A new granite counter top is always high on the list of kitchen remodeling ideas. And why not? It's a proven durable surface with many unique benefits. Though with so many to choose from now you might be wondering... aren't other materials better than granite countertops?
Certainly, you have many options these days.
With good reason you might consider and be very satisfied with other materials like quartz countertops, solid surface or concrete for your kitchen design.
Just don't let marketing hype or internet myths and mis-information fool you...
When considering the overall performance characteristics, versatility, extensive style and color choices, ease of cleaning, maintenance and repair... other counter top materials have yet to truly surpass a granite counter top as we'll explain here.
Over the centuries granite has excelled as a top material for quite a variety of installations such as indoor and outdoor kitchen counter tops, bathroom countertops, floor tile, patios, fireplaces, tub decks, shower surrounds and walls... inside and out.
No other countertop or tile material performs so reliability with style and ease across so many different applications.
With such an impressive resume, it's no wonder that granite countertops remain among homeowner's most desired features whether remodeling or buying.... and that the value or pros and cons of all other countertop materials are continually compared to a granite counter top.
Granite countertops are so popular for kitchen counter tops and other installations due to extensive design possibilities and the superior performance when comparing counter tops materials.
In fact, granite is consistently rated the top performing kitchen countertop material by leading consumer magazines when compared with quartz countertops (an excellent countertop material), butcher block, ceramic tile, stainless steel and other manufactured surfaces.
Granite is also more hygienic (tied with quartz) than all other surfaces.
One of the hardest and strongest materials in nature, granite originated from the earth's core as liquid magma.
Extreme heat and pressure forged the quartz, mica, feldspar and other minerals into a very dense structure millions of years ago.
Over time, additional heat and pressure resulted in the myriad, fascinating combinations of color and pattern as well as the many outstanding qualities we know and love about granite. Every granite counter top slab is naturally unique.
Granite's innate ability to withstand constant abuse will impress you. A granite counter top is nearly impossible to scratch (you can cut your veggies, etc. on it if you don't mind dulling your knives), hot pots won't hurt it, bacteria and stains are not a problem under normal use and proper cleaning.
Most granite is porous to a certain degree and thus susceptible to staining. This is particularly true for lighter-colored stones like santa cecilia granite and white granite. Staining can be easily controlled by application of a sealer on these surfaces. And at the extreme a few granite colors (like Kashmir White) are so porous, prone to staining and difficult to seal they just shouldn't be installed.
However, the idea that all granite stains easy is a gross generalization and distortion of the truth. Protecting and cleaning granite countertops is hardly a concern and certainly not the problem or hassle that some in the industry would have you believe.
Many varieties of granite (especially darker colors like Uba Tuba granite, blue pearl granite, absolute black, black galaxy or baltic brown granite... and many others) are so dense they simply will not stain and thus do not need sealing... ever.
These super-dense varieties of granite are without question the very best countertop surfaces available. However, since it is a natural product variation in density can occur and it is always recommended to test the absorbency even of those varieties known to be especially dense. In some cases a sealer could be applied.
A simple water test is all that's required to check absorbency and determine if and when sealing granite countertops is necessary (or not). And applying a granite sealer is a quick and simple project.
From a design perspective granite is a dream. Many popular colors like Santa Cecilia granite, baltic brown or ubatuba granite work with a wide range of design themes, however, the broad spectrum of colors (2500+) and interesting array of patterns offer endless possibilities... far more than available with any other countertop material.
And the choices are continually expanding as more countries and regions around the globe begin to explore their unique geology to bring new granites to market.
Colors include many choices in golden browns, pale pinks, deep plums, romantic reds, exotic blues, greens, blacks, white granite and many subtle shades in-between.
Surface patterns typically will have a flecked or pebbled appearance which can vary in size and shape and in the density of the pattern depending on the particular mix of quartz, crystals and minerals that make up the stone.
The pattern can be highly structured offering a uniform appearance over the entire countertop or the pattern may change continually, without repetition, called "movement".
Movement (on the right) is often desired for the organic and dramatic look it adds to your kitchen or bathroom design.
Remember, granite counter tops and other stones developed their color and pattern over millions of years of natural formation creating a surface that is truly unique.
So, it's never a problem finding a granite color or pattern that fits with your design. The trick is deciding which of the gorgeous granites you love the most!
Texture. As if the endless combination of colors and patterns weren't enough to choose from, you also have the texture or finish of your granite counter tops to consider.
The most popular is a polished surface, but granite counter top finishes also include honed, flamed and brushed.
You'll find more information about all of the above at our page on Granite Colors & Design.
Granite countertop slabs are cut from monolithic blocks of granite and come in thicknesses of 2cm (3/4 inch) or 3cm (1 1/4 inch).
The 2cm is most commonly used and generally less expensive, but the 3cm is becoming more popular for a thicker edge profile. Also, the thicker slab gives you more options when choosing your edge style.
A thick countertop edge profile can be achieved with a 2cm slab as well, but this requires laminating the edge resulting in a seam running the length of the edge. In some cases, the seam can be well-hidden, but this depends on the specific edge profile and the color and pattern of the granite countertop. Also, a laminated edge may interfere with your kitchen cabinets and drawers.
Granite slab size (length x width) will vary depending on the size of blocks quarried but use the following measurements and tips on how slabs are used when shopping for granite countertops.
Granite Slab Size, Purchase & Fabrication Considerations
Always purchase granite slabs from the same "bundle". Slabs are shipped from the quarry to the stone warehouse in specific bundles containing slabs all cut sequentially from the same parent block.
For example: You need 3 slabs for your project. Say the granite color you like has 7 slabs in the bundle. These should all be numbered in the order they were cut from the block. So, ideally you choose slabs number 1,2 and 3.... or numbers 3,4 and 5.
Since all the slabs in the bundle will have the same color and pattern structure you can often get away with choosing the 3 slabs you like most regardless of order. However, choosing slabs from different bundles is risky. Almost always you'll notice the difference in color tone between slabs once installed.
Granite Tiles are excellent for bath or kitchen flooring or anywhere else around the house inside or out. Also, a granite tile countertop will save you a bunch of money... up to 60%... while still providing the distinct look and desirable qualities of a full-slab countertop save a little extra grout maintenance.
Depending on the granite color you choose the cost of granite countertops will run from $60 to $85 sq. ft on average, but could be up to $125 for some rare, expensive slabs. And you can still get a quality installation for as low as $45 sq. ft. sometimes, but you should expect a bit more especially if you want a fancy edge or have many cut-outs.
How about those ads for $25 sq ft? If you are smart and want your countertops to look good, you'll just ignore those cut-rate advertisements.
In order to charge so little, these backyard fabricator/installers must use cheap, low-grade and thin slabs, unskilled workers and also cut every corner possible. This means mistakes are highly likely. What you save in money you'll lose in quality and you'll just have to live with it because they can't afford to spend any time on "customer service".
You'll get a song-and-dance that the problem or shoddy installation is "normal". Nobody wants a crummy-looking countertop no matter how cheap. People install natural stone because they want their kitchen or bathroom countertop to look fantastic. Believe me... we've consulted with far too many people in this unfortunate situation.... you'll regret it!
Versatile, resilient and naturally beautiful, granite is an excellent surface for any project you're planning. No other natural stone or engineered stone can match the numerous and unique characteristics of granite countertops.
Consider the elegance of a granite for: kitchen counter tops, kitchen islands, outdoor kitchens, bathroom vanities and granite tile for: tub decks, shower surrounds, interior and exterior flooring, wall cladding and a granite tile countertop.
Learn even more! Click on the links below to read detailed answers to common (and unusual) marble cleaning questions.
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