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Choosing Granite Countertops

Updated on February 4, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

Choosing granite countertops can be part of creating a dream kitchen for many homeowners. Yet, if they have not carefully counted the costs, financial and otherwise, they may find that they are disappointed. While granite counters are beautiful and luxurious they are, like any other countertop material, not perfect. It is important to weigh all of the information before you decide that this is something you want in your home for the long term.

imagesxc  photo credit:quelbs
imagesxc photo credit:quelbs

Choosing Granite Countertops

Choosing a granite countertop is a matter of personal taste. There are a number of colors to choose from in this beautiful stone. You should choose what you like best but keep in mind that traditional colors will look great for decades while trendy colors may make your kitchen look dated in a few short years. Classic colors are:

  • Black
  • Gold
  • Dark Green
  • Cocoa browns
  • Red tones

While a large amount of veining may look beautiful it also means that the stone is more fragile and therefore has more of a chance of breaking or cracking. Try to choose slabs with the least amount of veining for the most durable material.

Pros and Cons of Granite

Like anything there are good things and not so good things about granite. You will need to decide if it is something you want based on your own beliefs and lifestyle.


  • Non-porous surface does not allow bacteria to cling
  • Easily cleaned
  • Luxurious
  • Beautiful
  • Doesn’t lose its beauty over time


  • The granite is unique. If part of the counter needs replacing it won’t match.
  • Expensive
  • Not a sustainable material, once it is gone it is gone
  • Because it is a natural material there is no warranty on it, just on the installation
  • Possible health hazards (see below)

Granite Countertop Health Risks

Although the Marble Institute of America dismisses worries about radiation from granite there have been some reported concerns. The EPA recommends that people be exposed to no more than 4 picoCuries per liter of air in their homes. At that level the danger from Radon is, according to the EPA, equal to smoking half a pack of cigarettes per day.

Radon is a cancer causing gas that can’t be discerned by the five senses. Homes need to have tests to see how high the levels are. In some homes the levels of radon were significantly higher after the installation of granite countertops that before. This is a health concern because it is estimated that radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers today.
Some colors seem to emit more radon than others, especially those with:

  • Pink
  • Red
  • Purple

Granite Overlay

One type of granite countertop to consider, especially if you will not be replacing your cabinets is granite overlay. In this process natural granite is engineered into a veneer like material and applied right over your existing countertops. This makes it less expensive that traditional granite as well as lighter. Installing needs to be done by professionals but the actual installation can be done in as little as one day.

Like granite the overlay is:

  • Heat resistant
  • Stain resistant
  • Scratch resistant
  • Easy to clean with mild soap and water
  • Water resistant
  • Non-porous

In addition to the above, granite overlay is less expensive than traditional granite and does not release radon gas.

Cleaning Granite Countertops

Granite should not be cleaned with abrasives or harsh cleaners. Plain mild soap and water works well for most things. Never use anything acidic, not even vinegar and water. These products can cause pitting in the surface.
About once a week you can clean it with a special stone cleaner for granite and marble. Once in awhile you should plan to have it resealed. Check it by allowing drops of water to stand on the surface. If they bead up it is still fine. If they absorb into the stone then you will need to reseal.

For some, granite counters create the ultimate, luxurious kitchen.


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    • profile image

      Paul 6 years ago

      This is some interesting formation about granite vs quartz. Granite is an will remain the most sought after countertop product because of the many points made in this hub. We have collected much of the documented research and post it here:

      On another note granie is not typically replaces in pieces, nor is any other contertop surface so I think that statement lacks merit.

    • profile image

      JM 6 years ago

      From being in this business for about 4 years, here is some information to digest if you are considering granite: The radon "issue" is completely embellished. Yes, it does emit radon, and no, the amount is so insignificant that it doesn't come with any health risks.

      No cleaners are good for granite, (anything acidic will eat through the sealer and give you dull tops) mild soap and water is always best! Speaking of sealer, it is recommended that you seal a kitchen area once per year.

      If these types of things worry you about choosing granite for your home, maybe Engineered stone is something to look into. Not a completely natural product, but it's a no maintenance product (no sealer needed... ever!), comes in MANY colors and patterns, and in some cases can be antimicrobial.

      Keep in mind, just because your big-box retailers sell counter tops... it doesn't mean they are going to provide you with any more service than a fabricator. They will charge you a fee and use a sub-contractor anyway. Do yourself a favor, get the same tops and great service from a local fabricator, just make sure that they are licensed, bonded and insured and you're good to go!

    • profile image

      j sanjeev 6 years ago

      The only problem with granite is that you have to seal it regularly as it is porous.

    • whitton profile image

      whitton 7 years ago

      Nice Hub. I never knew that you shouldn't clean granite with cleaners. Thanks for sharing your information.

    • ed77burns profile image

      ed77burns 7 years ago from USA

      Nice hub, The hub gives many ideas which we don't know and its of great use.

    • angelaglancy profile image

      angelaglancy 7 years ago from Seattle

      Interesting hub. I have never heard of the radiation threats of marble and granite. Thanks for the info.