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Cultured Marble Installation

Cultured marble is an interesting material. It is an ancestor to the more modern "solid surfacing" materials that you see in bath and kitchen showrooms. The products are related because both are "cast" much like concrete. They begin as a liquid and end up solid.

Primarily Regional

The cultured marble business is primarily a regional one. There are a few large national companies, but they are by far the minority of manufactures as a whole. It doesn't take a fancy high-tech factory to produce cultured marble. In fact, one operation in Cincinnati, is in an old, run down warehouse. Even in these surroundings, the company can produce a decent product.

Because it is doesn't take too much to enter the business, all sorts of entrepreneurs decide they can make "marble." They simply purchase the molds, materials, and labor and they are off to the races. The problem is that it does take considerable skill to produce a product with consistent high quality. This is where the problem lies.

Bottom Line

The companies that decide to squeeze profits do so by purchasing lower quality raw materials and hiring poorly trained employees. The result is a low quality cultured marble. The sad thing is that it doesn't take too much extra money to make a high quality, long-lasting cultured marble product. Those companies that decide that quality is a primary goal usually have been in business for some time. The losers fall by the wayside.

Installation

Installing cultured marble products is really fairly simple. It is not much different than a postage stamp. You simply glue the sink tops to the base cabinets or the flat wall panels to the shower and bath walls.

Often you need to trim the countertops because a wall may be wavy or a corner is slightly out of square. Cultured marble sands very easily. If you scribe the area that needs to be trimmed off, you can remove the offending marble with a belt sander.

For out of square applications, scribing is simple. Slide the countertop in place without any glue. Try to get the back splash area to fit tightly against the back wall. If the corner is out of square you will see a gap on the side of the top where it meets the wall. Let's say there is a one quarter inch gap at the back corner of the top and the front corner is just kissing the wall. To make the adjustment, you would measure in one quarter inch at the front corner and draw a line to nothing at the rear corner. As you can imagine, if you remove the triangular wedge of material, the top will now slide tightly against the side wall! Nothing to it.

When I say glue the material in place, I mean use an adhesive. I prefer to use 100 percent clear silicone caulk. It is very sticky and will not cause a discoloration on light colored cultured marble products. If you choose to use a dark colored adhesive, you run a grave risk of seeing the adhesive through the cultured marble once the adhesive dries. Don't forget to remove the dust from the back of the marble with rubbing alcohol.

For tub and shower wall panels, be sure to leave a 1/8 inch gap where the marble meets in a corner and where it rests on the tub edge or shower pan edge. This gap is then filled with a color coordinated 100 percent silicone caulk.

Shower wall panels need to be wedged in place with flexible pieces of wood for 24 hours until the adhesive dries. Always place a clean rag between the marble and the sticks to avoid scratches.

After Care

Caring for cultured marble is simple. No abrasive cleaning products can be used. Get in the habit of wiping sink tops off with a hand towel after each use. If hard water stains develop, just spray them with white vinegar. Wait 15 minutes and rub with a soft, damp sponge. To polish the tops, follow the manufacturer's suggestions and use the products they recommend. It is easy if you stay up with it.

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