5-Disadvantages of Marble Flooring On Health You Need to Know

Discover the disadvantages of marble flooring on health, including slip and fall accidents, high maintenance costs, discomfort, scratches, and harmful chemical emissions.

Slip and Fall Accidents on Marble Floors

Marble flooring poses a major disadvantage of marble flooring on health as the slippery and smooth surface can easily lead to dangerous slip and fall accidents, especially when wet. According to the National Floor Safety Institute, over 8 million hospital emergency room visits were caused by slips and falls on flooring in 2017. Elderly individuals and children are particularly at high risk of injuries from falls on marble floors.

Marble gets slippery when wet due to its non-porous and polished surface, creating a risk for slips and falls. A study found that the marble had a coefficient of friction below the recognized safety standard when wet. To prevent injuries, it is important to place non-skid rugs, mats, and slip-resistant heel protectors on marble flooring, especially in areas that may get wet such as bathrooms, kitchens, and entryways.

Proper sealing and finishing marble flooring can also help increase traction and slip resistance when the surface gets wet. However, marble will never be as slip-resistant as other stone or tile options. For high-traffic commercial areas or homes with children/elderly, marble may not be the safest choice due to the high risks of slips and falls leading to injuries. Alternative flooring with slip-resistant surfaces should be considered.

disadvantages of marble flooring on health, marble, gray stone frames
Photo by Mike Yukhtenko / Unsplash

High Maintenance and Cleaning Costs

Marble flooring requires frequent maintenance to prevent damage and retain its luxurious appearance which can cost both time and money. Due to marble’s porous nature, it readily absorbs liquids that can stain the surface. To protect marble floors from stains, a sealant must be applied. According to the Marble Institute of America, marble sealants typically last around 3 to 5 years depending on the quality and traffic on the floor. Re-sealing and re-polishing marble floors can cost $4 to $10 per square foot, resulting in charges of $1000-$3000 for a typical home.

Marble floors also need to be regularly cleaned to remove abrasive dirt and grit that can scratch the surface. Due to marble’s softness, abrasive cleaners should not be used and may dull the shine or etch the surface. pH-neutral stone cleaners and microfiber mops are recommended for marble floors. Daily sweeping, vacuuming, or dust-mopping is required to prevent grit build-up, with weekly wet mopping advised using appropriate cleaners and water.

Cleaning MethodFrequencyCost
Dust MoppingDailyMinimal
Wet MoppingWeekly$50-100 per month
PolishingEvery 1-2 years$200-500 per treatment
SealingEvery 3-5 years$1000-3000 total

In addition to routine care, professional marble polishing and honing are often needed to restore the surface. Marble polishing costs $10 to $25 per square foot to resurface and re-polish dulled floors. For high-traffic commercial floors, monthly professional marble cleaning and polishing contracts can cost up to $0.50 per square foot.

Over its lifetime, the total cost to maintain a marble floor including sealants, cleaners, equipment, and professional care can be $10,000 to $30,000 for a average residential marble floor. Due to the high costs of keeping marble floors pristine in appearance and function, alternative stone floors should be considered that have lower maintenance requirements.

disadvantages of marble flooring on health, marble, a close up of a pink and blue liquid
Photo by Pawel Czerwinski / Unsplash

Marble Floors Can Be Cold and Uncomfortable

Marble is a dense stone that readily absorbs and retains temperature. This can result in marble floors feeling uncomfortably cold, especially in winter or in rooms with little insulation like basements. According to the Marble Institute of America, marble floors can feel up to 10°F colder than the ambient temperature. The smooth, hard surface of marble does not retain heat well and quickly transfers temperature.

There are a few options to help make cold marble floors more comfortable:

•Add area rugs, runners, and floor mats over marble to provide insulation. Rugs made of natural fibers like wool are most effective for adding warmth. However, rugs may not be ideal for all rooms and tripping hazards should be considered.

•Install underfloor heating before laying marble tiles. Radiant heating systems can warm the marble from below to provide an even, comfortable temperature. Professional installation of underfloor heating under marble floors starts around $6-$10 per square foot.

•Use portable space heaters and infrared heat lamps to directly warm marble floors and rooms. However, proper safety precautions must be taken to avoid risks of overheating, fire hazard or tripping.

•Choose flooring other than marble in cold areas. For rooms like basements, ceramic tile, vinyl, or laminate may be warmer options than marble. If set on installing marble, an additional layer of plywood or insulation may be placed below to help reduce heat transfer.

•Seal and polish marble to slightly reduce heat absorption. Marble sealants fill pores and provide a protective coating, which can help minimize temperature changes to some degree. However, marble will never retain heat as well as other stone or tile alternatives.

The cold feeling of marble can be combated with the proper steps to insulate and directly heat the flooring. However, its poor heat retention compared to other flooring may still be undesirable for some. Marble may not be the ideal choice for flooring in extremely cold climates or uninsulated rooms due to discomfort from its chilly surface.

disadvantages of marble flooring on health, marble, a white sheet of paper with a brown border
Photo by Annie Spratt / Unsplash

Marble Flooring Can Be Prone to Scratches

Marble is a relatively soft stone that can be easily scratched, etched, and dulled over time. According to the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, marble ranks around 3-5, meaning it can be scratched by materials of similar hardness like copper, iron, and stainless steel. High heels, furniture legs, dropped items, dirt, and sand particles often leave scratches and dulling marks on marble floors with normal everyday use.

While sealing and polishing marble helps increase its surface hardness and scratch resistance, marble will never be as durable as granite, quartz, or porcelain tile. To minimize scratches in marble flooring:

•Place protective pads under the feet of furniture and appliances. Felt pads are inexpensive and effective at preventing scratches from heavy items dragged across floors.
•Install chair glides or sliders on table and chair legs. Self-adhesive sliders allow furniture to move smoothly without scratching floors.
•Sweep, dust and damp mop marble regularly to remove grit and particles that can scratch the surface.
• Apply scratch removers and polishes according to product directions to help buff out light surface scratches. Professional honing may be required to polish out deeper scratches.
•Avoid walking on marble floors with high heels which can cause indentations and scratches. High heels concentrate the weight into a small area.
•Do not slide heavy appliances or furniture over marble floors. Several people should lift and place items to move them as dragging will scratch and damage the stone.

Type of ScratchCausePrevention MethodRemoval Difficulty
Light surface scratchesDirt particles, minor dentsSealant, sweep/moppingEasy with polish
Deeper grooves <1/8 inchFurniture legs, appliancesProtective pads, slidersModerate, may require honing
Indentations and pitsDropped objects, cracksHandle marble carefully, sealantDifficult, professional resurfacing required
Long scratchesDragging furniture, appliancesDo not slide heavy items on marbleChallenging, may persist after polishing

While scratches can often be polished out, deep damage to marble floors may require professional restoration to repair. To avoid long-term damage, marble flooring requires a higher level of care and maintenance to prevent scratching and dulling for lasting beauty and function. Alternative stone floors with better durability may be more practical for high-traffic or residential use.

Marble Floors Can Release Harmful Chemicals

Marble is made of calcium carbonate (CaCO3), which can release hazardous silica and limestone dust during cutting, polishing, and installation of marble flooring. When marble is ground, sanded or polished, fine particulate matter is generated that may pose health risks if inhaled. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, extended exposure to respirable crystalline silica can cause silicosis, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and kidney disease.

Proper safety precautions must be followed during marble floor installation and restoration to minimize exposure to harmful chemicals:

•Always ventilate the work area well and wear protective gear like N95 rated respirators when cutting, sanding or polishing marble. Respirators that remove 95% of airborne particles including silica dust should be worn.

•Wet-cut marble using a stone cutting saw with water to reduce dust. Wet cutting marble can decrease airborne silica by up to 90% compared to dry cutting.

•Sand and hone marble in a well-ventilated area using a HEPA vacuum and dust collectors to filter fine particles.

•Change air filters in HVAC systems after installation and seal off or limit access to spaces where airborne chemicals may linger.

•Thoroughly clean the work area after installation to remove all traces of dust before using the space. Mop or wipe all surfaces and vacuum with HEPA filters.

•Reseal and polish marble flooring in accordance with sealant directions to prevent silica and chemical release from pores and micro-scratches in the stone. Sealing and protective coatings help encapsulate the stone.

•Consider alternative flooring like wood, laminate or porcelain tile which do not pose risks from silica or chemical exposure during installation and use. If installing marble, take proper safety precautions to minimize health hazards from airborne pollutants.

While marble is a beautiful natural stone flooring option, its chemical composition requires rigorous control measures during installation and maintenance to avoid harmful effects on health from exposure to contaminants like silica dust. With proper ventilation, protective equipment and cleaning, the risks can be reduced significantly but not eliminated. For some, alternative flooring may be worth considering to avoid airborne pollutants or costly measures needed to ensure safe use of marble floors.

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