Floors form the base of your entire home decor; both literally and from an aesthetic standpoint. A common dilemma for Indian homeowners is choosing between the time-honored marble and the relatively newer but equally popular vitrified tiles. Read on to know more about the vitrified tiles vs marble debate:
Vitrified tiles vs Marble #1: Properties
A mixture of clay and other minerals like silica, quartz and feldspar baked at high temperatures composes vitrified tiles. This process forms a glassy substrate throughout the tile giving it its characteristic smooth texture. Generally coated with an external glaze, these tiles have a low water absorption rate and are durable.
A naturally occurring stone formed from calcite, dolomite or limestone, marble is a dense, porous stone with a high water absorption rate. Featuring fascinating swirls and veined patterns on the surface, this stone has been widely used in architecture as flooring and wall cladding.
Vitrified tiles vs Marble #2: Variety and finishes
Vitrified tiles are man-made and come in a large variety of designs, colors, prints and textures. You can design tiles to simulate natural materials such as wood, bamboo and even marble. Suitable for both interior and exterior use, vitrified tiles are available in glossy, matte and anti-skid finishes.
A distinctive material with a personality of its own, marble flooring is available as blocks, slabs or tiles. Commonly found in shades of white, black, green, brown, grey and other natural hues, different grades of marbles will absorb water differently. Polished marble is used to achieve a glossy finishes while honed and sand marble can be used for matte, rustic textures.
Vitrified tiles vs Marble #3: Installation
Vitrified tiles are available in stores in a ready-to-ship condition and usually, it takes around 1.5 working days to lay flooring in a standard-size room. These tiles also require less setting time and you can use them shortly after installation. Since they are pre-polished, there is no finishing required on site. One can cut vitrified tiles manually and therefore can be laid in a variety of patterns and combinations to suit your needs. General thickness of the tile is around 10 to 12 mm which reduces the overall thickness of your floor.
The installation process for marble is more time consuming and labor intensive. In most places in India, marble is usually not available in a ready-to-ship condition. You have to place an order, followed by cutting and grinding of marble to your requirements. Apart from the time required to lay marble flooring, the time for polishing and finishing also adds to the overall installation time.
Vitrified tiles vs Marble #4: Maintenance
Vitrified tiles are relatively easy to clean and maintain. Thanks to their non-porous nature, these tiles absorb very little water and therefore are resistant to most stains. Regular dusting and wiping is enough to keep your tiles gleaming. Since tiles are readily available in standard sizes, one can replace broken tiles easily with identical alternatives.
A naturally occurring material, marble tends to react very easily with most substances. Marble reacts with even dilute acids (read vinegar, mustard, citrus and other common household items) causing stains. You must clean any spills on marble flooring immediately to prevent permanent marks. You can clean the floor with mild detergent and water, provided you wipe dry immediately. Marble flooring will also require periodic application of a sealant to protect it from moisture. Regular polishing can breathe new life into your old marble flooring.
Vitrified tiles vs Marble #5: Durability
Vitrified tiles are extremely durable and weather heavy daily use. These tiles are both discoloration and scratch resistant and thus will easily hold good for a span of 10-15 years, when used with proper maintenance. However, vitrified tiles are prone to breakage if mishandled.
Though considerably stronger than most other types of flooring, marble tends to develop a yellowish tinge after some years of usage. With regular maintenance and adequate care, marble flooring can remain intact for around 25 years.
Vitrified tiles vs Marble #6: Cost
The cost of vitrified tile flooring largely depends on the design and brand you choose. The cost of flooring (including the cost of the tile, cost of other materials and labor charges) varies from around Rs 200 per square feet to Rs 300 per square feet. Nonetheless, being man-made, these tiles are more affordable when compared to marble.
The cost of marble, being a naturally occurring material, is more than vitrified tiles. The price of flooring will also vary according to the grade, rarity of color etc. Typically the cost of Indian marble flooring (including the cost of the material, labor as well as cutting and polishing charges) is around Rs 250 per square feet while other varieties such as Italian marble can cost anywhere between Rs 650 to Rs 1000 per square feet.
Vitrified tiles vs Marble #7: Aesthetic value
While vitrified tiles are available in a huge array of eye-catching colors and finishes, the overall look is less authentic when compared to natural wood or stone. While it is possible to create a faux-marble effect using vitrified tiles, the grout lines in laying of floor tiles are more visible when compared to marble.
Marble flooring has long been the symbol of luxury and opulence. The flooring of choice for palaces around the world, each piece is unique in its own way. The gleam of polished stone and its beautifully authentic, natural look adds to the aesthetic appeal.
Vitrified tiles vs Marble #8: Where to use them
You can use vitrified tiles for both interior and exterior surfaces, as well as high traffic areas. Since they are available in various anti-slip or slip-resistant finishes, vitrified tiles are good for bathrooms and kitchens as well.
Marble flooring is the best choice for indoor areas like foyers, halls and bedrooms. Polished marble surfaces also tend to be slippery when used in bathrooms. Since marble absorbs water and stains easily, marble is not a practical choice for kitchens. Marble is generally not good for outdoor spaces since weathering and pollutants tend to wear out the surface.
While choosing between marble and vitrified tiles let your budget, design requirement, space location and utility be your judgement criteria. While the former offers durability at a higher price, the other offers a myriad of design options at a lower price. Remember, flooring is the decor element that lives long run. Hence, choose wisely!
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