The Hard Facts About Using Granite In Kitchens and Bathrooms

Bath Design, Kitchen Design

Granite Countertops: What you Need to Know

Granite countertops have been a longtime staple in the design industry and considered a must for most upscale remodeling projects as well as new homes. Dating back to ancient times, granite has been used in all kinds of construction from temples to headstones. It’s a favorite material for its hardness and durability; for its variety; and for its beauty.

Hinsdale, IL Kitchen with White Granite Island

History of Granite Countertops

Stone suppliers began polishing granite in the 1830s but its popularity has soared within the last two decades as kitchen and bathroom countertops. There are a couple of ways to extract granite from earth. One of the most common is done by blasting the granite from rock quarries or granite quarries in large blocks. Then these large blocks are cut into smaller portions. A big part of the mining process is determining which colors go together.

This material is known as an igneous rock, which means that it was formed from by the cooling of lava or magma. It is the most durable of stones; its hardness is second only to diamonds. Granite counters are heat resistant making them a favorite among chefs since hot pots can be set directly on them. The cool surface also makes a granite countertop excellent for rolling out dough. One thing to remember when cutting food on top of your granite countertops without a cutting board is that the granite is stronger than your knife. So if you want to keep your knives in perfect shape, we suggest you use a cutting board. We feel like it’s a lot less messy, also!

Chicago Brownstone featuring granite countertops and custom granite backsplash

Practicality of Granite

It is also a practical material for bathrooms – often being used for counters, threshold material and shelf material for shower niches and cubbies.

Though granite is durable, it is not indestructible. The surface is sealed by the fabricators, yet it can still stain like all natural stone can. Generally, the darker the material, the denser it is, and the less susceptible to staining. For example, black absolute granite is denser than coast green.

Is there radon in granite? Yes! There is a little amount of radon found in granite, but before you panic, you should know that there isn’t enough to cause any problems. As a matter of fact that amount is so small, that it won’t register on a radon test. So nothing to worry about!

Light colored granite island with seating for four and matching backsplash

Granite: A Natural Stone

Granite is the common term of this stone, but the stone is actually not made out of the mineral called granite. Instead, it is made up of several different natural minerals, and quartz, feldspar, and mica are three of the most common minerals found in this type of rock. The mineral variations will depend on the geographic location of the stone, and they also help determine the color of the stone.

Granite comes in a variety of styles and colors. Its aesthetic properties mainly depend on where it was mined and the minerals that are in it. The colors include many basic colors like black, brown and white, but also in rare colors, such as majestic blues.

Granite’s variety allows it to be suitable for every style – whether it’s transitional bar or a contemporary zen kitchen. With colors ranging from whites to browns, to blues, even reds, greens, and beige. There are varied patterns, from tightly packed granules to large sweeping movements. Being a natural material, no two stones are alike, which makes each installation unique. Some of the pieces are quite a work of art.

Dark black granite kitchen condo with beautiful white veining

Granite Slab Details

There are several factors to consider when selecting granite countertops. The first is choosing a slab of granite that works with your color scheme and style. The next is what thickness to use. Slabs generally come in ¾” (2cm) or 1-1/4” (3cm). For kitchens, the 1-1/4” is recommended since it is sturdier. The ¾” is a good thickness for backsplashes and thresholds, though each space is different and the application should be the determining factor on which thickness is appropriate.

The edge detail is another area where there are plenty of options ranging from square eased to cove ogee. Besides style, consider the function before making the final selection. For example, a full bullnose edge may be suitable for a conference table, but not for a kitchen countertop since the full curve of the bullnose tends to draw the water back into the cabinet and cause damage. The radius of corners is another consideration. 

Full height granite backsplash, brown and tan, with matching countertops in Oak Brook, IL

Granite Countertop Maintenance

Good fabricators will work with the homeowner to measure and template before cutting the stones. The homeowner can then pre-approve the templates and actually lay them out on the granite slabs. This is particularly important especially when you have a material with a lot of movement so the client can determine exactly which portion of the granite they want to use. This is also a time when they can eliminate natural anomalies on the granite such as dark spots or fissures. Often, the sink cutout can be placed to take out these spots.

Does granite need to be sealed? Yes! Seams are sometimes a necessary nuisance. Depending on the design and layout, seams may be inevitable. They can be strategically placed where they are less noticeable such as corners and below cabinets that sit on the countertop. Again, a good fabricator has techniques that will make the gap between each slab as small as possible. Granite is a natural product and therefore, porous. Because of this, it needs to be sealed, so the chemicals and the material doesn’t get into the granite. It is recommended that you seal your granite countertops every year. Sealer can be purchased at a low rate at any number of local home imporvement stores. Remember, sealing your countertops save you money, as it helps the countertops retain its shine and durability.

Granite is a straight forward and easy to use surface that is the perfect fit in almost any home. Installing granite in the home is a great way to add value and classic beauty to any area of the home. The fact that you can have a beautiful surface that is easy to maintain is icing on the cake.

Natural granite countertop with heavy movement

This award winning Western Springs kitchen features Blue Flower granite. See more of this Open Kitchen Design – Western Springs.

Large light colored granite island with beautiful dark veins

This kitchen features two different kinds of granite. This island showcases Monte Carlo polished granite with an ogee edge, and the perimeter features Antique Brown honed granite with a square eased edge. View this Refreshing Suburban Kitchen.

White Glen Ellyn kitchen with white and grey granite countertops and bar

This kitchen features honed Snow White granite, view this Well-Dressed Traditional Glen Ellyn Kitchen.

Free Kitchen Design Guide Download

For an in-depth look at remodeling your kitchen, from backsplashes to countertops and more, download our free kitchen design guide here.

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