Cultured marble countertops are beautiful. They look like real marble but are man-made resin that costs a lot less than real marble.
Some neat things to know about cultured marble (cultured onyx and cultured granite too):
- They are a cast polymer product. The man-made resin is liquefied and the material poured into a mold to form your top/and or sink.
- It is a nonporous surface, so it resists stains and mildew.
- Usually, come in a gloss finish (a gel is used in the manufacturing process for this), but these tops can be ordered with a flat finish to mimic solid surface materials like Corian, at a fraction of the cost.
- They can be ordered with sinks built (or formed) right in. These types of sinks care called integral (vs. drop-in sinks or self-rimming sinks).
- If you have a belt-sander and are handy, you can install cultured marble countertops yourself.
- Are easy to keep clean (but be sure to never use an abrasive cleaner on them).
- Come in a wide assortment of colors and marbling (although the exact color and marble – or veining – pattern cannot be guaranteed because each top is individually made).
- Come in several styles and patterns. The veining in cultured marble countertops is always varied, but your top doesn't have to even be veined. Tops can be a solid color, two-toned, onyx, or granite looking.
- Get a cultured marble vanity top with a different colored integral bowl for a dramatic effect.
- Cultured marble countertops cost more than laminate tops, but if you get an integral bowl, they aren't much more than a laminate top with a drop-in sink.
These tops look great in the bathroom, but they are rarely used in a kitchen area. They will scratch, scuff, and chip easily under normal kitchen use. The bathroom usually doesn't get as much wear and tear as the kitchen, and using cultured marble countertops (or cultured marble in the shower, tub surround, or as wainscoting) in the bath can really "dress-up" the bathroom.
There are several companies that manufacture well-cultured marble countertops. You don't have to purchase your top through a large company to be sure you've got a good top. The equipment to manufacture these tops can be easily handled and afforded by smaller companies. Some small companies create the best tops.