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Carrara Marble in Master Bath - pros and cons?

12 years ago

We are in the process of building and our plan is a mix of carrara (white venetino) marble and subway tile in our master bath. Every vendor -- except for the tile vendor, of course -- that hears we are planning for marble strongly discourages us. Since this will be a costly investment beyond our allowance budget I wanted to hear some user stories of successes and sadnesses over the use of marble.

A little bit about our family -- I have 17 month old twins, soon to be 3 kids under 2 years old. We also have a 72 pound yellow lab. And I have a husband. He's a clean husband, but he's a husband.

Our vibe is very lived in and comfortable. Classic and clean, but airy and fresh. I worry about the carrara feeling to stuffy (in addition to being a maintenance nightmare). So that's my life.

These were our two inspiration pictures that we started off with

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Here is our master bath

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The current plan is to run white subway tile with light gray grout in the shower with mini hex venetino floors. The bathroom floors will be 6x18 venetino laid in a brick pattern. The tub surround will be white subway tile to tie back into the shower space, although we're considering a marble deck. And our countertops will be a carrara slab that's as close of a match to the white venetino as my stone yard offers.

Please leave me feedback on your carrara experiences and the design plan in general. Are there places that would be better to skip the marble to save on a headache or is it a go big or go home kind of situation?

Comments (56)

  • 12 years ago

    ack, this is tough. I've been reading stuff online for a week now and some people do cartwheels over marble and others fall into Marcolo's category. We're looking at $3K in upgrades for the materials alone, forget the labor. I really love the look, but don't want to regret anything (both doing marble and/or not doing marble). Shishkabobs. And here I thought this would be an easy question to get answered ;)

  • 12 years ago

    what about some of the fakes? Believe me, I am snooty about some things but I have to tell you when I was in a tile store the other day they had a cultured Carrera marble top on display and I was amazed. I was used to our old CM that looked like crap. I have real Carrera in my upstairs bath but had I known about the CM in the Carrera pattern I might have been getting that instead. I do have to say, it's the most beautiful thing I have in my house. I am scared it is not always going to look as beautiful as it does now. It's our guest jack and jill bath and like one person said you can't stand over them to wipe up!! I'm using some other kind of material that looks like Carrera on the floor, had the tile man here today.

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  • 12 years ago

    But, you can only see it pretty imperceptibly in the exact right light.

    Thank God bathroom vanities never have bright lighting shining on them.

    Oh, wait.

  • 12 years ago

    I have polished marble floors in both of our bathrooms, a honed marble vanity in the smaller one (console sink w/polished nickel legs), and last year put in honed marble counters and backsplash in the kitchen.

    Bathrooms are 4 years old now, kitchen is 1 year old, and we wouldn't change a thing.

    Yup, we have etched the kitchen counter, and even nicked the edge by the sink. Polished marble floors have been etched in one or two spots.

    2 of us and a 10 year old daughter. Toothpaste etc. Colgate, Aquafresh, mouthwash - we don't worry much about what products we buy. Yes you have to use the right cleaner, but it's not like you have to think about it once you've selected your cleaning product - you buy it and keep buying it.

    If you love marble, and enjoy the 'lived in' look and appreciate patina - i.e. are not anal retentive about every mark, scratch, ding etc. in your home then go for marble and don't even bother looking at 'faux' products.

  • 12 years ago

    Oh - one other thing - unless there's some miracle grout (do NOT use epoxy grouts with marble) white grout in a shower will be white for 10 minutes.

    Both showers I put in our baths are man-made material. Last one we did (basement bath) I used a cultered marble product but in solid white - not some sort of cake batter fake marble mix. It's solid, strong, heavy, and no grout to discolor, no tiles to crack, no membranes to leak.

    Marble tiled showers look awesome in magazines because they've never been used, or have been Photoshopped.

    A ceramic tile in the shower with epoxy grout is probably the best bet for a long-term white shower.

  • 12 years ago

    The only marble in our master bath is the shower bench seat, and it's the only thing I regret in that room. I let the contractor talk me into it. We have tried to be careful, but it's a shower, so drips of shampoo, conditioner... Etches galore. Thankfully it's only the shower seat.

  • 12 years ago

    I can sort of give you a "best case, worst case" scenario.

    In a NYC apartment I did the master bath in all marble. It was very, very pretty. We used the place on and off for about 6 years. We're not slobs, but we're not neat freaks either.

    We'd let friends use the place, no issues.

    We later converted it to an executive rental. This company would put big wigs up there for days or weeks in their visits to NYC.

    Within four months they destroyed the bath. Wine stains, urine stains, etching on some surfaces from vomit and who knows what else. Extreme abuse by uncaring fools.

    I pulled the horizontal surfaces (countertops, flooring, tub deck, etc) out and replaced them with a different material.

    I do like marble. I'm very much a "lived in home" type of person. Marble can be warm, it can be cold, it can be showroom pristine, it can be homey and lived in.

    Marble on vertical surfaces, no worries.

    Marble on horizontal surfaces, just be aware. In a master bath I'd have no worries. With little kids using it, or teens, just know that the material is not bulletproof. Know that the first mark on the material might look horrible to you, a huge flaw. Know that several marks later, your material now has patina and character. It now looks beautiful and homey. Or will that "character" drive you nuts? lol

    After all that, I'm not at all anti-marble. I'd urge anyone to use caution in a shower or wet area due to possible iron deposits that could oxidize or rust over time. Inexpensive stones might be inexpensive for a reason. On a shower floor I'd use a topical membrane under the marble to minimize deep wetting.

    Even in "dry" installations, marble can oxidize over time and develop a slight off-color hue, but literally that could be decades. Your eyesight will be bad by then, so you'll probably never notice. lol

    It's a natural material. Enjoy its beauty, embrace its characteristics as it ages.

  • 12 years ago

    My husband spilled coffee on his marble vanity countertop and didn't tell me about it right away. Took us forever to get the stain out. I have done two bathrooms with mock travertine porcelain tile and mosaic tiles. They are gorgeous and I love them. You are so fortunate to have a family of 3 children. Spend your time loving them, playing with them, not fussing over an old marble bathroom. Personally, I really, really, really don't think you're going to have time for the marble with your young and growing family. Plus, you do you really want to set up a disaster zone for your children. Why go there? Really?

  • 12 years ago

    Thank you all for the feedback!

  • 12 years ago

    It seems like the etches show up with very directional light with a POV that's about equal to the light. For example, when placing the marble sample horizontally on my current vanity, I have to sort of get on top of it to see the etches (birds' eye view). I have a typical above-the-mirror 3-light uplight in that bath. But I cannot see it across the room, even when I know where they are. Same thing on my current kitchen island with recessed cans and pendants - have to be really on top of the sample before the etches show up as a different texture.

    Again, I'm using a honed sample and I can appreciate polished might be a totally different beast.

    I'm also probably not the best observer - I know that there is a very old marble-topped dresser at our beach house that serves as silverware/paperplate/napkin storage and holds the coffee machine, toaster oven, and breadbox. I can't even imagine what variety of things have been spilled on that top over the past 70 years, but no one has been careful cause it's marble (didn't even occur to me until recently that it was!). And I haven't ever been bothered by stains or etches or scratches.

    Maybe if I had the type of lifestyle where I regularly drank red wine in my bathroom I'd reconsider...but unfortunately I don't.

    nikiniki - I'd encourage you to get a sample...they can be had for about $7 from a few websites and try out your products and see if you can live with it. I was pleasantly surprised.

    Mongo - your input is most appreciated! I'll try to do my vomiting in the toilet instead of on the counters ;-)

  • 12 years ago

    It is good to hear all these different perspectives. For me, it reaffirms my decision to go ahead with marble. DH has never once peed on the bathroom floor, and actually, I don't think he's ever thrown up in all the years we've been married! lol! Our is a master bath, and no kids or guests will be allowed. I may keep it locked and carry the key around with me, depending on how anal I get. ;-)

  • 12 years ago

    I started our new remodel five months ago. I thought that it would be complete by now but there have been a few issues along the way. But at the end I know I am going to have a wonderful master suite area. I did Statuary Marble, it is covered now by boxes because my cabinets and slabs are going in next weeks. But when I saw it on the floor I forgot all the warnings from everyone about marble. It is so beautiful, I try to think about all the places in the world that it has withstood all the traffic and test of time. I have forwarded many of these post to my husband, I want him to know that I am not being my anal self too, so Astacia I understand the key...I have threatened a urinal in the garage :)

  • 12 years ago

    Toronto Tim or Anyone, how come you say to NOT use epoxy with marble? Thanks

  • 12 years ago

    I agree with cottonpenny's suggestion. Trying out chemicals on samples was a great idea and that's what I will be doing with mine. I must confess though, I'm already in love with my samples.

    [IMG]http://i1261.photobucket.com/albums/ii593/kelly979/P1130097.jpg[/IMG]

    [IMG]http://i1261.photobucket.com/albums/ii593/kelly979/P1130096.jpg[/IMG]

  • 12 years ago

    Have you looked at Ceasarstone's Carrera quartz? To my eye it looks pretty good and you would have to work pretty hard to damage it.

  • 12 years ago

    Misty Carrera is pretty, but IMHO it doesn't look very much like marble. Cambria Torquay or Silestone Lagoon come closer, but any of the three would be far more expensive than real marble is around here. Maybe double the cost.

  • 12 years ago

    kelly1979 I love your samples! We are doing a tile rug with a basketweave that looks very much like your sample.

    And I agree, check out the alternatives, like quartz for sure. But they did nothing for me and I didn't find them all that similar to my marble samples.

  • 12 years ago

    Thanks! Tile rug was what I had in mind! Lol! I chose bardiglio dots over black dots to soften things up. And I must say again cottonpenny was right, the cost of 2 samples were dirt cheap! The pictures don't do justic, both samples have these thin gray streaks which I love very much but not visable in the pictures.

    PS. btw sorry about the pictures not showing up, just realised. I guess after all these years I'm still technologically challended! I had read at another thread, uploading to photobucket would be enough.. though it seems it didn't. I'll try again.

  • 12 years ago

    Here

  • 12 years ago

    and here..

  • 12 years ago

    I LOVE LOVE the look of marble. I want marble in my masterbath but I know I to casual/lived in for marble. We put a vanity in our guest bath that has some sort of marble top that came with it and it is etched horribly. I didn't know everything that touched it would etch it. I live with it because I have no choice right now but I've considered etching the rest of it on purpose so I don't have shiny and dull spots. I'd like to replace it with something more resistant to everything.

    Please post pictures when you are finished especially if you do marble. Since I'm not capable of maintaining it, I'd at least like to drool over someone else's pictures!!

  • 12 years ago

    Kelly, gorgeous samples! I just installed marble basketweave in my daughter's bathroom this weekend that is very similar to yours. We are grouting tomorrow. I'll post some photos when we're done.

  • 12 years ago

    After all of the feedback, we decided to stick with our marble plans. I'll post pics once the floors/counters go in!

  • 12 years ago

    Today the owner of a very reputable tile fabrication business told me that the key to the marble is once a year have it cleaned by professionals. Right now I just want this project over so I can enjoy, when it is finished I will post some pictures. It is not grouted yet. and yes those samples are great. I like caesarstone, I am going to put Pebble in my dressing area of my closet, but the Carrera doesn't get close to the real deal.

  • 12 years ago

    Just discovered that the stone warehouse our contractor wants us to use (and by "want" I mean pretty much insists!) only has polished marble slabs. They're beautiful but I was wanting honed so that the etching would be less visible. Depending on how much the fabricator will charge us to hone now(as our budget has been reached!) we may just put in polished for the countertops, live with it for a year, and then try to have it honed on site. Thoughts??

  • 12 years ago

    I agree with Astacia those samples are great. Kelly Do you mind telling me where you got them from. I have a small bathroom I am looking to redo.

  • 12 years ago

    iltrot, you've got yourself a deal! lol
    pigdog, hope everything went as planned. Curious how yours turned out.
    nikinikinine, great decision.
    Astacia, is it possible to convert polished marble to honed? I didn't know that.
    Jenny0316, I ordered them online from carraratiles.com and found them at houzz site (I highly recommend checking houzz.com, great design ideas) We received samples from 2 other stores too, but one of those samples arrived chipped at corners which made me think about the troubles we could get if we were to place an actual order..

    Here is a link that might be useful: marble samples

  • 12 years ago

    Posted by kelly1979 (My Page) on Tue, Jun 26, 12 at 18:41
    Astacia, is it possible to convert polished marble to honed? I didn't know that.

    All honed stone starts off polished. We talked to our stone vendor about rehoning in a few years (assuming the patina started to bother me...) and they had no issue doing so. I am guessing the process for honing on site for the first time would be somewhat the same...

  • 12 years ago

    My DH has unexpectedly expressed a sudden, strong preference for polished countertops (or is it a sudden, strong urge not to spend one more cent on this bathroom remodel??lol) so we will definitely be putting the polished countertops (and tub deck) in. I googled and found several marble restoraton places in this area that will come on site and clean, re-polish or hone, so I feel comfortable knowing we can alwaYS *fallback* on that option.

    Our contractor is coming on Monday to start!

  • 12 years ago

    Would love to see pics! We're doing a marble and slate master bathroom right now - marble countertops/tub deck with a black slate floor and a mix of both in the shower. I love looking at everyone else's pics for inspiration!

  • 12 years ago

    Thank you Kelly !

    I received my samples and I love them . I will being redoing my bathroom in marble after all !!

  • 12 years ago

    Very pretty, Jenny0316!

  • 12 years ago

    I did a mix of marble (shower accent tile, bench and floor/bathroom floor/vanity top) and subway tiles (shower walls) and I love it. My bathroom is FINALLY finished and it looks lovely. I will upload photos soon - need to put them on photobucket which I just haven't had time to do yet. I used polished white carrara on vanity top, shower bench and thresholds, polished 16 x 16 white venatino on bathroom floor, and polished ming green/thassos basketweave on shower floor and in a flower pattern for accent strip in shower. I struggled over final decisions for months (as evidenced by my many GW posts) and am thrilled with the result. Now I just need some advice on what cleaner to use for my marble. Advice??

  • 12 years ago

    Carrara is one of my favorite types of marbles. I have a recommendation for you though, check out the carrara marble sinks if you want a matching fixture, like the one attached in the photo

    Here is a link that might be useful: Infinity Carrrara Marble Sink

  • 12 years ago

    Marble is super pretty. But be sure you take care of it. We are about to gut this bathroom in the near future. It has 17yr old marble on the floor and the walk-in shower. This is probably where it looks the best:

    I doubt it was ever abused, but it has been neglected and it is none too pretty now. Cleaners help a little bit, but I will never choose marble in a bathroom application. What's pictured looks nice compared to the weird rust spots that have developed in the shower. Those porcelain tiles can't get installed fast enough!! Good luck!

  • 12 years ago

    When we toured our builder's home, he had marble in all the bathrooms. He has an 18 month-old & a 4 year-old. He is really disappointed with the marble in all the bathrooms. He would not get them again in a do-over. They have been in the house for 18 months. He said anytime he or his wife are using the counters, they just cover them up with a towel & then whatever bathroom items they are using on top of that because of stains they incurred in the beginning. I cannot imagine covering my beautiful counters each time I want to make-up on, etc.

    Instead of marble, we are going with calacutta macaubus quartzite. It's tough as nails & just as gorgeous!

    Here is a link that might be useful: Calacutta Macaubus Quartzite

  • 11 years ago

    We have now completed 3 bathroom remodels. First one was done four years ago in travertine. Second was done 5 months ago in bianco venatino marble - shower, floors, walls up to mid point. This is the master. Third bathroom is almost finished and is in French vanilla polished marble - shower, tub drop in box, floors, walls to mid point. All are beautiful. All vanity tops are glass or ceramic. I specifically avoided marble countertops. I watch my cleaners carefully and shop equally carefully for toiletries. So far, no problems, but it's only my DH and I as children are post college and visit hope several times a year.

    I love the look and am a natural stone lover so will invest myself into their maintenance. The rest, time will tell. We decided that at this stage in our lives, with our children grown and moving on with their lives, we will indulge.

  • 11 years ago

    Good for you ev2012 , I went through the same route with Calcutta marble . I was scared of maintenance, so I started looking for the fake stuff. However , t found out that nothing beats the look of te real stuff. So, I did my floors , tub deck, vanity in Calcutta marble . The shower is a beautiful white ceramic with glass tile accent . The bathroom is not done yet . Have been waiting for my countertops to come from Italy , only to find out that what I saw in the store was not sold as marked , only put on hold , finally they gave it to me . Hopefully , we will be done in a couple of weeks . I started shopping around for marble cleaners for floors and countertops . I have been using the SCI brand for my kitchen granite countertops , and found out that they have a whole line of products for floors and showers as well . It's sold at Home Depot online .
    ev2012 can you post pictures of your bathrooms ?

  • 11 years ago

    If I had read this thread before doing the master bath I probably would have been dissuaded from using marble. But I didn't, and I did. And I do love it. As others have stated, the biggest challenge is the grout. I am very careful and the only user of this bathroom, with the exception of rare guests. The bathroom is so pretty -- I am glad I have the marble even though it does take extra care and caution. Nothing else would have felt as right in this 1927 house.

  • 11 years ago

    If I had read this thread before doing the master bath I probably would have been dissuaded from using marble. But I didn't, and I did. And I do love it. As others have stated, the biggest challenge is the grout. I am very careful and the only user of this bathroom, with the exception of rare guests. The bathroom is so pretty -- I am glad I have the marble even though it does take extra care and caution. Nothing else would have felt as right in this 1927 house.

  • 11 years ago

    This topic couldn't be more timely! I am in the process of selling my NYC condo and buying a Loudoun County new construction home. To start with, the condo had marble baths - vanities, floors, shower tiles, wall tiles - the whole thing. I hated it! Looking back, I now know why I hated it. I hated it because I always knew that condo was not my forever home. I was always trying to keep it looking fresh and clean and pristine for "when we sell". That meant that I was always wiping up water from the vanities. If we had guests, I would take every opportunity to go into the second bathroom to wipe up whatever water was sitting on the vanity. This was a constant issue and stress for me and my poor husband who was an innocent bystander to my obsession. One day my cat peed on the bath mat on the floor and the etching in front of the tub freaked me out and I couldn't look at it without worrying about a potential buyer's complaints. One night I put my contact case on the vanity without drying it off and to this day there is an outline of a contact case on that vanity. All this being said, the first person who looked at my condo made me a full price offer with no mention of the barthroom marble! Now that we are building our dream home, I have decided to put in 150 feet of Carrara marble kitchen counters and am plotting for that day In the future when I can afford to redo the builder 4x4 ceramic tiles in the master bathroom our budget requires we get now with Carrara marble tiles and vanities. Long story short, now that I know that this is "my" house and whatever I do with it only has to please me and not some future buyer, I am doing exactly what I want. The thing is that I am a relaxed person who enjoys things that feel warm and homey and used but have an underlying elegance. Marble is perfect for me! I can't wait to have it and enjoy it and appreciate it's characteristics rather than fighting them.

    Marble boils down to this, if you are going to fight every mark and indication of use - DON'T GET IT it is not for you. Stick with granite or something else that will look brand new in 20 years. If you appreciate a patina and signs of use, then get it and love it.

  • PRO
    11 years ago

    Most Stone issues can usually be corrected such as etching, scratching, cracks, chips and stains.
    Contact lens cleaners, facial, creams, perfumes etc can all be acidic and etch acid sensitive stones like marble.
    The higher the luster the more it will show the etching.
    If you want your marble polished than the it will require maintenance if you want to keep it looking new.
    I mean we clean our carpets, window treatments, rugs, upholstery professionally. We service our cars ,lawns, pools,and refinish our wood floors. Heck even the dogs get serviced(grooming).
    The marble floors,countertops and vanities can all be refinished. Using progressive grits of diamond abrasives and polishing compounds these surfaces can all be restored to factory finish or in most cases better.
    Also if you have a polished surface and you have tired of the upkeep you can change the finish to a uniform silken matte finish(honed). A professional refinishing company will make no dust, no mess and leave your home clean as a whistle. In most cases he or she will will address grout issues, caulking issues and even have good info on daily maintenance.
    In any case you needn't live with worn marble.

  • 11 years ago

    Yes, I think the key is to enjoy it and if you come to sell it , refinish it . In my book , after a lot of searchs, nothing can beat the look and feel of the real marble .

  • 11 years ago

    Yes, I think the key is to enjoy it and if you come to sell it , refinish it . In my book , after a lot of searchs, nothing can beat the look and feel of the real marble .

  • 11 years ago

    Couldn't pay me enough to put marble in a bathroom.

  • 10 years ago

    Sealer. Can someone simply name a sealer they used and liked?

  • PRO
    10 years ago

    what are you sealing?
    I wish it were that simple-Most sealers are fine and will do what they are formulated for.
    The question should probably be who should seal my stone.

  • 8 years ago

    Old thread but in case someone's still looking, etching is not something to be absolutely afraid of. Very inexpensive water ring and etch remover (e.g. from Home Depot) seems to work well for many people. I myself have polished marble tiles on a kitchen counter (it's been 12 years) and it has tons of etch marks but not visible most of the time, certainly not when the light is on. Sealed with something that had teflon in it, got ZERO stains from anything including wine or what have you. I bought the etch remover 2 years ago and have yet to use it - I just enjoy using the counter every day, no big deal.

  • 7 years ago

    I have carrara marble floors in a powder room, 20 years old. Dont do it. It is not the etching but marble can oxidize. This did. Big, roundish, gold/brown stains emanating from inside the marble. Random areas, some possibly wet related, some not. These just appeared about a year ago. Ugly, especially in a toilet area. Should I put up a sign that its not pee or poop but internal oxidazation?

    Five years ago, I installed Vermont Danby marble counters in my new kitchen. No stains, lots of etching, and no oxidation, at least, not yet.

  • 7 years ago

    After having it a while does anyone notice the black dots scratching or chipping. We have had it in for 2 weeks, and the black tiles are getting worn. Really weird.