GuidesGeneral Stone Care
Cultured Marble ~ The Facts
What is cultured marble?
Cultured marble is a synthetic product made by mixing marble dust with resins and pigments. The resulting product looks like natural marble and can be molded into whatever shape is needed.
The process uses marble dust that might otherwise be dumped, so it is a form of recycling. As a synthetic product, cultured marble is more versatile than natural marble as it can be molded easily. The product surface can be either shiny or matt. It can be used wherever natural marble might be found.
How is cultured marble made?
The manufacturing process involves combining marble dust with a catalyst, pigments, or dyes in a chosen color and a polyester resin in liquid form. There follows a chemical reaction which results in the binding of the ingredients into a solid. When the process is carried out in a mold, the solid faux marble will take on the shape of the mold. By firstly coating the mold with a special gel, the shape can be easily removed. It will also have a hard surface that feels like natural marble.
As the cultured marble can be shaped in a mold, then all the parts of a unit can be created as one piece. Sinks and splashbacks can be part of the one mold rather than separate. Cultured marble worktops often have a lip along the edge to prevent liquids from dripping down.
Cultured marble can also be made with holes for sinks provided. When fitted with a separate sink and splashback, a natural marble unit's look is more closely copied.
Uses for cultured marble
Cultured marble is an ideal product where affordability is crucial. It can be used in kitchens and bathrooms to create a luxurious impression without spending large sums of money. Cultured marble is clean, attractive, and stylish.
It can be used in the kitchen for countertops and tabletops. Countertops can have integrated splashbacks and molded sinks. In bathrooms, cultured marble can be used for washbasins, vanity units, bathtubs, showers, and fittings such as shelves.
What are the differences between natural marble and cultured marble?
- Natural marble will have seams where the individual cut pieces of marble are joined together to make a unit. Cultured marble is molded as one piece, so it does not have seams.
- The patterns and colors of real marble are unique to each piece. Shiny surfaces have depth and look 'alive' and have vitality.
- Cultured marble has patterns and colors that only mimic the real thing. The marble can look dull, and the surface coating - which is a gel - can be plastic-looking.
- Underneath, natural marble may not be polished, but the colors and patterns will still be obvious. Cultured marble will be an even gray color.
- Sinks and splashbacks will be separate on natural marble units. On cultured marble units, they will be molded as part of the unit.
- Natural marble must be sealed before it is used. This process prevents the surface of the marble from staining. Cultured marble does not require sealing, as a protective surface is incorporated when the product is molded.
- The biggest difference is in price. Cultured marble is much cheaper than the natural product. Cultured marble does not have the kudos of luxury living that natural marble has.
What are the similarities between natural marble and cultured marble?
- Both natural marble and cultured marble can be damaged in similar ways. They will both crack, scorch, or stain. Chemical compounds can damage both.
- Cultured marble needs a similar cleaning regime to natural marble. There are a few differences, but essentially, they need to be treated in the same way for cleaning purposes.
- From a distance, both cultured marble and natural marble look the same. The difference, however, becomes evident at close quarters. Cultured marble does not have the vibrancy and depth that natural marble displays.
- It is possible to repair both natural marble and cultured marble. Repair to almost original condition can be achieved with both products. DIY repair kits are available for both types, although severe damage might need the services of a professional.
Cleaning cultured marble.
Cultured marble can be cleaned in similar ways to cleaning natural marble. Specific products are available for use on cultured marble. The surface of cultured marble is more resilient than natural marble due to the fact that it is cured chemically while being manufactured. Cultured marble can be sealed in the same way that natural marble is sealed, and this will protect it from stains and scratches.