Why You Can’t Fake the Characteristics of Marble
Marble is one of those glorious stones that is impossible to mimic, no matter how hard we might try. The sheer power of nature to produce something so beautiful and so unique, will never be able to be imitated. The characteristics of marble are so matchless, as we are not able to successfully replicate mother nature’s work – well at least not yet.
Marble is a type of metamorphic rock, one that started out its journey as limestone. Made up of dolomite or calcite, or a combination of the two, it takes millions of years for the marble to form naturally. The swirls, colour, and character of marble are from mineral impurities, for example, marble containing serpentine is green and marble with hematite is red. White marble is the purest form of calcite marble.
Marble must be mined from quarries carefully in slabs and does not exist in all locations around the world. All this together makes marble a very, very, special material.
Cultured or engineered marble
Cultured marble, or engineered marble, is a marble “look-alike” that is made from crushed stone, resin, and dyes. Because of the process and materials used to produce cultured marble, it makes it a very economical alternative to the real thing.
This being said, it is generally an inferior substitute to real marble. Learn how the two differ below.
Marble is available in a dazzling array of colours, through from bright, brilliant hues, to very deep, and also light colours. These range from almost pure whites, to black, yellow, beige, green, blue, pink, red, grey, brown, and violet.
This range of colours is due to mineral impurities in the rock from other substances, such as serpentine.
While cultured marble, because it contains pigments, can be tinted any colour under the sun, it lacks that really natural look that real marble has.
Natural marble is wonderfully cool to the touch, which can make it a great choice for hot, Australian summers, whereas cultured marble is much more closer in temperature to the surrounding air. This is an easy way to tell the difference between the two.
If you are after a cooling stone in your home there is no substitute for real marble.
Marble is able to be shined to a high gloss finish from its natural state, or it can be left natural, or partly shined. This is one of the most beautiful qualities of marble, the ability to change the surface texture simply by buffing.
Cultured marble, on the other hand, cannot be shined in this way, as the way that it is created makes this impossible. For cultured marble, it needs a top coat, in the finish of your choosing.
Real marble is an incredibly hard stone, due to the tight crystalline structure of the rock. While it is porous, these pores are also very small. Generally, it is best to add coatings to the top of marble every 6 months to keep it in top condition. This can protect marble surfaces from staining and other mishaps.
Cultured marble is nowhere near as hard as real marble, due to how it is produced. Chips and cracks are more likely. This means that it should not be used in high traffic areas.
While real marble is a great deal more expensive than man-made marble, if you can afford to use it in your home then it is definitely worth spending the extra money on. Real marble has a range of qualities that cannot be matched by cultured marble. If you are after something that is similar to marble, but cannot afford the price tag, then cultured marble might be for you.
It’s important to remember that one of people’s most loved qualities of marble, its cool temperature, is not able to be mimicked by imitation marble. Perhaps in the future we will be able to replicate marble more exactly, but for now, this is not the case.
If you are choosing to purchase marble, make sure to do your research into the type of marble that you would like to install. Some marbles are tougher than others, and have different qualities. Some marble types have barely any vein, whereas others carry strong accents throughout. If you are thinking about placing white marble on floors, remember that it will be able to show the dirt more easily. Adding a touch of marble to a room, such as a marble basin, can be a good way to have some marble in your home without the price tag associated with doing a whole room.