Limestone vs Marble

Posted on Jan 14, 2022
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Bianco Venatino Marble Kitchen Countertop from Arizona Tile
Featured Image: Bianco Venatino Marble Kitchen Countertop from Arizona Tile

When choosing which natural stone is best for your dream renovation, it can become challenging to distinguish the differences between each stone. You’ll see names like marble, limestone, quartzite, and granite, but which one is the strongest, most versatile, or would work in a fireplace design? To answer these questions, let’s break it down by taking a closer look at two natural stones at a time.

Limestone vs. marble is a particularly interesting match-up because these two classic natural stones aren’t very similar in appearance, but they do share similar properties. To help you decide if limestone or marble is better for your design and lifestyle, let’s explore their unique differences in appearance, durability, uses, and care requirements. 

Chellah Grey Limestone Bathroom Shower Tile from Arizona Tile
Image: Chellah Grey Limestone Bathroom Shower Tile from Arizona Tile

Limestone

Limestone is a timeless natural stone with a rich history as a popular choice amongst architects in many famous structures, including the Egyptian pyramids. This sedimentary rock naturally forms over millions of years in shallow seas and is composed mainly of the mineral calcite (calcium carbonate), the mineral dolomite (double carbonate of calcium and magnesium), or a combination of the two.

Appearance

Limestone has neutral tones and organic textures. What makes it stand out from other natural stones is that fossils, like shell fragments, are often preserved throughout its beautiful surface. This sedimentary rock can look grainy and patterned, which gives it a unique personality and charm. Limestone has a very limited color selection, including primarily whites, creams, greys, and beiges. However, each slab or tile has captivating one-of-a-kind variegated tones, like Chellah Grey limestone, which is peppered with greys, creams, and beiges.

Classic Limestone Combed Living Room Fireplace Surround and Wall from Arizona Tile
Image: Classic Limestone Combed Living Room Fireplace Surround and Wall from Arizona Tile

Durability

Although it stands up well to heat and can resist water when properly sealed, limestone is not the strongest or most durable natural stone. Compared to more dense stones like granite and quartzite, limestone falls relatively low on the hardness scale. This means limestone requires some extra attention to make sure it’s not damaged, scratched, or stained.

Uses

Transform your countertops, shower, or fireplace with limestone. Please note, when installed in interior wet areas, limestone must be sealed and maintained properly. With the proper care, it’s a great option for both commercial and residential floors or walls. You can also extend limestone floors into your outdoor spaces for a European-inspired look.

Since limestone is typically a light, airy color, it’s an ideal choice if you want to brighten up a space or make a room look larger. For example, this Classic Limestone Combed fireplace brightens the entire room. Care and Maintenance

To care for limestone, wash gently and regularly with warm water, a pH-balanced cleaner, and a soft cloth. Avoid abrasive and acidic cleaners and clean up any spills immediately. Talk to your installer for guidance about how often it should be sealed.

Fantasy Brown Marble Bathroom Shower from Arizona Tile
Image: Fantasy Brown Marble Bathroom Shower from Arizona Tile

Marble

Known for its classic natural beauty and visual impact, marble is a popular material to consider for your renovation. Like limestone, marble is also composed of calcite. However, while limestone consists of fossils being held together by calcite, marble consists of calcite crystals that are linked like jigsaw puzzle pieces after having formed due to extreme heat and pressure within the earth.

Appearance

Every piece of marble is unique. This rich stone is known for its smooth white surface, characteristic veining, and translucent crystals.  Fantasy Brown marble offers the traditional look, while others come in more extraordinary colors like gold, black, gray, brown, or blue.

Durability

Since limestone and marble are both made of calcite, they both occupy a lower position on the durability scale. Though while marble can etch and scratch, mats and coasters can help minimize these issues. It should be noted that it is a best practice to never place hot items such as pots and pans directly on natural stones – always use a hot pad or trivet.

CS-Calacatta Gris Honed Lotus Mesh Mount Shower from Arizona Tile
Image: CS-Calacatta Gris Honed Lotus Mesh Mount Shower from Arizona Tile

Uses

Marble, like our CS-Calacatta Gris decorative mesh mount line, adds unrivaled elegance to your space.

This regal natural stone works well for floors, fireplaces, interior walls, and countertops with proper care. It can also make a one-of-a-kind backsplash or shower floor, like with the Completa Series Similar to limestone, it may be too soft for very high-traffic areas and too porous for steam showers.

Care and Maintenance

With proper and consistent care, marble will last a very long time. . It is more porous than other natural stones, so it is prone to staining and scratching. You’ll have to clean up spills immediately and show extra care when cooking with acidic foods like lemon or tomatoes, as these can cause etching. . You should also regularly wipe it clean with a pH-balanced cleaner and a soft towel.  Also, It is recommended that marble be sealed when installed and re-sealed every 6 months.

Limestone vs. Marble: Which Is Right for Your Design?

Although your decision will depend on what works best for your preferences and family lifestyle, see how marble vs. limestone hold up in a head-to-head battle.

Appearance: Limestone and marble differ the most in their appearance, however, both will dramatically upgrade any space.  For a more refined look or more color options, marble wins. For a uniquely textured look, limestone wins.

Durability: Both are softer, more porous natural stones that are much less durable than granite or quartzite. Since marble can be slightly less porous and harder than limestone, marble is generally considered slightly more durable than limestone. They are both made of calcite, but marble is metamorphic while limestone is sedimentary, giving marble a small advantage in hardness.

Uses: Again, limestone and marble are similar. They’re both suited for floors, countertops, showers, and fireplaces.

Care and maintenance: Marble typically requires less frequent sealing than limestone because it’s slightly less porous. This gives the edge to marble, but both require similar care and attention.

Even though limestone and marble have vastly different looks, either choice will make a beautiful upgrade to your space. At Arizona Tile, you can explore all of our unique stone and tile offerings at one of our locations or check the inventory near you with our online Slab Yard.  To picture how different tile selections will look in your space before finalizing your choice, check out our Just Imagine Visualizer. If you have any questions contact us today. We’ll schedule a consultation and help get you started today.

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