Unless you’ve been living under some sort of rock (yes, we know this article is about granite and the pun was definitely intended) then you’ve probably noticed there’s been a bit of a granite craze when it comes to kitchen countertops.
At least in the United States.
If you’re reading this from outside of the United States, then you might not get it. But seriously, people are obsessed with granite countertops. Or at least they used to be.
Why is that?
What has made granite countertops so popular with homeowners and designers throughout the years?
Is it just another trend that’s going to fall away?
Where does granite come from?
What are the benefits of granite?
So many questions and more that we’re going to answer in this article!
You’re going to know exactly how granite countertops work and any other question you ever had about granite countertops.
Why is Granite So Popular?
Granite greatly boomed in popularity between 1996 and 2006. Granite primarily used to come from Italy and was considered a luxury item and a status symbol.
However, granite started to be sourced from tons of other countries around the world with Brazil becoming our number one supplier.
With more supply added to the market and the changes in interior design trends, granite became in super high demand.
It’s a natural stone that to be fair, are gorgeous countertops.
They’re also popular because they come in such a wide array of colors. Since they do, it’s easy to match just about any color palette being used in any kitchen.
Before we get into the different qualities, pros, cons, etc., let’s first answer one main question.
What is Granite Made Out Of?
In case you didn’t know, granite does indeed come from our good friend, Earth. It has been formed over hundreds of thousands of years.
It is formed from the compressed molten rock under the earth’s surface. You could say that it goes under a lot of pressure.
Literally. Okay, the last pun of the article.
Because of this, it not only looks great but it’s truly one of the hardest stones out there.
It’s an igneous rock, that is actually composed of 20% to 60% quartz by volume! Huh, imagine that.
The other main part is about 35% feldspar. Feldspar is the rock that’s going to give you the white color that you see in the granite.
Other than that, granite really just refers to the wider range of rock that contains some combination of these two with any number of other rocks making up the rest.
For example, any of the black that you see in the granite is typically going to be mica.
Because of this, each slab of granite you get is going to be unique. Exactly what makeup of rock that the granite is made of will determine exactly how it looks.
Some people like this and some don’t. While it means you will have a unique countertop in your kitchen, it also means that if you need to use more than one slab, then things might not line up perfectly or it may not be perfectly uniform.
At the end of the day, it’s just a style preference.
What Countries Does Our Granite Come From?
Like we said, back in the early 90s, we used to get a lot of our granite from Italy. That has definitely changed significantly in early years.
As of 2014, the countries supplying our granite looked something like this:
|Country||Amount in Tons Imported into the United States||% of Total|
As you can see, Brazil supplied us with over half of our granite in 2014!
In the past couple of years, there’s actually been a decline in our granite imports. Is the trend finally finishing?
Basic Qualities of Granite
Granite, since formed under intense heat and pressure, is naturally fairly heat-resistant.
It won’t blister like some countertops.
What is blistering?
Blistering is when round or oval bubbles start to appear on the countertops. Either way, they won’t happen so don’t worry.
The quality is definitely superior to marble, synthetic, and laminate. No questions asked.
It definitely will look great in your kitchen and is going to give you a dimensional quality that will add depth to your kitchen
How Does One Obtain Granite?
Granite itself actually comes from giant quarries. It is drilled, blasted, and then chiseled.
Special machines then take the granite and then cut it into workable slabs that can be sold to consumers.
In general, a slab of granite is around five feet and nine feet long.
That being said, it still requires a lot of special tools and processes to take raw granite and turn it into a granite countertop.
There is most likely a small quarry around you where you can purchase this.
Okay okay, enough about granite. Let’s get into the actual pros and cons of granite countertops so you can decide if they actually are right for you.
Let’s get into it.
What Are the Benefits of Granite Countertops?
- We mentioned before that granite is a very hard rock in general. Because of this, it’s not susceptible to scratches at all. You can literally cut directly on top of this countertop and it won’t damage it.In fact, it will actually dull your knife a little bit. For that reason, we still recommend that you use a cutting board to do a majority of your cutting. If you have kids or just aren’t super careful with a knife, then do not worry. It can survive a lot of wear and tear without you having to do a lot of upkeep.
- It’s heat-resistant. Of course it is, it was formed by intense pressure and heat. However, for you, that has a couple of main benefits. It means that it can be underneath or super close to a range. Boiling water accidentally overspill onto the countertops? No worries at all, granite can take it. Another great thing is that you can also easily and safely set down a hot pan onto a granite countertop without damaging or weakening the countertop. Sometimes you just don’t have a cloth when sitting the pan down and that’s okay with granite countertops!
- Granite, while it’s porous naturally, is not susceptible to stains and doesn’t stain naturally once it’s sealed. Annoying that you have to get it sealed in the first place, but there have been so many advances in technology lately that you can often times go up to 10 years without having to get it resealed.
- Lastly, granite countertops don’t depreciate in value! They will instantly raise the value of your home. Then, when you go to sell your home a few years later, your kitchen will still be worth the same amount of money!
Sounds Great! But Are There Any Weaknesses?
In short, yes.
- If not sealed properly, they can actually really absorb anything that goes into it. You need to make sure that it’s sealed properly. If it’s not sealed properly, stains could get in and also bacteria. This could be a big health issue.
- Some specially treated granite can go up to 10 years without being sealed again, but if you want to be 100% safe you should get it sealed every year or two. Annoying, but the good news is you can often do it yourself in a fairly painless process.
- They are expensive. They can go anywhere from $100 to $250 per square foot of countertop. On average, a countertop can cost $3000 to $4000.
Granite countertops are a good option for a lot of people. They’re versatile, come in a lot of different colors, and are extremely durable.
However, we don’t think they’re necessarily worth the price.
There are a lot of other materials that are just as durable as granite and don’t cost nearly as much.
They used to be much trendier, but they’ve lost a lot of their popularity in the last couple of years.
If you really love granite countertops, then we say go for it. They’re a good option that doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. Putting it in top of your formica cabinet is adding more attraction into your kitchen.
If, however, you don’t have the money and would put yourself under financial duress to obtain them, go with something else.