Very few rocks have as many uses as marble. It is used for its beauty in architecture and sculpture. It is used for its chemical properties in pharmaceuticals and agriculture. It is used for its optical properties in cosmetics, paint, and paper. It is used because it is an abundant, low-cost commodity in crushed stone prepared for construction projects. Marble has many unique properties that make it a valuable rock in many different industries. The photographs and captions below illustrate just a few of its varied uses.
Marble is a rock widely used in buildings, monuments, and sculptures. It consists chiefly of calcite or dolomite, or a combination of these carbonate minerals. Most marbles of commercial value were formed in the Paleozoic Era or earlier in Precambrian Time. Marble is found in many countries, including Belgium, France, Greece, India, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. South American nations also have large marble deposits. In the United States, Georgia produces the most marble. Other chief marble-producing states include Alabama, Colorado, Montana, Tennessee, Texas, and Vermont.
Marble is a beautiful, natural substance that has been loved and used for years. Marble is a metamorphic rock that forms when limestone is subjected to extreme heat and extreme pressure. Marble has a variety of appearances and colours and is mined from caves and quarries. Marble has been known to humans and been around for thousands of years, and marble relics from long-gone societies are discovered every day. Today, it is most likely that you will find marble used in and on buildings. Durable and attractive, marble can stand up to the elements, and survive them while maintaining its look.
Marble is a metamorphic rock formed when limestone is subjected to high pressure or heat. In its pure form, marble is a white stone with a crystalline and sugary appearance, consisting of calcium carbonate (CaCO3). Usually, marble contains other minerals, including quartz, graphite, pyrite, and iron oxides. These minerals can give marble a pink, brown, grey, green, or variegated colouration. While true marble forms from limestone, there is also dolomitic marble, which forms when dolomite [CaMg(CO3)2] undergoes a metamorphosis.
If you’re looking for a place to purchase quality supplies, check out Stonemason supplies.
How Marble Forms
Limestone, the source material for marble, forms when calcium carbonate precipitates out of water or when organic debris (shells, coral, skeletons) accumulates. Marble forms when limestone experiences metamorphism. Usually, this happens at a convergent tectonic plate boundary, but some marble forms when hot magma heats limestone or dolomite. The heat or pressure recrystallises calcite in the rock, changing its texture. Over time, the crystals grow and interlock to give the rock a characteristic sugary, sparkling appearance.
Other minerals in marble also change during metamorphism. For example, clay recrystallises to form mica and other silicates.
Marble is found all over the world, but four countries account for half of its production: Italy, China, Spain, and India. Probably the most famous white marble comes from Carrara in Italy. Carrara marble was used by Michelangelo, Donatello, and Canova for their masterpiece sculptures.
Marble is formed from limestone by heat and pressure in the earth’s crust. These forces cause the limestone to change in texture and makeup. This process is called recrystallisation. Fossilised materials in the limestone, along with its original carbonate minerals, recrystallise and form large, coarse grains of calcite. Impurities present in the limestone during recrystallisation affect the mineral composition of the marble that forms. At relatively low temperatures, silica impurities in the carbonate minerals form masses of chert or crystals of quartz. At higher temperatures, the silica reacts with the carbonates to produce diopside and forsterite at extremely high temperatures, rarer calcium minerals, such as larnite, monticellite, and rankinite, form in the marble. If water is present, serpentine, talc and certain other hydrous minerals may be produced. The presence of iron, alumina, and silica may result in the formation of hematite and magnetite.
The minerals that result from impurities give marble a wide variety of colours. The purest calcite marble is white. Marble containing hematite has a reddish colour. A marble that has limonite is yellow, and marble with serpentine is green. Pure white marble is the result of metamorphism of very pure limestones. The characteristic swirls and veins of many coloured marble varieties are usually due to various mineral impurities such as clay, silt, sand, iron oxides, or chert which were originally present as grains or layers in the limestone. Green colouration is often due to serpentine resulting from originally high magnesium limestone or dolostone with silica impurities. These various impurities have been mobilised and recrystallised by the intense pressure and heat of the metamorphism.
Marble does not split easily into sheets of equal size and must be mined carefully. The rock may shatter if explosives are used. Blocks of marble are mined with channelling machines, which cut grooves and holes in the rock. Miners outline a block of marble with rows of grooves and holes. They then drive wedges into the openings and separate the block from the surrounding rock. The blocks are cut with saws to the desired shape and size.
The visible crystals in marble give it a characteristic granular surface and appearance, but there are other properties used to identify the rock.
Marble is considered to be a strong, hard stone, even though its primary mineral, calcite, only has a Mohs hardness of 3. Marble can be scratched with a metal blade.
Marble tends to be light in colour. The purest marble is white. A marble that contains a lot of bituminous material, maybe black. Most marble is pale grey, pink, brown, green, yellow, or blue.
Marble fizzes upon contact with dilute hydrochloric acid.
Popular Uses of Marble
Among the different types of rocks, marble is the most widely used rock. The principal use of marble is found in architecture and sculpture. But apart from that, it is also used for its chemical properties in different fields or industries. Let’s look at some uses below.
- Buildings and Sculptures
- Construction Aggregate
- Soil Treatment
- Neutralising Acids
- In Supplements
- Cemetery Marker
- Buildings and Sculptures
Marble has often been considered as the stone for gods and kings. If we closely observe the ancient buildings and monuments, they have been made using marble. For example, the Taj Mahal is built using this rock. However, this rock is still used today as a decorative construction material. Marble is used in both internal and external applications.
Further, marble has a translucent feature, and it allows light to enter and give out a soft glow. Marble can also take a very high polish. Thus, it is also used in making sculptures.
Crushed marble is often used as construction aggregate and is used as fill. It has been found out that marble cleaves more readily than limestone due to the presence of calcite.
Brightener, Filler, Pigment
Some marbles are extremely white. These type of marbles are used to manufacture a white powder which is popularly known as whiting. This is used as a brightener, filler and pigment in paper, paint and some other products.
Like limestones, some marble can be heated to form calcium oxide, which is also known as lime. And this compound is used in agriculture for treating the soil and basically to reduce the soil acidity. It is used in combination with fertilisers to improve the yield of a soil.
One of the main compositions of marble is calcium carbonate. Due to this, marbles can be crushed to form a powder and used in neutralising acids and removing impurities. Powdered marble is also used in water treatment and as an acid-neutralising agent in the chemical industry.
Powdered marble is also often used to produce animal supplements. Crushed marbles are soft easily soluble, and rich in calcium.
The most common use of marble that we can relate to is its use as a tombstone or cemetery markers. It is easy to cut and engrave on marbles.
Be sure to have these stonemason polishing tools for your next work.
Let’s take a look at some of the more famous uses and/or structures that used marble.
- The Taj Mahal is infamous for its majestic façade. Built for a beloved wife of an emperor, the Taj Mahal extensively used marble in its construction, including its marble domes. The towers are made up of marble, and the flooring featured geometric designs in contrasting tiles in tessellation patterns.
- The Washington Monument is an obelisk over 554 feet tall. This impressive structure is made up of marble, granite, and bluestone gneiss. It has different shades of marble since the materials came from three contractors.
- The Bust of Artemis is a famous sculpture that showcases the beautiful properties of marble, particularly its remarkable sheen that produces a soft “glow.” Of course, the Bust of Artemis is not the only sculpture that is made of marble, as the material is a popular choice among sculptors and artists.
- The agriculture industry considers marble as essential as it is needed to create lime, an agricultural soil treatment that is used to reduce acidity in the soil. Not only used for marble flooring, but the material is also heated to produce calcium oxide or lime. When harnessed properly, such as when combined with fertiliser, lime can increase the yield of the soil, which is important to those who live off the land.
- Next, let’s look at how marble can enhance even those who are vested in stationeries. Marble can produce a product referred to as “whiting,” a white powdery substance that is utilised as a brightener, filler, and pigment for paper, paint, and similar products. That means that the perfect white you see in these products are oftentimes the result of marble.
- Have you ever considered that your marble flooring is composed of materials that can neutralise acids? Marble contains calcium carbonate, a component that can neutralise acids. As such, popular antacids such as Alka-Seltzer and Tums contain marble that is crushed into powder. This is also an easier way of neutralising acidity levels in soil if it is more difficult to heat marble to produce lime than to crush marble.
- Then, of course, there’s the fact that dairy cows and chicken can also ingest marble. We say “can” because marble is not necessarily a part of their diet — but powdered marble is used to produce supplements rich in calcium that is given to these animals. The same material as your marble flooring material is, therefore, being used by many to feed production, as these supplements are softer than the animal’s teeth and a rich source of calcium.
- It can also be considered ironic that marble is used as a scrubbing agent. It is a popular scrubbing agent as is evident by the many soft abrasive cleaning agents that are used on kitchen and bathroom surfaces.
- Finally, there is marble’s main function as a construction material, both for flooring and design. Marble flooring is very popular options among those who can afford it and is very popular when it comes to prestigious architectural and interior designs. Marble can be used on an opulent staircase, like panels, and even as walls, among others.
Because of the way marble forms, it occurs in large deposits worldwide. It’s economical to mine this common, useful rock on a large scale.
Most marble is used in the construction industry. Crushed marble is used to build roads, foundations of buildings, and railroad beds. Dimension stone is made by cutting marble into blocks or sheets. Dimension stone is used to make buildings, sculptures, paving stones, and monuments. The statue of Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial is made of white marble from Georgia, while the floor is pink Tennessee marble, and the exterior facade is marble from Colorado. Marble is susceptible to acid rain and weathering, so it wears down over time.
White marble is ground to make “whiting,” a powder used as a brightener and pigment. Powdered marble, along with limestone, may be used as a calcium supplement for livestock. Crushed or powdered marble is used in the chemical industry to neutralise acid, as a pill filler, and to remediate acid damage in water and soil.
Marble may be heated to drive off carbon dioxide, leaving calcium oxide or lime. Lime is used in agriculture to reduce the acidity of the soil.
CMP Stonemason Supplies have the best stone cutting equipment for your next project.
Uses of Marble in Home Design
Marble is a fan favourite for home design because it is such a versatile stone. While commonly thought of being used as countertops, there are plenty of ways to use marble in home design.
From kitchens to basements, marble can be used in literally every room of the house. You can choose to get a “Wow” moment from your marble by making statement uses of the stone. Or, you can keep your marble feeling fresh and current by using it in small doses. Accent marble can make an even bigger statement than a whole wall of the stone.
Here are some of our favourite ways to use marble in home design for a look that is both timeless and trendy.
Marble has been used in the design for thousands of years and was a favourite of Mesopotamian cultures. One of the favoured uses of marble that is still being used today is building columns. Columns can be used for load-bearing purposes, but are mostly built for decoration. Give your hope a European ambience with beautiful marble pillars.
Whether you’re using this natural stone as an accent wall or a backsplash, a marble wall is a beautiful statement piece to any home. Marble walls give a fresh feeling to your space that reads cleanly. Marble walls can read warm or cool depending on what slab you choose. Something like our Statuario marble is perfect for a chic and cool palette where our Bamboo grey polished marble is perfect for warm and comforting spaces.
Marble countertops are a popular choice for kitchens and bathrooms. Carrara marble is a great choice for marble countertops as they are an affordable stone that brings a bright elegance to your space. Be sure to clean and seal your countertops to protect them from stains and keep them in tip-top shape.
Your fireplace is already the focal point of your room, so why not make it a visual feast by using marble tile as its backsplash? Customise the colour of your marble to compliment your room and give it the warmth that a fireplace deserves.
Marble flooring gives off a grand appearance that will take your breath away. Be sure all of your marble comes from the same batch when installing it for your flooring. This will ensure all of your pieces match and flow seamlessly.
A wonderful way to add marble into your home in a way that is both stylish and cost-effective is by using marble furniture and accessories. Consider such items as a marble coffee table, marble cutting boards, marble bedside lamps, and marble coasters to bring just a splash of visual interest into your room.
These are just some of the more popular uses of marble. While marble is heavily utilised within different industries; however, it is still very popular in the construction industry. Suppose you want to use this material yourself, for your flooring needs. You can use our materials to grace your floorings, create partitions, and even use our precast materials that will best compliment your desired space.