Learn all about granite countertops, the pros, the cons, maintenance, and costs! Granite countertops are a wonderful, durable selection for any home project requiring a slab material.
You probably picture beige with brown and gold speckles when you first hear the word granite countertops because that was one of the first readily available and widely used materials. While that does still exist (New Venetian Gold), there are also hundreds of other choices so you’re sure to find the perfect stone for your home.
They have been a part of our homes since the early 20th century hitting their prime in the 1990s as a symbol of high-end design. Today we look at granite as being a standard option for our kitchen and bathroom countertops.
Granite countertops are a piece of nature’s artwork installed in your home. The variations that come from the earth are incredible! We now have access to a wide assortment of colors and patterns since stone warehouses are able to source globally.
You also aren’t limited to only having polished slabs. Granite can also come leathered or brushed (both are the same thing) which means that they stopped the polishing process before achieving the perfectly smooth finish.
Leathered slabs will have an uneven surface with small bumps and grooves giving them a textured and more natural look. Honed is another option for some slabs which is a smooth surface but it has a matte appearance instead of a glossy finish like polished slabs.
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The Pros of Granite Countertops
Granite has become more affordable through the years and is what most homebuyers consider the standard for mid-level and higher-priced homes.
Some of the main benefits of choosing granite countertops are:
- Heat Resistance: This is one of the few materials you can set that hot pan directly on top of without worrying.
- Sustainability: A single quarry site can provide stone for thousands of projects and needs minimal processing to prepare it for use.
- Scratch Resistance: Granite scores high on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness which means very few minerals can scratch it. You technically can cut on top of granite but it will dull your knives.
- Wide Range of Options: Natural stone comes in a large variety of colors and patterns from neutral speckles to large swirls of color, or patches of quartz.
- Resistance to Chemicals: Granite countertops are very resistant to most chemicals like acids so you don’t have to stress about spills.
The Cons of Granite Countertops
- Granite is porous: This just means that you must have it sealed properly before use and repeat applications every few years. A good rule of thumb is to place a drop of water on the surface. If the water beads, you’re good! If the water soaks in or darkens the slab that means it’s time to reseal. You’ll want to stay on top of this because a poorly sealed countertop can harbor bacteria or stain.
- Granite can chip: While durable with normal use, it’s not impervious to chipping. If a heavy object drops on your granite it might chip or crack. The good news is most of the time you can have a professional come to repair it.
- It can look dated: Unfortunately, the lower-cost granite options can make a new kitchen look older. We are leaning away from the speckled and busy look of granite.
- It’s heavy: Granite typically weighs about 20 pounds per square foot, so each foot of a standard depth counter weighs 40 pounds.
- Seams might show: Due to granite being a naturally made product each slab is slightly different. Depending on the granite you choose the seams might show because the pattern will never perfectly align.
- Fissures: Fissures are small cracks in the stone that are naturally occurring. Most quarries fill larger fissures with epoxy to strengthen them. Experienced fabricators are also able to work around any prominent fissures to avoid them being included in the final product.
How to Care for Granite Countertops
The beauty of granite countertops is the ease of maintenance. As long as it’s properly sealed you only need to wipe the surface with a neutral pH cleaner. You can buy specific granite cleaner at the store but a simple combination of soap and water is all you need. Avoid abrasive cleaners or acidic chemicals like Windex, vinegar, ammonia, and bleach.
Sealing is very simple to do! It’s essentially like staining wood. You apply the sealer with a soft cloth and let it absorb for a few minutes. Next, you take a clean cloth to remove any excess sealer and let it cure for a few hours before use.
Cracking and chipping can also easily be avoided. Use care when using heavy pots or pans like cast iron. Sink edges are usually the most susceptible area because of washing larger pots and pans. Another thing you’ll want to avoid is thermal shocking your granite. This occurs when you quickly go from extreme cold to extreme heat and which can crack your granite.
The Cost of Granite Countertops
Granite countertop slabs’ price widely varies, so it depends on the slab you choose. The more basic granites like Ubatuba, Valle Nevado, and Dallas White are typically your most affordable options around $30-40 per square foot.
If you go with a more exotic stone such as Titanium, or Blue Pearl you will be closer to the $60-90 range per square foot. Essentially the more swirls and rare colors (blues and reds) the higher the cost will be.
Remember that two-thirds of the cost of your granite slabs are related to fabrication and installation. The cost of the slab is typically the smallest part of the overall price.
You can’t DIY a granite slab due to the specialized equipment needed to transport the slabs, cut the slabs, and install the slabs.
If your fabricator sends you to a stone warehouse to choose slabs they will typically have signs indicating the price range with 1 or A being the lowest and 10 or Z being the highest. The exact price will be provided by your fabricator which is custom to your project.
I would ask your fabricator which ranges are included in your budget before heading to the stone yard to avoid falling in love with slabs that are out of your price range.
The short answer is no. Natural stone has been around for centuries and will last a lifetime if maintained properly. There are so many choices today. The lower-cost stones like Ubatuba or New Venetian Gold might appear dated but Absolute Black is a timeless stone. There are also some granite slabs like Silver Grey that look like soapstone without the maintenance that soapstone requires and is more affordable.
No, pure white or white with grey veins does not exist in granite. There are some lighter-colored granite options but most will include flecks or swirls of other colors like brown, red, or black. The only way to get the marble look with natural stone is with actual marble or quartzite.