Home Improvement--General/Custom marble


Our contractor suggested we use a custom marble material (I am assuming it is a polymer composite). What do you know about these materials as far as durability & upkeep. Thank you!

Hello, Margaret.

I do not know what area of your home the custom marble is going to be used, so my answer will address both the bathroom and the kitchen.

There are several types of "custom" marble, or products that can look like marble. The first (and currently most popular) product is generally referred to as engineered stone. Most of the products look more like granite, but there are some that look like marble. Engineered stone is a very durable material, because it doesn't stain easily, doesn't need sealing, and is generally inhospitable to germs. Engineered stone is manufactured by breaking stone into pieces, or grinding it up, and suspending it in a manmade base material. The color and pattern are continuous throughout the thickness. There are many manufacturers of these products, including  Caesarstone, Cambria, Okite, Silestone, Viatera, and Zodiaq.

Another product that can look like marble is solid surface, which is either an acrylic or polyester. Again, there are many manufacturers of these products, but my favorite is DuPont "Corian," which has had marbelized options since it was created in the mid-1960s.

I'm hoping that your contractor isn't recommending "Cultured Marble". While it can look good for several years, it is prone to staining. Once the surface is scratched (accidentally or by using abrasive cleaners regularly), it can disintegrate, developing a most unpleasant appearance and inviting the growth of mold. I would never recommend "Cultured Marble" for a kitchen, and have only used it once or twice in 30 years, for clients who had an extremely limited budget for their bathroom remodel.

I do not generally recommend real marble for kitchen countertops, because it is so easily stained, and prone to staining and etching by acidic products (lime and lemon juice, wine, tomato juice, vinegar, etc.) It's a wonderful material for rolling dough, kneading bread, or tempering chocolate; a portable slab of marble is perfect for these uses. When clients request real marble for their bathroom, I always provide information about the care and use of marble, which includes keeping all chemicals away from the marble surfaces. Lipstick stains on marble can be a serious problem.   

If you're remodeling a bathroom, you probably don't have to worry about L-shaped countertops. If you're remodeling your kitchen, verify with your contractor how the seam is going to be manufactured in the corner. Because real and custom marble has a flowing appearance, it looks best when the corner seam is a mitered joint (like a picture frame) rather than a butt joint, where the pattern looks chopped off.

Good luck with your remodeling project. One final bit of advice, from the voice of experience: Never let anyone recommend or sell a product to you that doesn't fit your lifestyle and your budget. By asking questions, and gathering information, you are working to protect your investment!


Diane Plesset, CMKBD, NCIDQ, C.A.P.S.
D. P. Design

P.S. If my answer helped you, I will greatly appreciate you taking a few moments to grade my reply; you can also nominate me for volunteer of the month. Thank you!

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Diane Plesset


I will answer questions about anything to do with bathroom remodeling: design considerations, safety, function, materials (cabinets, countertops, plumbing fixtures and fittings, lighting/switching, heating and ventilation, tile, stone, concrete, tub and shower enclosures, flooring, etc.), saving water, trends, ROI, and appearance.


25+ years as a bath-kitchen design specialist, hundreds of completed bathroom projects (all styles, all investment ranges). Author of "THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling," co-host of a home improvement program on a local radio station for over three years. Currently hosting "Today's Home" on Lifestyle WebRadio every Sunday afternoon (http://www.todays-home.com).

NKBA (National Kitchen and Bath Association), NAHB (National Association of Home Builders), PRO (Portland Remodelers' Organization), IDPC (Interior Design Protection Council).

"THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling" (my book, published in 2003), Designers' Illustrated Magazine, Gentry Magazine, Kitchen-Bath Business Magazine, Kitchen-Bath Design News Magazine,Interior Coordinator Magazine (Japan); San Jose Mercury News, San Mateo Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Statesman Journal, Portland Tribune, Oregonian.

Multiple degrees: Bathroom Design, Residential Interior Design, Kitchen Design, and Lighting Design. Regularly attend classes and seminars to maintain current knowledge about codes, trends, sustainability, new products, etc.

Awards and Honors
Awards: Henry Adams Designer of the Year, CoTY, Master Design, Best of the Best, Chrysalis, Excellence (best home in its category), and NABE (best how-to book, 2003). "THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling" received #1 listing in the City of Chicago publication, "Hiring The Pros".

Past/Present Clients
To see photos of completed projects, visit my website: http://www.dp-design.com/portfolio

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