Inexpensive Marble Alternatives: Cultured Marble And Engineered Marble Countertops

Marble countertops have a reputation for being one of the most beautiful kitchen and bathroom surfaces, however, they can be quite costly. If you want the looks of this natural stone minus the cons of marble, cultured marble countertops are a great and much cheaper alternative, particularly for bathroom vanities and showers.

What Is Cultured Marble?

Cultured marble countertops aren’t carved out of natural stone. In fact, they are man-made, and that is why they are so cheap compared with the real thing. They are made by filling a mould with a mix of thermoplastic resin and crushed stone, pressed together under extremely high pressure to achieve a much denser and harder material that is not porous as marble but looks pretty similar.

The process is similar to other engineered stones, and the end results vary depending on the manufacturer’s technique and original material used. You will still get a similar marbling effect to natural marble, but some products can look very artificial and while they are beautiful they don’t look exactly like natural, high quality marble. You can usually request a gloss or matte finish.

Bestseller No. 1
Design House 586180 25x19 Cultured Marble Single Bowl Vanity Top with Integrated Backsplash 4-in Centerset, Reinforced Packaging, Solid White
  • Solid White 25" x 19" Cultured Marble Vanity Top
  • Update your master bathroom, powder room or guest bath with this integrated top with a classic oval bowl
SaleBestseller No. 2
Design House 586198 31x19 Cultured Marble Single Bowl Vanity Top with Integrated Backsplash 4-in Centerset, Reinforced Packaging, Solid White
  • Solid White 31" x 19" Cultured Marble Vanity Top
  • Update your master bathroom, powder room or guest bath with this integrated top with a classic oval bowl
Bestseller No. 3

Is There a Difference Between Cultured Marble and Engineered Marble?

It is important to note that engineered marble is not strictly the same as cultured marble. Cultured marble has a larger amount of polyester resins compared with the amount of actual stone. In fact, some culture marble has no marble at all, just pigments and fillers. However, this kind of surface looks pretty obviously fake, and it’s more similar to a solid surface countertop than an engineered stone countertop.

Engineered marble is also man made, but it uses a large proportion of recycled natural stone that is crushed, pressed, heated and bonded using a very small amount of resin. It looks more natural and similar to quarried marble, but it is non-porous and much more affordable. It is also eco-friendly, as it uses pieces of natural stone that would be discarded after cutting marble countertops. It is however more expensive than cultured marble.

Bestseller No. 1
CAHABA CAVT0217 25 in x 22 in Winter White Engineered Marble Vanity Top with trough bowl and 4 in faucet spread
  • Constructed of durable Winter White Engineered Marble
  • Pre-sealed and polished for added protection
Bestseller No. 2
Simpli Home Chelsea 48 inch Contemporary Bath Vanity in Midnight Black with White Engineered Quartz Marble Top
  • Vanity color: Midnight Black
  • White engineered marble top with under mounted rectangle 13" W x 18" L x 6. 9" D vitreous china sink.
Bestseller No. 3
Simpli Home Chelsea 42 inch Contemporary Bath Vanity in Pure White with White Engineered Quartz Marble Top
  • Vanity color: Pure White
  • White engineered marble top with under mounted rectangle 13" W x 18" L x 6. 9" D vitreous china sink.

Pros And Cons of Artificial Marble

The biggest pro of man-made engineered marble is the price. Compared with real marble countertops, artificial marble is cheaper than natural stone but more expensive than  extremely budget-friendly laminate countertops with a marble pattern. You could probably save between 25% and 50% of the price, particularly if you shop around for offers.

Cultured marble can also be made into any shape, to fit any style of kitchen or bathroom. Since they are produced using a mould of your worktops, they will always fit perfectly. If your bathroom vanity has an unusual shape, or your shower tiles need to be shaped like waves instead of squares, cultured marble can do it without breaking the bank.

Cultured marble is also seamless, which means no unsightly seams even on very large bathroom vanities or tub surrounds. You can keep it clean with a soft sponge or a non-abrasive aerosol foam cleaner, no re-sealing or expensive cleaning products required.

Now, on the cons of cultured marble: this material is nowhere as hard or durable as the real thing, at least in regards to chips and scratches. It is non porous, which means it works great on a bathroom where stains and mildew are the real threats. However, as the main working surface of a busy kitchen it may be too delicate. This is why people often use them in bathrooms or shower walls.

Bestseller No. 1
TR Industries Gel-Gloss RV GG-16 Polish and Protector 16 oz.
  • Highly effective on all fiberglass, acrylic and cultured marble surfaces
  • A one step polish and protector that combines the most powerful protective agents with the highest quality Carnauba waxes to produce a long lasting...
Bestseller No. 2
Rejuvenate Kitchen & Bathroom Countertop Polish – Brings Back Shine and Luster to All Kitchen and Bathroom Countertops in One Easy Application – 16 Ounce
  • Restores shine and luster to all kitchen and bathroom countertops
  • One easy application adds a protective layer to all countertops
SaleBestseller No. 3
TR INDUSTRIES GG-1 The Original Gel-Gloss Kitchen and Bath Polish and Protector, 16 oz. Liquid
  • Contains the most effective carnauba waxes to produce the highest surface luster possible
  • Gel-Gloss polishes, protects and shines to leave a smooth, sealed surface that eliminates water-spotting and staining

Now, if you don’t expect your kitchen to be under a lot of wear and tear, and you love the look of marble, this kind of worktops can do the job perfectly well at a fraction of the cost. And for the bathroom, where chemicals and humidity would reduce the expected lifespan of natural stone, cultured marble is often the best and most elegant option.

Engineered marble is more resilient and as such can be used in kitchens and other high traffic surfaces, with properties similar to other engineered stones such as engineered quartz countertops. It is however less affordable.

How Long Do Engineered Marble Countertops Last?

Cultured marble is not designed for heavy usage, but with the right care and if you are careful to avoid things that could chip or scratch it (such as not cutting food on it without a cooking table) they can last years.

They are more expensive than really cheap marble alternatives such as laminated countertops or even fake-marble painted worktops, but they will last much longer and they have a higher quality feel to them. Your home value will be positively affected if you install a cultured marble bathroom vanity or shower wall, as buyers know that they won’t need to replace them in many years.

If you are looking for inexpensive marble countertop alternatives, cultured marble fits the bill perfectly. More durable than laminate surfaces, but still much more affordable than natural stone and reasonably durable, engineered marble is worth a closer look if your budget is a bit higher, as it can offer almost the same results as natural stone, minus the porosity and high maintenance issues.

2 responses to “Inexpensive Marble Alternatives: Cultured Marble And Engineered Marble Countertops

  1. Do engineered marble counter tops stain as my cultured marble counter top from 2002 has stains from where soap dispensers sat?

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