Pros and Cons of Natural Stone for Bathrooms


Natural stone is a popular material choice for bathroom renovations and new construction. Granite, marble, travertine, slate, and other natural stones can provide a luxurious and elegant look in the bathroom. However, natural stone also has some drawbacks to consider before making a final decision. Evaluating the pros and cons of natural stone for bathrooms can help homeowners decide if it is the right material for their space and needs.

Some key factors to analyze include natural stone’s durability, maintenance needs, cost, safety, and aesthetic appeal. Carefully weighing the benefits and downsides can lead to selecting natural stone or choosing another material that may be more suitable. This article provides an in-depth look at the pros and cons of using natural stone in bathrooms.

Pros of Natural Stone for Bathrooms

Aesthetic Appeal

One of the biggest advantages of natural stone is its inherent beauty. The colors, patterns, and veining found in natural stones like marble, granite, and travertine can elevate the visual appeal of any bathroom. The variation found in natural stone gives it an artistic, high-end look that man-made tiles cannot replicate.

Natural stone comes in many different colors, from bold granites to soft neutral marbles. This variety allows homeowners to select a stone that aligns with their overall aesthetic vision for the bathroom design. The look of natural stone is especially powerful in bathrooms, where the water-resistant properties make it a practical choice around sinks, showers, and tubs.


Natural stone is an incredibly durable material, especially compared to manmade tiles. Granite is one of the most durable options, known for its hardness and resistance to scratches. Marble and travertine have a slightly softer composition but still rank high on durability tests.

The dense composition and strength of natural stone make it ideal for bathrooms. It can withstand the humidity, temperature fluctuations, and high traffic common in bathrooms. Properly sealed natural stone will maintain its integrity and avoid stains even with regular water contact and cleaning.

Natural stone’s durability means it can last for decades with proper care and avoid replacements that can be costly. Going with a durable material like natural stone is a smart long-term investment for bathrooms.

Easy Maintenance

While natural stone requires some regular sealing and cleaning, it remains relatively easy to care for. Simple cleaners combined with annual sealing are usually sufficient to keep natural stone in good condition.

More intensive maintenance like re-polishing or re-sealing may be needed at times, but not frequently. The effort needed to care for natural stone is reasonable, especially given its longevity and beauty. The maintenance can often be handled without professional assistance as well.

Easy maintenance makes natural stone realistic for busy homeowners. Quick daily wipedowns and routine deep cleaning let natural stone retain its original appearance with minimal hassle.

Improved Resale Value

Installing natural stone in bathrooms can increase a home’s resale value. Natural stone is considered a premium material choice that today’s homebuyers desire. The beautiful and durable natural stone finishes will appeal to potential buyers looking for updated bathrooms.

Realtors consistently recommend natural stone for kitchen and bathroom renovations based on its ability to provide a return on investment. The resale value boost is significant, especially compared to lower-cost manmade alternatives.

Variety of Applications

Natural stone comes in slabs, tiles, and cut units, allowing flexible installation. The variety of forms makes it possible to use natural stone on floors, walls, countertops, backsplashes, sinks, showers, and more. Seamless design is achievable.

Natural stone slab shower walls provide a high-end spa-like feel, for example. Or a marble mosaic backsplash and countertop can establish a cohesive elegant look. The wide range of applications enables homeowners to customize their bathrooms with natural stone.

Cons of Natural Stone for Bathrooms


The top disadvantage of natural stone is its expensive cost compared to manmade ceramic or porcelain tile. Pricing depends on the specific stone selected, but homeowners should expect a premium price tag. Installation is also costlier due to the weight and skill needed to cut natural stone.

While the expense is justified by natural stone’s benefits for many homeowners, the high cost does put it out of reach for some budgets. Arrangements like ordering remnants or doing installations DIY can lower expenses to make natural stone more accessible.

Absorptive Surface

Many varieties of natural stone have a slightly porous, absorptive surface. This means the stone can soak up liquids if left unattended. Sealing is essential to limit absorption issues.

For bathrooms in particular, an absorptive stone surface requires diligent care. Leaving puddles of water or splashes of toothpaste on the surface could lead to stains without prompt cleanup. Regular re-application of sealant is key to prevent stubborn absorption stains.

Temperature Sensitivity

Some natural stones, especially marble, can be prone to damage from temperature extremes. Exposure to very hot or very cold items can potentially crack or stain certain natural stone types if precautions are not taken.

In bathrooms, things like setting hot hair tools or curling irons on a marble vanity top could cause marks. Homeowners need to be cautious about exposing temperature-sensitive natural stones to sudden swings. Using trivets, coasters or similar buffers can prevent mishaps.


Acidic substances like juices, cleaners, and toiletries can etch or dull the polish on certain natural stones. This is an especially important concern in bathrooms where people handle many toiletry products at sinks and vanities.

Diligent cleanup of spills and selecting non-acidic cleaners are key to avoiding etched natural stone. Some stones like granite are less prone to etching than marble. But etching is a possibility homeowners must note if installing any natural stone in bathrooms.

Risk of Damage or Staining

Despite their durability, natural stones can become damaged or stained without proper installation and care. Cracking, chipping, and discoloration are risks, especially for softer stones like marble.

Meticulous installation by experienced professionals reduces the risks. Ongoing sealing and cleaning maintenance also safeguard natural stone surfaces in bathrooms. But some risk of damage does exist, and repairs can prove costly.

Heavy and Hard to Install

Working with cumbersome stone slabs is more challenging than installing manmade ceramic or porcelain tiles. Specialized tools and knowledge are required. DIY installation may be unrealistic.

The weight also requires structural reinforcement, especially for stone slab shower walls or floors. Professional installation expertise is strongly advised to ensure safe and successful application of heavy natural stone in bathrooms.

Can Feel Cold Underfoot

Certain natural stones like marble and slate have an inherently cool surface temperature. This can feel noticeably cold under bare feet, especially during colder months. Radiant floor heating systems or area rugs are ways to counteract the sensation.

For bathrooms where people are often barefoot, the potential coldness of natural stone floors merits consideration. The aesthetic appeal may outweigh the cooler underfoot feeling for many homeowners. Strategically placed bathmats provide a simple solution too.

Cost Comparison of Natural Stones

The type of natural stone selected greatly impacts the cost for purchase and installation. To aid in budgeting, here is an overview of popular natural stone bathroom options from most to least expensive:

Marble – Elegant but softer and prone to etching/staining. Higher maintenance. $50 – $200 per square foot installed

Granite – Extremely durable and scratch/stain-resistant. Wide range of colors/patterns. $40 – $150 per square foot installed

Travertine – Earthy, natural look. Holes and pits add texture. $15 – $50 per square foot installed

Slate – Very strong. Slightly uneven natural cleft surface. $10 – $30 per square foot installed

Limestone – Softer cream and gray tones. Needs frequent sealing. $5 – $20 per square foot installed

Sandstone – Natural rough texture. Softer stone. $4 – $15 per square foot installed

FAQs About Natural Stone in Bathrooms

Is natural stone slippery in bathrooms?

With proper surface finishing, natural stone provides sufficient traction when wet. Honed or textured finishes are less slippery than highly polished. Rougher stones like slate naturally offer more grip underfoot. Supplemental measures like textured bathmats can further enhance slip-resistance.

Does natural stone need a special substrate in bathrooms?

Reinforced substrate is ideal, especially for stone slab shower walls and floors. A high-quality backerboard or mud bed helps support the weight and minimize movement cracks. Many natural stones also require a mortar bed for level substrate.

What are the best natural stones for bathroom floors?

Slate and granite are excellent natural stone flooring options due to their dense durability. Textured finishes provide needed slip-resistance. Travertine is also widely used for bathroom floors but requires extra sealing. Softer stones like marble and limestone are less ideal for floors despite attractive looks.

Can you use natural stone on bathroom walls?

Yes, natural stone tiles or slabs make a fabulous accent wall or full wall covering. Backerboard reinforcement and appropriate mortar are vital for moisture resistance and weight support on walls. Granite, travertine, and marble are commonly used, while slate is too textured for walls.

Is it okay to mix different natural stones together in a bathroom?

It is possible to mix different natural stones successfully. Using a more affordable secondary stone with marble accents can give a custom look at a lower price point. Keep colors and finishes cohesive. Combining materials improperly can look disjointed.


Natural stone brings unmatched beauty and luxury to bathrooms. But proper selection, installation, care and maintenance are needed to manage considerations like cost, staining, and slip-resistance. Overall, natural stone is a superior choice for bathrooms compared to manufactured tile when its unique qualities and long lifespan are factored in. Homeowners who value natural materials and durability find the investment in natural stone pays dividends for creating a bathroom oasis. With cautious product selection and expert installation, natural stone’s advantages outweigh its limitations in bathrooms.