Is a marble tile bathroom practical? Is it difficult to keep clean? Does it stain? How do you clean marble? I get an email about once a week from people asking me about the maintenance of marble and how mine has held up in my bathroom, so here’s an update on my marble bathroom two years later.

When I first started planning my master bathroom remodel, I knew that marble wasn’t exactly the most practical choice. But, it was exactly the look I wanted so I went ahead anyway knowing that there would be a little more maintenance involved. I receive a lot of emails with questions so I’m summarizing all of them in one post!

white marble bathroom with freestanding tub next to pony wall and large wood french mirror behind the tub

While marble tiles do require more maintenance, I love them and have been very happy with my choices. So, if you’re thinking about using marble tiles but are worried about cleaning, staining, etching, etc, let me answer some questions for you based on my personal experience.

One thing to note, my master bathroom countertops are quartz, not marble. I choose quartz over marble because I knew the countertops would have more makeup spills, heat styling tools, toothpaste blobs, etc. and quartz was a more practical choice for me.

My floors, shower walls, and shower floors are all marble tile, though, and I’ve had them installed for just over 2 years. My downstairs bathroom floors and shower walls are also marble and have been installed for just over 6 years.

What’s the Difference Between Polished and Honed Marble

Polished marble has been polished to a shiny, glass-like surface. Polished marble is a very classic, timeless look and is often used for kitchen and bathroom countertops.

marble subway tile tub shower surround with white ruffle shower curtain and silver tray table next to tub
Polished marble in my downstairs bathroom, installed in 2015

Honed marble has a matte finish, so it is not reflective like polished. A big benefit to honed marble is that since the surface is already dull, scratches and etches are not as visible. It is also a better choice for flooring because it’s inherently less slippery.

Sigma exposed pipe shower with marble subway tile in French elegant bathroom
Honed marble in my upstairs bathroom, installed in 2019

My downstairs bathroom has polished marble and my upstairs has honed, so I have experience with both.

Does Marble Stain

Yes, marble can stain. Marble is very porous and can soak up spills, allowing them to penetrate the surface and sink deep into the stone. With any natural material, make sure you seal it once it’s installed. While sealing doesn’t prevent staining, it does slow the absorption, giving you more time to clean up before a stain occurs.

Thankfully, I am happy to report that neither of my bathrooms has any stains. I’ve spilled makeup and my dog had an accident and we haven’t had any issues with staining on the floors or in the shower. That’s two years of daily wear-and-tear in the upstairs bathroom and six years of occasional use downstairs.

Does Marble Etch

Yes, marble is a soft stone, so it can etch. An etch is not the same as a stain. Etching occurs when something acidic interacts with the stone and literally eats away at the surface of the stone. If you have polished marble, this will be more apparent because an etch mark has a dull appearance to it.

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My marble tile bathroom floor does have a couple of etch marks according to the stone restoration company I recently hired to clean the marble. Can you see them? Yeah, me neither. So glad I chose honed marble tile…

closeup of 2 inch white marble tile floor with white grout showing marble etching
That white spot is not an etch, it’s just an imperfection of the natural stone

How to Fix Etching

There are two main ways to fix marble etching. One is to have it buffed out. Buffing is like sanding down the top layer to expose a fresh layer…like starting over! The other way to minimize etching is to use honed marble.

Does Marble Chip or Scratch Easily

Yes, marble is a soft stone and can chip or scratch. I have unfortunately done both. I’ve dropped my hairdryer and a styling wand a couple of times. I escaped a chip on all but one of the incidents. Here’s the chip my hairdryer left behind. As you can see, thankfully it blends in with some of the other natural imperfections found in marble.

bathroom floor with two inch hex marble tile next to custom white bathroom vanity showing chip in tile
The chip pretty much blends with other spots in the floor that are natural imperfections

My biggest, biggest problem with my marble tile is a series of scratches that I got after the felt pad on one chair leg fell off and I didn’t notice. The leg of the chair scratched the marble when I pulled my chair in and out from my makeup vanity.

closeup of two inch hex marble tile floor in bathroom showing scratches from a chair leg
Yikes! These scratches are noticeable

Unfortunately for me, these scratches cannot be fixed. Surface scratches can be buffed out, but in my case, the marble sort of cracked deeper down into the stone.

Does Marble Show Water Spots

In a bathroom, especially a shower, almost all tiles will show water spots to some degree (depending on how hard your water is). I have polished marble downstairs and honed marble upstairs and I definitely say that the honed marble shows fewer water spots.

Truthfully, though, I have to really look to see water spots in either bathroom, because they just aren’t very apparent on the marble. Note that I don’t have very hard water.

How Do you Clean Marble Floors

It’s best to keep marble free of dirt and debris so that you minimize scratches. I use my Dyson cordless vacuum with a soft dusting head to vacuum the floors regularly. I use Aqua Mix Aquashield Cleaner and Resealer to wash the floors by spraying and wiping away with a cloth.

Venato Carrara marble hexagon floor with subway tile border in french elegant master bathroom next to custom white vanity cabinets

How Do you a Clean Marble Shower

The shower gets rinsed with soap and water daily because…well, it’s a shower! But for weekly cleaning, I use Stonetech Mold and Mildew Stain Remover to clean any mild/mildew that accumulates around the caulking.

Oversized shower niche in pony wall in carrara marble with quartz bench seat

Any chemical used around marble MUST be safe for natural stone. Many cleaners contain acid, which can ruin the marble, so double-check that any cleaner you use is approved for use on marble.

Is the Grout Difficult to Clean

Yes, but isn’t all grout difficult to clean?! With marble, it’s important to find a cleaner that is safe to use around the stone. I like Black Diamond Grout Cleaner. To use it, I just spray, let it sit, scrub it with a brush, and wipe away the dirt. I also recently had the grout professionally steam cleaned and resealed and it looks almost new again.

closeup of two inch hex carrara marble with white grout showing which grout is clean and which is dirty

My grout is Bright White grout from Bostik. Not at all a practical choice for my home because it’s difficult to keep white grout clean. A soft gray would be a more practical grout color if the task of cleaning the grout seems daunting to you.

French master bathroom with subway carrara marble shower next to pony wall and freestanding tub with silver tray table

So, aside from one chip and a few scratches, I’ve really had no issues with my marble tile bathroom. I absolutely love the look and was prepared for the extra maintenance prior to installation, so there haven’t been any surprises.

Hopefully, this will help you decide if a marble tile bathroom is right for you!

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7 Comments

  1. Hello, I am putting very similar hexagon (Polished not honed) marble tiles in my small bathroom on the floor (there is a tub). I have been assured the fact the tile are small and there will be a lot of grout will make the floor far less slippery. I am still worried as we have young grandchildren and re-thinking my decision. ( We went with the polished as the veining was so much prettier than the honed.) Do you find your floors excessively slippery? Thank you!

    1. Hi Margaret! My tile is honed, so I can’t say for sure how your polished tile will be. In my case, though, there is so much grout that it isn’t slippery at all, not even on the shower floor! Because there is so much grout, though, be sure to ask your installer to seal the marble AND the grout before you start using your new bathroom. Good luck! :) Kim

      1. Hello KIm🙂 I so appreciate your quick response and happy to hear that your grout has made for a safe surface for you (and hopefully here as well). We did have the option of the honed however he found the veins looks more yellowish than grey. I wonder if it is just the sample piece? Perhaps it is not too late to have another look and switch. Thank you so much for your help as well as for posting this very informative blog. I will be using all your tips and recommendations. BTW, your bathrooms are GORGEOUS! Have a lovely day! Margaret

      2. Hi Margaret! When choosing any natural stone, including marble, always order a sample of the current batch. Sometimes stores have samples that are months or years old. Old samples might be from a part of the quarry that isn’t currently being mined and because natural stone varies depending on where it’s mined, it’s always best to get a sample from the current batch. So the yellow veining you see in the honed might be accurate, but it could also be from another part of the quarry that isn’t being used. Good luck with your renovation – I’m sure it will be beautiful and I hope you love it! :) Kim

  2. Love your design and found the information very helpful! If you don’t mind me asking, what type of marble is this? Dolomite?

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