Of all the kitchen and bath countertop materials giving the ever-popular granite a run for its money, cultured marble ranks right up there. If you’re considering installing marble countertops, you have two choices: real marble and cultured marble.
Countertops are a sizeable investment in your home, and chances are you won’t be changing them up anytime soon. You want to make the right call on the material you choose for your benefit and resale value. If marble has made it on your shortlist, you need to know the differences between real and cultured marble.
Real and Cultured Marble are Not the Same Thing
Real marble is a high-end, luxury natural stone quarried from the earth, and cultured marble isn’t, but it is related. Cultured marble is man-made, blending pulverized natural marble with synthetic resins and dyes. Once formed into a countertop, it’s coated with a clear, protective gel.
The way cultured marble is made means it’s comparable to Corian and quartz countertops. However, it also can be used to manufacture sinks, backsplashes, showers and bathtubs.
Other differences include:
- Real marble is more expensive than cultured marble
- Marble countertops do not have integrated sinks or backsplashes and will have seams except for smaller vanities
- Marble needs sealing; cultured marble does not
- Both can be scratched, stained, scorched, cracked and chemically damaged
- Both have a similar level of care and cleaning requirements, although some specific differences
- Both can be repaired to like-new condition should it be damaged
You Can Tell Real and Cultured Marble Apart
A tell-tale sign of cultured marble is that the countertop will have an integrated sink and backsplash of the same color and pattern, also no seams or caulking, a thin edge and flat finish-like underside.
Real marble countertops, on the other hand, have top or under mounted sinks, requires grout or caulk to seal around the sink and backsplash sections, doesn’t have consistent veins or coloring since it is a natural stone and has the same color and pattern on the underside.
Different Materials, Similar Cleaning & Care Techniques
Even though cultured marble and real marble are different materials, they share many of the same techniques when it comes to cleaning and caring.
- Both types of marble are capable of being scratched, stained, chipped and cracked
- Both will be damaged by certain cleaners and chemicals, so non-abrasive, pH neutral cleaners are necessary
- Cultured marble doesn’t require sealing since the protective gel topcoat is non-porous, but is still vulnerable to stains left by dyes, like hair and food
- Both take heat, but cultured marble doesn’t withstand it as well real marble so barriers must be used
Fortunately, should a stain, scratch, burn, etc. tragedy befall the real or cultured marble material, both can be repaired and refinished to like-new condition.
The Price Tag
By choosing cultured marble over real marble, you keep more money in your remodeling or building budget without sacrificing anything on the design and aesthetic end. Cultured marble countertops are one of the most stylish, affordable options on the market today. Generally speaking, cultured marble countertops can be had for half or third of the price of quarried natural stones. With little visual difference and tougher durability, cultured marble is a top pick for interior designers and homeowners, alike.
You Have More Control Over Cultured Marble Products
Complete Home Concepts manufactures a variety of cultured marble products on-site at our showroom in Kansas City. We offer over 40 color choices, updating these selections on a regular basis to accommodate changing trends. Each of the standard & custom shower bases, over 6 different bowl styles, and 10 tub and whirlpool designs can be created in any of our color offerings with some additional special order colors available. All products are available with the option of “High Gloss” or “Matte” finishes. Either “finish” you choose will have the highest-quality gel coating available. Applied over 20 mils thick, it not only results in a beautiful finish, but one that is tough, durable and stain resistant.
Visit our showroom to explore cultured marble colors and countertop styles. Our experts are here to answer your questions and discuss all options.