• A. Powers

Granite Countertops: All You Need to Know


 

So, you’ve begun looking for new countertops, and you’ve seen a lot of different options out there. Along the way, it’s likely that you’ve stumbled upon granite. As one of the most commonly used natural stones in design and construction, most people are familiar with granite and its general use, but there’s lots to know when choosing the right one for your project.


In this article, we’ll explore how granite is formed, popular colors and applications, and care and maintenance tips to keep your new surfaces looking pristine for years to come. Let’s dive in!


Outdoor kitchen with stainless steel appliances
Leathered Steel Grey granite. Photo by Greg Premru.
 


What is granite?


Granite is the most well-known and abundant igneous rock on the Earth’s surface. It’s formed through metamorphism, or the changing of a stone’s geological structure through natural heat and pressure within the Earth. Its crystals form and expand as the stone cools, leaving behind a sturdy natural stone that is quarried in blocks then cut into slabs that span a broad range of designs and colors.


There are subcategories that geologists use to further distinguish one type from another. In the stone industry, however, we use the term “granite” to refer to stones with interlocking grains that are notably harder than marble. Using Mohs scale of hardness for reference, granite falls between a 6 and 7 whereas marble ranges between 3 and 5.



What are the benefits of granite counters?

  1. It’s durable. As we mentioned before, granite falls between a 6 and 7 on the Mohs scale. Different types of granite will vary in firmness, but all are more resistant to chips, cracks and abrasion than marble.

  2. It can handle the heat. Considering that granite’s formation involves extremely high temperatures and pressure, it’s no surprise that it can handle a hot pan or two. However, even with heat-resistant stones, we always recommend that our clients use a trivet. Why? Because we know how messy the kitchen can be! Residual food or grease on the bottom of a pan can be a tough mess to clean off your counter- and prolonged or overly forceful scrubbing can dull the finish and wear away at the sealant. So, to avoid that and similar issues, we always recommend using a trivet when placing hot pans on the counter.

  3. It’s got variety. If you think of strictly brown speckles and pebbled consistency when you hear “granite countertops,” allow us to broaden your horizons. Granite comes in a vast array of colors from around the world, each one boasting unique drama and striking colors.

  4. It’s unique. One of the many reasons people choose a natural stone is for its uniqueness. Each block quarried yields entirely one-of-a-kind slabs that give designs a sense of authenticity and personal touch, with granite being no exception.

  5. It’s outdoorsy. Another perk of natural stone? It’s natural! There is no fear when it comes to weathering and abrasion since the stone is equipped to handle nature’s toughest conditions. Durable enough to be used in both indoor and outdoor applications, granite is often a popular choice for outdoor kitchens and pool counters.

  6. It finishes strong. In addition to polished and honed, two of the more common countertop finishes available for most stones, granite comes in additional textured finishes that can add dimension, flair and function to your designs. This includes options like leathered, caressed, sandblasted, bushhammered, and even flamed finishes.


Bathtub with gray tile and stone wall

What's Popular?


Applications:
  1. Counters - Hopefully, this one speaks for itself. Granite countertops have been used for decades as surfaces in kitchens, bathrooms and more.

  2. Outdoor - As a quarried stone, granite is no stranger to sunlight and tough weather, and is a great choice for outdoor kitchens and bars, poolhouse counters, and so forth.

  3. Shower applications - Granite is a popular choice for shower accents such as shower seats, pony walls, niches, and jambs. With a wide variety of options, people often enjoy the complimentary colors available for their selected tile.

Colors:
  1. Steel Gray - A low variation granite of smoky shades of charcoal.

  2. Jet Mist - Swirling veils of vapid white over a granular gray base.

  3. Absolute Black - A solid black granite with consistent color and texture.

  4. Princess Gray- Crashing striations of gray hues that emulate crashing waves in a stormy sea.

Princess Grey granite (wall) and Absolute Black granite. Photo by Nat Rea.


What are the drawbacks of granite counters?

  1. It can stain. Many granites can potentially stain if spills are not wiped up immediately. This is especially true for lighter colored granites, which tend to be more porous and likely to absorb liquids quickly.

  2. Wide price range. While it can be one of the most cost-effective materials, more dramatic varieties compete with higher-tier natural stones. While this isn’t necessarily a drawback, it’s important to manage expectations and clarify that not all stones are the same price just because they are the same type of stone.



Care & Maintenance


Sealing

We recommend sealing granite at least once a year, or 6 months for lighter granites, for 5 years in order to guarantee your stone is properly protected. Another way to determine whether or not your stone needs to be sealed is by flicking a few water droplets onto the surface of your countertop. If the water absorbs in under 10 minutes, then it’s time to reseal.


Cleaning

Wipe down counters with warm water and mild dish soap using a microfiber cloth, cleaning up any spills as promptly as possible in order to alleviate risk of damage. For tougher or stickier messes, we recommend using Bar Keeper’s Friend Soft Cleanser with a paper towel and gently working the solution in circles until the residue is removed. As always, stay away from harsh or abrasive cleaners and tools. Even if they don’t visibly damage the stone right away, they will eat away at both your sealant and your finish, leaving you with countertops that are duller and more vulnerable to stains.



Final Thoughts


Granite is a tried and true material for building durable surfaces. While many home trends are moving in the direction of marble-look materials and more colorful or dramatic applications, granite is a great option for large-scale developments or homeowners who prefer its look and sturdiness. Its wide range of designs, colors and costs means there’s a perfect option for anyone who is looking to make granite a part of their home.


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