Why Arabescato is a great alternative to Carrara and Calacatta marble?

Why should you choose Arabescato as great alternative to Carrara & Calacatta Marble?


What is Arabescato marble?

Originating from Italy and quarried in the Carrara area, Arabescato is a rare and highly sought after marble with average availability of slabs or tiles.

Arabescato-Carrara-Marble-Polished
Stunning slab of Arabescato marble Polished finish 20mm thick (3/4”’)

What makes Arabescato marble so unique is its soft white background coloring with bold  dusty grey veining across the slabs that often gives the impression of jagged white islands floating on a deep grey lake. The combination of these two aesthetic factors is the primary reason this particular marble is one of the most popular selections for statement piece kitchen countertops, wall & floor panels, splashbacks and bathrooms

Arabescato Marble Bathroom with bookmatch wall
Arabescato Marble Bathroom with bookmatch wall made by 20mm thick slabs (3/4”) honed finish

As with Calacatta, Arabescato is commonly used for stunning bookmatched applications as its veining allows the creation of different and unique patterns and shapes. 

The two most well known quarries that produce Arabescato are Corchia and Vagli, however, there are some lesser known quarries such as Faniello, Cervaiole, Arni which also produce excellent high-end Arabescato quality choices, even if they are less renown. Later, we will touch on how the characteristic Arabescato veining can be identified based on the quarry from which the material is extracted.


Differences between Arabescato with Carrara and Calacatta marble

If you are looking for a marble with exceptional vein patterns and colouring but also with a decent price tag, then Arabescato is an excellent option. It is is considered a compromise between Carrara and Calacatta as it not only has a strong white background color with dark veins which is highly sought after by clients, but it doesn’t come with as high a cost as Calacatta; this means it is a perfect choice in terms of quality and price. 

Arabescato Corchia quality marble slab
Stunning Arabescato Corchia marble slab 20mm thick (3/4”) polished finish
Arabescato Corchia marble close up
Arabescato Corchia marble slab close up

On the lower end of the price scale, Carrara marble can be identified by its oftentimes more greyish background colouring with more subtle or no veins, whereas Arabescato is much whiter and shows mostly dark grey veins across the slabs. Both are very compact.

Carrara bianco C grade marble slab
Carrara white C grade marble slab 20mm thick (3/4”)

The primary difference between Arabescato and Calacatta is that the former has busier veins and fills in most parts of the slabs, whereas Calacatta has stronger, light grey veins that are slightly larger but with less pattern traffic across the slabs.

Calacatta Extra marble slab
Calacatta marble extra quality polished finish, 20mm (3/4”) thick

One interesting thing about this particular marble variety is that it is highly compact and very strong, in fact Arabescato slabs generally don’t bring as many problems as Calacatta for this particular reason. Calacatta commonly shows more natural imperfections such as natural cracks or tears (which get resin treated), instead Arabescato blocks are usually more intact. 

Arabescato-Vagli-marble-Kitchen-island-top
Kitchen island and cupboard in Arabescato Vagli marble made by 20mm thick (3/4”) slabs polished finish

However, keep in mind that this doesn’t mean that Arabescato blocks and slabs are not resin treated, 95% of all blocks and slabs undergo the same resin and net treatment as Calacatta as a matter of safety and assurance of the marble’s structural integrity. During the block cutting process it’s often unknown what problems there may be inside, purchasers who buy blocks with the intention of cutting slabs for individual or bulk sale don’t want to risk losing money on their investment, so the resin treatment is considered insurance against this.


Pricing

Pricing for Arabescato is per square meter and is firstly determined by the quarry following block extraction, and secondly by the manufacturer after processing the block and resin treating the slabs. While the price per square meter can vary quite a lot depending on size, colour and veining, it’s still classified as a marble more suited to a lower budget than Calacatta and so you can expect mid-range prices. The typical Arabescato price range is generally between €120 – €290 per square meter slab.

Arabescato Vagli marble slab
Stunning Arabescato Vagli marble slab 20mm thick (3/4”) polished finish


How to buy white Carrara marble tiles and slabs


Want to buy Carrara marble tiles or slabs? Everything you need to know

Block yard of Carrara marble
Yard of Carrara Bianco Marble Blocks

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. 

Carrara marble tiles polished
Processing Carrara Marble Tiles in the polishing machine

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.

carrara bianco marble C grade tiles
carrara bianco C grade tiles 600 x 600 x 10mm (24”x 24” x 3/8”)

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.

Carrara Bianco C Marble Bathroom
White Carrara Marble Bathroom C grade Tiles used for wall and floor 600 x 300 x 10 mm (24” x 12” x 3/8”) polished finish

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.

Carrara White CD Marble Bathroom
Carrara bianco marble bathroom CD grade tiles 600 x 600 x 20mm (24”x 24” x 3/4”) polished finish

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. 

Carrara marble C grade Tiles
carrara bianco C grade tiles 600 x 300 x 10mm (24”x 12” x 3/8”) polished finish

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 marble CD grade tiles
carrara bianco CD grade tiles 600 x 600 x 10mm (24”x 24” x 3/8”) polished finish

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. 

Bathroom in Carrara bianco marble herringbone tiles
Herringbone carrara marble tiles bathroom wall

By doing a quick recap, the 3 main things you should be asking your supplier when requesting Carrara marble tiles for your bathroom or kitchen are: 

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.

carrara-marble-white-Tiles-polished
Carrara marble C grade marble bathroom tiles 300 x 300 x 10 mm (12” x 12” x 3/8”) polished finish

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.

Carrara bianco C grade slabs
Truck loading of Carrara bianco C grade marble slabs 20mm thick (3/4”)

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.

carrara-white-marble-kitchen-top
Carrara marble C grade Venatino kitchen worktop and island

2. Thickness

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.

3. Quality

If price is a problem go for a CD quality rather than C, it’s still an excellent choice and a quality product.

Carrara Bianco C Marble Slab
Slab of Carrara bianco CD grade 20mm thick (3/4”) polished finish
Carrara marble C grade slab
Slab of Carrara bianco C grade 20mm thick (3/4”) polished finish
Carrara bianco C venatino
Slab of Carrara bianco C venatino grade 20mm thick (3/4”) polished finish

4. Shape

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!

Carrara marble vanity top
Vanity in Carrara C extra marble cut from Slab with missing corner. polished finish


6 reasons why you should choose Carrara marble

Why should you choose Carrara marble?


1. Origins

Carrara marble is a natural stone with more than 2000 years history since its extraction began in the stunning Apennine mountains located in the northwest part of Italy, specifically from the city of Carrara in the Tuscany region.

Carrara marble quarry
Carrara marble quarry: block extraction

Marble is created when limestone (usually formed from algae, coral and shells) undergoes a metamorphosis when tectonic plates converge. The heat and pressure from this occurrence changes the composition of the rock, and over thousands of years crystals form giving the stone its undeniably stunning crystalline appearance. The close proximity of the Apennine mountains to the sea means that it’s an ideal location for producing some of the highest quality marble in the world.

Italian marble originates from a land where its history is highly ingrained in the country’s culture, as made evident by its use throughout the entire country, from north to south. It comes as no surprise that you can go to any village bar or modest family house and see counters, flooring, kitchens or bathrooms made of this material.

Block yard of Carrara marble
Yard of Carrara bianco marble blocks

Carrara has been used in many famous architectural structures and Renaissance artworks such as The Pantheon in Rome, Marble Arch in London and the statue of David by Michelangelo and nowadays we can say that it’s use has played a big part in world history from a country which represents some of the biggest UNESCO heritage sites in the world.


2. Made in Italy

The marble industry in Italy represents a large part of the workforce responsible for supporting many families in the Tuscany area alone. Quarrying and manufacturing processes have been refined, perfected and passed down over many years by generations of family members. 

Marble workers cutting slabs
Italian artisans moving white marble slabs

Whether you are looking for slabs, tiles or cut to size products like vanity tops, countertops and wall and floor tiles, you will find an end product that is processed by highly skilled artisans based all over the country.

From locating marble veins, to quarrying the blocks, to the manufacturing processes in the workshop, the combination of generations of knowledge and some of the world’s most advanced and precise cutting technology, results in final products with the highest end finishing details.

gangsaw-machine-marble-block
Carrara marble block cutting in gangsaw machine

3. Price: It’s not always as expensive as you may think

White Carrara marble is available in different shades that are distinguished by use of a grading system; the 2 main grades are C and CD. Grade C marble exhibits a whitish background color with a light grey vein pattern, whereas CD grade marble has a more greyish background color and a darker vein pattern. Due to it’s white colouring, C grade marble is the more expensive of the two options with CD graded marble being suited for projects that require a more budget friendly option.

Bianco-Carrara-marble-C-grade
Carrara bianco marble C grade slab

The price of tiles and slabs can considerably vary depending on the grade, dimensions, thickness, background color and the vein patterning. For example, the price of a 20mm thick polished slab can vary between €70m² (basic CD quality) and €180m² (C higher quality), so the price may change dramatically based on the factors mentioned above. 

Carrara White CD Marble Bathroom
Bathroom in Carrara CD grade marble

If you are a private client, designer or contractor then you may require your product to be cut-to-size, the cost would then also be determined by the manufacturing work required as well as the amount of wastage (off-cuts) created. 


4. It’s a green material

Marble is a natural, environmentally friendly product, which also brings with it a deep sense of nature.

Carrara-Marble-Quarry
Bancata ”quarry level” of Carrara marble quarry

In the past 15-20 years, the process of quarrying in Italy has improved enormously from an environmental perspective. Domestic quarries today are required to comply with rigid guidelines and certifications and are monitored by strict government entities. With these strict guidelines comes new eco friendly manufacturing procedures such as a lower energy consumption due to improved technology, as well as the installation of 100% recycled water systems that are used during the cutting process. 

Marble-slabs-cutting-to-size
CnC new technology machine cutting white marble slabs

In addition to increased green practices, many old quarries have been and continue to be turned into parks, green areas, lakes and recreational areas. 

Marble is 100% recyclable and these days fabricators use the manufacturing waste for other projects such as roadbeds. Recent advanced studies show a new method of using marble dust in cement to increase the strength and durability of the cement; if this becomes a successful practice, marble could become a zero waste product. It should also be noted that other common materials used for kitchen countertops such as quartz and ceramic require use of silicones or have a less eco friendly manufacturing process.


5. Durability and added property value

By default, Carrara marble significantly boosts the financial value to any property is it used in. This is due to its beauty, clean aesthetic and unique character that can transform any space from drab to elegant, modern and luxurious.

In addition to its property value boosting abilities, marble is surprisingly easy to maintain and just requires resealing every once in a while. There are various marble care tips out there but as long as you always keep in mind that it’s a natural product and can react to acids, food or drinks and treat accordingly, then all will be fine.

Carrara marble KItchen countertop
Carrara marble kitchen countertop and kitchen island

Marble is extremely durable so it will last as long as the building it’s added to (or even longer!). Instead, materials such as ceramic and porcelain may require changing every 5-10 years as new looks and a better range of products is added to the market.


6. It’s unique

Due to its natural creation and evolution, every piece of marble is unique; slabs originating from the same block will all exhibit slight changes in veining or color from the other slabs, resulting in every single slab and block being classified as one-of-a-kind. In a way, it feels like you own an original piece of artwork by nature.

Carrara bianco Marble slab
Carrara bianco marble slab
carrara-bianco-marble-bathroom
Carrara white C grade marble bathroom

When choosing your marble from Carrara, you can be confident that you are getting a highly sought after product that is also distinctly exclusive and owned by you.