a buyer’s guide to granite countertopsMarch 30, 2021
Whether you’re building a new home or renovating an existing kitchen or bathroom, it’s only natural that granite countertops should be at the top of your list for consideration. After all, granite has long been considered the gold standard when it comes to beautiful, high-end countertops.
In fact, granite has become almost the default choice; the no-brainer option. There are good reasons for this — but it might not be the best choice for everyone. When you make that big investment, no matter what type of countertop you choose, it pays to do some research and be confident in your decision.
What is Granite?
Granite is a natural stone; you know that already. But it’s good to know exactly what it is, how it is formed, where it comes from, and the process that brings it from the quarry to the consumer.
If you recall your high-school science classes, you know that an igneous rock has been formed when molten lava beneath the earth’s surface cools and solidifies. Granite is one of these types of rock, and while it cools it develops crystals with a wide range of colors. The mineral content varies, which accounts for the differences in color, pattern, and sparkle.
Granite is mined from quarries, then transported to a factory where it is cut into slabs and polished to bring out its trademark beauty. Once a slab is selected, fabricators finish cutting it to size, adding cutouts for sinks and other fixtures, then creating the desired texture and edge treatment.
Why Granite is so Popular
Here are just a few of the benefits of granite countertops that help explain why it’s such a beloved countertop material:
Range of Colors. The most common colors are black granite, white, and shades of gray and brown. Aside from these neutrals, however, granite can be found in hues of red, pink, and even exotic blue or green. Granite is most commonly found polished, but it can also be given a matte finish, which is becoming more popular. You can use a granite visualizer tool to see how the various granite colors match up with your favorite selections of cabinetry and flooring.
One of a Kind Looks. Although it’s possible to buy granite slabs that are nearly solid in color, nearly all of them show variation in shades and movement of pattern, from bold to dramatic. In fact, many homeowners elect to choose the exact slab that will feature in their home, because no two are alike.
Along with this, there are different finishes that can be selected. Granite is most commonly found with a glossy, polished finish, but matte finishes are becoming more popular. Also, the edge treatments further customize the countertops. Because of granite’s hardness, it can be fabricated with any edge treatment from basic rounded or beveled to fancy double ogee.
Durability. Granite is one of the hardest materials available, so it stands up well to heavy use. It resists staining and scratching, which is a great feature for anyone who wants to use their kitchens and bathrooms for their intended purpose instead of just looking at them and admiring them. Unlike marble countertops, granite even resists etching from acidic foods — although homeowners should still be careful about cleaning up spills and splashes as soon as possible.
Heat Resistance. No matter how careful you are, there’s a good chance that someone will eventually place a hot pot or casserole dish directly on the countertop without a hot pad or trivet. Many types of countertop will be damaged by this type of abuse. Although it should be avoided with any type of countertop, granite is one of the most heat-resistant countertops available.
Great value for investment. Granite countertops are a one-time investment; they last for decades, and may well be the last countertop you’ll ever need to install. Its price can vary widely depending on the type of granite selected, its color, and its thickness. Since neutral shades are most common and often kept it stock, they will cost less than the more exotic colors. Comparing the cost of high-end countertop materials such as quartz vs. granite there isn’t a lot of difference.
Boosts Home Resale Value. It’s widely accepted as fact that granite countertops can boost a home’s resale value as well as helping it to sell more quickly. Why? All of the reasons mentioned above! Prospective homeowners appreciate buying a home with a countertop that already looks gorgeous, never needs replacing, and is versatile enough for any style of decor.
Other Things to Consider About Granite Countertops
No countertop material is perfect, and granite has several things you need to consider. For example:
Maintenance Needs. Although granite is hard and durable, it is a natural stone — and all natural stone needs to have a sealer applied on a regular basis to keep it nonporous and stain-resistant. This isn’t a difficult process, but it is an inconvenience and expense. Also, manufacturers recommend using pH-neutral cleansers specifically formulated for use on granite, rather than harsh chemical cleansers.
Difficult to Install. Installing a granite countertop is not a DIY project. It is extremely heavy and best left to the pros, and the cabinetry underneath may require extra support. Select an installer who has experience with granite countertops.
Seams Will Show. Because of its variability, wherever two pieces of granite meet up there will be a visible seam. A good installer knows how to minimize this, but it’s impossible to completely eliminate. Of course, depending on the slabs, this can also create interesting finished looks when pieces with bold patterns are matched up against each other.
Despite several imperfections, many homeowners still fall in love with granite for their countertops in kitchens, bathrooms, outdoor living spaces, even laundry rooms. They feel that the pros far outweigh the cons, and it’s an investment that will pay off for decades.