Porcelain vs. Marble: Which One Will Make the Cut for Your Floor?

Jacqueline Zenn
Written by Jacqueline Zenn
Updated January 7, 2022
A mother with her daughter brushing her teeth
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 It’s more than just looks

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When you’re in the midst of a bathroom remodel, picking the right materials is important—especially when it comes to flooring. You want your bathroom floor to stand up to moisture and messes, have a long lifespan, and look good. Two of your bathroom flooring options are porcelain and marble. 

What Is Porcelain Tile?

Porcelain tile has been a popular choice for bathroom flooring and walls for literal centuries, likely because it’s simple to clean and comes in a virtually limitless range of colors, patterns, textures, shapes, and sizes.

What’s more, porcelain tile or its slightly less sturdy ceramic version can be quite affordable. In fact, ceramic and porcelain tile are often thought of interchangeably. And while they are very similar in appearance and cost, porcelain is fired at a higher temperature, tends to be harder material, and is more suitable for extremely cold temperatures. 

Related article: Porcelain vs. Ceramic Tile: Which Is Best for Your Home?

Porcelain Tile Pros

A white porcelain bathroom interior
Photo: Martin Deja / Moment / Getty Images

While traditional white or solid-colored porcelain or ceramic tiles are readily available on the market today, there are also options that mimic the appearance of marble or natural stone, along with any other colors, patterns, or styles you can dream up.

Porcelain tile is offered in a wide range of price points ranging from inexpensive to extremely high-end, and you can generally discern some aspects of the quality of a given piece of porcelain by its weight. On average, installing porcelain or ceramic tiles in a bathroom will cost around $0.50 to $15 per square foot with an additional $600 to $800 for supplies and labor. 

Porcelain is frost-resistant, stain-resistant, and scratch-resistant along with being fairly impervious to moisture, so it’s become a go-to for bathrooms in most U.S. homes. It doesn’t chip easily and these tiles are generally hard-wearing, so porcelain tiles can handle harsh cleaning products without risking stains or fading. 

Related article: 5 Bathroom Flooring Ideas to Avoid

Porcelain Tile Cons

The price of porcelain tile varies widely; you get what you pay for in terms of quality and durability. 

If a porcelain tile does chip, it may be expensive to replace a porcelain tile depending on the type of tile and where the chip is located. 

Some types of porcelain tiles have rougher textures that can be more difficult to clean than other options.

What Is Marble Flooring?

White marble bathroom interior
Photo: Annatamila / Adobe Stock

Marble tile, or other natural stones like granite, can be extremely elegant and add significant value to your home along with a sense of luxury and grandeur, but marble flooring tends to be more expensive to install and care for than other types of flooring. Take a look at more pros and cons of marble flooring below.

Marble Tile Pros 

Real marble or natural stone is beautiful and unique, as no tiles are exactly alike. They’re also quite versatile and they can be used in living rooms, hallways, or other areas of the house in addition to the bathroom, making it simple to extend that particular look or aesthetic throughout the building. 

Marble is heavier than porcelain and offers health benefits in the sense that natural stones can be anti-microbial or keep microscopic particles and germs away if they are properly cared for and cleaned regularly. Marble can also increase your home’s value.

Marble Tile Cons

One of the primary downsides of marble flooring is the cost. Installation costs around $2,500 to $5,000 in materials for a 250-square-foot room or $10 to $20 per square foot for custom designs. Top-notch marble can cost upwards of $50 per square foot. Add in another $600 to $800 or more for labor and materials.

Marble can be a lot of work to maintain since it can be stained, scratched, or worn easily and is more porous than porcelain. Accordingly, marble tile is typically not recommended for kitchen floors or countertops where food spills and other hazards are more common.

That said, it is possible to refinish marble tile or other types of natural stone tiles if they have a deep stain or are otherwise damaged, but that can be expensive and there are limited options for effective cleaning products that are safe for natural stone or marble tile flooring.

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