Types of Marble Tile Surfaces Column 2
Marble tile sold in the USA and other areas typically have a number of surface finishes, by design and by popularity and function.
The types of finishes commonly made are Polished, the most popular, Honed, Bevel, Tumbled, Grooved and Split Face. (The image is of our Dark Emperador Mixed surfaces stacked tile)
Marble is a byproduct of natural materials binding together over time to produce a beautifully colored and veined hard surface stone material. The technical definition is as follows: Marble is a metamorphic rock that forms when limestone is subjected to the heat and pressure of metamorphism. It is composed primarily of the mineral calcite (CaCO3) and usually contains other minerals, such as clay minerals, micas, quartz, pyrite, iron oxides, and graphite that will produce various colors depending on the substratum. The reason that it is possible to see marbles of different colors basically is due to the mineral make up prior to metamorphism and then during this process, the temperatures and pressures that the material is subjected to.
Polished Finish marble is the most popular surface. It highlights the natural color and allows the beauty of the color and the veins to be seen without any adulteration. Polished is used extensively in both floor and wall tile.
When stone is quarried the stone sections are cut from the mountain in large “blocks” ranging from 10′ x 10′ or larger. These blocks are then transported to the processing factory where they are cut into what is termed “slabs”. These slabs are generally 2-3 cm thick. 2 cm is the normal tile thickness for marble. Slabs are sections that are generally 5-6′ high and 8-10′ wide, and are used to make countertops or very large floor tiles like 36 x 36 size.
The cut slabs are then run through a polishing machine which uses a certain type of industrial polish that produces a high gloss finish that is semi permanent. From there the slabs may be cut down to standard floor tile sizes of 12″ x12″ or 18″ x 18″ x 8mm thickness (2cm).
Honed Finish: Honing is the process whereby the polish is removed leaving a “matte” surface, the tile is still straight but is now honed. Honed tiles are popular in wet areas like bathroom floor or shower stalls since the Coefficient of Friction is higher than a polished surface, and is less slippery. It also has a duller look than polish. A DIY consumer can also hone polished tiles by using a solution of 20% Muriatic acid with 80% water in a plastic bucket, applying to a tile surface, wait 5-8′ then rinse with cold water.
Bevel Edge Finish: To produce a bevel edge normally a thicker tile is used, one that is 10 – 12 mm thick. A bevel is cut by a machine that produces a 45 degree angle on the tile surface on all four sides. This gives the tile a 3 D effect and the look is more luxurious. Bevel tiles generally also retain the polished surface.
Tumbled Surface Finish: “tumbled” tiles are produced by taking smaller tiles, generally 12″ x 12″ or smaller and placing them in a mixer that is similar in look and function to a common cement mixer. The tiles are placed inside the machine, different media like small pebbles and sand are put in the machine and then the machine “tumbles” the tiles and the media. This has the effect of producing indistinct edges and a softer surface. Material like travertine, which is soft and some marbles that are not too highly veined or fissured are used. The resultant tiles have more of an ancient look and feel.
Grooved Surface Finish: “Grooved” surface is just that. A machine cuts grooves in the tile surface giving it a surface texture that has deep lines imbedded in the surface similar to a farmer’s field prior to planting. The grooves generally are even and alternating with the normal flat tile surface. This gives the tile another three dimensional look and feel.
Split Face Finish: “Split Face” is a finish where individual small mosaic chips are broken using a chisel and a hammer. This produces an irregular “broken” surface on the face of the tile. This produces a finish that is a distinctive and rustic looking design with a “pebbly” feel. It’s very labor intensive and specialized. This product can be used indoors and out, walls only. The chips are mounted on a sheet very tightly so no grout joint is needed.
GlassTileHome.com has a variety of all the tile surfaces on our site.