixture of sand, clay, iron oxide, aleurite. The most common shades of marble apart from white are black, red and brown. Hematite dyes marble red, limonite, yellow. Silicon and serpentine minerals, formed by the presence of magnesium or dolomite in limestone, give marble shades of green.
Marble texture can be homogeneous, mottled or banded, and the grains can be of different sizes. If the limestone contained iron, aluminium and silicon, it is not surprising to find hematites and magnetites formed in the marble. The majority of commercially used marble deposits date back to the Palaeozoic and Precambrian periods, which lasted about 300-550 million years ago and even earlier.
The largest deposits of marble are found in India, Pakistan, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Egypt and Brazil. Marble also comes from Belgium, France, the UK, South America and the USA. Marble slabs quarried in different countries come in slightly different or very different colours and patterns. In Europe, Carrara marble from Italy is the most popular. in Asia, the most popular marble is Beijing White.
Marble is quarried very carefully because it is difficult to break it down into regular layers. The square blocks of marble are usually separated from the bed by drilling into it long lines of parallel deep holes. Special machines with powerful drills are used for this. Once the holes have been drilled, wedges are hammered into the openings and the marble block is separated by widening them.
When the blocks arrive at the processing workshops, they are sliced into pieces of the desired size and thickness using a thin, strong diamond wire (or sets of such wires). For some machines it takes an hour or even longer to make one cut through the marble block, others cut ten slabs at the same time.
Damaged marble slabs, smaller chunks, chips and even crumbs are also used. They are ground into stone dust, which is used to make artificial stone surfaces. Different amounts of marble dust are mixed into engineered quartz, sintered stone, acrylic solid surface materials.
Living room furniture tops
Patios and outdoor flooring
Exterior wall cladding
Swimming pool tiling
SPA and wet rooms
Marble should not be cleaned with acidic cleaners. Acids can dissolve the calcium particles in marble and corrode it. Acid cleaning transforms the surface of marble from glossy to matt, non-glossy patches may occur. It is recommended to clean marble with a neutral pH cleaner and to seal it every 12 months. Even sealed marble should not be cleaned with acidic cleaners as they break down the sealant and may stain the marble surface.