Characteristic fabrics such as micrite envelopes, calcified filaments and micritic grain-to-grain bridges are observed in a modern subtidal firmground (Wood Cay, Bahamas) and in a variety of firm- and hardgrounds of Lower Cretaceous and Upper Jurassic platform carbonates (Swiss and French Jura Mountains). Their similarity to microbial fabrics described in grapestones and in intertidal to continental vadose environments suggests that microbial activity played an important role in the initial stabilization and cementation of carbonate sands. ‘Meniscus-type cements’ (to distinguish them from vadose meniscus cements), which clearly formed in subtidal environments, are related to filament calcification, trapping of percolating micrite and microbially induced carbonate formation. Such meniscus-type cements are commonly micritic, but meniscus-shaped precipitation of fibrous aragonite or sparitic calcite around organic filaments is also observed. Therefore, an interpretation of vadose early diagenesis should not be based on meniscus cements alone. Similarly, subtidally formed filamentous structures can strongly resemble alveolar septal structures and be interpreted incorrectly as related to subaerial exposure.