Cultured marble shower base -- good choice?

newsoutherner1January 31, 2012

We are selecting material for our much-needed master bath renovation in Atlanta. Coming from the North, I have always done tile on the shower floor. I'm getting advice here to use cultured marble and to do the floor in white to match the tub and sinks. I saw it at the showroom and it looks much better than fiberglass. Since we need a custom size, we will need to build our own curb and will tile that.

I've been told that in Atlanta, the cultured marble is being used in high end homes instead of tiling the shower floor because it is more leakproof, less maintenance and less prone to mildew (humidity is high in long summer).

I'd appreciate some opinions.


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I don't know what your question is...

But, if you are asking if it does what you have stated, yes. And, it is popular for lower maintenance, and it looks much better than 40 yrs ago. Additionally, in our area "cultured granite" is popular--same idea.

If you need a custom size, why do you need to tile? One of the benefits of cultured marble/granite is that you can find a fabricator to make what you need (I thought).

It is on my list of "wishes" for my bathroom remodel.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 1:13PM
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You can get what you want, but every shop is independent and some have better equipment than others, along with different color choices.

I would caution one thing: if you are serious about a solid white base, MAKE SURE you see in person an example of a showerbase already installed in a customer's home at least six months old. It is mandatory by fed regulations to have a non-skid surface film applied to all bottom surfaces - and a good thing that is, too; because there's nothing slippier than these glossy non-porous flat surfaces!

Some of these films really 'catch' dirt and are hard to clean. You need to be very sure your vendor has used a non-skid surface where you won't have this maintenance issue.

Our showerpan is tan cultured granite-look and we absolutely love it. We would do it again in a heartbeat. It's 9 yrs old and in perfect shape, also ridiculously easy to keep that way!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 1:49PM
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I'm interested in this topic, too. Friends of ours used a cultured stone (not sure whether marble or granite) for their shower floor. It looks great but it's only been a year since it was finished. They love it.

jkom51, would you post a pic of your shower pan?

Has anyone done this in conjunction with a tiled bench? Our contractor thought it wouldn't look good but that may be because he hasn't seen one done that way. I haven't been able to find any pics of that situation either.


    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 4:47PM
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This is a blog of one of the ones in our area (Seattle). You can peruse the blog to see some of their installations and get ideas. (I wish they had a gallery, but I didn't find one).

Here is a link that might be useful: cultured blog

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 11:01PM
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I appreciate the comments and have been busy researching here in Atlanta. I am still undecided but here's what else I have learned:
1. The wonderful, experienced and knowledgable woman from the tile vendor says that I'm being fed a line of bull.
Of course, she is in the tile business.
2. My kitchen designer agrees and says tile will give the best look; she's never used anything else.
3. Met with the manager at a local plumbing fixture showroom who said she is unhappy with her tile shower floor (grout cracking and wearing). Her concern about the cultured marble/granite is the possibility of cracking if the shower water turns on very hot and hits the pan when it is very cold. Specifically if the shower is on a slab or over unheated crawl space (not our problem). She would also be concerned about the quality of the fabricator (as jkom51 stated).

Fortunately, the fabricator who I would use has an excellent reputation. I am still undecided. I will take the suggestion of seeing how hard it is to clean -- the display in the showroom is dirty. I will try to get over there and see what it takes to clean.

If it is easy to clean and will save enough money on the project, I'm leaning toward going with it. We still have a lot of decisions to make. I will post when I know more.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 4:26PM
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Let me put it this way - if we bought a house with a tiled shower, no matter how expensive, WE WOULD TEAR IT OUT. There is no comparison to the maintenance of a tiled surface to a molded, super-heavy, solid surfaced product.

Mind you, there are some absolutely gorgeous tiled showers shown in many threads here, with some of the best by Bill Vincent.

Any reliable vendor will give you the name of a customer who is willing to discuss their CM/CG showerpan and show it to you. It may take them a week or so to locate one who is willing but it can and should be done. If you were in my area I would be happy to show you mine.

(I will take a photo this weekend, I promise)

Tile is very dependent on good installation. All CM/CG needs is good measurements.

The 'thermal shock' issue is a piece of carp. This is a synthetic surface and doesn't transfer heat well.

Who cares what your kitchen designer thinks of your bathroom? This is YOUR bathroom; get what you want and the heck with anyone else.

We have not had a single negative comment about our bathroom since the remodel was done in 2003. One neighbor even asked to bring their entire family over to exclaim over it.

We wanted carefree maintenance, solidity underfoot, no cleaning issues (no worries about what brand of cleaner to use), and good looks. Out of the many small updates we did in 2003, DH feels the CG shower was the best, and I agree.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 10:13PM
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jkom51, thank you for your comments and the invitation to visit. I would really appreciate if you could post a picture of your shower floor.

I am all in favor of low maintenance when it comes to the house. I love living in my house but want it as easy to clean and maintain as possible. We're scheduling a meeting with the contractor to discuss this and other details -- hopefully this weeek.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2012 at 11:01AM
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we had cultured marble sinks before our redo and i had alot of crazing in my sink and i was told that that was due to the hot water i use... my husb's sink didn't have any, but he also doesn't use HOT water like i do...
i was also told that the amount of crazing that happens with cultured marble has to do with the quality used...

i definitely didn't want another tiled shower floor-had 3 different homes with tiled showers and had had enough! i went with a cast iron shower pan and am very happy with it--i would rec a good pan over tile any day!!

    Bookmark   February 6, 2012 at 5:40PM
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Here's the photos, sorry it took me so long!

A closer look at our neo-angle cultured granite showerpan - the faint shadow on the RH side was cast by the open shower door. The wavy white-ish line where the door rests is where the silicon strip rests atop to keep the water out (see explanation at the end):

A macro view of the cultured granite color and pattern. (And I can also see soap scum has accumulated on the bottom of the unit, so my bad - when I'm in the shower I don't have my glasses on, LOL!):

Because we were idiots and didn't install safety bars, we use a suction-cup safety handle as an add-on. We clamp it a few inches underneath the wall storage unit shown in photo #2 - you can just see the top of it on the bottom of the photo.

I've noticed that when I take it off for cleaning every couple of months, there's similar white-ish rings where the suction cups were. However, if you leave them alone (e.g., I position the cups in a slightly different place) the mark simply fades away in a couple of weeks and doesn't return. So it's no big deal, and we don't worry about it.


    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 4:12PM
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I did the master bath reno in '03. I absolutely love the cultured marble shower pan I put in, and we tiled the walls. Love the look of the tile, HATE the maintenance. The pan looks as great as the day I put it in. I have the textured non-slip floor, but it's simple to clean. Spray it down with Scrubbing Bubbles, then lightly scrub. Good as new.

The guys who put it in, however, are not on my favorites list. They didn't insure that it was level, so water pools on the downside. Make sure you get the guys recommended by the manufacturer for YOUR SIDE of town. If they are from the Northside, I guarantee your install will take longer.

Wish I had built the shower bigger (there is room for a 2-1/2 standard size shower). But it was the perfect size for a 5'4" single woman. Now, being almost 10 years older and having a 6'7" husband, I'm thinking of tearing it out and doing one of those custom $$$ jobs with individual water, rain heads, and maybe steam... and maybe a bench. :-( I hate getting old! But it's time to reno and add on or buy a new house. Love my neighborhood (great location), but hate the slab. Note that I have had NO problems with cracking or anything with it being on slab.

ANYWAY, if I do tear it out, I will probably do cultured marble all the way up to the ceiling this time. I love tile, but I never want that maintenance again!

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 3:36PM
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We had cultured marble in our last home for 13 years, and it never cracked, crazed, or otherwise fell apart. It still looked new the day we sold our house. Even with teenagers. Cultured marble vanity tops will get what I call a patina. In other words, cultured marble will scratch if you treat it harshly, but so does corian, soapstone, etc. In the shower it was never an issue. It can also be buffed out if desired.

It is extremely easy to clean, no fear of leaks, and can be very pretty. It does not have to be plain white.

We are almost finished building our new home and I was almost swayed by pretty tile. Then reality hit and we selected a nice cultured marble with a bit of wood tone swirled with pale gray on white. Our trim carpenter thought it was real stone. It looks beautiful with our tongue and groove cypress walls. I have opted for a freestanding style Porcher console sink because I like that look.

Be very caredful whom you select to make your shower if you go this route. We tried a comapany close to where we live now and they did a horrible job that resulted in us having to tear it out and start over They were both incompetent and unethical. Be sure to check their reputation first....we didn't. There is a company in Thomasville, NOT use them. Fortunately, Southern Marble (who did our previous home) agreed to make the lengthy trip to install a new one for us. It is perfect. The best part is not having a cleaning nightmare.

Hot water used in the shower or sink will not crack your cultured marble. Harsh cleaning chemicals and abrasive scrubbing will ruin it, but normal cosmetics and soaps will not. If hot water is causing cracking something is wrong. It will never need abrasive cleans up easily with mild cleaners. The shower pan should be set in "mud". Don't let anyone tell you it doesn't need to be. It does, or it can flex and crack over time.

The shower pan of a cultured marble shower does not have an applied film. The texture is cast into it, and you will not harm it if you need to take a nylon scrubbie to it from time to time.

I agree with doing what you want and not what some designer dictates. You're the one living with, and having to clean this shower. We once rented a home with a tile shower while our house was being built and I would never consider having atile shower and dealing with cleaning issues.

While I will rinse the shower down when I am done, if I've splattered shampoo or conditioner, I will not ever resort to squeegees, wiping it dry after each use, or any other ridiculous measures to keep a shower looking presentable. Life is too short. The shower material should look nice without having to do all of that.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 3:23PM
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We have a swanstone shower pan and are really happy with it.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 4:20PM
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Hello,I'm helping my parents remodel their very small master bath and I've been lurking on this site for ideas. They want to update their bath but also do not want the maintenance of tile. They've decided on tile for the walls (including tiled niches for shampoo/soap) but a swanstone shower pan that is close in tone to the tile (beige). Also, the designer at the bath center is recommending a swanstone suspended corner corner seat -- she claims that they cannot do a tile suspended seat. I would value your opinions on the following:

Do you think the swanstone seat will look right affixed to the tile walls?

My mother wants a white toilet and white undermount sink. Will this work with a beige shower pan? The designer at the bath center said that the toilet should match the shower pan and recommended a beige toilet.

Finally, debrak_2008, did you do tile walls with your swanstone shower pan? Do you have any pics.

Many thanks in advance.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 4:54PM
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Here is a photo of our tiled shower seat. Purchased a metal frame and tiled it.

Yes, we tiled the walls with the swanstone base.

Our swanstone base is white as is our tub, sink and toilet.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 5:14PM
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debrak_2008, thanks so much for posting the photos. This looks really good and now I am inclined to have my parents opt for a tile corner bench. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 9:21AM
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Can anyone recommend a place to buy cultured marble in the Atlanta area? Thanks

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 6:23PM
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I would only install Onyx Collection products in my own home! Excellent product. Excellent company. Any size, configuration, and color to your specifications. Also - it is designed for the DIYers!

Here is a link that might be useful: Installation of shower base

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 3:14PM
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This spammer again!!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 3:31PM
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