Why Balloons and Marble Don’t Mix

Why Balloons and Marble Don’t Mixfeatured

White Carrara marble tile

The tile guys from Home Depot finally decided to grace us with their presence yesterday. We had been waiting on them for over 2 months to put in the tile so that we could renovate the room. The dream of having a nice, functioning bathroom was so close to becoming a reality. Then we were informed that we were not candidates for the Carrara marble tile that we ordered for the space. We were crushed and frustrated.

Inspiration photo

We had chosen to use Carrera marble tile because of its beautiful and timeless appeal. We also felt that the light color would brighten up the space and make it feel bigger. However, we were not aware that marble is one of the softest natural stone tiles, making it extremely vulnerable to cracking or breaking under pressure.

An illustration of a balloon frame. Notice that the vertical studs go from the foundation to the ceiling of the 2nd floor.

Because our 1893 farmhouse was built with a balloon frame, the second story floors are more susceptible to bouncing (movement) than a modern platform frame house. The problem with balloon frame houses are that the 2nd floor joists are nailed directly to the studs, while platform frame houses are built one story at a time giving the upper floors more support.


When the tile guys tested the floor for bounce you could clearly see movement even though the plywood sub-floor was correctly installed. They said that more support would be needed, but that the only way they knew to do that was open the ceiling below to add support beams to strengthen the frame. This would take more money and time than we have.

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Added to the stress on the tile would be the antique cast iron clawfoot tub. This tub is beautiful, but it requires several hundred pounds to be balanced on four tiny points. Once filled with water and a chubby baby the marble would probably suffer damage.


We are now researching more durable and flexible flooring options for the bathroom. Allure flooring is a product the tile guys mentioned to us on their short visit. I am not in love with finishes that are not of natural materials but we are running out of ideas and time. At least Allure is a very affordable and a do it you self friendly product. It would be about one-tenth of the price, so I am open to being swayed in it’s favor. I will need to see it in person to know if it will work.

Does anyone out there have any other suggestions?


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