WHAT IS GRANITE?
Granite is solid, durable, natural, warm .These are just a few of granite's unique features. It is an igneous rock that comes only from earth. Granite comes in a variety of colors including black, red and yellow based on where it was formed. Different types of finishes also create unique pieces of granite ideal for distinctive countertop surfaces. Granite, like other natural stones such as marble or limestone, is thousands of years old. Natural stones are porous, meaning that if they are not properly sealed they can be penetrated by water, oil and other liquids. Granite is the second hardest natural stone next to the diamond. Granite is strong enough for everyday use, making it an optimal material for countertops.
WHERE DOES GRANITE COME FROM?
Granite comes from deep within the earth and forms through a process that can take thousands of years. Over time, liquid magma is forced between layers of rock and when it cools it forms a layer of granite. The granite acquires a crystalline look from the mineral elements that are left after the cooling process. This extremely long process makes granite into a hard and durable stone. Found in the earth’s continental crust, granite is the main rock that lies beneath the thin sedimentary veneer of the continents and forms throughout the world.
Granite’s features are dependent on where in the world it was formed. Although granite is widely distributed throughout the world, commercially it is generally manufactured in Africa, Spain, India, Brazil, China and Norway. Amazingly, experts are able to determine where a particular slab of granite came from based on its color. In most instances, red and black granite is commonly from Egypt or a desert in the United States, while white granite with gray specks is often from China and blue granite is usually from the African coast.
The colors in granite are influenced by the minerals in each slab. For instance, quartz adds a milky white color, while feldspar contributes a blue or a green color to the granite.
WHAT ABOUT GRANITE QUARRIES?
Granite is mined in quarries, which are large pits or excavation sites. The direction in which the granite will break the easiest determines how a quarry will be laid out in order to obtain the most amount of granite possible. At most quarries around the world, diamonds are used to cut the granite because the diamond is the only stone harder than granite. The next step in quarring granite is curring it into desirable sizes, which is usually accomplished with wire saws. If the granite is to be used for countertops, it is cut and polished into appropriate shapes and sizes.
WHAT ARE DIFFERENT TYPES OF GRANITE FINISHES?
Granite surfaces can be finished in a variety of ways; polished, honed, flamed or brushed; each with its own unique look and texture.
A polished finish is most common due to a few key factors. Polished finishes will give your home an elegant and formal look. This finish is also a great option, especially for kitchens, because it is easier to maintain than other finishes and its shiny appearance brings out the color of your granite. Many people describe polished finishes as mirror-like.
Honed finishes are gradually becoming more popular for granite countertops. This finish is smooth but less shiny than polished finishes and gives your home a more causal and contemporary feel. One drawback of honed finishes is that they are known to show stains more than others. But, don’t let this deter you from choosing a honed finish; as long as you make an effort to clean and care for your countertops, you should be fine. Certain sealers and treatments will also help keep your honed countertops stain free. As with all granite countertops and finishes, honed countertops are durable and will last a lifetime.
Flamed finishes are made by exposing stone to intense heat followed by immediate cooling. This exposure causes granite to melt, and some crystals to shatter in the process, which leaves the granite surface highly textured. Flamed finishes are mostlyseen in industrial places, although they are also a good choice for countertops in your home. Flamed finishes are a perfect solution if you need a surface that is slip resistant.
Brushed finishes (also known as antiqued finishes) are created by brushing the granite’s surface to obtain a worn-in look. This finish gives countertops a dramatic look.
POINTS TO REMEMBER?
**Granite is the countertop of choice.
**Granite is a mixture of natural beauty and elegance.**Granite holds up to heat and is scratch resistant.**Granite is permanent and has a substantial look.**Granite is very durable.
**Graite is unique; no two stones are exactly the same.
**Granite's coloration will never change; it will always remain as bright and vibrant as when first finished.
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO CARE FOR MY GRANITE COUNTERTOPS?
Once originally sealed, granite is easy to maintain. The initial seal is necessary because granite is porous and will stain easily without it. After sealing, your granite is protected and ready to use. Keep in mind that you will need to reseal your granite countertops at least once a year. This can be done on your own or by a professional, but will ensure that your granite will remain stain free. If a spill should occur, clean up before the stain has a chance to penetrate the surface. Granite is somewhat absorbent and can absorb stains if spills are left for any length of time.
Generally, you can clean your granite countertops with a neutral cleaner and a soft clean cloth. Consider using a disinfectant cleaner made specifically for granite. With the growing popularity of granite countertops, these should be easy to find. Using regular cleaning chemicals on your countertop will strip the seal and leave the porous surface of the granite exposed. Don’t be afraid to call your local stone dealer for suggestions on maintenance, care and cleaning.
WHAT IS THE LIFE EXPECTANCY OF GRANITE COUNTERTOPS?
Granite is not only already thousands of years old, but it will probably last another thousand years. It's tough, it's stain, scratch and heat resistant, just to name a few of its impressive features. Experts say that using your granite countertops as a cutting board won’t hurt the countertops only dull your knives, and unless you try cutting granite with a diamond or smashing it with a sledge hammer, it won’t crack or break. Furthermore, it can withstand temperatures up to 900 degrees Fahrenheit (482.22 degrees Celcius ) without causing damage. These are just a few of the reasons why granite countertops can last a lifetime.
DO GRANITE COUNTERTOPS INCREASE MY PROPERTY VALUE?
Countertops made of natural stone, especially granite, add more resale value to your home than any other material. Second, granite countertops will last you a lifetime, which means that after the cost of the initial installation (with proper maintenance and care) they never need to be replaced. If you are set on granite countertops, but still have concerns about the costs there are several ways to lower the expense. One possibility is choosing granite based on the place from which it was imported. For example, some experts say that buying granite imported from Italy tends to be the most expensive option, while choosing granite imported from China can save you money. Even if granite countertops remain out of your price range, there is still hope for the future. As with any product, as its popularity rises and it becomes widely used, the price often lowers. Also, with new quarries being discovered each year, the growing choices keep prices down.
WHAT ARE THE COLORS?
Granite is not only a perfect material for countertops because of its durability, but also because of its aesthetic appeal. Granite can be elegant and luxurious, or casual and contemporary, depending on the color and finish you choose. Also, no matter what look you go with, you will be lucky to have countertops that will last forever and never dull. Today there are countless colors of granite to choose from imported from all over the world. Each piece of granite is unique; no two slabs will ever look identical. From greens, blues and blacks, to pinks, whites and yellows, the options are endless. Slabs also vary in patterns – some have large and intricate designs and movements while others are more subtle. So, what color will you choose for the granite in your home and what effect will it create? Here are some of the most common colors and their basic styles.
Brown and Beige - These neutral tones easily compliment other colors in a kitchen or bathroom. They are the most popular choices, providing a comfortable and traditional look.
Yellow and Gold - Countertops brighten and warm-up a room. Gold countertops also add warmth, along with a luxurious and rich style.
Red - Granite can create a striking and romantic feel. Reds will also draw people to the room and spice up the style in your home.
Black - Provides a very modern, clean and sleek look. Black granite countertops can be plain or can incorporate interesting patterns and additional colors.
White - Depending on how the rest of the room is decorated, white granite countertops can provide a comfortable and soothing feel, or a more modern and elegant style. White matches with almost all other colors and may make small rooms appear more spacious.
CAN I INSTALL GRANITE COUNTERTOPS MYSELF?
Granite countertops should be installed by a professional. Although hiring someone to install your countertops adds to the cost of the project, in the end, it is worth it to have the job done right. Installing granite countertops incorrectly can lead to serious problems and possibly the need for replacement.