Natural marble is a highly prized, attractive stone that can be far too expensive and finicky for most home projects, but buyers swooning over Calacatta or Carrera do not need to break the bank to secure a durable marble alternative.
One of the best marble alternatives available is porcelain. This cheaper marble look-alike comes in an array of styles, such as wood, concrete, and other natural stones, but many porcelain tile manufacturers have hopped on the marble bandwagon, making it easy to access a cheap marble alternative.
The difference between marble and porcelain comes down to the manufacturing process.
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“Porcelain is a type of ceramic with a compact, hard, and non-porous body,” according to Ceramics of Italy. “After mixing the raw materials with water, the mixture is compressed with a machine applying thousands of tons of pressure and fired in a kiln at a higher temperature than ceramic (roughly 1,200 to 1,400 Celsius) until it reaches a state of non-porous vitrification and complete waterproofing.”
As a soft natural stone, a natural marble floor in a home with heavy foot traffic is not ideal. Though sealant could improve the performance, over time the marble can scratch and chip. Plus the marble would need to be sealed regularly, something that buyers do not need to worry about with porcelain.
Stains are common with marble as well. Any spills should be quickly cleaned up before penetrating the surface. While marble has a high porosity, porcelain has an extremely low one, making it able to withstand spills and years of wear. Acids can be particularly dangerous to the natural stone, but so can water if left to sit.
If marble can be properly taken care of, it can last, but it remains more expensive than your average tile. Porcelain is not only cheaper but stronger and requires less maintenance.
We found seven porcelain tiles that look like natural marble for a longer lasting, more affordable upgrade.
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As global supply chains continue to be disrupted due to the pandemic, looking toward domestic manufacturers can minimize wait times. Florida Tile started as a small ceramic tile manufacturer in Lakeland, Fla., but is now centrally located in Kentucky.
The company’s Ainslee Park glazed porcelain floor tiles come in Calacatta Gold with a matte finish. It features a warmer undertone that the traditional stark white Calacatta, but maintains its notable thick gray veining. There are 12-by-24-, 12-by-12-, and 3.75-by-12-inch tiles available in 8-millimeter to 9-millimeter thicknesses. Florida Tile emphasizes a focus on sustainability by utilizing 40% of recycled content in its Ainslee Park line.
Florida Tile says it offers an exclusive technology, HDP, or high-definition porcelain, which ensures “the most realistic image possible,” the company says.
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Tile manufacturer Daltile offers three different varieties of porcelain that look like marble: Elemental Selection, which offers extra large formats (64 by 127 inches) in 12 colorways, or RevoTile. Its Marble Attache Lavish line may be the most wide array of porcelain tiles available.
There are six colorways available all in five different shapes: diamond Carrara, pearl arabesque, golden reverie, stellar gray, entranced deco, and moderna deco in decorative, straight joint, chevron, rectangle, or square shapes. Diamond Carrara reflects the most quintessential marble, but the other variations add gray and gold veinings into the mix.
Matte, satin, or polished finishes vary by porcelain color way, as do sizes of the tiles. The line is safe for floors, walls, countertops, and showers, but not exterior flooring. Marble Attache Lavish tiles come in large formats in sizes 24 by 48 inches, 24 by 24 inches, and 12 by 24 inches.
Available in either Tresana Polished, a warmer, golden marble, or Lenci Polished, a pure white marble. Arizona Tile suggests using these porcelain tiles all over the home, or even commercial areas, such as floors, countertops, showers, walls, fireplaces, and pools.
Both Cala styles come in a 10-millimeter thickness measuring 12 by 24 inches. The tiles are made in Spain, and its Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI) rating, which measures the hardness of the tile’s glaze sits at a four, meaning it is suitable for residential and medium commercial use.
To visualize a project, Arizona Tile offers two online virtual design tools. Be aware though, Arizona Tile showrooms are only found across the Western region of the United States.
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Walker Zanger offers both porcelain tiles in Carrara and Calacatta marbles. The company’s Calacata porcelain tiles come with indentations to make the product look as real to natural stone as possible. This line comes in 12-by-24-, 24-by-24-, 3-by-12-, and 2-by-2-inch sizes in ⅜-inch or 9.5-millimeter thickness in a brushed finish.
The company’s Cava Bianco collection mimics natural white Carrara marble, along with Argento, a gray-bodied marble. Just like the Calacata line, the Cava Biano line features natural stone-like textures. The exact same sizes, finish, and thickness are available in this line as well.
Walker Zanger says its products are handmade and hand-selected, ensuring a high quality tile.
Made in the USA, Crosseville’s State of Grace porcelain tile brings an Italian beauty to American homes. The company says the tile’s colorway is unique with the classic gray veining, but mixed with both black and brown veining.
State of Grace can come in either satin or an unpolished finish. Satin can provide a semi-matte appearance while unfinished, or Cross-Sheen, as the company calls it, provides a glow while allowing for easy cleaning. This finish is ideal for high traffic interior flooring, the company says. Buyers can even add on a Hydrotect coating that helps keep the tile clean on its own.
This porcelain marble tile can come in field, mosaic, trim, hexagon, chevron, molding, herringbone and picket shapes. Along with the wide variety of shapes, there are even more sizes. Thicknesses range from 9.5 millimeters to 10.5 millimeter.
Bedrosians offers endless types of marble, but its latest Magnifica Porcelain line offers the utmost durability, the company says. The company’s goal was to create the closest thing to natural stone while remaining long lasting.
For the more classic Calacatta and Carrara marbles, the line has Calacatta Super White, Calacatta Oro, and Bianco Carrara. Due to porcelain being a man-made material, it can be difficult when companies do not offer a variety in marble prints. Bedrosians tries to achieve the natural, non repetitive veining found in real marble by offering large slabs.
Magnifica Porcelain offers black marbles, Basalt, and other natural stone styles as well. Each colorway is available in 127 by 60 inches, 120 by 60 inches, 60 by 60 inches , 60 by 30 inches, 30 by 30 inches, and 30 by 15 inches. Thickness varies from 2 centimeters to 6 millimeters. This collection comes with a 10-year warranty.
The Classentino Marble line by Marazzi Tile features eight different marble styles, four shapes, five sizes, and three finishes. These colorbody porcelain tiles are fit for floors, walls, countertops, and showers.
Palazzo White offers up the most classic marble, but the company offers unique marble designs, such as a mix of both white and black, gray and white, or beige and brown. For standalone colors, there are options for brown, black, and gray marbles as well.
Available shapes are rectangle, classic weave, square, or linear hex. Matte, polished, or satin finishes are available. What differs this from other tiles, besides its tile designs, is the ability to choose between three textures: flat, raked, or bold.