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Kevin Byrne
06-08-2001, 12:16 PM
The marble face and hearth on the fireplace are cracking. The contractor states that because there was a leak in the chimney, the water saturated the back side of the marble which is raw and has caused the marble to crack. Is this explanation possible or does the cracking indicate another problem. Thoughts or comments are appreciated.


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06-08-2001, 12:45 PM
I think your contractor gave you a * * * * answer.. If marble cracks when it get wet then how come it is used in showers?

[Chris, If you want to contribute to the board, please register, and watch your language. -- John]

[Edited by John Bridge on 06-08-2001 at 04:34 PM]

Bud Cline
06-08-2001, 01:29 PM

Marble can be fragile under some circumstances. If installed properly on a fireplace surround there is no way the marble should be cracking unless it and the subsurface is moving. The hearth may be a little different if you are stepping on it or playing basketball with real logs on top of it. Again if properly installed even this activity would not be a major problem.

Marble is stone. Marble is limestone. Limestone is a rock. Rocks dont crack when they get wet unless they also freeze maybe.

Marble does have fillers front and back to my knowledge but only the front is polished obviously. When the marble is installed if the proper adhesive products were used then technically the backside becomes waterproof so to speak. True the backside is raw material and that is because the ruffer surface promotes the adhesion of the setting materials.

So...that was a long way of saying I agree with "cm" which judging from the language he used can only be Chris Mier. Chris is correct in his appraisal and his illustration.


Your contractor needs to stand good for this one if there is no more to the story.

[Edited by Bud Cline on 06-08-2001 at 03:33 PM]

John Bridge
06-08-2001, 02:42 PM
Hi Kevin, Welcome!

Are you talking about a general contractor or the marble installer/contractor? And are we talking about marble tiles of slab marble? And what color is the marble?

The answers to this questions will probably not change what cm and Bud said. Sounds like you might be getting the run-around. Marble gets thoroughly soaked (back and front) during installation.

06-08-2001, 04:50 PM
Find out what the marble is "set" on. I like to combine marble with a masonry setting surface in all cases. At the very least, a cement backer unit. If the marble was set on plywood or "yikes" drywall, a leaking chimney could cause either of those materials to either degenerate or expand/contract enough to crack the marble. Pry off one of the cracked tiles and see whats under there.

Sonnie Layne
06-12-2001, 09:40 PM
Are the cracks occurring concurrently with the "continents" or "tectonics" in the marble? In which case, perhaps the contractor has a point, depending on temp it was installed and temp immediataly after setting.

I'm shooting darts here, but I'm thinking at least. If these continents"divisions" are of a more or less absorbtive mass, could that not result in a conflict of the expansion of the two materials? Add a cold environment, and maybe there's some credence? Just a learner, but an interested one.

John Bridge
06-13-2001, 06:07 AM
Why IS it when Sonnie posts I always come away feeling ignorant? Must be the twenty-five-cent words :-)

Seriously, though, any tectonics affecting a piece of stone occured before the stone was pulled out of the Earth, possibly millions or billions of years ago.

And marble ALWAYS cracks where the "continents" (that's not an accepted term by any means) join one another. The divisions are sometimes referred to as faults, veins, or the "Continental Divide."

Rob Z
06-13-2001, 06:26 AM
As a long ago geology major in college, I cringe at your puns, John. HAHA

My response to the excuse making contractor/installer is this:

If you think a little water coming down the chimney caused this problem, how do you think that slab of marble made it throught the fabrication stage? As I recently experienced at the fabrication class I took, that marble is completely soaked in water as it is cut, shaped, and polished.

I think the cracking is due to poor installation. I have witnessed stone fabricators installing stone with liquid nails, silicone, and gray unmodified thinset straight over the metal that surrounds a zero clearance fireplace. I have seen them putting straight over painted brick. And, using a 1/4 notch trowel to spread material on the back of a piece, and then setting in place over bricks.

Challenge this contractor to pull a piece off the wall to verfy appropriate setting material and substrate.


Sonnie Layne
06-14-2001, 01:35 PM
I've a few loose marbles, I admit it.
No matter how I shake my head tho', they don't seem to sound as tho' they're cracked.

Sorry John-o, couldn't help myself....

and certainly don't mean to make light of the situation Kevin is facing.

John Bridge
06-14-2001, 04:45 PM
Get back to your own board. I sent a lady to see you.


Sonnie Layne
06-14-2001, 10:02 PM
Gee, thanks John, my sweetie just happened to be walking up behind me when your last post came up. I gave her your number, told her you could square things up. hahahaha (actually she's not laughing, figure that.)

Thanks John, I think I've taken care of the acid staining thing. I appreciate the feed and as always, appreciate the challenge.

crawfish bisque might get me out of the dog house!

Sonnie Layne
06-14-2001, 10:06 PM

Geology? cool. Do you know anything of the folds between the Ozark and Ouachita mts in OK/AR? Interesting features, and I believe they're unique to the NAcontinent. I was told they can do seizmic studies there, and tell where there is oil in the Gulf??? Anyway, a neat place to spend some time if you have the time to vacation as a geologist. I'll draw you a map.


Rob Z
06-15-2001, 05:29 AM

I did at one time. We had a class on Global Tectonics in grad school. I don't remember the specifics.

All my books are in boxes, waiting to go on shelves. I'll see if I can find anything.