Granite Countertops: An Overview

Home builders and remodelers have experienced a boom in demand for granite countertops in kitchens and bathrooms. The beauty and warmth of granite make it an ideal material for aesthetic appeal in home design, and the durability and easy care of granite countertops keep them a favorite for forward-looking homeowners. Although adding granite countertops to any kitchen can be quite expensive, they are still the first choice in luxury homes, holding their value better than most other improvements.

Granite, like marble and other popular stones, is as old as the earth. Granite is found all over the world. As a preferred material, granite was used in the construction of temples and other public buildings in ancient societies. In the recent past, many builders have continued to use granite for pillars and exterior finishes. Stone suppliers did not begin to experiment with polished granite until 1831. The preference for polished granite began in 1851, when a finished piece of granite was exhibited in London at the Great Exhibition of Industry of all Nations.

Granite is an excellent medium for countertops, as it is the most durable stone of all. The hardness of granite is rivaled only by the hardness of diamonds. The durability and versatility of granite countertops makes them a favorite with professional and home chefs. Granite can withstand being placed under a hot pot and makes an excellent surface for handling dough and confectionery. The natural beauty of granite countertops complements any wood tone or cabinet style, from French country to sleek modern styles. Granite is an attractive stone that adds color and warmth to any room.

A popular choice of designers for decades, granite countertops have now become popular with the public. There are literally hundreds of colors of granite, from variations of white to browns, reds, greens, blues, and blacks. Brown and beige shades are most popular as they work well with most kitchen color schemes, allowing for more flexibility in redecorating over the years. Some of the granite colors exhibit “motion” or a pattern within the natural color. The movement of large patterns can quickly draw the eye across the counter surface, while small patterns have a calmer appearance. The combination of color and movement means that no two countertops are exactly alike.

While granite countertops are a favorite choice due to their beauty and durability, they are not immune to damage. Regular care includes proper cleaning and the use of sealers to prevent staining. Although granite is quite hard, it can easily chip. A qualified professional can make repairs that are almost invisible.

Granite countertops can cost more than other countertop materials, with prices starting at $60 per installed square foot. Most of the cost is not in the stone, but in the work of quarrying, cutting, transporting, polishing and installations. It is not recommended that the do-it-yourself homeowner take on this project. Despite the strength of granite, large slab sheets must be precisely cut to fit countertops and are very delicate when transported. Special care must be taken to reinforce base units, and the slab must be placed perfectly level. If you don’t properly lay down a granite countertop, it could crack during regular use.

When a homeowner wants the utility of granite countertops, but is unable or unwilling to pay a premium, discount granite for countertops may be a good option. Retailers maintain stone groupings or tiers based on popularity of color and movement. Lower level stone cuts maintain the characteristics that consistent granite is known for, but the tone of a color can vary based on current fashion trends.

Granite countertops will continue to be a favorite with homeowners, architects, and interior designers. The timeless beauty and durability of granite make it a home improvement treasure that will last a lifetime.