Do Marble Tiles Expand?
Do you ever lay down a new tile floor and wonder if it will expand and buckle over time? If you have, you’re not alone. Many homeowners are curious about the expansion properties of different types of tiles, including marble.
So, do marble tiles expand? According to a study published in the International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences, marbles tiles can expand. The expansion is mostly caused by excessive heat. The excessive heat causes the thermal anisotropy of the calcite to exert pressure between the grains of the tiles. When this pressure stress reaches a level, different irreversible damages such as expansion, micro-cracks, and dissolution of grain boundaries may occur.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the expansion rates of marble tiles and share different observations with you.
Let’s get started!
What do we mean by marble tiles?
But what are marble tiles? How big are they? For what purpose do people use them?
You might be surprised to know that “marble tile” is a generic term that can cover many types of tiles that look similar.
Think of marble as a spectrum. On the one side, you have expensive genuine stone tiles made from rare materials such as Carrara and Calacatta marbles with subtle patterns and superior translucency.
On the other side, you have cheaper imitations made from stone mixes and resins that are mass-produced in factories.
So when we say “marble tiles”, we mean all types of tiles that look like marble. Sometimes an untrained eye can’t tell the difference between genuine marble and resin imitation!
It’s also not defined when it comes to the size of marble tiles.
A true marble tile can range anywhere between 6 x 6 inches to 12 x 24″ — essentially, the size of a traditional ceramic or porcelain tile. Some tiles are higher than 4″ but these are usually reserved for luxury applications.
Because they come in so many shapes and sizes, we’ll use “marble tile” to refer to all types of tiles that look like marble.
Factors that cause marble tiles expansion you may have never heard before!
When water enters the pores in a tile, it can cause significant bowing over time. This is known as volumetric change and is one of the main reasons why marble tiles expand.
If you live in a coastal area where humidity levels are high, you might experience this problem and believe that your tiles are expanding — but really, they’re just taking on water!
If you notice any unusual expansion occurring in your marble tiles, it’s important to look for any sources of moisture building up nearby. For example:
· Was the tile laid over a waterproof membrane? If so, holes or damage to the membrane can cause leaks and lead to water pooling on the floor.
· Do you have any plumbing leaks from your sinks, tubs, or water heaters? Have these been checked recently?
· Are there any cracks in the walls or any areas where the subfloor is exposed?
There are many types and sources of moisture. For instance, rising dampness is a special type of moisture build-up caused by high levels of atmospheric humidity. It happens when water enters the porous exterior of a building through capillary action. The same thing happens with marble tiles.
Another main cause of marble tile expansion is heat. Marble tiles can expand when exposed to high temperatures either from a source nearby or due to the heat generated by the sun if you live in an area that gets a lot of sunshine.
For example, if your marble tiles are laid over dark-colored stones such as granite or bluestone, they’re more likely to expand. Dark-colored stones absorb heat easier.
In addition, if you have a fireplace or stove near your marble tiles, the heat from that source will cause them to expand as well.
Take a moment to think about all of the sources of heat in your home and broadly, where those sources might be near your floor.
Another reason why marble tiles can be subject to expansion is because of the way they are made. If you notice that your tiles aren’t uniform in size or shape, then there’s a good chance your installer didn’t take the proper care to evenly distribute heat while baking them at their factory.
Being baked inconsistently can cause some areas to expand more than others.
7 Tested ways to prevent the expansion of marble tiles
1) Install marble tiles over a hardwood subfloor
Marble is more likely to expand if it’s laid over a soft surface. If you have your choice, pick maple or oak for your subflooring. It will be easier to waterproof and prevent the rise of dampness in this scenario.
2) Seal marble tiles after installation
You can usually find marble flooring sealers at your local home improvement store. Apply it when the temperature is below 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius) and make sure that the tiles are completely dry.
3) Be careful when laying a shower
If you’re going to tile a shower with marble, try not to lay them directly on top of your subfloor. It’s best to lay them on their layer of the waterproof board beneath the tiles. Also, avoid using grout altogether and opt for silicone instead.
4) Go for a heat-resistant membrane
The presence of heat nearby is one reason why marble tiles can expand. If you’re installing this type of tile in an area where you expect to need radiant heating, then it might be recommended to install a heat-resistant membrane.
5) Use high-quality tiles
When possible, try to use tiles with the highest rating possible (on scales of 1-10). A rating of 7 or 8 is optimal. You can find this rating information in the product description.
6) Avoid using dark grout
If you go with a lighter color of grout between your marble tiles, then it will overlap less and appear to be more consistent in dimension from tile to tile. This can mean that it will be less visible when the expansion occurs.
7) Cut marble tiles in cold weather
Generally speaking, marble is more likely to expand in warmer weather. If you need to cut some tiles down to size on a hot day, try doing so at night or first thing in the morning when it’s still cool outside.
Do Marble tiles contract after expansion?
Yes, it does. When it expands, it absorbs water and dilates causing the increased thickness of the porous cell structure. When the temperature decreases, it contracts again. But remember, it will still be deformed!
What do Marble tiles feel like?
Marble is a metamorphic rock formed from limestone through heat and pressure. It can have a range of colors depending on the impurities present in the original limestone. A marble floor feels smooth as if you are stepping on water.
How much does a marble tile cost?
Well, it depends! If you are buying a marble tile for your bathroom floor or kitchen tiles, then go ahead and select the size and color as per your requirement. You can buy them from any hardware store at a price between $5-$6/square foot.
But if you want to purchase those antique-looking gold-leafed Italian marble tiles, you will have to pay anywhere between $20-$75/square foot.
Is marble more durable than chips?
Marble is a less durable surface because it has a higher softness. The natural stone, marble chips are more durable as they are extremely tough and also harder than marble tiles.
What is the best way to clean marble tiles?
You can use any acidic solution like lemon juice or vinegar to clean your marble tiles. Clean them with water after 10 minutes. You can also use the marble flooring solution available at your local hardware store to clean them.
Is it safe to walk on marble tiles barefoot?
Well, that’s what everyone does in their homes! But you should always use protective pads under your furniture legs to prevent damage. Otherwise, just ask yourself this question: how tough are your marble tiles?
In summary, marble tiles can expand. It’s your part how to maintain them. It’s wise to use high-quality tiles, lay them on waterproof boards and avoid installing grout lines. Last but not least, make sure you keep your house warm when cutting your tile or cleaning marble surfaces with a mild solution.