how to work with marble tile

by clé tile | published: Oct 04, 2022

if you’ve perused our growing collection of stone and marble, you’ll have noticed that we offer a wide range stone and marble–slate, carrara, thassos, dolomite, tumbled travertine (our pantry pavers), calacatta gold, and calacatta viola.

we’ve curated this collection to offer it in different sizes and shapes from penny rounds to larger field tile (depending on the collection)–but there’s one thing in common: our marble and stone come in tile form–not slabs.

the power–and limitations–of marble slabs

marble slab brings grandeur and elegance in ways few materials can replicate

there’s nothing that’s quite as statement-making as a big marble slab. whether for a countertop, fireplace mantel, or even the most luxurious of floors, a marble slab brings grandeur and elegance in ways few materials can replicate.

marble tile: the more affordable, versatile choice

marble slab brings grandeur and elegance in ways few materials can replicate

however, there are many spaces that a huge slab of marble aren’t right for. and practically speaking, a big marble slab for a counter can weigh hundreds of pounds (technically speaking, for every inch of thickness count on over 12 pounds of weight per square foot.) so stone slabs are an ultimate luxury feature and let’s face it–they’re expensive.

not only is marble tile more affordable than a large slab, but the addition of a grid allows for more creative design possibilities. in other words, you’re not locked into the way a slab looks but can create a more bespoke, individual look.

tile provides endless design possibilities in terms of pattern–from grid to basketweave to mosaic–in any size you can dream of from small subway tiles to large format squares that almost mimic the grandeur of a slab–but without the commitment.

a world of design options

slab can have a very specific design quality whereas stone tiles can give more charm, or even sophistication.

in fact, if done well, the right layout of marble tile can help you “create” the look of more veining where veining wouldn’t be as pronounced in slab form. marble tile allows designers to cherry pick just the exact veining they want. yes, doing so will actually add costs to the tile format but likely wouldn’t exceed the cost of a slab. think of it as a tool to create visual drama.

shapes and layouts: what’s your vibe?

stone tile mosaics – these classic shapes in hexes, penny rounds, squares, and basket weave sheets, for example, can be the most elegant and functional of textural surfaces not only offering great slip resistance but also a look that imparts an intensity of design texture.

subway grid – the classic subway grid (4×4, 2×4, 3×6) lends a utilitarian vibe to the space that when in stone form, gets an extra bump of sophistication.

planks – plank stone tiles (2×8, 4×12, 6×24) have an elongated format. it’s the tile we tend to “weave” with, be it herringbone or other more sophisticated woven patterns. planks are definitely having a big moment right now, and with stone, there’s nothing more breathtaking.

clé tile stone carrara 12x24 and 4x12 installed on all along the bathroom shower

clé carrara 4×12 and 12×24. design: project m plus for oh joy! photo: bethany nauert

clé tile stone carrara 12x24 and 4x12 installed on all along the bathroom shower

large grid – on the larger grid side (12×12, 12×24, 24×24) these sizes can represent an elevated look more akin to blocks of stone–the way stone was traditionally used for building structures in ancient times (the luxury of it!). but now that look can be mimicked in tile form and creates an absolutely stunning effect when used properly. even better, the way you configure that grid (stacked, broken joint, etc.) adds to the design element beyond that of slab use. our large 24×24 tiles also offer an affordable option for a countertop when a slab is out of reach. easier to install and configure, they are a design-friendly solution.

a note about floors

when done properly, there’s nothing quite as luxe as a slab floor.

but using slabs for floors is rare, simply due to weight and practicality of setting something so thin and large on a highly trafficked surface.

that’s why flooring is primarily the job of stone tiles. it’s so classic that it’s a look that can really make the space depending on the tile size. and with stone tiles, designers and their clients can create some very complex parquetry or mondrian effects to add drama and flair to large surfaces like flooring–and beyond that, walls. and let’s not forget the practical – slip resistance is much greater with tile than slab.

so go ahead. introduce some versatile marble tile into your design, and savor its creative possibilities.