How to Choose the Best Granite for Your Kitchen Countertop
Guide for Granite Countertops Buyers
When you are shopping for new kitchen countertop, you have to think about your lifestyle first. If you have four kids and they are eating hot-dogs with ketchup on the countertop, you definitely should not choose that beautiful white marble for your kitchen countertop. Apart from stone looks, you should also consider durability, cost and maintenance of the stone.
Granite is a popular choice for kitchen countertops in the world of kitchen renovations. Here, we are going to analyse some facts and figures regarding choosing, buying, installing and maintaining granite countertops.
Besides granite, marble is also very popular material when it comes to making countertops. We are going to discuss pros and cons of both marble and granite:
Need to Know Facts About Marble
Marble is a metamorphic rock made when limestone is put under high heat and lots of pressure over time. It is very striking and durable, but it is also very porous and can be ruined by thing like acid, water and heat. That means that it can stain easily and even if it is sealed, if hot pans are set upon it or juices like lemon or orange are spilled on it, then it can ruin that seal and seep into the marble and destroy it.
Marble is good for low traffic areas, but when it comes to the high daily use of the normal family kitchen countertops, it may not stand up to the pressures it would be put under. It is better for things like end tables, coffee tables, artwork, and other items.
On low traffic modern kitchens, designers often use honed or acid-washed marble surface for countertops . On the picture above you can see an Imperador Dark honed marble countertop. Interior designers are often attracted to marble because of its wonderful colour and texture, but home-owners have to be very careful because of lower marble durability.
Need to Know Granite Facts
Granite is a metamorphic rock as well, and is made of quartz, mica, silicon and feldspar, and is also made through pressure and high heat. However, it isn't so porous like marble and is more able to resist acid or chemicals. This is due to the quartz in it. Plus, granite resists stains and if it is sealed correctly it can last for many years to come and isn't as likely to scratch, chip or wear out. Plus it comes in many more colours than marble choices. On the photo above you can see beautiful Siena Bordeaux polished granite countrtop.
Sink is a very important part of your new granite countertop
Blanco is well known kitchen sinks brand. You just can't lose the case with Blanco!
Different Types of Granite Countertop Finishes
Granite countertops come in several types of finishes and it depends on what you want as to what you choose to use for your kitchen.
Polished -- A polished finish is the one most people are familiar with when it comes to granite countertops. This gives it a glossy, reflective look and shows off the granite’s natural look and flow. A polished finish is also easier to clean, its seal keeps away moisture, and it holds up against chemicals or weather (in the case of outdoor countertops).
Honed finish – A honed finish has a silky feeling that is smooth, but duller than a polished finish. This type of finish does, however, mean that the colouring won’t be as bright and it is more vulnerable to surface stains. They also are non-reflective.
Abrasive finish – Abrasive finishes area flat and non-reflective. They are mostly used for countertops used in outdoor areas.
Acid etched finish – This type of countertop has an aged look made with a type of acid or other abrasive.
Brushed finish -- These have been given a look of ageing by the application of abrasives or acids through the use of a wire brush on the surface of the granite. Some are brush hammered, which is done mechanically. On the image above you can see granite countertop with brushed finish.
Flamed or thermal finish – This is used in granite flooring mostly.
Sandblasted finish – Non-glossy matte look and is used mostly for outside countertops.
What are Available Granite Edges
There are several types of granite countertop edges, including the following:
Eased or pencil edges, are very common. They have a 90 degree curve and dull edges. They are also very durable.
A full bullnose is a rounded edge and there is also half and demi styles of bullnose edges. The half is flat and horizontal, while the demi is flat and oblong in shape.
The Ogee edge is duel in nature. It starts off square, but then fans out more like the bullnose edge style. It is considered very decorative, but it does get dusty easier and it is more expensive. On the image above you can see a kitchen island with Ogee edge.
The waterfall edge or triple pencil style is completely symmetrical in nature with graduated depressions and projections. It is more expensive and is more likely to crack than other kinds of edges.
The bevel edge is angled. You can find one quarter and one half inch bevels or even a double bevel where the bottom and the top have angled edges.
Faucet is another important addition to your new kitchen countertop
Granite Countertop Thickness
Granite counter thickness vary and range from three-quarter inch to three inches. The very thin size is used in bathroom and kitchen countertops and is less expensive than the thicker ones. The most common thickness is one and one-quarter inch thick. This size is stronger and less likely to need to be seamed or supported. It is common practice when fabricators glue two layers of three-quarter granite on the edges to increase visual thickness to one and half inch.
The larger thickness are not as common and are more expensive. However, it can be carved into different shapes and used to make layers of granite to make things like kitchen islands or buffet tabletops.
On the picture above you can see a granite countertop that has 1 1/4 thickness.
Natural quartz and quartzite are very popular choices for countertops!
Useful Resources on Kitchen Countertops Design
What is the Granite Installation Process
Installation of a granite countertop involves several steps. Once the customer picks out the type of granite they want, a template has to be made of the area the countertop will sit on, as well as fabricating it, and tearing out any old countertop before putting in the new one. All sinks, cook-tops, cabinets, have to be measured properly to get a perfect fit.
Then fabricators will cut the granite and profile the edges. Choose your fabricators wisely, they have to be not less than talented artists to create wonderful product out of natural stone. Check their previous jobs and customers recommendations.
When the granite countertop pieces are brought in, all of the existing appliances and sinks are taken out and any electricity or gas is turned off for safety purposes. Then the workers will install your new countertops, re-hook up the appliances and sinks and turn electricity and gas back on. After installation, your new countertop has to be professionally sealed to prevent staining.
Granite Countertop Installation Video
How Much Does it Cost
Granite slabs for countertops ranged from $20 to $100 a square foot. It usually takes about a week for fabrication and installation to be done and adds several dollars for each square foot of countertop to the total price. In 2013 installation costs ran about $47 to $150 a square foot, depending on the cost of material, and labour rates.
How to Find a Good Countertop Fabricator
What is the best way to choose countertop fabricator?
Can I Avoid the Seams on a Granite Countertop
Many customers worry about needing a seam if their countertops don’t fit and new pieces have to be added since slabs are usually only around 10 by 6 feet in size. The seams are filled with epoxy or polyester glue and dyed to match the rest of the countertop. It may not be possible to avoid needing a seam depending on the size of your kitchen, but as long as you have a good fabricator and installer, it shouldn't be that much of a problem.
What are the Best Maintenance Practices for Granite
Lastly, maintenance for granite is fairly easy. You just need to remember to clean up any spills immediately, especially acid liquid like juices or alcohol. When you do clean it, use very mild types of soap. Plus, don’t put heavy things down onto a countertop or climb up onto them or they could be damaged. If you have to put down something hot, use a hot pad or trivet to avoid damages. And also make sure your installer seals the countertop for protection, and check to see if it needs to be resealed in about three years.