Marble, once a product that was only found in homes of the upper class of society, has made its way to the middle-income market. Automation and mass production techniques have made it possible to produce items from marble without the need of craftsmen. This is highlighted in the availability of marble fireplace mantels and surrounds that are affordable (Figure 1)
Figure 1 - Marble fireplace mantel and surround
As well, marble is now being quarried all over the world, from North and South America, Asia including India and China and of course the original home of marble Europe.
The product may carry a common name but in appearance the marbles from different parts of the world have created an availability in a symphony of colors and grains.
The use of marble as a material for construction started with the Roman and Greek empires. Their artisans found that the material was easy to carve and was strong. Hence, it adorned and supported most of the largest buildings of the era and could be found in mosaics, flooring and columns.
Today’s market for residential marble is primarily for bathroom and kitchen countertops and flooring materials.
For those who are looking for a special focal point for a room they should consider a marble fireplace mantel and surround (Figure 2). Where just a few years ago every marble fireplace mantel and surround was custom carved and crafted, robotics has taken over to produce reproductions of those same handcrafted products.
Marble fireplace mantels and surrounds are definitely not inexpensive, but they are no longer just for the elite. They have been made lighter, by making them hollow, thereby reducing one of the biggest problems associated with the installation of any natural stone product, that being weight and having to reinforce floors. A reasonably competent DIY home handyman can do a professional looking installation of a pre-made marble mantel and surround and it does make a fantastic home improvement project.
Figure 2 - Ornate marble fireplace mantel and surround
Marble fireplace mantels and surrounds can be found online, and are also available at upscale home remodel centers throughout North America and Europe. For those who may have a somewhat larger budget, there are still marble companies that will custom craft a marble fireplace mantel and surround to your specifications.
As with most natural stone products, marble must be sealed in order to protect it from dirt and grime entering the pores of the material. Marble is a porous stone. Sealing, with a high quality penetrating sealer should be done at least once a year.
Marble provides the ultimate in luxury and beauty, it is a construction material that has survived the ages.