Cultured Marble Countertops

Category: Stone Knowledge Updated: 2013/11/12 Views  Views: 2091       Likes  Likes: 188

Cultured marble countertops are beautiful. They look like real marble, but are a man-made resin that costs a lot less than real marble.

Some neat things to know about cultured marble (cultured onyx and cultured granite too):

They are a cast polymer product. The man-made resin is liquefied and the material poured into a mold to form your top/and or sink.
It is a nonporous surface, so it resists stains and mildew.
Usually come in a gloss finish (a gel is used in the manufacturing process for this), but these tops can be ordered with a flat finish to mimic solid surface materials like Corian, at a fraction of the cost.
They can be ordered with sinks built (or formed) right in. These types of sinks care called integral (vs. drop-in sinks or self-rimming sinks).
If you have a belt-sander and are handy, you can install cultured marble countertops yourself.
Are easy to keep clean (but be sure to never use an abrasive cleaner on them).
Come in a wide assortment of colors and marbling (although the exact color and marble - or veining - pattern cannot be guaranteed because each top is individually made).
Come in several styles and patterns. The veining in cultured marble countertops is always varied, but your top doesn't have to even be veined. Tops can be a solid color, two-toned, onyx, or granite looking.
Get a cultured marble vanity top with a different colored integral bowl for a dramatic effect.
Cultured marble countertops cost more than laminate tops, but if you get an integral bowl, they aren't much more than a laminate top with a drop-in sink.

These tops look great in the bathroom, but they are rarely used in a kitchen area. They will scratch, scuff, and chip easily under normal kitchen use. The bathroom usually doesn't get as much wear and tear as the kitchen, and using cultured marble countertops (or cultured marble in the shower, tub surround, or as a wainscoting) in the bath can really 'dress-up' the bathroom.

There are several companies that manufacture good cultured marble countertops. You don't have to purchase your top through a large company to be sure you've got a good top. The equipment to manufacture these tops can be easily handled and afforded by smaller companies. Some small companies create the best tops.

These tops usually come with a 3 or 5 year limited warranty against defects.

What Cultured Marble is Used For:

Bar Sinks
Custom, flat sheeting used for tub surrounds
Whirlpool decks
Shower surrounds
Wall paneling (wainscoting)
Make-up tables (basically a vanity top without the bowl)

The Cost of Cultured Marble Countertops:

They are more expensive than laminate countertops, but usually less expensive than solid surface countertops (like Corian or Visioneer).

These tops are priced by the foot. Additions, like finished ends, side splashes (for up against walls), and bowls other than the manufacturer's standard bowl, or additional bowls (like having two or three in one top) will cost more and are upcharges.

Be sure to let your supplier know if you are not purchasing a standard faucet and handle (4' centers) for your vanity sink. Cultured marble vanity tops come with predrilled holes for your faucet and handles. If you are special ordering a faucet, or have any inkling that it may be different than standard, let your supplier know. They will place the holes where needed, depending on the type of faucet you purchase, but only if you let them know - DON'T GET STUCK WITH SOMETHING YOU DON'T WANT!!

Installation of Cultured Marble Countertops:

If you're handy, as a homeowner you can install these tops yourself. When it comes to whirlpool decks, shower walls, wainscoting, or anything that might take additional cuts to fit pieces together properly, you may want a professional to install your cultured marble.

To install a normal vanity top, scribe to your wall. I always put masking tape on the top, then use a marker to scribe. Use a belt sander with a large-grit sandpaper (like 40) to remove material from the backsplash or sides of the vanity top. Be sure to only sand the sides that will be up against a wall. Why? The sides that aren't going to be against a wall and will show are finished and polished. You don't want to have to try and polish them yourself, or have a professional come in and re-polish.

One the top is sized, the plumbing and fixtures may be added. Be sure not to tighten fittings too much. Less is more when it comes to cultured marble countertops, as they crack if too much pressure is applied.

Once all the fittings are mounted, you can use silicone to adhere the cultured marble countertop to the top of your cabinet, but you do not have to do this. Often your plumber will do this for you. I've lived in my home for over 8 years, and never actually siliconed the marble tops down, and they are just fine.

Also, you can put caulk between the top of your countertop and the wall to give it a finished look. If you've built a new home, you may want to wait a year or more before you do this. New homes move and shift a lot. The wood in your home will shrink and swell. If you add caulk right away, it may crack and pull away from the wall or top, and you'll have to dig it all out and replace in in a year anyway, so why not wait until the house has settled a bit. Some homes never quit settling. You'll just have to play it by ear and use your common sense.

Care and Maintenance of Your Cultured Marble Countertop:

Wash the top with a non-abrasive cleaner and a damp cloth or sponge. Never use anything that will scratch the tops, and always make sure the top is wet while you are cleaning it. Cultured marble countertops are durable, but scratch easily.
Do not use harsh cleansers, bleaches, peroxides, or other harsh chemicals on your top.
You can periodically apply paste wax, any wax product that is designed specifically for cultured marble tops (I've even used car wax), to maintain your tops luster. Apply it with a soft cloth or sponge, and buff out with a soft cloth.

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