Achieving a "classic" (not dated) look with cultured marble

melle_sactoFebruary 6, 2014

One plumber, the one I'm leaning toward hiring, has expressed enthusiasm for cultured marble. There is a local business here, too, who makes CM right in town and I'm going to go to their showroom next week.

Although I don't like it for the sink, I'm seriously considering it for the shower/tub combo surround (for basic cast iron tub -- Kohler "Villager"). This is not a high-end remodel, and our home is in a neighborhood of lower-mid-range starter homes.

My main concern about CM is that it will look old and dated even though it will be new and "modern" LOL. ;-) Any tips, tricks, thoughts on how to avoid the dated look?

Just from looking at the online samples from the company, I'm leaning either toward the plain "solid white", or maybe the "white on white".

Here is a link that might be useful: CMP colors

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The swirly patterns all look dated to my eye. Solid white or cream would get my vote.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 4:34PM
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I think that's the thing that looks dated to me, too, the swirls. It makes me think of RVs and apartments ;-)

I was hoping the white/white swirl would be subtle but interesting, but maybe I SHOULD just do the white and not worry about making it interesting.


    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 7:11PM
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I used white on white honed in my basement BR. The white on white is very very subtle. You have to be in the shower and looking for it to see it. I really like the honed/matte finish. Does not have that typical glossy CM look.

If you are having it custom made you can dictate the type and quantity of 'swirls'. Here is a pic before the glass walls went up, as I said the white on white is subtle!

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 8:18PM
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White is in style. If you're doing a beach motif then make it white along with your fixtures. White is summery and beachy.

Don't do the out of date wall niche that the cultured marble folk have been doing for 30 years - make it rectangular to match current styles in tile showers.

Make sure your framing is absolutely straight, plumb, square, level, true etc. Insist on cbu - cultured marble folks still like to do greenboard. Insist on a poly vapor barrier behind the cbu. Paint the cbu white so that the grey does not come thru. Insure that the cultured marble panels are straight, square, level and overlap in the corners. Do not accept pieces or edges that are just butted up against each other. Better maintain your caulk lines religiously because that is what is what keeps the water from getting behind the cultured marble.

What are you doing for your vanity? The reason I'm asking is if you get too many different materials it may not flow. If you do a vanity top, have the backsplash done the same way stone countertops are done - with a separate piece. The integral backsplash is out of style. And do an undermounted white porcelain sink instead of the cultured marble sink.

This post was edited by Anna_in_TX on Thu, Feb 6, 14 at 20:43

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 8:25PM
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Thanks for the picture raehelen -- I can't even see swirling on my monitor! I'm so curious to see what's in their showroom.

Anna -- I appreciate your advice, especially about the cbu. The plumber told me we wouldn't need that behind CM, but we could still do it if we wanted (would be more expensive). We are not doing a beachy theme, and white fixtures sound dated to me LOL

IDK what the dated niches look like,

I thought these edge trim options were neat, too, although IDK how much they would add to the cost :-)

Here is a link that might be useful: Edge trims

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 8:38PM
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Please do the cbu with the plastic behind it to protect the studs. I just tore out the worst cultured marble shower installed by my tract home builder. There were signs of water damage in the corners and along the butted edge trim pieces. There was severe water damage on one wall because the framing was twisted and the cultured marble curved at the edges and did not fit tightly. The greenboard was disgusting. The pan was not even leveled.

So is your plumber going to guarantee that there will not be any moisture getting through for the life of the shower? I don't think so. Do the cbu with poly. Paint it white so that the grey doesn't bleed through. There can be pinprick holes in the caulk and it can start to pull away from the marble before it is large enough to be detected by your naked eye - especially during seasonal changes. Plane to redo the caulking on a regular basis. Cultured marble is not totally maintenance free - but it sure does beat tile grout. Squeegee it and wipe down the caulk seams after showering.

Get an edge treatment for the vanity that is similar to the stone countertops.

Sorry, got your beach theme mixed up with another thread!

This post was edited by Anna_in_TX on Thu, Feb 6, 14 at 20:59

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 8:47PM
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I do not recommend cultured marble for countertops. It is unrepairable and when it goes, it looks terrible. It's fine for a seldom-used guest bath, but little else.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 10:33AM
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Have you thought of using the solid white cultured marble in the shower in a subway tile pattern? I'm doing that in my bathroom for low maintenance. My countertops are going to be ornamental white granite.

Our second home had a cultured marble countertop. From the time we bought it, until we sold it, we intended to replace it. Sometime before we bought it, someone had laid a curling iron on the cultured marble countertop and left two scorch marks. I agree with Trebruchet, not a good countertop material.

Nevertheless, if I were going to install cultured marble countertops, I'd stick with the plain solid white. It is unobtrusive and instead of looking at your swirly-twirly countertops, most folks will look at your accessories.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 10:43AM
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Trebruchet -- definitely not using it for the countertop! We have already re-done the master bath, but the old sink/counter there was CM. It was FULL of cracks! I guess it was about 30 years old, but so horribly cracked. In the bath we're doing now, the sink/counter is newer CM, but I want to replace that, too. It has so many scratches and doesn't look very nice. I don't know what we want to use, yet...maybe a granite remnant or something. I really like ceramic sinks in the bathroom so I hope to put in a ceramic sink.

bbstx -- I didn't know you could get it in a subway tile pattern...would it still be solid but have faux grout lines? I think I'd have to see that in person.

Originally I wanted to use Swanstone for the tub/shower combo surround; my DH says it's pretty much the same thing as CM, is that true?

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 12:48PM
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Yep, looks like subway tile. Of course, the "grout" lines are the same color. When I was considering going very low maintenance, I brought a large sample of it home and had one of my most critical (and I do mean critical) friends give it the eagle-eye. She did not realize it was cultured marble until she got right up on it.

It has the same look as subway tile with matching grout. I asked if they could make the little lines look like gray grout, but they couldn't. However, I don't mind the look of white tile with white grout.

The attached picture is from Google images (mine hasn't been installed yet), but it is a good representation of what it looks like.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 1:07PM
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There are pros and cons to every material. Most people have experiences with builder and big box store grade cm vanity tops. The nicer manufacturers use thicker gel coat and resins that don't change color as easily and hold together better under thermal stress. But to be realistic, a stone vanity top will last much longer than a cm vanity and take more abuse.

Hot curling iron on cm vanity is right up there with hot pot on laminate kitchen counter and sweaty glass on furniture top and spike heeled shoes and golden retriever toenails on wood floor. No material is idiot proof.

I really like the subway tile cm.

You are only doing a tub/shower surround - there is not much wall space. The tile may even be cheaper. Do epoxy grout and a moisture barrier on top of the cbu.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 5:01PM
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The price difference between using CM instead of porcelain tile in my master bathroom was a whopping $67 less for the CM. The price wasn't an issue with me. My decision was maintenance driven.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 5:48PM
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Good for you! I researched it here in Houston, TX and a shower was more expensive than an acrylic shower pan and tile walls. A 7 foot vanity with 2 sinks was way more than a fabricated granite remnant. Go for it. The resin used in cultured marble has improved. It is hand fabricated so find a good shop. They all use different resins. Check it out. And yes you can reapply gel coat like you can on a fiberglass boat. Before my parents sold their newly remodeled house, it use to burn me up to compare their cultured marble seated shower and vanity to my tract home builder crap.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 6:22PM
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Does your cm fabricator do cultured granite as well as the marble? Most of the fabricators are doing both now and there are many interesting colors and patterns. I went with this cultured granite in my newly remodeled bath. Got it in the matte finish and it does not look shiny and dated.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 1:00PM
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The place I am going makes three things: Cultured Marble, Cultured Onyx, and Cultured Granite. I guess I'll look at all of them :-) From the samples I could view online, I did not like the look of their Cultured Granite. Looked like really low-end Corian LOL! I'm not anti-Corian, we have it as a kitchen counter and I especially love the integrated seamless sink.

I'm mainly choosing a solid surface for maintenance reasons, and ideally I thought it would offer more waterproofing than tile. We have a tiled shower in the master bath. We've had it about a year, and it seems fine, but I really don't enjoy cleaning the grout.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 1:09PM
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Although it was much too busy for me, I saw a faux-granite at a CM showroom a couple of years ago. They were showing it as shower walls. IIRC, they somehow imprinted a something like a photo of the granite into the CM material. It looked just like a slab of granite! You could order it by the granite name. I think one of the one I saw was blue sapphire. It looked exactly like a piece of blue sapphire granite. I have no idea about maintenance, upkeep, or product longevity.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 1:31PM
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"Originally I wanted to use Swanstone for the tub/shower combo surround; my DH says it's pretty much the same thing as CM, is that true?"

No. Swanstone is repairable and refinishable like Corian.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 10:36PM
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Well after all this, we're choosing tile :-) We're going to go with larger tile so there won't be as many grout lines. My DH and I can install it, so we'll save a lot of $ right there. I think, in the end, it will look nicer, and my 9 year old is getting old enough that I can teach HIM how to scrub the grout ;-)

Thanks so much for your thoughts and advice!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 12:03PM
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Sorry to be harsh, but cultured marble looks like plastic, period. That plasckity feel will never be classic.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 1:59AM
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What are the manufacturers that make the cultured marble wall panels that are best? Has anyone used a product called Sentral and if so do you like it?

Or does anyone have experience with. Bertch shower/tub walls?

To fit our space of 34 x 66 we have to have custom cut panels and the widest ones bertch .make are only 60" so Bertch products would use two panels in the back with a seam. not sure I like that. But the Sentral product can be cut to fit our needs.

LasT year I put in swanstone in our downstairs bathroom that used standard size and have been happy with it thus far despite some installation issues by the contractor.

Any advise?

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 12:25PM
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Use solid surface panels which can be seamed together in a highly inconspicuous manner.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 7:52PM
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You'll find that Cultured marble is generally less expensive than other solid surface products and if you have a local manufacturer, it can be custom sized so there is no waste having to buy full panels. I have been doing cultured stone showers for 20 years and there is no more durable or easier to clean surface. Mainly because there is no grout and it has a permanent sealant.

As far as the issue of looking dated: For vanity tops use an under mounted sink- the Kolher 'Caxton' is an industry standard with a cultured stone top. This will give the look of natural stone especially if you can get it with a dropped edge or at least 1' thick. The older integral sinks did crack around the drain-typically due to a chemical reaction to plumbers putty. But the gel coated products have improved tremendously as far as no yellowing and being very abrasion resistant.

Again as far as getting a more time-less look, go with a solid white shower/tub surround or very subtle swirls. Cultured granite gives you a more typical solid surface look, but I prefer a GLOSSY surface since it is so much easier to clean than a matte finish. (Soap scum doesn't stick to it)

Another timeless look in the cultured stone product line is TruStone. It's a gel-coated cultured marble that goes through a photo fusion process. It looks just like natural stone without the cost, weight, and porosity. If you have a local cultured marble manufacturer, they may be licensed to provide TruStone.

Here is a link that might be useful: Trustone Products

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 7:05PM
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If you are looking for a good quality Solid Surface shower system, you might consider The Onyx Collection. It is similar to cultured Marble or Granite, but the manufacturing process is a little different. You can get it in Gloss if you like, if not, they have a Matte finish, but it does cost a little more for matte. It has a lot more color options than typical cultured marble or granite and has a lifetime guarantee. If you really want the Swirled look, there is a white snowswirl, but its pretty subtle. Most of their colors are granite or solid. They also now make Subway Tile, which looks pretty timeless and classic. You can check it out online.

Here is a link that might be useful: diy-showers

    Bookmark   November 24, 2014 at 9:35PM
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