Granite is a popular choice for home use, especially when it comes to kitchen counters and vanities. It is a type of natural rock formation classified by geologists as “igneous,” which literally translates to “of rock” because it comes from magma trapped just below the earth’s crust. That means it is just about anywhere on earth, leading to it becoming the most abundant stone in the world. Millenia of high temperatures and pressures led to its formation, distinctive for the visible crystals and veins from quartz and other minerals such as feldspar and mica.
Granite is extremely tough, mainly because of its quartz content. Quartz is a colorless or translucent mineral with a hardness rating of 7 in the Mohs scale. To give you an idea of what that means, a diamond rates a 10 on the same scale. That makes quartz very hard indeed and granite is on average made of 40% quartz. Some granites have more quartz, and they tend to be more durable and less porous.
Because of its abundance and durability, it has been the preferred stone of ancient Egyptians and Greeks for their monuments and buildings. Today, homeowners prefer granite because it can withstand a lot of use and weight as long as it has the proper support, always a good thing when it is used for countertops. Under the right circumstances, your granite countertops may well last for decades, certainly much longer than anything else in the home.
Aside from its durability, granite is both heat- and scratch-resistant, which again makes it the ideal material for use in the kitchen. It is also good for bathroom vanities and fireplace surrounds.
What granite can be used for
As mentioned above, granite has many uses around the home. If you want a natural stone that is not only durable but smooth, then granite is the stone for you.
However, granite is not only useful for kitchen countertops and bathroom vanities. It has long been used as wall cladding for commercial buildings, water fountains, floor tiles, memorials, and even the building material itself. The town of Monsanto is built in, under, and around natural granite boulders because it was cheaper than moving them out of the way, and it has been around since Medieval times. However, most granite used for construction is quarried first, and then cut to specification such as the monuments found in the town of Mahabalipuram in India.
Mount Rushmore Memorial is another example of how granite in its natural setting is cleverly utilized. The faces of Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, and Thomas Jefferson are carved for posterity on the rock face.
The most impressive use of granite, however, may be the Great Pyramid of Giza. While it is primarily made of huge blocks of limestone, the inner chambers contain granite blocks, and it was built well before there was any of the modern technology we have today for quarrying, cutting, and carrying huge rocks. How the ancient Egyptians managed that feat is still a mystery today.
Granite color options
Granite is available in a wide variety of colors, but the most common ones tend to be on the light side. Quartz and feldspar, the two main components of granite, are both colorless to light-toned rock material, which is why granite tends to be on the light end of the color spectrum. However, granite usually sports dark veins and quite spectacular splashes of bold colored crystals, primarily because it also contains dark colored minerals, mostly earth tones.
Sometimes, you will come across granite stones that are almost solid black or other dark color. Technically, these are not granite, but of the granite family, such as basalt and gabbro. It doesn’t really matter because they have most of the characteristics we love about granite, including its durability and distinctive look.
Why granite install in your home
Granite is a natural stone, so each granite (or granite-like) slab is unique, even if they come from the same block of stone. This can be a problem when you are trying the match them to each other or to a design. However, if you resolve to have natural stone in your home, you are also buying into the idea that the slight differences in color and patterns is exactly what will make your kitchen, bathroom, or living room unique.
Granite countertops and vanities are also major selling points for many homebuyers today. They are not only beautiful, but most people know that granite will last for many years. They have already calculated in their heads how much money and trouble they will save from not having to replace the existing ones in your home when they make you an offer. While some granite countertops are porous, that is easily remedied with the right seal, so it is safe for food preparation. Any investment you make today in installing granite in your home comes back to you in terms of adding value to your home.
How to maintain granite
Maintaining granite surfaces is not as difficult as some people make out. True, there are commercial granite cleaners available, but they are not necessary. If you have an intact seal on your granite for those that need it and you avoid placing hot and/or greasy pots and pans directly on the surface, then you only need a simple cleaning regimen to keep it pristine. For daily cleaning, warm water, mild dishwashing soap, and a soft cloth is all you need. If you want to disinfect it, purchase a bottle of 91% isopropyl alcohol and spray it, well diluted with water, on the granite. Wait a few minutes to let it doe its work, and then wipe it dry with a clean cloth. That’s it.
Preventing damage granite
You do still have to exercise reasonable care to prevent damaging your granite surfaces. It is very durable and scratch resistant, but you can crack or chip it if you try hard enough. If you want to keep your granite countertop looking shiny and beautiful, make sure you have an intact seal, and don’t hit it with anything heavy with force, especially the edges and areas with no under-support.
Here are some other tips to protect your granite from damage:
• Wipe up spills immediately, especially if it is anything containing wine, vinegar, coffee, oil, or lemon
• Use protective heat pads or trivets when putting down hot cookware
• Avoid moisture accumulation from cold drinks by using coasters
• A baking soda and water poultice can remove stains
• Use hot water to remove soap scum
• Do not ever use detergents that are abrasive and/or contains bleach or ammonia
Installation granite and pricing
There is not denying that granite countertops are a significant investment. Granite is more expensive than non-stone countertop materials because it takes so much effort and expense to get it out of the ground, process it into ready-to-use dimension stone slabs, and deliver it to our showrooms.
The typical cost of granite countertops including installation start from $3,000. The good news is, at Badger Granite we offer packages of $1,800 for up to 30 square feet, and we throw in a free double basin (50/50) sink. Give us a call for a no-obligation free cost estimate and we’ll walk you through it.
Installing the granite itself does not take that long. However, the prep work is a whole other story. Before we can put in your new countertops, we have to remove the existing ones, inspect the support and replace if necessary, and make the templates before we can even start cutting the slab. All in all, you are looking at a minimum of 5 days wait time for stock slabs, and several weeks for slabs that have to be ordered or customized, depending on many factors.