Like a cultured pearl, cultured marble is man-made. With veining that looks like marble, and with the shine of marble, the less-expensive cultured marble is a different product altogether. Non-porous and coated with a protective gel-coat, cultured marble's beauty is that it's low-maintenance. No special cleansers are needed, and no special tools are required.
What it does need is attention to prevent soap scum buildup and scratches on its shiny surface. Most cleansers work on cultured marble, but those containing abrasives are discouraged if the look and shine are to last.
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How It’s Made
Cultured marble isn’t mined from the earth. Cultured marble is made up of 75 percent marble, but that marble is dust, not a solid surface. The marble dust is mixed with resin in a large stand mixer or a mixing vat. Color is added as to the customer’s specifications, and before the colors are fully blended, the mixture is poured into a mold. After a drying period, the marble is gel-coated. Most cultured marble countertops are installed in bathrooms, not kitchens, where hot pans can easily destroy the surface.
Clean the cultured marble surface regularly with warm water, a little dish soap and wipe it with a textured or microfiber towel. Window cleaners also restore the shine of the surface, but read the cleanser’s label and avoid those that contain even a minimal amount of abrasives.
Test for abrasiveness by putting a small circle of the cleaner on your fingertips and rub. If you feel any grit, don’t use it. Cleansing pads, powdered and even liquid abrasive cleansers can damage the surface. While a coating may have been applied to the counter, alkaline or acid-based cleansers should be avoided.
Combat Soap Scum
Soap scum builds up in showers and bathtubs. Don’t clean a cultured marble surface with any abrasive to remove that scum. Use a squeegee after every shower for regular maintenance, and create a mixture of 50 percent vinegar and 50 percent water in a spray bottle. Spray and wipe small areas of the shower with a soft cloth; then rinse. Use a second clean cloth to buff the shine back into your shower or bath.
If the water supply in your home contains minerals, it’s hard water. Letting it build up results in staining. Use the 50/50 solution of vinegar and water to remove those stains, but let it sit for at least 30 minutes. A damp cotton cloth should wipe the water stain away, but if it doesn’t, repeat. Don’t resort to abrasives. Just as you use the squeegee in the shower to avoid soap buildup, wipe the counter after every use to prevent hard water staining.
Remove Sticky Bits
Do-it-yourself waxing strips, old toothpaste and even gel capsules that have leaked onto the surface can be cleaned away with rubbing alcohol. Test the process on a hidden area of your counter, and once it passes the test, apply the alcohol to a cotton ball or cloth, rub the sticky spot gently and wash it away. If the spot appears dull, use a chamois cloth to restore the shine.
Super-Size the Job
If years of wear have dulled the cultured marble surface, treat it like a car and wax it. Apply the car wax; let it dry as per the instructions, and use a clean, damp microfiber or cotton cloth to remove it. Buff with a second clean cloth, and the shine is restored. For a severely damaged counter, use a mechanical buffer to restore the shine.