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Cultured Marble Vs. Natural Marble: Which One Is the Best

If you’re updating your home and love the look of marble, you must decide if you prefer cultured marble vs. natural marble for your kitchen or bathroom. We know that you may not know the differences between the two options at Terra Stone Gallery, so we’ve broken them down for you below.

  • Real marble is naturally occurring, while cultured marble is manufactured.
  • The underside of a countertop will reveal whether the marble is real or not.
  • Natural and cultured marble countertops each require some maintenance but in different ways.
Real and Cultured Marble Are Not the Same Thing

Real marble is a high-end luxury addition to any space. Real marble is naturally occurring in quarries. While the word marble encompasses several types of rocks with similar features, the most common types of marble in residential and commercial spaces are calcite, serpentine, and dolomite. Manufacturers polish these marble stones to the mirror-like high shine of marble.

Cultured marble is created by blending crushed natural marble with synthetic resins. Manufacturers swirl the mixture with dyes to create a naturally marbled appearance and then form it into countertops, backsplashes, sinks, and bathtubs. A hard protective gel coating gives cultured marble its durability.

How Can You Distinguish Between Real Marble and Cultured Marble?

What is the difference between natural and cultured marble? One of the first ways to tell the difference between real and cultured marble is the higher price tag of real marble. But there are other telltale signs. Natural marble countertops have seams in them and don’t include integrated sinks. Cultured marble countertops have sinks and backsplashes molded right in.

Look underneath the countertop if you’re still wondering how to tell if the marble is real. The underside of cultured marble is a flat gray color. In contrast, the underside of natural marble has a faint pattern that matches the top of the slab.

What Is the Difference Between Cultured Marble and Real Marble?

Real marble comes from the earth — natural stones from stone quarries. Cultured marble is an artificial material created to look like marble. Designers consider natural marble a high-end or luxury addition to your decor, while cultured “faux” marble resembles a more budget-friendly synthetic Corian or quartz material.

When looking at a slab, look for the following differences between cultured marble and natural marble.

Appearance

Natural marble has unique colors and irregular patterns. When polished, natural marble has a high shine and visual depth. Still, the depth of the colors is flatter, and the clear protective coat often appears plastic. Cultured marble also has colors similar to real marble.

Durability and Resistance

Both natural and cultured marble are durable, but cultured marble tends to be more durable overall. Both types of material are susceptible to scratches, chips, cracks, and stains, and certain cleaners or chemicals may also damage both surfaces. Natural marble is more heat resistant than cultured marble, which burns easily. However, you can repair and restore damaged cultured and real marble.

Cost

A natural marble countertop requires lots of work to source, cut, and polish the marble. While this makes real marble more attractive and higher-end, it is also more expensive. Installing natural marble is also pricier, depending on how many slabs the project requires and how much cutting is necessary.

Fabricated to fit the exact specifications of your space, cultured marble countertops require little to no extra cutting or complicated installation. Thanks to the lower materials cost, cultured marble countertops often cost nearly 50% less than natural marble countertops.

Maintenance

Natural and cultured marble countertops each require some maintenance but in different ways.

Both types of material require cleaning with gentle, non-abrasive cleansers. Natural marble is porous and requires sealing every six months to keep it more resistant to staining and other damage. Cultured marble has a protective top coat, so there’s no need for ongoing maintenance.

Environmental Impact

Real marble is a natural resource found in abundant supply across the earth. While using natural marble may create some waste, cultured marble countertops put that waste to good use. The crushed stone in cultured marble comes from real marble, keeping the waste from natural marble projects to a minimum. Both natural and cultured marble are environmentally friendly choices.

Color and Design

Real marble comes in a wide variety of beautiful natural colors. Natural marble features unique veining and color combinations and a beautiful finish when polished. Cultured marble offers a similar earthy color palette and still provides a clean and classic look for a lower price.

What to Consider When Choosing Between Cultured and Natural Marbles

Ultimately, choosing between cultured and natural marble depends on your budget, desired aesthetic, and material preferences. Choosing the right material for your home is a big investment and one you’ll live with for years to come. Consider the factors above, and consult with your contractor or interior decorator to help you decide which option works best for your space.

Cultured vs. Natural Marble: Which Is the Better Option?

At Terra Stone Gallery, our commitment to quality shows in every job we do. From hand-picking stones to creating a beautiful and original design, we customize your project every step of the way. While we believe that natural marble is the better option, we understand that the decision between cultured marble and natural marble relies on your taste and needs.

Let us help you create a beautiful space! Call Terra Stone Gallery today at 847-721-1519 to discover the best natural marble.

Terra Stone is a premiere provider of Luxury Stone Slabs. We ship to the continental USA and Canada, contact us today for a quote. 

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