Cultured Marble vs Natural Marble
The elegance and classic look of marble will always make it one of the top choices for interior designers and home owners, but cultured marble is a nice alternative. More and more people are discovering the value of this manufactured polymer blend of marble dust, plastic, pigments and gel coating.
Natural Marble is a high end product. The cost of quarrying, cutting and type availability is always factored into the price. Average slab prices range from $10 to $38 per square foot. Additional charges for the cutting of each foot required ranges from $5 to $15 per square foot.
Cultured Marble is less expensive. It is not found in a quarry but is a combined mix of superior strength polymers, marble dust, pigments and a gel coat that is poured into a mold to meet the specifications of the buyer. Since a mold provides the shape, chosen pigments provide the coloring and impressively realistic looking veining, costs are surprising low.
Natural Marble is high maintenance. Though the brilliant colors and spectacular veining give marble a reputation for elegance and quality, it is a porous stone that requires constant care and maintenance. Marble can be stained, chipped, cracked or discolored. Experts suggest sealing the marble surface every 6 months to a year. Coasters, trivets and place mats must be used to prevent stains. Avoiding any spillage of oil on the surface is also important. Discretion must be used when applying household cleaners since they can damage the surface.
Cultured Marble is an easy care product. It's a non porous surface finished with a gel coat to provide even further protection. The manufacturing process has been scientifically designed to fortify against the absorption of oils and staining. Manufacturing defects would be the only cause for chipping and cracking (with normal use). Standard household cleaners will work fine.
Choosing Natural Marble is a process of finding what is available in the marble yard. A trip to the marble yard is truly an exhilarating experience. Being surrounded by dazzling 6 to 10 foot, 900 pound slabs of pre-history stone is an experience none will soon forget. Many decisions need to be made in respect to color, size and slice thickness. Consistency of grain and color cannot be guaranteed.
Choosing Cultured Marble is a process of creative design. Cultured marble is poured to the specifications of the client. Because of customization, the creative options are unlimited including color and veining preferences.
Natural marble is very hard, but brittle. These factors combined with the weight of the finished slab require supportive muscle power when installing. Improper installation can cause curling, discoloration, cracking, and vein "popping" (moisture induced swelling).
Installing Cultured Marble requires a different application. The molding process makes the finished surface strong and seam free. Cutting and adjusting pieces can be done on site. Single piece surfaces can be created for ease of installation. For example a sink can be included into the vanity top creating one piece with no separate sink installation.
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