Cultured Marble Vanity Top Costs
Without getting bogged down in highly technical geological terms, marble is most easily described as limestone that has been dramatically transformed by tremendous heat and pressure. Sometimes, the mineral impurities have created swirls of color. Marble’s natural colors can range from reds and pinks to blues and greens within the white of the marble itself. As a building and sculptural material, it has been used for many centuries in monuments, statues, churches and palaces. It is considered prestigious, luxurious and beautiful.
Cultured marble, on the other hand, is a man-made material that is formed by combining a precise blend of polyester resin, marble dust fillers, and pigments that are chemically altered and hardened by a catalyst. The entire mixture is poured into a mold hat that is coated with a clear gel, which forms a hard, non-porous and transparent surface on the material. Cultured marble basically resembles marble but features the following differences:
It should be noted, that cultured marble prices may vary according to region, season, vendor and various other factors such as stock.
- Average minimum price for discount cultured marble: $875 for 30 square feet of surface
- Average maximum price for designer cultured marble: $3,000 for 30 square feet of surface
Advantages of Cultured Marble
Cultured marble, unlike so many other man-made replacements for natural materials, is in some ways, superior to marble. Though it is a man-made mixture, it is non-porous. It resists staining and absorption of liquids while marble can discolor. Because cultured marble is manufactured, the colors and veining of the material can be customized and may be more uniform and less “organic” than a natural material. This can prevent a lack of continuity in surfaces throughout a home, whereas quarried and natural materials depend upon the supply and whims of nature’s manufacturing process. Even when quarried from the same source, a real marble shower may look different from the real marble vanity right next to it. Cultured marble surfaces can also be custom created so that an entire surface can be seamlessly manufactured with sink bowls and angles in one piece.
Unlike marble, cultured marble is low maintenance. It resists denting, cracking, mildew, staining, and absorption of liquids. It can be cleaned with any standard non-abrasive household cleaner. Marble requires extreme caution thanks to its porous nature, and must also be maintained with repeated sealing over the years. Cultured marble provides the beauty of quarried marble without the extra initial expense and headache of maintenance and precaution.
Disadvantages of Cultured Marble
Some people feel that cultured marble has a fake, "plastic" look to it. The shiny surface of traditional cultured marble does not resemble marble as much as they would like. While the manufacturing process can be more or less high quality, the repetition of veining and patterns in the cultured marble may look obviously unnatural. However, some manufacturers are combating the problems of this "fake" look by offering different finishes for cultured marble products, such as satin, that will more closely resemble quarried marble.
Not all cultured marble is the same. Different manufacturers may have products of differing quality. Because of this, research into the warranty and reputation of a manufacturer is important to verify the quality of a product, and a customer who got a bargain may find their cultured marble not standing up to use as it should. Poor quality cultured marble can be especially susceptible to heat, with sinks and surfaces showing cracks due to repeated heat exposure from water, blow-driers and hair irons.
The price of cultured marble materials will range depending on a number of factors including quality and manufacturer. To find the best costs for a home improvement project, it is wise to get a collection of estimates from a variety of manufacturers and vendors. Additional costs that should be considered while looking at estimates are the cost of removal of the old counter tops, cost of installation and cost of additional materials. Consumers can expect to pay about $100 additional in materials and tools as well as $100 to $200 per 30 square feet for installation labor costs. Higher and lower costs of installation will depend upon who is doing the job, with the cited costs reflecting typical vendor prices. Cultured marble installation is not a particularly tricky task, but it is important to take care in the installation process to prevent problems like warping down the road.
Things to Know
Because cultured marble is a manufactured material, it is possible to get it cheaply without cutting corners on quality. Some vendors may have discontinued lots of certain colors and patterns that they need to dispose of, and these are often a bargain. At other times, a vendor may have an order that didn’t come out in quite the right pattern of shade to suit another customer, leaving the material to be gotten for a lower price by someone else. Ask vendors about discontinued lots, odd lots, and incorrect orders while shopping. Someone else’s mistake may be just the thing.
While cultured marble may not have the prestige of quarried marble, it also does not have the expense or extensive maintenance requirements of the more costly material. It is an affordable material that can last many years. Some say it looks cheap or even tacky while others say that its unusual qualities make it a more desirable material for bathrooms and countertops in a home. It is easily customized to an almost endless degree and offers the mottled beauty, to a lesser or greater degree, of much more expensive marble. Homeowners should consider the overall character of the home when deciding whether to go with cultured marble or a more expensive material. They should also take into account the difficulties of maintaining a more expensive surface.
Last updated on May 24, 2016
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