Marble has long been a staple material for use in high-end mantel design, but it has recently gained wider popularity. Before you purchase a marble mantel for your fireplace, there are certain drawbacks you should consider.
1. High Cost
There are new technologies that have made marble more affordable than ever. The biggest of these is that expert craftsmen are no longer required to cut every piece of marble by hand. Instead, factories have machines that can mass produce pre-programmed mantel designs out of marble. However, marble still makes for a much more costly material for your fireplace mantel than others, like wood or natural stone.
2. Size and Weight
As with any type of stone, marble cut large enough for use as a fireplace is very heavy and can be difficult just to get into place. Installation often calls for special equipment. Also, it is almost always necessary to reinforce the floors to handle the weight of a marble mantel.
On the bright side, modern technologies have also reduced this problem somewhat by creating hollowed out marble, but this is still a heavy material to install.
3. Difficult Repairs
Should your mantel ever become cracked or otherwise damaged, marble is very difficult to repair. In fact, more often than not, this problem requires that the broken section of marble be entirely replaced. Unfortunately, in the case of mantels, this often means replacing the entire mantel, which is not only very costly but also extremely difficult—especially if you’ve used a solid marble piece instead of a hollowed out one.
4. Proper Care
Because it is a porous material, marble needs to be treated with sealant at least once a year. Keep in mind that a sealant may actually change the color of your marble.
Marble is prone to other factors that will change its color. White marble especially is known to turn yellow with age, and there is nothing to fix it or even stop it from happening, short of replacing the marble. In addition, marble can easily start to yellow from embedded dirt and grim. Also, like any natural stone, marble is very easy to stain with food, drink, ink, oil and rust. If your marble is stained at all, it can be very difficult to remove and require special cleaning agents.
Marble is also prone to loss of shine, especially from general “wear and tear.” While this is more of a problem with marble floors and countertops, it still happens to marble mantels, and they will need regular cleaning to prevent this.