Porcelain "Carrara marble" look-alike tile?

airbumpkinFebruary 24, 2013

We are about to begin a complete, gut-it-all-and-start-over remodel of our small bathroom (the primary bathroom in our 100-year-old Seattle house). It's pretty small, but there's (just barely) enough room for a small sink & vanity, toilet, and tub with shower. We have almost all the details worked out, except the wall tiles.

Most of the wall surfaces (and even a bit of the ceiling) is going to be tiled. Because the shower will have frameless glass doors (so the whole room needs to tolerate stray water) - and because I like tile - we're planning to tile up all 4 walls from the floor, up to around 6' high, and over the (partially sloped) ceiling over the tub/shower. For such a small room, there's going to be a significant amount of tile.

Because the room is small, we're trying to keep things bright. Although I like subway tile, I'm trying to avoid the pure white of the classic subway tile look.

We love the look of Carrera marble (who doesn't?), and the mostly-white-but-with-subtle-gray-details that you see in a nice piece of Carrera seems like the perfect palette that we're looking for for the room.

But we're trying to be realistic about our ability/willingness to stay ahead of the maintenance required to keep real marble looking good. This tile will be used on all the walls - including all around the shower/tub - and we know that there will be all sorts of soaps, liquids, lotions and potions that find their way onto the tile. We do NOT want to see any of the tiles stain and take on colors.

As I understand it, unless you are religious about regular re-sealing (I've heard recommendations from every 6 months to once-a-year), there's a great risk of marble staining if exposed to many materials.

We know ourselves well enough to know that we are not going to keep up with such a demanding maintenance requirement.

So I'd like to find a tile that has the look of Carrera marble but requires low (or even better, no) maintenance. It seems the consensus is porcelain/ceramic.

Also, because the room is small, I want to go with 3x6 tiles (similar to the common subway tiles).

I don't like tiny tiles (the tile-to-grout ratio seems wrong to me, and my obsessive personality would easily identify any irregularities in the alignment/grouting, and that would dive me crazy).

I have found a faux Carrera marble tile that looks good and would work perfectly ("Gallant" from Florida tile). Unfortunately, it's not available in 3x6 - the smallest they make it is 9x18. I think that large size tile just is too big for the small room - we will only get a few tiles of it across the largest wall in the room, and I worry the large tiles with few repeats will emphasize the smallness of the room, exactly what we're trying to avoid.

I've Googled a lot, and have found references to porcelain look-alike fake Carrera marble tiles in 3x6 size from other companies - with glowing reviews from people who used them and loved how it turned out - but those products appear to have been discontinued (why? beats me - is there some marble mafia conspiracy here?). The one that seemed to get the most praise was Catarina Coliseum White #C190 from American Olean. That seems to have disappeared sometime in the past few years, darn it.

It's frustrating, because that sounded like it was just what I'm looking for (anyone know if it's still available and know of a source that has it?).

Here's what I'm looking for specifically:

- A porcelain/ceramic tile that looks like Carrera marble, in a white or mostly-wite palette; prefer glossy or semi-gloss (we like smooth and shiny things)
- Is available in 3x6 size
- Is not stunningly expensive (at least no more expensive than the real thing)
- Does not stain when exposed to various liquids
- Requires little or no maintenance
- Available tiles must not be all identical in appearance; there need to be at least a half-dozen different variant "prints" (that is, each tile should not have the exact same fake veining/pattern appearance - with natural marble, every piece is different; but with manufactured "natural look" tiles, if they all use the same pattern, it's immediately obvious they're not natural material, and it looks very fake fake fake).

In my searching, I've seen occasional references to a couple other products that might meet these criteria, but none of the (many) local tile shops we're visited knew anything about them and they seem slightly obscure. I have been unable to located any meaningful user reviews of these tiles online. I wonder if some of them may be discontinued. But I'm interested in hearing more about them.

These include:

- Alfa Tile Carrara 3x6
- Vallelunga Villa Adriana 3x6
- Vallelunga Sophia White 3x6

Anyone here familiar with any of these? Opinions - would these meet my criteria? Are there any others you know about? Suggestions?

Thanks for all the input!

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I just used porcelain fake-Carrera tiles (glossy on the walls, honed/matte on the floors to be less slippery), although this manufacturer (don't have the mfgr. name handy) only made them in 12x12 or 24x12" sizes. It took me awhile to get beyond the "small rooms need small tiles" conventional wisdom, but found the 24x12 tiles looked good in this small room. I usually try to eschew trendiness, but the currently popular large rectangular tiles somehow looked good (and unike the smaller ones weren't backordered). If 12x24 tiles weren't already trendy enough, i also opted for the "subway" arrangement after finding the 8" offset I'd originally planned (so every 3 tiles would line up) didn't have enough space to work well.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 5:02PM
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I just did a reno using Rex Palissandro 18" (really about 17.5") square tiles in a 5x8 bath and they look fantastic. I think that large tiles look great in a small bath.
i sorted through the tiles to find the repeats and it seemed like there were 7 or 8 different "movement" tiles and 4 or 5 others that didn't have much movement on them. I will post photos on a future message.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rex Palissandro

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 11:08AM
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I can’t help you with the size, but I had to comment, because your post is essentially identical to the one I wrote when I was searching for my marble look-alike… every part of what you wrote had me nodding my head in agreement…

Here is my gardenweb post.

I love the tile I chose (my installed tile.) although the size isn’t good for you… possibly the other commenter’s choices might give you some options??

I saw the pallisandro tile (above comment) and it really is beautiful. I found it had a tan-undertone that was emphasized by my white subway tile, or else I would have stopped looking after seeing it… if I remember correctly, it came in a smaller wall-tile?

p.s.- we also had a small, old-house bathroom to work with and I think choosing bright, glossy tile made all the difference in the world.

Here is a link that might be useful: Our finished bathroom

1 Like    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 11:48AM
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Airbumpkin: Sorry can't help with a 3"x 6" tile but we will have 4x10 white carrara look-a-like for our master bath shower which will also be frameless. The floor will be 2 x 2 white carrara. I have the quote and it is called Fi Elegant Ideas Tec #910 in bright white. It is porcelain which I understand to be stronger than ceramic tile.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 12:59PM
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I called our tile supplier and he said it was by Florida Tile but I can't find it online anywhere. So I'm going to pick up a sample tomorrow and will post a picture of it then.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 2:12PM
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I realize the Rex Palissandro does not come in the small sizes you prefer, but I thought I would post a photo anyway. I used a green glass and stone mosaic accent and light green wall paint. I know horizontal accent stripes are out of fashion, but I like the look in my small tub alcove. I am using the same mosaic as a backsplash on my vanity.

This post was edited by jules8 on Mon, Mar 4, 13 at 22:17

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 9:18PM
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Thanks for the input, all.

I believe I may have found another good option, which is available in the 3x6 we're hoping for. Samples should be here tomorrow, I'm hoping they look good. If they do, I can check this off my list of things to worry about. Will report back here with results.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 1:57AM
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Please let us know what you're getting and howit looks (even better, a photo of the tile and/or link to where to order it). We, too, would love to buy marble tile----for a kitchen backsplash---but would prefer the durability and low maintenance of a porcelain.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 2:37PM
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I just finished gutting our master bath and used the 7 1/2 x 19 sculpture glossy "fake" on the walls and the matte (12x24) on the floor. It is beautiful! Got the tile at Arizona Tile and the price was right.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 6:41PM
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The other posters have better answers than I do, when it comes to porcelain "fake marble". However, in our last house, we put in a beautiful pink shiny real marble on the floor, and it was GORGEOUS! I loved it! It was so dimensional.
Now, at the time, I had 4 kids, three of them boys, one of them recently potty trained. The aim was just egregious.
Normally, I eschew anything toxic, so I used natural cleaners to clean the floor. They did fine, but when it was time to sell the house, I broke down and used bleach to clean the floor around the toilet, and they looked great -- completely undamaged.
I am from near Baltimore, where in the olden days, women used to come out and scrub the famous white marble steps with bleach, EVERY DAY, or so the legend has it. This is all just to say, marble isn't the frail substance it is made out to be.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 11:43PM
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I know this is not what you asked but have you considered doing plain white subway time with a band of Carrara mosiac tile with a real marble cap piece?

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 8:22AM
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Sorry for bumping an old thread but I'm also looking for Carrara 3x6 look a-like porcelain/ceramic tile. Did anyone have any luck with this format and if so can you please post what you ended up using please? I wanted to use Alfa Carrara 3x6 but it is no longer available.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 2:18PM
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I just installed American Olean Mirasol Bianco Carrera in my bathroom. I chose the 2 x 4 matte finish subway tiles for the shower and 12 x 12 matte finish for the floor. It looks beautiful...beyond my expectations. By accident the tile distributor sent me the bullnose in a glossy finish. The glossy has more of a “marble” feel, but I love the clean, calm matte finish look. This product is relatively new. When I went online to find the matte finish bullnose, I found other distributors are carrying more sizes than listed on the American Olean website...but, I am not sure if it is available in 3 x 6. http://americanolean.com/series.cfm?series=182

1 Like    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 6:32PM
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Thanks so much for posting this, MW297. I have been searching for a solution for our bathroom and I think your choice will be what we go with. This is a bath enclosure that I wanted glossy marble finish since it's all walls and ceiling. That particular tile looks good and I'm going to order a sample soon. I'm wondering how much repeat there is per box, always a risk ordering online.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 11:05AM
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MW297, would you have a photo of your finished bath we could see?

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 12:17PM
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blondelle, if MW297 doesn't respond for some reason, here's the link where I'm purchasing mine:

Here is a link that might be useful: Mirasol Bianco Carrara Tile

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 12:35PM
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I'm in the middle (well actually it's almost done) of my bathroom remodel, and I used the 6x6 Alfa Tile from Spain for the shower walls. Who told you the 3x6 is no longer available?

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 6:01PM
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I have taken photos, but the pictures don't do the tile justice. I almost didn't purchase these tiles based on pictures I found on the internet and this forum. I think it is best to visit your local American Olean distributor to look at the product in person. When I first installed the brick 2 x 4 tile, I thought it looked to busy, but after adding the white grout, it looks beautiful...cloud-like. I really think you have to see this tile in person...then, you can decide if you prefer the glossy or the matte finish. As I wrote above, the glossy is more "marble like" the matte finish is more "cloud like" ... you have to see the physical product for yourselves.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 8:22PM
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Has anyone gotten tile through Costco affiliated Korel?
They have porcelain that looks like carrera marble, including non-slip for floors.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 1:40PM
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I have the same concerns and desires for my master bathroom remodel--except for the tile size. Can you please tell me what you decided to go with? I also love in the Seattle area so local pick up would not be a problem. I am feeling kind of overwhelmed :( thanks a lot.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 11:22AM
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My daughter is using a porcelain "Carrara look" tile in her bath. She chose Daltile's Florentine Carrara. She is using 12x24 on the walls and 24x24 on the floors. The tile comes in other sizes with shiny or matte finishes. Her bathroom is only 76"x 65 plus the 36x60 tub alcove.
Here is an in-progress picture without grout yet

1 Like    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 4:34PM
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Has anyone found the honed carrara marble look alike in the 3x6 subway? I am looking for that tile for my backsplash. I was able to find a polished natural stone tile in Lowes. I like it because it has gray streaks, but I'm not sure if I like the polished.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 4:28PM
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I also used Mirasol Bianco Carrara tile in my bathroom.
12x12 matte on bathroom floor
10x14 glossy on shower walls
2x4 matte mosaic on shower floor

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 7:25PM
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What countertop material are you all using with your faux marble tile bathrooms?

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 7:36AM
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Cooking -The Tile Shop has a 3x6 tile called Calacutta Bianco that is great. Comes in both matt and glossy finish and several sizes. Right now that is what i am planning on using for my backsplash.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 7:53AM
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Birchpoint, since my DD's bathroom needed only a small countertop, we opted to use a remnant rather than buy a whole slab of stone. Using a remnant severely limited her choices as did her not wanting anything with "swirls or waves" in it. Available remnants that were white were more creamy white and didnt look good with the white in her faux marble tiles.
She did find a Hanstone Quartz remnant called Black Coral. It has grey flecks in it and is more of a matte finish than shiny. Her cabinets are a very light grey color.
I will post a reveal of her bathroom in a day or two. We think it looks great. In the mean time here are the samples of what she used.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 8:59AM
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Thank you badgergal! Your daughter's bathroom is one that I have saved and am watching. I am soooo overwhelmed by all the decisions I have to make on this house build. I wish I could hit the "pause" button. I always thought it would be fun to build your own house just the way you want it, but it is no longer fun. It is just stressful and overwhelming to want and expect something wonderful (like you see on GW or Houzz) but having trouble putting it together yourself!

Your contribution has been helpful!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 9:20AM
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I just used MS-International-Calcatta-12-in-x-12-in-Ivory-Porcelain in my total gut for the tub surround. I love it we looked at real marble but the posts here make me think twice. My husband did all the install so came to about $200 in materials for tile grout tile backer and mud.

Here is a link that might be useful: tile from HD

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 11:04AM
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