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Polished vs Honed Marble for Bathroom Floor | Which Is Best?

I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for marble floors! Put a marble floor in a bathroom, and I immediately feel like I’m living in the height of luxury. However, I also know that marble’s looks come at a price, so it’s important to know which form of the natural stone will suit your needs best.

Polished and honed marble are both stunning finishes, but they are very different. It makes it a bit hard to choose between them. So, is there one that will work better in a bathroom? There are several significant differences and similarities between the two that I will discuss below to help you make the right decision.

Honed marble is usually considered to be the better option for bathroom floors as it is naturally less slippery and it scratches and cracks less. However, the polished finish is more resistant against water and staining, so it requires less frequent sealing. Both need a lot of maintenance.

Honed Marble Is Less Slippery

Honed marble is less slippery than the polished option, even though it might not be as stately as the latter.

Honed marble is often considered to have a lighter and more airy look than polished marble, with the texture frequently described as having a satiny or velvet-like feel. The more natural stone look also provides a more reliable grip for your feet.

The marble is leveled and smoothed; it is then abraded, creating a matte finish that is less likely to send you skating across the hall.

Now, if skating was the intention and you were looking forward to a daily Tom Cruise moment, perhaps polished marble is for you. However, I have a sister who is firmly in the anti-slip camp, so I know there would be at least one vote for honed marble in my house.

Polished marble is not shiny, smooth, and reflective by nature. Abrasive tools are used to sand the surface into a glass-like texture. I don’t know about you, but I don’t associate glass-like with solid walking surfaces.

That’s why it is generally the honed marble that gets recommended for flooring and for use in areas like bathrooms. However, there are ways to make marble floors less slippery regardless of the finish of the marble.

Polished Marble Is More Stain Resistant

Polished marble is more stain-resistant than honed marble, although this does not mean it is completely stain-proof.

polishing marble floor

The polishing process almost seals the marble, which is otherwise very porous. This means that honed marble, which is not polished, easily soaks up any liquid that is spilled on the surface.

The liquids and pigments that get absorbed into the stone can lead to discoloration and staining. This is why it is essential to seal honed marble floors regularly.

The glassy layer of polished marble creates a more impenetrable barrier for liquids because it is hard and solid. This is also what makes it easier to crack, but it helps to prevent staining in the event of spills.

However, this only helps and does not prevent staining entirely. Thus, you still need to re-seal and clean the marble properly.

Honed Marble Is Suitable for High Traffic Areas

Honed marble is more durable and less prone to cracking, making it a better choice for areas that experience a lot of foot traffic.

Additionally, if the floor does crack, these cracks are less noticeable on honed marble than on the polished marble surface. This is because the polished marble has a glassy surface that will clearly show any cracks and scratches as these marks would expose the non-polished surface.

On the other hand, the matte surface of honed marble doesn’t show these imperfections as much since, in this case, the texture of the stone disguises them.

Honed marble is better for busy areas, such as bathrooms, because there are many things that can, and will, scratch the marble.

bathroom marble

For example, your favorite pair of heels, a metal frame on a laundry hamper, a fallen bottle of your favorite cosmetic product, the wheels on a bathroom caddie, or the feet of drawers are all possible culprits.

Honed or Polished Marble: Comparing Maintenance

The cleaning process for polished and honed marble is pretty much the same. Both should be wiped down with soap and water, and neither should be left wet. If there is a spill or leak, it should be cleaned up and dried immediately.

Cleaning marble, particularly the polished option, is very important. This is because the floor dust and dirt are the number one nemesis of your marble surface. Therefore, you will need to regularly clean the floor to prevent any dirt from scratching the floor as you walk across it.

Keep in mind that marble is an alkali type of stone, so an acidic product or substance is going to discolor it. Therefore, it is important that you choose marble-appropriate cleaning products.

I would definitely recommend keeping the bleach away from your marble floors and using a microfiber cloth (amazon link) in place of a wet mop.

Honed marble will need to be re-sealed frequently to maintain the integrity of the stone and prevent staining and wearing.

However, in order to protect both polished and honed marble from stains, you will need to ensure they are sealed. These are some of the sealers suitable for marble floors.

Miracle Sealants 511QT6 511 Impregnator Sealer, Quart, Clear, 32 Fl Oz
  • For use inside or out on a variety of surfaces including sanded grout, ceramic tile, porcelain tile, glazed tile, stucco, travertine, marble, slate, granite, terrazzo and more to protect against...
  • Formula is oil and water resistant that creates an invisible barrier for protection
  • Covers up to 1,000 square feet per quart
  • Offers superior coverage, formulated to provide stain protection that is UV transparent and resists weather elements
Grout & Granite Penetrating Sealer from The Floor Guys: Also Works on Marble, Travertine,Limestone, Slate. Protects Against Water and Oil Based Stains. Designed for Floors and Showers. 1 Quart
  • ✔ PROFESSIONAL STRENGTH GROUT & NATURAL STONE SEALER: Used by professional tile & grout cleaners throughout the country.
  • ✔ WATER BASED SEALER: Virtually no odor at all, Penetrates deep into the grout or stone without changing the look of the surface at all.
  • ✔ VERY EASY TO USE: Apply while standing up, Just apply with a paint brush taped to a broom pole, let sit sit for 5 minutes, then mop the remaining sealer off with a clean mop. Easy and Quick!

Last update on 2023-01-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Polished Marble Floors Are Easier to Maintain

Since the polished marble floors are slightly more resistant to staining, they do not require as frequent sealing as honed marble. Every two years should be often enough.

As long as you keep the floor free of dust, are careful to use gentle cleaning products and tools, and clean any spills, the marble should do well even in a bathroom.

Honed Marble Floors Require More Maintenance

Honed marble is a bit harder to look after.

The lack of polished surface makes the honed marble more susceptible to staining, so you need to ensure there’s no liquid left on it for any amount of time. Spills need to be cleaned immediately, or you are looking at the same problem.

For the same reason, it is also necessary to seal honed marble every few (perhaps every 6) months.

You will need to be especially careful with what cleaning products you use on this type of marble flooring as there is no room for error; it will stain.

Polished Marble Goes Well With Most Bathrooms

The variety of colors and patterns in marble allows you to create a beautiful and elegant floor in your bathroom.

These rooms are generally smaller and more challenging to decorate because of the lack of space and the moisture in the environment. By incorporating an interesting floor, you can bring in that artful design without overwhelming the space.

bathroom marble floor

Polished marble brings a certain luxury feel to a bathroom that you cannot replicate. It creates a clean and crisp design that makes the bathroom feel like a spa.

These marble floors also come in enough color and patterns that there is something to suit almost every bathroom. Furthermore, the polishing process brings out the patterns really nicely.

If you are considering polished marble as an option for your bathroom floor, it would likely fit the room, in which case I believe it would be a timeless choice if cared for properly. Marble is always going to look chic.

Honed Marble Suitable for Matte and Dark Bathrooms

Like polished marble, honed marble is a great decorative and statement piece for a bathroom. I think it effortlessly adds that special element to a room.

Honed marble tends to look lighter in color than polished marble because of its finish. It also absorbs less light from a room, making it a good brightening choice for a darker bathroom that you are trying to bring some light into.

In addition, it may look better than polished marble as the latter really shows its best side under light and might end up dull in low-light settings.

Honed marble is also an excellent option for matte bathrooms. The glossy polished marble surface might look out of place or disrupt your décor in a room specifically styled in matte finishes. Instead, the matte look of honed marble would suit the softer, cleaner matte-styled bathroom.

Which One Is More Available?

Honed and polished marble are both readily available. There are other finishes, but these two are the most common.

You should not have any problem finding samples and placing orders for either the honed or polished options. The only time I would think you might run into difficulties could be if you live in a remote area, especially with limited suppliers and poor delivery access.

Comparing the Cost of Honed and Polished Marble

The price of marble is determined by the way the marble is being used (tile or slab) and the quality (called the grade) rather than the finish of the marble.

Marble tiles are likely to cost between $5 and $10 per sq ft, while it is from $10 to $20 for marble slabs.

Marble grades indicate flaws and strength, with lower grades being weaker and more flawed. The cheaper options will usually start at $5 per sq ft, while for the higher grade costly options, you could end up paying around $90 per sq ft.

The best way to find out how much it will cost for your marble flooring will be to get a quote for the type and style of marble you want for the size of your bathroom floor.

Summary of the Pros and Cons

Polished Marble Bathroom Floor

It has a glossy finish.It is very slippery.
It only requires occasional sealing.Its polished finish is very prone to scratching.
Polished marble is a more stain-resistant option.Polished marble is costly.
It requires less maintenance than honed marble.It is hard to clean.

Honed Marble Bathroom Floor

Matte finish.Requires frequent re-sealing.
Honed marble is less slippery.It is very susceptible to staining.
It is more scratch-resistant.Difficult to maintain.
The recommended option for high-traffic flooring areas.Honed marble is costly.

For more information, visit my post on the pros and cons of marble bathroom floors.

Final Verdict

The type of marble finish you choose to use ultimately depends on what you want for your bathroom. A honed marble floor is probably the option I would recommend due to the slipperiness of the polished marble, but both are difficult to care for and maintain.

If you are going to put marble flooring in your bathroom and spend all that time looking after it, make sure it’s what you actually want it to be.

Besides, if you really like the polished finish but are worried about its slipperiness, why not combine the two finishes or try some of these tricks to make your marble floor less slippery?


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