When you are renovating a bathroom and getting ready to install a shower, you may hear a number of different terms. Some of these may refer to the materials being used to construct your new shower, including marble and cultured marble. Understanding the difference between these two popular building materials can help you make the right decision for your home.
Marble is a natural stone material made mostly of calcite. A metamorphic stone, marble is actually limestone that has been changed through tremendous amounts of heat and pressure.
Pure marble is completely white in color with no marks or veins. Different minerals that were present in the limestone at the time it became marble give different types of marble their coloration and veining. Since marble is a natural product, it can vary widely in color and pattern from piece to piece and from lot to lot.
Cultured Marble Overview
Cultured marble is a man made product that contains poly-acrylic resins and crushed marble dust. The finished cultured marble product is a glossy plastic in appearance with subtle, uniform veins and color. Cultured marble is formed inside heated molds into vanity tops and shower surrounds.
Care of Marble in a Shower
Since marble is a natural stone, it is also porous. Marble in a shower should be well sealed to avoid staining due to water absorption. White marbles should never be used on shower floors, to avoid wicking up impurities from the shower drain and discoloring over time.
All marble in the shower should be washed with stone cleansers, sealed regularly and squeegeed dry after each use to prevent stains and etching.
Care of Cultured Marble in the Shower
Cultured marble is a non-porous material, meaning that it does not need to be sealed. It can be cleaned with any non-abrasive bathroom cleanser and left to dry naturally. If the surface does become scratched or abraded, it can be re-polished with an application of Gel Coat and a soft cloth.
Price and Appearance of Marble
Marble tiles for a shower will run anywhere from approximately $7 a square foot to $50 a square foot depending on the stone. No two marble showers will ever look exactly alike, as no two marble tiles will ever look exactly alike.
A marble shower can be built to any size or specification, allowing for customization of the design.
Price and Appearance of Cultured Marble
Cultured marble shower wall panels can run from approximately $10 a square foot to $35 a square foot depending on color and finish.
A cultured marble shower will be fairly uniform in appearance with a high gloss finish. Veining is subtle and there is little variation from panel to panel.