Porcelain "Carrara marble" look-alike tile?
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.
- 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!