Granite: Natural Stone That Leaves A Lasting Impression
Polished granite is still the material of choice for most homeowners. This natural stone offers a high-end look that adds to your kitchen’s value while providing a very durable working surface. Granite comes in a wide array of colors, ranging from vibrant blues, browns, midnight black, deep red, and white.
Since granite is a natural material, variations in the stone’s color and patterns are common and make each slab one of a kind. For most people, this adds to its appeal. But this variation can make matching up large, multi-slab jobs a little tricky. Most fabricators routinely make one-piece granite counters up to 10 feet long. Granite’s heaviness also means that you will need sturdy cabinet boxes beneath the counters to support the weight.
After cutting and polishing, some countertop companies treat the granite with an impregnating sealer that makes the countertop stain-resistant. This treatment generally lasts 10 to 15 years.
Out of the different stones used for countertops, granite ranks the highest on the Mohs scale (which measures the hardness of minerals). On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the best), granite ranks between 6 and 8. To put that in perspective, engineered quartz is a 7, while marble is between 2 and 4. Granite is hard enough to resist most abrasion, strong enough to bear substantial weight, and durable enough to resist scratching, chipping, and weathering. It is also heat-resistant and can be polished to a high luster. These characteristics make granite a very desirable and useful material.
Granite: What You Need To Know
There are two important definitions of granite.
One definition comes from the field of geology. In these terms, granite is a light-colored igneous (formed from volcanic activity) rock, with grains large enough to be seen by the naked eye. It is formed over millions of years from the slow crystallization of compressed molten magma (lava) as it slowly cools below the surface of the earth. All granite is made up of interlocking mineral crystals.
The second definition of granite is the one used by professionals who sell and purchase cut stone for structural and decorative use. In the commercial stone industry, “granite” is the name broadly used to describe rocks that have visible grains and are harder than marble. Under this definition, a number rocks that geologists would call by different technical names are lumped into the “granite” category.
The specific natural mix of the minerals in a stone can have profound effects on the color and texture of the stone. For example, feldspar is the white mineral you see; the light gray veins are quartz; and the black is typically mica. Granite from different regions can look vastly different because of the specific minerals found in that location. Each piece of granite is unique because of the unique patterning of the mineral deposits.
Many types of granite contain pits and fissures. Since granite is a natural stone, these are normal characteristics. Some granite stones display these characteristics more than others, and the specific lighting in your kitchen can make these marks more or less visible. These characteristics should be looked at carefully prior to deciding on a particular material and slab. This is why at Pure Granite & Stone, we bring your chosen slab into our facility to examine under excellent lighting, with one of our experts looking over your shoulder, to get final approval of your stone.
3cm granite (approx 1-3/16” thick) weighs between 21 and 24 lbs per square foot. 2cm granite (approx ¾” thick) weighs about 15 lbs per square foot. By contrast, 2cm marble weighs approximately 13.5 lbs per square foot. While these stones are heavy, granite can be supported easily by standard floor and cabinet systems.
Granite has been used for thousands of years in both interior and exterior applications. It has been used in both rough-cut and polished forms in building exteriors, bridges, paving, monuments, and other exterior applications. Indoors, polished granite is used in countertops, tile floors, stair treads, and many other decorative applications.
In the late 1980s, granite could generally only be found in the homes of the rich and famous. It was still out of reach for the budgets of the average homeowner. However, during the early 1990s, technology developed to mine granite out of the ground more effectively, and high-end granite countertops started to become a mainstay in middle-class homes. The advancement of transportation services has now made it possible to import extraordinary looking granites from around the world at an affordable price. This has forever changed the interior design industry.
Much of the granite used for kitchen countertops in the United States originates from high-quality mineral deposits in Brazil, Italy, India, and China. The granite is carefully drilled, chiseled, and blasted out of those quarries in large blocks. As it is removed from the quarry, each block typically weights more than 20 tons.
These massive blocks are then hoisted and hauled away to be cut down into the slabs used to make individual kitchen countertops. That cutting is done with saws into “rough plates” (generally 4 to 5 feet wide and between 7 and 10 feet long). These rough plates are then coated with a resin to seal fissures and pits and baked to cure the resin. Finally, special machines polish the rough slabs into a uniform thickness—generally between 3/4 inch and 1-1/4 inch wide.
The polished and sealed slabs are then shipped to warehouses in the United States. These are the slabs that you select for the professionals at Pure Granite & Stone to transform into your custom-sized and finished kitchen countertops.
In Cincinnati, granite ranges from $40 to $200 per square foot. Keep in mind that the price tag on a slab of granite often has nothing to do with actual quality. Granite is made up of a combination of minerals – primarily quartz, feldspar, and mica along with other minerals. The price of granite is determined mainly by the mix of hard and soft minerals present (soft minerals mean less durability), the stone’s color, how it was cut, how thick it is, and where it originated from.
Since granite is porous, it requires a bit more care to maintain its appearance than engineered quartz. Use a stone cleaner—not an abrasive cleanser—for everyday cleaning. Wipe up all stains promptly - especially oils, wine, acids, and soda. If your contractor does not treat the granite with impregnating sealer, it is recommended that you reseal your granite countertops regularly, typically once a year. Contact your professionals at Pure Granite & Stone for information on the best products to use in this simple 20-minute resealing process.
Some rumors have been spread that granite, because of its slightly porous surface when not sealed, can harbor and encourage bacterial growth. This is patently false. The Center for Disease Control maintains that there is no evidence that granite holds or “harbors bacteria” to any degree that is unsafe or unhygienic.
Pits and chips in granite countertops can occur when small bits of minerals come loose or are knocked out via impact. Though rare, most often this happens around the sink or on the countertop edges. Repairs in such circumstances are best left to professionals for the best results.
The 6 Crucial Things You Should Know
Before Choosing A Countertop Company
New stone countertops are a wonderful investment. Their durability and great looks should be a source of pride and enjoyment for a very long time. So, making good choices is important. Not just the choice of the stone itself, but also about who is going to fabricate your countertop from the stone, and who is going to install it to insure those great results and long life. Here are the six things you should evaluate when choosing your countertop company.
Pure Granite & Stone is a family-owned company that’s been in business for more than 10 years. That not only speaks to credibility, expertise, and customer satisfaction, but to financial strength too. Don’t put down large deposits with companies with shaky financials!
At Pure Granite & Stone, the majority of our customers are contractors and kitchen remodelers who come back to us over and over again because we offer great pricing and excellent customer service. We rely heavily on word-of-mouth business because we don’t “burn” people by selling them something they don’t like or need. We have a well-deserved reputation for being highly ethical, standing behind our work, and delivering great value.
Larger, more “corporate” companies are all about speed and making sure that your “job” is cut and polished quickly and out-the-door as fast as possible. We, on the other hand, prefer to think of ourselves as craftsmen. We cut and polish everything by hand and triple-check everything before it leaves our shop. For example, edges that come off an automated machine have tiny score lines on them which you can feel with your hand if you inspect closely; our edges are smooth and silky to the touch. When you visit, ask us to show you the important differences between hand-crafted stone and mechanically processed countertops.
Pure Granite & Stone isn’t set up like a factory. Instead, we are set up to work together to create beautiful pieces of art that families and friends will love when they’re sitting around the kitchen table eating, drinking, and talking together.
If you do it “their” way, by the time your countertops are installed and ready to use, you’ll have invested countless hours visiting stone wholesalers, waiting for workers to come move large slabs of stone with forklifts so you can examine your options, and running back and forth between the stone yard and granite company to manage all the details.
At Pure Granite & Stone, we simplified the process by half. We know that your time is extremely valuable, and that there are many ways to streamline the process to save you energy and help you make better and faster decisions.
Our experts are directly involved in educating you about options, pointing out obvious and hidden features of stones, helping you avoid inexperienced mistakes, and selecting everything you need for a stunning new, long-lasting, stone countertop.