Cultured stone is a blend of stone particles and resins that is combined with pigments to produce a wide range of colors and realistic, natural looking patterns. It consists of cultured marble, cultured granite, and cultured onyx. Cultured marble is a precise blend of polyester resin, catalyst, fillers, and pigments, thoroughly mixed and placed into open molds which are coated with a gelcoat. The gelcoat is especially formulated so as to produce a tough, durable, non-porous and shiny surface, resistant to chipping and scratching, and easy to maintain. Cultured stone is cast into molds to create specific pieces such as bathtubs, sinks, countertops, backsplashes, moldings and trim, shower walls, and shower pans. The molds are lined with a special gelcoat that binds to the mixture, creating a hard and transparent surface. After the pieces are cured, they are removed from the molds and polished to shine or given a honed, matte finish, depending on the preference of the customer.
Cultured marble products are generally coated in the mold with a clear or colored gelcoat. The outer layer provides maximum strength to the bonded matrix. It also makes the product waterproof, durable, and resistant to chipping. Depending on the process used for finishing, gelcoat also provides a shiny surface to the final product that adds to its luster. Cultured marble is primarily used to create different kitchen and bathroom products. It has several properties such as low maintenance cost, durability, and are also attractive, economical, and customizable in nature. Veining and patterns can be incorporated during the casting process, to create character, depth, and interest to the cultured marble products, which make them as beautiful as their natural counterparts.
Cultured marble does not require to be sealed. It is also easy to clean them with non-abrasive products. It is non-porous in nature that makes it tough and resistant to stains, mildew, and chips. Cultured marble is less expensive to fabricate and install than slab marble. However, when applied to a house, cultured marble enhances its aesthetic value, as natural stone products do. Cultured marble, being a cast product, is available in a wide range of colors and the pieces can be shaped to fit into the specific needs and decor of the customer.
Demand for technically advanced and superior quality products is the key driver of the global cultured marble market. Growth of the cultured marble market can be ascribed to the increase in demand for these materials from non-residential constructions such as hospitals and schools owing to their high resistance to biological contamination. Rise in usage of cultured marble in remodeling and construction activities due to their availability in various colors, shapes, and types at affordable prices has also contributed to the boost of its global market.
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A key restraint to the expansion of cultured marble market is the presence of less number of players. Also, demand for cultured marble from end-user industries exceeds the supply. Availability of inexpensive labor and low procurement costs in developing countries are expected to propel the growth of the cultured marble market.