3/8-Inch Tumbled Marble Mosaic Tiles are mini tumbled stone cubes sold loose by the pound. The 3/8-inch size is nominal, and variation occurs between types of stone. The small size makes it possible to make detailed mosaic designs with little or no cutting. This is important because cutting can mar the finish of tumbled mosaic marble, and stone usually does not break as cleanly or as predictably as ceramic or glass mosaic tile. Use our Quick Order Checklist to order rapidly using a list.
Read more about using 3/8-inch tumbled marble mosaic tile and how to avoid grout staining and enhance colors at the bottom of this page.
Marble Mosaic Tile
Many varieties of "marble mosaic tile" are not technically marble. Other varieties of stone are used to provide colors not available in marble, but all our marble mosaic is undyed natural stone with an unsealed tumble finish.
Expect Product Variation
This product will vary by batch for several reasons, but mainly because it is a natural material that varies as it occurs from quarry to quarry and even within the same quarry. Expect variation in product color, pattern, size and the amount of roundness at the corners.
The size of the stone and the roundness/sharpness of the corners will vary. Why? Softer stone tumbles faster than harder stone. If the particular slab of stone the factory is using happens to be slightly softer than normal, then the tumbled stone produced will be slightly smaller and have slightly more rounded corners. Sometimes the variation is more than slight.
Never Install Tile in Batches
It takes a tremendous amount of energy to cut stone tile. To offer the tile to us at an affordable price, our factory has to be practical and use looser standards of quality control. If consistency is extremely important to you, then make sure you use something other than natural stone. However, you should be aware that all forms of mosaic tile can and frequently do vary by manufacturer batch, and so you should never order your materials in stages or begin installing tile before you have all that you will need. Even the most expensive brands of Italian glass tile comes with warnings to inspect and mix different boxes of their tile before you install it. How much more so this applies to natural stone produced in China!
There are approximately 200 marble mosaic tiles per pound, which covers over 1/4 sq ft with a grout spacing of 1/16 inch. However, some of the harder varieties such as Peacock Green and Gray Woodvein probably have less than 200 tiles per pound because they are resistant to tumbling and usually come out slightly larger with more well-defined corners.
Tile thickness is approximately 3/8 inch, which is thicker than our regular glass mosaic tile. If you are pressing tiles into thinset mortar or concrete, then it would be possible to use these with other types of tile with different thickness, but it might be problematic if you are gluing tile to a flat surface.
Our compound tile nipper is recommended for stone and other hard materials.
- tumble-finished natural undyed stone.
- material varies by batch for color, pattern, size and sharpness of corners.
- Each tile is NOMINALLY 3/8 inch x 3/8 inch, with variation by batch
- Coverage: approximately 800 tiles will cover 1 square feet when using a standard grout gap of 1/16 inch.
- Thickness: 3/8 inch NOMINAL.
- Recommended for dry locations where water cannot pool.
IMPORTANT INSTALLATION TIPS
Grout will stain unpolished and unsealed stone because it is porous. The stone has to be sealed with a tile and grout sealer BEFORE you grout it. However, you shouldn't seal any surface where grout or glue needs to stick to the stone. Here is what we recommend:
- glue or cement your mosaic tiles into place.
- use a rag dampened with sealer or a small artists paint brush to seal only the top faces of the tiles.
- take care not to drip sealer down between the tiles or down the sides of the tiles.
We use TileLab brand "Grout and Tile Sealer" for a normal seal. We use TileLab brand "Stone Enhancer and Sealer" if we want to slightly enhance/darken the stone colors (recommended). Both of these products are available at Home Depot.
As you have probably noticed, tumbled stone has a dusty appearance when dry but has richer colors when wet. You can make the color of the stone deeper and richer by using the stone enhancer instead of the normal tile and grout sealer. The color won't be quite as intense as when wet, but there is a noticeable improvement.
Using Marble Tile for Outdoor Mosaic Art
Most people think that stone is more durable than glass for outdoor mosaic art, but actually the reverse is true for several reasons.
Not all stone is hard, and natural stone only comes in so many colors. To get the range of colors needed to make a mosaic, softer varieties of stone such as honey onyx (actually a calcite) are sometimes all that is available for a particular color. This is especially true when you are discussing affordable types of stone. Sure, emeralds are a rich green, but they are also relatively rare, small and expensive.
Porosity and Freeze Damage
Glass is non-porous, and thus water cannot penetrate into it and then freeze and expand, which causes porous stone to crack and flack away. Keep in mind that the reason we have so many ancient Greek and Roman mosaics left after all the millenia is that the Mediterranean climate is relatively warm and dry. It also helped that many of the ones we now have were buried under volcanic ash for centuries.
Remember that not all marble mosaic tile is technically marble, and even if it were, marble isn't that hard, and it is also susceptible to chemical damage by naturally occuring substances. For example, the products of decaying organic matter such as rotting leaves are acidic. Marble dissolves in acid. (You can actually listen to mable fizz when you pour vinegar on it.) This is how the acid rain from automobile exhaust in European cities has melted ancient statues. Other varieties of stone are also vulnerable to organic acids and other naturally-occuring substances.
How To Make Marble Mosaics Last
Marble (and the other stone types described as marble) are best used for indoor mosaics where water cannot pool on the surface. However, marble can be used outdoors provided you seal it very well with a tile and grout sealer and check the seal every few years to make sure that water is still beading on the surface instead of soaking in and wetting it. This really isn't extra work. Even if you used non-porous glass tile, you would still need to seal the mosaic and periodically check the seal because the grout between the tiles is porous and vulnerable to freeze damage.
Outdoor mosaics made from marble should be on vertical surfaces such as walls instead of horizontal surfaces such as the seats of benches or walkways.
For more information on how to design mosaics and use tile to create artwork, see our page of Frequently Asked Questions
or our List of How-To-Mosaic Pages, which are topic specific.
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