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Cultured Marble:: Love It or Hate It?

I have to admit, I absolutely hate cultured marble. I have no problem with quartz, which is also a manmade material. But cultured marble? Not even in the least.

31"x22" Cultured Marble Bathroom Vanity Top, White on White

Yesterday I went to a home that hasn’t been completed yet, but the house is absolutely incredible. It’s massive (the couple’s dream home), and they’ve been working on it for 2 1/2 years so far. They’ve overlooked no detail, and it will certainly be a fabulous home when it’s completed. However, they chose to use cultured marble in the tub, sinks, and shower of the master bathroom. The countertops will be granite.

I just can’t even imagine building my dream home, and including cultured marble. But I see it being used quite a bit. So is it just me? Do I have too much of a narrow view of this material? Am I just being a design snob?

I’ve just never seen cultured marble that even remotely resembles real marble. It just looks like plastic (probably because it IS plastic). So what’s the draw? Do people really think it looks good? Do they buy it because it’s cheap? Do they purchase it because they see the little samples (which look decent) and can’t picture it on an entire shower wall?

So what about you? Cultured marble…do you love it or hate it?



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23 Comments

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Tatyana
    December 4, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    I totally, agree, cultured marble does not look as good as natural marble. But I also think that the color of the cultured marble has an affect on how “real” it looks.

    I’ve also heard from a number of people that cultured marble is easier to care for.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Marcella
    December 4, 2008 at 10:01 pm

    Hmm, from your Wikipedia link, I see nothing but disadvantages for cultured marble. The only disadvantage I can see is that it’s not REAL marble. We had a Playa del Rey interior designer design our place about a year ago, and they suggested using cultured marble because it was less expensive. I can’t say I don’t love it, just as long as it doesn’t get damaged too easily.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Diana
    December 5, 2008 at 11:30 am

    Do I think cultured marble belongs in a dream home? Perhaps not. But do I think cultured marble is just fine for the vast majority of Americans living everyday lives? Absolutely. In plain white, it’s practical, durable, and affordable.

    In fact, I would much prefer to see cultured marble used over the granite that’s in every home across the country now. When granite falls out of style, and it already has in some places, our landfills will be the new homes for this natural material. It’s a shame to subject Mother Nature to the whims of the interior design world.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Chris
      June 1, 2016 at 12:15 am

      What? It’s a shame to subject Mother Nature to a material she already produces herself? Huh? Liberal. Too politically correct to even understand why our landfills are a problem. And it’s not the natural stone.

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        Christina Wilcox
        December 30, 2016 at 9:02 pm

        Chris…

        The tone of your comment (nearly 8 years after Diana dared to share her thoughts on a decorating blog) says volumes about the polarized world in which we live today. Let me see if I can overcome my own liberal defect to shed light on a position I suspect she and I share. Simply, it’s a bit sad to see a material – one that has taken potentially millions of years to form in the earth – mined, shipped, refined, retailed, selected for its beauty, installed and, 10-20 years later, deemed unfit to hold our dishes of instant mac’n cheese. Don’t get me wrong. I agree that our natural stone cast-offs are the least of humanity’s waste issues, but Diana’s implied injustice to “Mother Nature” probably has more to do with our disposable tendencies toward something so…well…permanent. And her point is well-taken that some of the man-made alternatives incorporating recycled materials deserve a second look when our interior preferences change every decade or so. (Just look at how far Quartz has come.) After all, granite can have a pretty significant environmental impact depending on the shipping and coatings entailed. Hopefully you found this explanation to be adequate “straight talk.” Sending liberal hugs.

        • Reply To This Comment ↓
          emily
          October 18, 2017 at 9:50 am

          eyrolllllll……good god you people can’t go a minute without lecturing us all with moral superiority. Take a breath.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kristi @ Addicted2Decorating
    December 5, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    Diana, I couldn’t agree more with you about granite. I’ve been saying it for months…I’m soooo tired of seeing granite in every home I go into. It used to be something really special, but when it becomes so commonplace that it’s in every single home, it’s nothing special anymore. I get so excited when I see a home published in a magazine that uses something other than granite.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Denise
    December 5, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    I agree with several things from the comments before me. I do think that the cultured marble depends on the color with solid colors being the best. However, I wouldn’t say that granite has been thrown under the bus just yet. I think that colors such a baltic brown or venican gold are overused. But their are so many different exotic colors of granite, and stil more to be found which still keeps granite trendy.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Ann
    December 6, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    We have a marble table in the backyard and I love it so much, I like marbles, that is real marble. But I’m afraid I’m not into cultured marbles especially those that looks really plastic.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    [email protected] Finds
    December 11, 2008 at 3:57 am

    We recently bought a house with cultured marble all over the master bath. It’s about the same color as your sample up there and makes up the bath, surrounds and shower enclosure. I agree it just looks tacky. We are facing an entire bathroom remodel just to get rid of that look 🙁

    I agree some colors of granite look tired right now. I quite like some of the quartz products like silestone which don’t necessarily pretend to be marble or granite. Although they too are sure to date badly.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Janet
    December 13, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    I don’t like marble period, cultured or natural. It all looks blah to me, flat and fake looking, all of it.

    I have granite in my kitchen and after 4 years I wish I would have installed some kind of stone and tile combo. I see a new project coming on.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Maryam in Marrakesh
    December 26, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    Hmmmm…I have never even seen cultured marble. I am trying to imagine it. As we speak, we have guys installing carrera marble in our kitchen. I think it is very pretty and subdued looking. In another pavilion kitchen we are installing Zimbabwe black marble counter tops — this will be the second time we install it b/c the first time the installor did such a terrible job.

    I think people in the US are very lucky to have so many choices when it comes to stone/marble/etc. surfaces. I personally would have preferred other alternatives, including those with recycled materials, but they simply don’t exist here:-(

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Janet
    April 10, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    I don't like marble period, cultured or natural. It all looks blah to me, flat and fake looking, all of it.

    I have granite in my kitchen and after 4 years I wish I would have installed some kind of stone and tile combo. I see a new project coming on.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    [email protected] Finds
    April 10, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    We recently bought a house with cultured marble all over the master bath. It's about the same color as your sample up there and makes up the bath, surrounds and shower enclosure. I agree it just looks tacky. We are facing an entire bathroom remodel just to get rid of that look 🙁

    I agree some colors of granite look tired right now. I quite like some of the quartz products like silestone which don't necessarily pretend to be marble or granite. Although they too are sure to date badly.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Asti
    December 23, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    Yep. Having witnessed the cultured marble, I too hate it. In my previous home we had such beautiful real marble all over the home (floors) and even used as accents in the backsplash and with what is known as “kota” stone!
    We are faced with the problem that we are buying this brand new home and the builder has used cultured marble in all the bathrooms and such (thankfully not master afa I remember) and it is all white and as some of the comments mentioned it looks plastic:(

    What I am looking for is how can I dress it up somehow…decals? stencils? any other idea? or can we paint the walls a different way so it does not look as bad? Any ideas appreciated! Thank you.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    betty
    January 31, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    If you use the cultured marble and don’t have the shiny look to it the honed look is so much richer and a more realistic marble.
    It is just as durable … the shine tends to cheapen the lkook.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Bonnie
    February 12, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    Cultured marble is made from natural ground marble (calcium carbonate). This industry started out with calcium carbonate, and that is the least expensive of these types of engineered materials. Yes gloss and satin finishes are available, and some shops even offer different textures, such as a subway tile. Many manufactures offer many types of products ranging from “Corian” looking materials to recycled gems and minerals to recycled glass. These engineered materials will last longer, be easier to clean, are built to fit your space and fit into many budgets depending on the materials you and your designers may choose. Every manufacture is different, if you want a variety of choices, select a smaller more custom shop. Consumers should check out showrooms and ask sales people what the lifespan is of the different products out there, ranging from laminate, fiberglass, tile, quartz and engineered composites. Let your lifestyle and your budget help to direct you to the product suited best for you.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Patricia Williams
    June 3, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    I have cultured marble in both my bathrooms, replacing old, outdated, moldy tile. I like it. It is easy to keep clean, running a squeegee over it after shower. We have the creamy white with sand colored swirls, not too much. I have had so many compliments on it. Maybe it is my age (older), but I am not into flashy bathrooms and want something that looks good and can be kept nice and clean without scrubbing my arms off. My son just put in quartz for his shower. He has a tub, so it is just the walls. My master bath has a full shower with the cultured marble pan. He could not get a pan in quartz so decided to put back in a tub. It looks nice also.

    I plan on using quartz when I redo my kitchen (again from tile). I would never use tile again unless it is just a backsplash for looks only.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Karan tassone
    January 4, 2016 at 9:26 pm

    I have new beautiful granite bathroom counters on my vanity. Now looking for walls for around a new tub. Would cultured marble walls look okay with the granite countertops?

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Kristi
      January 4, 2016 at 9:45 pm

      I personally wouldn’t use the two together. If it were mine, I would use a tile around the tub to complement your new granite.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Rita Martin
    February 3, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    I think solid white cultured marble can be quite handsome if it is thick enough – and particularly if it has a nice edge. We replaced a tacky pink cultured marble vanity top(shell sink- ugh) with a 1 1/4 ” thick solid white one several years ago and it goes beautifully with the dark cherry stained vanity. We’re now getting ready to redo the upstairs bathroom in white and I have been looking at granite , trying to find something that looks like Carrera marble. No such luck and the Carrera marble style quartz I have seen looks fake to me. Now I’m thinking of giving up and ordering another white cultured marble top and doing a real marble backsplash. However, I’m having trouble finding someone who still makes cultured marble as nice as the one we bought last time – maybe 8 years ago(?)

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Laura
    July 28, 2017 at 9:25 am

    I was in a $2 million house that had marble on the kitchen counter tops and every time water got on it…it discolored till it dried. I have seen some granite do this too. And don’t tell me it needs to be sealed, because that is ongoing process that has to be repeated as it wears off. And natural stone in the shower that is permeable to anything, eww, black and pink moldy discolored grout, eww. I like my all-one-piece solid cultured marble shower pan and walls. I just run the squeegee down them in one quick glide and the water is gone off the walls, no mold growing, never have to clean hard water spots off it. My cultured marble is a white with subtle, barely visible light grey streaks, like a carrara. Not crazy like the pink or other colors that come and go. I new I could always change the color of the painted walls and decorate around the white, and never have leaks behind the walls like I did when I had grout lines that cracked and failed.

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