Cultured marble may not get the hoopla of other shower or countertop materials. Yet, it has proven its worth for decades now with unique design features, durability, ease of cleaning, and repair. It may be perfect for your project.
So, what is it? What are the pros and cons, and how does it compare to other materials? You’ll find answers to these and all your other questions in our comprehensive cultured marble review below.
1. What Is Cultured Marble?
2. How is Cultured Marble Made?
3. Pros & Cons of Cultured Marble
4. Cultured Marble For Showers, Shower Pans & Tubs
5. Cultured Marble Countertops & Vanity Tops
6. Exploring Cultured Marble Colors & Design Options
7. Cleaning and Care for Cultured Marble
8. Cultured Marble Costs
9. Cultured Marble vs. Other Countertop Materials
10. Cultured Marble Installation Options Or Issues
11. Cultured Marble Manufacturers Near Me
12. Buy Cultured Marble Near Me
Cultured marble is a man-made material used for countertops, vanity tops, sinks, backsplashes, bathtubs, shower walls and pans that were extremely popular in homes built from the 1960s into the 1980s but is still widely used today, particularly in new home construction.
Today, many types of man-made countertops are on the market, such as quartz countertops, porcelain countertops, Dekton, Neolith sintered stone, solid-surface, and others. For this reason, you don’t hear too much buzz about cultured marble anymore.
Cultured marble is very similar to but not the same as Corian countertops, which most consumers are familiar with.
The name does confuse consumers. Although it is made with marble as one of its ingredients, it is not real marble or even similar except for some colors and patterns made to resemble real marble. That was the original idea… to create a durable surface that looked like actual marble.
Cultured marble is made by blending crushed marble (or engineered calcium carbonate) with polyester resins and pigments along with a catalyst. The mix is poured into shaped molds that produce countertops with integrated sinks and backsplash, bathtubs, shower pans, and walls, or any shape desired.
Video: How Cultured Marble is Made
The color and pattern of the finished product are determined by the specific formulation, pigments used, and the manner in which the mix is poured into the molds.
The molds are also coated with a transparent gel coat that creates a durable, non-porous, and shiny surface finish, although a matte finish is also possible.
Once the mix is in the mold, the catalyst initiates a chemical reaction that binds and hardens all the ingredients. The solidified material is popped out of the mold, trimmed, and polished to ready for installation.
A major benefit of this manufacturing process is that it produces a seamless surface that can be made to order with specific dimensions, colors, and patterns. Most cultured marble colors are in the neutral range of white and beige, but any color is possible.
Different formulations can also produce “cultured granite” and “cultured onyx,” which, as you might guess, are made to resemble granite or onyx.
Cultured marble has many benefits and advantages which is why it has remained in demand for over 60 years.
However, learning all about the disadvantages of cultured marble is equally essential to decide if it is the right choice for your project.
Note: We cover in full detail all the cultured marble pros & cons listed below in expanded sections further along in the article.
Pros: Advantages of Cultured Marble
Cons: Disadvantages of Cultured Marble
The above pros & cons list should give you a clear idea of the advantages and disadvantages of cultured marble.
But now well dig into the nitty-gritty details of cultured marble showers, bathtubs, countertops, and vanity tops looking at cultured marble costs, colors, cleaning, refinishing, polish, sinks, edges, design, installation, manufacturers, and where to buy.
Are you tired of scrubbing your shower tiles and grout? Then consider a cultured marble shower stall.
Cultured marble may not be as sexy as a real Carrara marble, but it offers many benefits for your showers and shower pans.
The pros and cons of a cultured marble shower are essentially the same as those listed above for any cultured marble surface. But here’s why you may consider it for your shower and tub surround over other materials or tile:
Shower Wall & Shower Pan Sizes
Bathtubs are commonly made from cultured marble, and like sinks and showers, they can be customized with various features, soap dishes, shelves, ledges, and jacuzzi jets!
Cultured marble tubs tend to be higher quality and more expensive than a traditional ceramic or porcelain tub and are available in many different shapes and sizes.
Sheets for shower walls are also used to create cultured marble tub surrounds. Tub surrounds can be installed around any type of bathtub (i.e. it doesn’t have to be a cultured marble bathtub).
Cultured marble countertops are an attractive alternative giving you the best of both worlds - a surface that embodies the beauty of marble (or granite or onyx) but saves you money at the same time.
Plus, it’s tough enough to stand up to heavy use, easy to maintain, repairable, and the non-porous finish makes cultured marble an extremely sanitary kitchen countertop.
Looks great, costs less...
Likewise, buying cultured marble for a bathroom countertop or vanity top can give you that expensive look and finish without making a big dent in your wallet.
In fact, the most common use for cultured marble is for bathroom countertops and vanity tops.
Don’t forget that sinks of any size and shape can be seamlessly integrated along with a cultured marble backsplash. And custom colors are available. The flexible nature of this material means that you’re able to get a cultured marble vanity top for any style, design, and aesthetic.
If you want a great look but don’t want to invest heavily in your bathroom or kitchen countertops, then cultured marble countertops may be a perfect choice.
As a man-made material, cultured marble offers myriad colors and patterns along with a variety of edge styles, finishes, sink shapes, and design options. You can buy pre-made vanity tops or mix and match options to order for a customer cultured marble countertop.
Cultured marble is commonly available in heaps of different colors to fit any modern design theme. Colors can be solid or with various types of heavy or light mottled patterns or veining.
The most recognizable cultured marble pattern features swirls and undulating veins of color.
You’ll find classic and popular cultured marble colors, plus some wild ones such as:
You have many manufacturers to choose from, with some boasting over 50 different cultured marble colors.
The final cultured marble product is glazed with a clear, protective gel coat which is most commonly polished to a shine but of any of the following types of surface finishes are available:
Generally, it looks best on lighter colors and for a more rustic or modern industrial design style.
A matte finish also hides scratches a bit better than a gloss finish.
An assortment of integrated sink styles is readily available with a cultured marble countertop or vanity. One advantage of a molded countertop material is that any design or shape can be created.
Other options include a soap dish or a recessed rim encircling the sink to catch splashes and keep water in the sink rather than on the countertop surface.
Common cultured marble sink shapes are:
Most cultured marble sinks are integrated or molded as one piece with the countertop, but using a separate sink of your choice is possible.
Separate sinks can be top-mount, vessel, or under-mount, just like any other countertop material.
Like sinks, you have several edge style options. Note that edges are created as part of the mold, but specific designs can be ordered.
Edge thickness is either ¾ inch or 1 ½ inch. A laminated edge (adding a strip to the underside) can create an even thicker edge but is not commonly done.
So, no worries… when shopping around for cultured marble countertops, you won’t want for design options.
Premade cultured marble vanity tops come in a wide variety of colors, sink shapes, edge profiles, and sizes. These range from very small single sinks with hardly any countertop space to long countertops with double sinks and lots of space.
Standard vanity top depth is 22 inches (but some at 19 inches for smaller spaces) with lengths running in standard cabinet sizes from 25 inches to 85 inches.
With proper maintenance, and when cleaning cultured marble correctly, it can look great for years. But the trick, as with any material, is first to learn the proper cleaners you should use to condition and maintain the finish.
Second, learn what causes damage and avoid that!
Proper cultured marble cleaning guidelines:
Tips to avoid damage:
When well-cared for and correctly maintained, cultured marble will look good for a long time.
However, the top gel coat can be damaged by harsh cleaners, dulled by abrasives, may crack or pit (especially sink drains), turn yellow with age and neglect, or get scratched or burned.
Curling iron burns in cultured marble seem to be a common issue.
As long as the gel-coat remains intact (it’s only a thin layer), repairing a cultured marble countertop or shower with just about any type of damage is possible.
You may wish to consult a professional, however, DIY cultured marble repair is relatively simple for most types of damage. It may involve a bit of a process, but doesn’t require any special skills or tools.
The cost of cultured marble is much less than most other shower tile or countertop materials. We’ll detail the cost below for buying cultured marble for showers, countertops, or a vanity top.
Please note that all costs mentioned herein are a general estimate. They can differ based on the manufacturer you are working with, location, and several other factors.
The price of a cultured marble shower depends on what sort of cultured marble, thickness, and manufacturer is selected.
Also, note that shower walls and shower pans are priced separately.
Shower walls are cut to size from larger cultured marble sheets. Cultured marble shower pans are prefabricated to specific shapes and sizes (although custom orders are possible).
Of course, the total cost depends on the size of the shower and will also increase due to various details of your specific project like custom designs or upgraded features.
Upgrades that can increase the cost:
You can save quite a bit going with a basic shower design and adding a shower shelf that hangs from the showerhead, etc. But even the most luxurious and lavish cultured marble shower with all the features will still be less expensive than a marble tile shower.
Although cultured marble is usually less expensive than other building materials for showers and countertops, a cultured marble bathtub tends to be more expensive than other options such as a porcelain or fiberglass tub.
Here’s how much an average cultured marble bathtub costs installed:
The price for a cultured marble vanity top is based upon the square footage of countertop material plus the various options, sink types, and edge styles.
Installation costs vary with the size and complexity of the install, but labor is not that expensive since nearly every cultured marble vanity top has an integrated sink and backsplash. Thus, it is installed on the cabinet as a single unit - straightforward - and just needs to hook up the plumbing.
For 12 sq. ft. (6 ft. vanity with two sinks) without any special options or difficult installation issues.
DIY installation is certainly possible for a reasonably handy homeowner saving the labor cost. Bathroom countertop costs are much more expensive for the most popular materials like marble, granite, and quartz. But tile can be cheaper in some cases.
Cheapest cultured marble vanity tops:
Amazon deals are the best on cultured marble vanity tops. Many choices for both single and double sinks. Ship direct and install it yourself or hire a handyman.
Wayfair cultured marble vanities can be cheaper in some cases and they have a great selection including full vanity cabinet and countertop.
In truth, a cultured marble kitchen countertop is somewhat rare. As noted above, bathroom countertops made from cultured marble are the mainstay of this material.
Why? It’s easy for manufacturers to make bathroom vanity tops in a common range of sizes, with integrated sinks, etc. These are quick and easy to install, offering nice design features and durability at low cost.
Kitchen countertop materials are made or cut to order, which can definitely be done with cultured marble, but that is not the sweet spot for cultured marble.
Solid-surface countertop materials like Corian are incredibly similar to cultured marble, but manufacturing is geared toward kitchen countertops.
Your typical countertop fabricator that installs granite, marble, quartz, or Corian countertops does not carry or install cultured marble.
If you’d like a cultured marble countertop, then contact a cultured marble manufacturer to place a custom order and they can help arrange installation.
The one advantage here is that cultured marble countertops can be customized more extensively than pretty much any other countertop material.
Hopefully, this comprehensive information in this article answers all your questions about cultured marble.
However, you may be wondering how cultured marble stacks up compared to other types of countertops and materials.
We’ll cover the highlights below, however...
For a detailed comparison of cultured marble vs marble, engineered marble, and onyx click through to this page:
For cultured marble vs Corian, quartz, granite, solid-surface, and laminate, please click through to this article:
You may believe that cultured marble is a type of real marble, but that’s not true, as explained above.
Cultured marble is man-made with ground-up real marble dust. Although it is made to look like marble, these materials are noticeably different when comparing cost, value, and style, but share some similarities with cleaning, care, and repair.
Again see our Cultured Marble vs. Marble article for in-depth details on all the above and more.
Corian and solid-surface materials are the most closely related to cultured marble of all countertop materials with very similar properties all-around.
The Cultured Marble vs Corian page has comprehensive coverage of all the above points and more.
Both cultured marble and quartz countertops are “engineered” or man-made surfaces. However, they are made, look, and perform differently.
Not so easy for quartz countertops. Pits, chips, and cracks are repairable, but burns and quartz countertop stains can be permanent.
When comparing cultured marble to granite, we see they do not have much in common except price, surprisingly, and that DIY repair of most damage is possible with both materials.
Granite is the “gold standard” so it’s good to learn the detailed differences of Cultured Marble vs Granite.
Installation is really simple and particularly easy if wall surfaces are square and flat. The wall color behind a cultured marble sheet should be flat white.
Colored walls may show through light-colored cultured marble sheets. Dry fit each sheet to ensure it is cut to the correct size.
Cultured marble vanity tops and countertops are made for homeowner installation, whereas other materials require professional installation.
Many pre-made countertop and vanity sizes are available, or you can order a custom size with custom features.
Any cultured marble problems or issues you encounter are primarily related to quality control of manufacturing. Consistency of colors and patterns may vary, and if/when the best quality ingredients are not used, your product may not be as durable.
Here are a few well-known and reliable manufacturers of cultured marble products along with cultured marble fabricators serving your area:
Apart from the cultured marble manufacturers mentioned above, you can also buy cultured marble directly from national retailers.