Can you rate MasterCast engineered composite in terms of VOCs, durability, etc?

Question

Can you rate MasterCast engineered composite in terms of VOCs, durability, etc?

Asked by Anita Baines

I am remodeling a bathroom because of mold problems and have chemically sensitive family members. I want to eliminate grout lines and need a space-specific size shower. I need shower walls that are flexible in terms of cutting for sizing and do-it-yourself installation if possible. Also, I use green cleaning products only. I also want a particular look which I have located in the USMarble product line. An expert at this website has indicated that Swanstone products have some inherent problems. Can you please rate or let me know where to find information on the products offered by USMarble.

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Answers

Joel Hirshberg's picture

Dear Anita,

I must admit, this is a new product for me and I prefer not to judge any product unlessI've personally tested it and have spoken directly with other homeowners who have usedit extensively.

However, I can give you my educated opinion based on my experiencewith cultured marble, Swanstone and what I've read and see on USMarble's website.

First, this type of product reminds me of the cultured marble that exists in some hotelsthat I've visited long ago. I recall that they generally looked dull and were not tooexciting. Often there were scratches that were too deep to remove. They did not give agreat first impression because they were not maintained properly or were boring colorsfrom the start. But that was many years ago.

Compared to other bathroom solid surfacing options

When I look closer at some of the new photos on USMarble's website, it appears to belike quartz or solid surface. It has a decent appearance for a man made product.

  • It isprobably much less expensive when compared to other solid surface products such asSwanstone, Corian, Zodiac, etc.
  • It also comes in sizes and configurations that work wellin bathroom remodels.
  • There appear to be many advantages that they outline such as lackof seams, customized shapes and colors, stain resistance, mold/mildew resistance, impactresistance, antibacterial, heat resistant and easily repairable.

For upgrading a bathroom,this does seem to be a good alternative to tile or other solid surface products.

Is it green?

From an eco-perspective this is not a natural product.It doesn't have thedurability of granite, quartz or any of the new eco-surfaces available such as Vetrazzorecycled glass, Richlite or Paperstone recycled paper, Shekta-stone, or recycledaluminum, etc.

But most of those:

  • are far more costly,
  • don't come in pre-made sizes forbathrooms or
  • require fabricators to do all the work instead of DIY.

Installation

USMarble's products are similar in that they probably do not emit any toxic odors.

However, what might create toxic odors are the adhesives used to install it.

  • You might want toconsider using an alternative to silicone or other solvent based adhesives which can off-gas offensive odors for weeks or months.
  • A good alternative sealer/adhesive that is lesstoxic is Chemlink's WallSecure or BuildSecurewhich contain almost zero VOCs and noodor.

Maintenance

As for maintenance, USMarble recommends using a cleaner with ammonia which isnot tolerable to people with chemical sensitivities.

There are many good alternativessuch as:

Regarding repairs, I would test out some samples to see how easily they scratch andhow easily they buff out.

  • The new polymers may be easier than the old which were notsomething most homeowners could repair very easily.
  • If they are through body colorslike solid surface, then they will show scratches less and be easier to buff out.

For more information:

Read "What is the best backing material for shower walls?" a Q&A answered by Polly Osborne.