Expert Guide on Marble

6 min read

The History and Properties of Marble - Architessa

Marble has been the premier building material for many of the most notable architectural projects throughout history, from Ancient Greek statues to Renaissance Cathedrals to Charles De Gaulle International Airport floors in Paris. You may already know that marble is naturally associated with luxury and tradition because of its raw beauty and delicate veining. When you walk into a hotel lobby clad in marble tiles, you immediately notice an air of elegance and a legacy of success - using marble for your project can bring this same atmosphere into any space. We've provided a closer look at marble so you can learn more about this highly coveted stone.


What is Marble?

Marble is a natural stone primarily composed of calcite, a crystalline form of calcium carbonate. While marble is renowned for its raw beauty and elegance, it is also susceptible to staining, acid etching, and scratching due to the vulnerability of calcite crystal to mild acids, including those commonly found in kitchen and bar settings. However, many experts believe that these accumulated changes, known as "patina," can enhance the stone's beauty and historical significance.

Marble Colors and Patterns: Beyond White Carrara

While white Carrara marble from Italy is undoubtedly iconic, it represents only a small fraction of the marble variety available worldwide. Marble is quarried in many regions, and it comes in an unmatched range of colors, patterns, and veining. Whether you prefer bold hues or subtle shades, classic or contemporary designs, there's a marble type that can suit any aesthetic preference and project requirement. Learn more about the fascinating world of marble and its potential applications.

 Calacatta Gold Marble Tile

Pictured above: CALACATTA GOLD honed marble tile

What's the difference between marble finishes?

Marble is available in many finishes, the most common of which are polished or honed, although more rustic or antique finishes are also available. If you're looking for a luxurious and sophisticated option, polished marble tile is a great choice. The reflective gleam of light off a polished marble floor creates a refined look and a classical elegance that is always in style. In contrast, honed marbles offer a slightly more relaxed feel with a matte finish that softens their impact while retaining their sophisticated style. Meanwhile, tumbled or brushed marbles provide a rustic look reminiscent of ancient architecture. No matter which finish you choose, marble tile is a great investment for any space that demands both durability and beauty.


United States Supreme Court Building Marble

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Marble MOHS rating

Marble, with a measurement of hardness scale (MOHS) rating of approximately three out of ten, is a relatively soft stone that consists of calcium, just like teeth. It's important to handle it with care and avoid exposing it to harsh chemicals that can cause corrosion and damage. Similar to teeth, a cavity can form if you consume too much sugar, and stones react similarly. To prevent damage, softer stones like marble require a less active chemical and more frequent dust mopping program. Proper care and maintenance can help preserve the beauty and longevity of polished marble tile.

MOHS Hardness Scale


Country of Origin

Marble is a widely used natural stone and is quarried in various countries worldwide. India, Italy, Spain, and China are some of the major marble-producing countries. Italian marble is especially famous for its quality and beauty and is exported to several countries worldwide, including China, where it is cut into field tiles and mosaics. So even if your stone is "Made in Italy," it may be well-traveled. Here are the country origins of popular marbles.

  • ITALY: Bianco Venatino, Calacatta, Statuario, Botticino
  • CHINA: Wooden White, Panda White Marble, Oriental White, Asian Statuary
  • TURKEY: Afyon Sugar White, Bianco Dolomite
  • GREECE: Thassos


The "Name Game" and Veining Terminology

    From quarry to homeowner, a stone may be renamed multiple times before purchase. Brokers, importers, and distributors often give stones new names, causing confusion for homeowners and specifiers. Iconic stones like Carrara remain unchanged, but many others have made-up names. 


    Differences in Marble Veining

    Quarries often rename portions of their stone to differentiate them, especially if there is enough material to go to market. However, if it's only a small section, it may not be worth renaming. Manufacturing can't simply remove the "odd man out" tiles because they ship blocks to be cut down, and the odd-looking material often goes into the same boxes as the regular material. Depending on the destination, the odd pieces and off-cuts are often used to make mosaics. The premium stones are reserved for slabs and large formats, while the smallest cuts are typically the leftovers. Custom mosaics may be an exception.
  • "Venato" means the marble has big "veins"
  • "Venatino" means it has little veins. Bianco Venatino actually comes from the same quarry as Carrara - but different areas of a quarry can produce stone that look different, so they are often renamed or reclassified by appearance.


    Danby Vermont Marble Quarry (Marble from Vermont)

    Pictured above: Danby Marble Quarry

    Made in the USA marble

    Discover the oldest operating commercial quarry in the United States, located in Vermont. The Danby marble quarry has been open since 1903 and is the world's largest underground marble quarry. This quarry produces some of the densest marble, perfect for outdoor and kitchen applications. It has been used in prestigious buildings such as the United States Supreme Court and Arlington National Cemetery, as well as in the Detroit Institute of Art. As someone who grew up just 20 minutes away from this quarry, I can attest to its grandeur and beauty.

    Danby Marble Quarry, VT

    Pictured above: Danby Marble Quarry

     But you don't have to just take my word for it, we actually do sell marble from Danby quarry in our DANBY collection. This marble features a muted white background with soft grey and gold veins, and we carry it in an 18x18 field tile and special order slabs. Who doesn't love a stone with a story behind it?


    Marble from Danby Vermont

    Pictured above: DANBY 18x18 marble

    Will we run out of marble someday?

    Explore the beauty and sustainability of Italian white marble from the quarries of Carrara, the birthplace of the Roman Empire. Many people wonder about the long-term sustainability of marble extraction, but geologists have found that the Marble Column extends over 2,100 meters (6,500 feet), from 1,300 meters above sea level to 800 meters below. This means that we have enough marble to last for the next 2,000 years to create stunning designs in our homes, streets, and public buildings. 


    Calacatta Gold 3x9 Matte Install

    Pictured above: CALACATTA GOLD honed 3x9 marble backsplash

    How is marble formed?

    Marble is a beautiful metamorphic rock that forms when limestone is subjected to heat and pressure. Composed primarily of calcite (CaCO3), marble usually contains other minerals as well. The transformation of limestone into marble usually occurs at convergent plate boundaries, where large areas of Earth's crust are exposed to regional metamorphism. Marble can also form by contact metamorphism, when a hot magma body heats adjacent limestone or dolostone.

    Marble Formation through Tectonic movement

    Photo Credit: Geology Science


    Before metamorphism, the calcite in the limestone is often in the form of lithified fossil material and biological debris. During metamorphism, this calcite recrystallizes and the texture of the rock changes. Recrystallization is what marks the separation between limestone and marble. Marble that has been exposed to low levels of metamorphism will have very small calcite crystals, but these will usually grow in size as the level of metamorphism progresses.


    How is marble formed through contact metamorphism

    Photo credit: Geology In


    Why Marble?

    Choose a unique piece of art for your home with marble. Each piece is one-of-a-kind, unable to be replicated, and exclusively yours. No one can repeat or copy it, and only you will have the privilege of owning it. 


    Blue Marble Tile - Blue Tides Architessa

    Pictured above: BLUE TIDES marble tile

    Marble Care and Maintenance

    Marble is one of the oldest forms of building materials and can last a lifetime if installed and cared for properly. Marble can be sealed, but even when it's not, a patina will develop gradually over time based on traffic and natural conditions. Some stones can be professionally restored if necessary, but this is not common. Desired patina and surface texture play a significant role in scheduled maintenance and cleaning. Marble is more porous than granite and can be more susceptible to staining and scratching. Some variants require special setting materials and have unique maintenance needs. For example, white marble is susceptible to turning yellow. You can read more about that on our blog Why is my marble turning yellow. For more information on maintaining natural stone products, refer to our Natural Stone Care & Maintenance page. Architessa has a team of experts and has been a member of the Natural Stone Institute for 18 years, so we strive to deliver the best and most accurate information to our clients. Always check with the stone supplier recommended setting materials and approval for specific applications. 

    Thanks for reading, and I hope you have learned lots about marble. Now you can shop informed and confident about this beautiful natural stone!



    Austin Meyer Architessa

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