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Pros & Cons of Granite Countertops

by | Mar 17, 2017 |

There are many factors to consider when choosing a kitchen countertop surface. If granite has made it to the top of your list, read through the article below to determine if its advantages and disadvantages make it a good choice for your kitchen.  

  • Sustainability. Did you know that a single quarry site can provide stone for thousands of commercial and residential projects over several centuries of time? Granite is also very near complete as a countertop material in its natural state. Once quarried, minimal processing is required to prepare it for your kitchen. In comparison, engineered materials have a complicated production process which often includes toxic chemicals and harmful emissions into the atmosphere.
  • Heat Resistance. Granite countertops will not melt or blister when exposed to heat. They are one of the most heat resistant countertops on the market. Hot pans can be placed directly on the countertop surface from the oven without any harm. Experts do recommend the use of a trivet when using appliances that emit heat for long periods of time, such as Crockpots.
  • Scratch Resistance. Granite scores a 7 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. This means that very few minerals can scratch it. While you can cut on granite, this isn’t recommended—doing so will dull your knives and can sometimes leave behind a metal residue that can be difficult to remove.
  • Seams. In a typical kitchen, granite countertops will need to have 2-3 seams. Depending on the color of granite you choose, average slab size will vary. A typical expectation can be set at 9 feet x 5 feet. Large islands can typically be done without seams. If you have an L or U-shaped layout, expect seams where the countertops angle in a different direction. The good news is that many fabricators will mix custom color epoxy to adhere the seams together which does a great job at disguising them. Expect the seam to be around 1/8” thick.
  • Undermount Sinks. Undermount sinks are common in granite countertop installations. This allows crumbs and spills to be wiped directly into the sink without being caught on the lip of a surface mount sink. You can consider using several types of sinks including cast iron, stainless steel, or solid surface. Fabricators will cut and polish the sink hole to match the shape of your chosen sink.
  • Backsplash Options. Coved backsplashes that are common in laminate countertops are not available with granite. Typically, a separate 4” piece of the stone slab will be adhered on top of your countertop surface. Tile and full-height granite backsplashes are also used.
  • Repairs. Granite countertops should be repaired by a professional. It is rare to get a crack or chip in your countertops, but if you do, call the fabricator who installed your countertops to schedule a service call. Most of the time, a color matched epoxy can be used to fill the void and it will be virtually invisible. Superglue can be used in a pinch to fill chips. If you use heavy cast iron pans, be careful when placing them into your undermounted sink. The edge of these cutouts is the most common place to get chips. A more likely scenario, though, is to experience an increased number of broken dishes.
  • Sealing. Granite is a porous material—but this is not necessarily a bad thing. If liquids are left on the surface for long periods of time, they will eventually absorb. But just like they absorb, they will also evaporate. Depending on what the substance is that needs to be removed, you can apply different poultices to speed the process along. However, many will evaporate on their own without the use of chemicals or cleaning products. Most fabricators will apply a sealer to granite countertops before they are installed, which will protect them from absorbing liquids too quickly.
  • Maintenance. Granite countertops are considered a low maintenance countertop surface. The likelihood of needing to be repaired or resurfaced is low. Technology for sealers has come a long way over the years, and many will last over 10 years before needing to be reapplied. When they do need to be reapplied, it is something that most homeowners can do on their own: simply apply the product and wipe off the excess. It is a good idea to ask your installer which sealer was initially applied and use the same kind to reapply.
  • Price. The average price for granite countertops in a typical kitchen is between $3,000-$4,000. Variables include edge profiles, total square footage, and backsplashes. Don’t be fooled by the stereotype that all granite is expensive. Lower-range granites will cost less than high-range laminate. Though granite countertops are not considered ‘low range’ in pricing, there are a lot of affordable options that will start at around $35-$55 per square foot. Do be careful when comparing pricing between different companies. Make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Your final quote should include material, fabrication, and installation.
  • Exotic Options. If you are looking for something truly unique, consider an exotic granite. As with most things in life, price is determined by supply and demand. Some quarries are not easily accessible or can only be quarried for short periods of time throughout the year. If these circumstances exist in a quarry with unique stone, the price will be driven upward. Some granites reach over $400 per square foot.
  • Colors Available. With all natural stones, including granite, we are limited to the colors and patterns mother nature produces. You won’t find a lot of solid patterns or bright colors, but both do exist. Also, watch for a large range of color and pattern within the same color of stone. It’s always a good idea to view the exact slab(s) that will be fabricated for your kitchen to make sure they are what you expected to see from the sample. Another factor is that many exotic granites have huge flowing waves, and a small sample will not be a good representation of the whole slab.
  • Stain Resistance. In general, darker granites are very dense and sometimes don’t even require a sealer. Lighter granites are more porous and sometimes require multiple coats of sealer to be considered stain resistant. Either way, if properly treated, granite is a stain resistant countertop surface.
  • Genuine Natural Material. Eliminating, or at least reducing, our exposure to chemicals and additives has proven beneficial to our health. Genuine natural stone including granite, marble, soapstone, and others, are the “natural choice” for countertop surfaces. They are quarried from the earth in their natural state and sliced into slabs for use in your home. Though engineered quartz surface materials may claim they are also natural, the reality is that they are mostly styrene and polyester resin, with a small percentage of crushed natural quartz.
  • Resistance to Chemicals. Granite countertops are very resistant to chemicals. Acids and bases will not harm the material. Do be careful of repeated use, though, as some chemicals will wash away the sealer over time, causing the need for re-sealing before the recommended time.

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