Tile Style: How to Successfully Pair Real Marble with Marble-Look Porcelain Tile

October 31, 2017

Pairing practical, budget-friendly porcelain with high-end marble — is it even possible? Also, why would you want to do this? There are many reasons why it’s desirable to combine the two. For one thing, natural marble is expensive. 

Marble-look porcelain tile allows you to install real marble where it gets the most visibility while saving money in other areas. You might also choose the porcelain lookalike in areas prone to more wear and tear, such as a countertop, and use real marble for a decorative backsplash. Some homeowners install marble-look porcelain tile with the plan to upgrade to the real thing later. 

Whatever your reason, be assured it’s not just possible, but can be one of the best decisions you can make — a very wise use of your decorating dollars. 

Here are a few tips on creative ways to use marble in combination with porcelain lookalikes. 

Carrara White Countertop & Carrara Pietra Wall Tile 


Create a similar look with Carrara White Marble as the countertop and Carrara Pietra Porcelain as the wall tile. (Photo Credit: Houzz)

The high-variation veining of natural marble is also what makes it easy to pair with porcelain tile that looks like marble. After all, marble slabs are like snowflakes — every piece is different. Therefore, you need not fuss about the two matching exactly. It’s perfectly acceptable if the porcelain tile is slightly darker, lighter, or has a subtler pattern than its marble counterpart. 

Calacatta Pietra Porcelain Tile is available in large format tiles, which mimics the look of slab marble. Most porcelain tile can be installed extremely close together, minimizing seams and grout lines. You can also control the location of these seams so that they are in a less noticeable area. This works well for covering walls, or for durable flooring tile

Statuario Bari Wall Tile & Statuary Veneto Countertop

Create this look with MSI's Statuario Bari Polished Porcelain as the wall tile and Statuary Veneto Marble as the countertop. (Photo Credit: Houzz)

Marble-look porcelain tile has been designed to closely resemble true, natural marble, so it’s possible to choose a porcelain tile that closely resembles your chosen color choice. With porcelain wall tile that resembles marble, you can cover large areas with the look you love for a lot less expensive.

Crema Marfil Herringbone Wall Tile & Crema Marfil Gauged Porcelain Counters

Recreate this look with MSI's Crema Marfil Herringbone Marble as the wall tile and Crema Marfil Polished Gauged Porcelain as the countertop. (Photo Credit: Houzz)

Before choosing a marble and porcelain pairing, you need to give serious thought to where you unquestionably want the splurge of real marble. Since vertical surfaces such as a kitchen tile backsplash are bound to get noticed first, it’s a great place to install the real thing, as opposed to the countertop — and it’s also a place less prone to stains, etching, and other damage. 

Carrara Pietra Subway Tile & Imperial Danby Countertop


Create a similar look with MSI's Carrara Pietra Porcelain Subway Tile as the wall tile and Imperial Danby Marble as the countertop. (Photo Credit: Houzz)

Today’s technology allows for marble-look tile that is nearly indistinguishable from the real thing. Make sure to choose a porcelain tile printed with state-of-the-art inkjet technology, which creates incredibly authentic marble looks that last as long as the tile itself.

Check out MSI’s web gallery to learn more about the real marble patterns available, and the authentic porcelain marble-look alternatives.