You may have heard of cultured marble, but it’s not surprising if you don’t know much about it even though it does have extensive use and appeal and could be exactly what you want for your kitchen or bathroom countertops.
So let’s compare cultured marble vs Corian vs quartz vs granite and solid-surface to see which of these popular countertop materials is right for your home remodeling project.
You may also like our Cultured Marble vs Marble comparison.
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Corian countertops are the most closely related of all countertop materials to cultured marble.
Both are made by mixing natural stone (marble, limestone) dust or aggregate and/or natural minerals with polymer resins to form a seamless solid-surface countertop.
Cultured marble was the original version of an “engineered countertop” followed shortly after by Corian, and then quartz countertops. These days several additional types of man-made countertops are available.
Laminate countertops are actually the first “man-made” countertop material, but for whatever reason are not considered in the “engineered” category.
Corian and other solid-surface countertop brands have largely surpassed cultured marble in popularity as the look is a bit more modern. However, cultured marble vanities and countertops remain in demand.
Corian and cultured marble can be identical in overall look & feel, finishes, and colors. However, the majority of patterns are different. Corian offers a bit more variety and has a more modern and refined appearance.
Corian countertop prices have a wider range than costs for cultured marble, but the average Corian cost is essentially identical.
The reason Corian countertops could cost as much as $80, $90, or $100/ psf is that Corian is commonly installed as kitchen countertops that typically are more complex.
Also, costs increase when the countertops are heavily customized with various shapes, sizes, unique edge styles, etc.
It’s not surprising that cleaning and maintenance requirements of cultured marble vs Corian are nearly identical since both are manufactured with basically the same materials and resins.
Learn more about how to clean cultured marble correctly in our comprehensive guide.
Note that Corian is one solid, consistent material through the full thickness, whereas cultured marble has a solid core with a protective gel coat applied over the top.
This does impart a slightly different look to each countertop material. But mostly, it is significant when it comes to repairing.
Now, it’s essential to understanda few terms that often get mixed up when comparing Corian and cultured marble… “solid-surface” and “acrylic.”
The comparison between solid-surface materials and cultured marble is the same as cultured marble vs. Corian.
Corian IS a solid-surface material.
Solid-surface is a class or type of countertop material (as are “quartz countertops” or “laminate countertops” for example) that is made in a certain way with specific performance characteristics.
Corian is the biggest and most well-known brand, so it often seems like Corian is a unique material unto itself, but many other companies make solid-surface countertops.
To be fair, Corian did invent the solid-surface countertop formula, but once their patent expired, other brands jumped in to make a nearly identical material.
So, all the pros & cons and differences noted in this article about Corian versus cultured marble equally apply to cultured marble vs solid-surface.
And how about acrylic countertops...
Likewise, comparing cultured marble vs. acrylic surfaces is precisely the same as comparing cultured marble vs. Corian and vs. solid-surface.
An “acrylic” countertop IS a solid-surface countertop.
Corian is a solid-surface countertop made from acrylic as are nearly all other solid-surface brands such as these:
It’s all the same material. Contrasting cultured marble vs. Swanstone, or Wilsonart, or any other solid-surface brand is the same as comparing it to Corian as detailed above. So, anytime you read “Corian” you can insert “solid-surface” or “acrylic,” etc.
A few solid-surface brands make polyester solid-surface countertops instead of using acrylic, but the majority use acrylic for better performance and for creating a seamless look.
Both cultured marble and quartz countertops are “engineered countertops” or manufactured surfaces like Corian and solid-surface too. However, they are made, look, and perform differently.
Cultured marble and quartz countertops can look almost the same in some cases, but quartz has a much wider range and variety of colors and patterns.
On average, the cost of quartz countertops is significantly more than cultured marble.
Maintenance requirements for quartz and cultured marble are remarkably comparable. Mainly this is because both are made with resins that are sensitive to certain types of damage.
Even though quartz countertops and cultured marble can suffer the same type of damage, quartz is more durable and will hold up better over the years.
Cultured marble comes out the winner when comparing “repairability” versus quartz.
Scratches, stains, pits, chips, cracks, burns, and chemical damage to cultured marble can be removed or repaired so long as some of the gel coat remains.
Not true for quartz countertops. Pits, chips, and cracks can be repaired, and surface food stains can be removed, but burns and quartz stains from chemical discoloration are usually permanent.
Popularity of Man-Made Countertop Materials
It’s interesting to note in the evolution of countertop materials that cultured marble was once a premium surface.
Cultured marble was then supplanted by Corian and solid-surface as a more advanced and desirable surface.
For a long time, Corian was considered a luxury countertop material, then along came quartz. Corian is still an excellent surface that fits somewhere in between laminate and granite on the luxury scale.
Quartz countertops have gained a dominant position as the most popular man-made surface. Of course, natural stones like granite and marble are massively popular as well, and the debate rages about which is more popular granite or quartz.
Today only natural stone (granite, marble, etc.) and man-made stone countertops like quartz countertops are considered truly “luxury” materials, but that doesn’t mean that a cultured marble vanity or countertop isn’t perfect for your needs.
Many would argue that granite is the best performing countertop material all considered. And granite tile is hard to beat for floors, showers, and walls too.
However, cultured marble does have some advantages, so it depends on the needs of your project.
Granite countertops look decidedly different than cultured marble. They share some of the same overall colors but not patterns.
Note: Some manufacturers do make “cultured granite” as well that does have speckled or grainy patterns made to resemble granite. Cultured marble and cultured onyx are much more prevalent, though.
Surprisingly granite and cultured marble are similarly priced at least when comparing the more common and inexpensive granite colors.
Thus, many granite installations can be as cheap as cultured marble. But on average granite is more expensive.
Granite does have its share of maintenance issues, but overall, durability long-term is really where granite outshines cultured marble.
Most damage to granite and cultured marble can be repaired. DIY procedures work for both, and both can be professionally repaired and restored to a nearly-new condition in most cases.
However, granite will stand up to heavy use without showing much wear for many years… decades even.
With diligent, proper care (using the right cleaner, buffing with Gel Gloss, guarding against scratches, burns, stains) cultured marble can remain in good condition for a long time, but it is just not as robust as granite.
Laminate countertops were the original manufactured countertop coming to market in the early 1900s. So, laminate may seem very old-school, but this countertop material has continually improved, has many fans, and still enjoys high demand.
Although cultured marble and laminate are made and look quite different, they do share many of the same performance characteristics.
But without doubt, laminate countertops provide the most bang for your buck of all countertop materials.
Comparing cultured marble vs Corian, solid-surface, and acrylic reveals that these types of countertops are the most closely-related across the board - look and feel, cleaning, care, cost, and repair.
Cultured marble vs. quartz countertops is a different story. Quartz is far more expensive and with more sophisticated colors. Cleaning requirements are about the same, though.
Quartz is generally more durable, but any damage may be permanent, and cultured marble is often easier to repair.
Surprisingly, the costs of cultured marble vs granite are close for the average countertop installation. But that is where the similarity ends.
Granite wins out over cultured marble (and most other kitchen countertop materials) for long-term durability, ease of care, cleaning and repair, range of colors, style, and real estate resale value.
Comparing cultured marble vs laminate countertops is a tough call that will likely come down to personal taste in colors and design, but also budget as laminate is the cheaper countertop material.
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