Want to buy Carrara marble tiles or slabs? Everything you need to know
Whatever your preference or requirement, Carrara marble can be purchased in both slabs or fixed size tiles and are primarily available in a polished or honed finish. Slabs are approximately 3m x 1.5m on average and can be cut to specific sizes if required. Instead, tiles are fixed size and can commonly be sourced in a variety of dimensions; see below for details.
Tiles: What you need to know
When buying fixed sized tiles, the price is reasonably affordable as production is carried out from smaller unshaped blocks, this allows the fabricator to keep the price relatively low due to minimal wastage and production/cutting process.
As a rule, Carrara marble tiles are usually 10mm thick (3/8”) but 20mm thick (3/4”) tiles can also be available upon request, and while there are a wide variety of finishes available, with white marble such as Carrara, the two primary finishes are honed or polished.
Tiles can be available in a variety of dimensions, the most common being 600mm x 600mm (24’’ x 24’’), 600mm x 300mm (24’’ x 12’’) and 300mm x 300mm (12’’ x 12’’); but, if the fancy took you, you could also request tiles of any dimension you require, so long as it they can be cut from the average sized slabs.
Tile grade: 1st grade or commercial 2nd grade
First grade or premium grade marble tiles come with the highest price tag as a result of all the tiles originating from the same batch of slabs or blocks with consistent coloring and vein pattern.
Instead, Commercial grade marble tiles come from different batches of slabs or blocks so the colouring and vein patterns are less consistent and uniform. During installation, your specialist should spend some time carefully selecting tiles for optimal pattern aesthetics, this is usually done by doing a “dry lay” (laying down the tiles without adhesive). Though the tiles won’t match as accurately as first grade tiles, this is still a great option and very affordable for your bathroom wall & floor or any other type of flooring & wall covering.
Carrara is available in many variations such as Gioia, Venatino, C, extra or CD. The most available is the CD quality which shows a greyish background color and this is why the price is going to be quite lower compared to the others. The C quality Carrara characteristically shows a whiter background color, but being less available the price per square meter goes up significantly.
1. What grade is it? First or commercial from different batches/lots.
2. What’s the quality? C or CD, this makes quite a difference.
3. Is this Italian Carrara marble? Unfortunately, many suppliers around the world have started labelling their marble as Carrara even though they originate from different countries such as Turkey or China. Make sure what you are buying comes from Italy.
Consider that most of the suppliers, especially those you find online on e-commerce websites, offer commercial quality products and CD quality at very low prices and so you should expect a product with pretty greyish background color and with variations and/or little consistency between tiles.
Slabs: buying guide
While smaller, unshaped blocks are used for tiles, the opposite can be said for slabs. The ideal block for fabricating slabs are those that are well shaped or larger in size, even if there is a corner missing in a block it will still be used for slabs if it is larger in size. When it comes to slabs, pricing can be determined by a variety of factors including the quality of the slab and the amount of wastage you produce.
Overall, before wasting time on your search for the perfect slabs it’s always advisable to take the following factors into consideration to keep the overall cost close to your budget:
1. Waste is important
Use what we call the ‘’maximum exploitation method’’, meaning you should aim to choose a slab which is closer in size to what you need based on the dimensions of your specific project, with this in mind you utilize as much of the slab as possible and minimize your waste. For example, let’s say you want your kitchen countertop and splashback in Carrara marble with your countertop being 2.6m x 0.65m and the splashback 2.6m x 0.70m, you should aim to find a slab which is approximately 2.7m in length and 1.4m in height. In the end the first rule with marble is ‘’do not create waste’’ or that is going to cost twice as much.
Choose slabs with a thickness of 20mm (3/4”); always keep in mind that the best quality Carrara marble blocks are primarily cut into 20mm thick slabs. 30mm slabs (1 1/4”) are frequently requested but these slabs are often of a slightly lower quality and are more ideally suited for countertops and not flooring or walls.
If price is a problem go for a CD quality rather than C, it’s still an excellent choice and a quality product.
Don’t worry if the slabs have missing corners or are not perfectly rectangular shaped, your fabricator should charge you less and you would get a better deal if the slabs are not perfectly shaped. As long as you can get the cut-to-size products you wanted from those irregular slabs, you shouldn’t be too concerned with the slab shape and instead focus on the good deal you got!