What is Granite?
Granite is a highly-durable natural stone which forms from within the depths of the earth. Quarries extract it as big chunks of rock. From blocks, they turn these into slabs. A large gang saw carves through the massive stone like a giant bread slicer. Once cut, a particular machine polishes the granites' surface. In turn, this process brings out the stones' full color.
What Does Granite Look Like?
Granite is available in a wide range of color and pattern combinations. It often comes in shades of red, brown, black, white, and gray. Of course, there are other exquisite colors too, like green and blue. Most slabs appear with scattered black and gray specks on its surface. In some stones, swirls and veins make up its appearance. And, there are a few types which have minute crystals that shimmer under the light. All these variations are natural and inconsistent. The various minerals that form these rocks give its unique colors. Hence, no two slabs are identical. As a result, this natural process yields a virtually unlimited number of granite selections on the market.
But there is more to granite than meets the eye. After all, it is a natural material that has endured through time. Many of our history's majestic structures are a testament to its strength. In particular, it forms some of the great pyramids of Egypt. It makes up, too, the famous sculpture at Mount Rushmore. These, along with a few more, prove that granite is in for the long haul.
How Tough is Granite?
So what makes granite an excellent countertop material?
For one, granite is hard enough to resist abrasion. It holds out against scratches from daily kitchen preparations. It is harder than most kitchen utensils. And, believe it or not, it is more robust than your kitchen knives. Second, it is sturdy enough to bear significant weight. It remains steadfast even if you place many kitchen items over it. It will neither bend nor break under normal kitchen use. Lastly, it is inert enough to resist weathering. Just like a diamond, granite is a product of the constant pressure underground. Hence, it withstands heat from hot pots and pans without absorbing damage. As such, it is safer to use than its synthetic counterparts with resin and polyester. Granite does not melt, warp or even change color when subjected to high temperature. Furthermore, it holds its color and luster even when exposed to the elements.
For all its inherent strength, granite, however, is not indestructible. Use it beyond its normal function, and it may break or chip like any piece of rock. A countertop is meant to provide a work surface for the kitchen. So do not sit or stand on top of it. Use a stool when replacing a light bulb or reaching for the upper cabinets. Also, do not drop heavy objects on the slab. Any sudden impact may damage its surface. Keep in mind that with proper care and maintenance, your granite countertop can outlive the house itself.
What are the Uses for Granite?
Apart from being a countertop material, it has a lot of uses too. Granite is an excellent surface for both interior and exterior applications. Polished, it makes beautiful floors, walls, monuments, stair treads, and table tops. Its deep, natural color adds elegance and warmth to any space. It works well with other materials, such as metal, glass, and wood. Hence, it complements any architectural style, be it rustic or modern.
Textured, it is a reliable paver and pool coping that provides a non-slip finish. It is also useful for shower floors and other high-moisture areas. Various surface finishing, such as flaming, bush hammering, and sandblasting, allows us to produce stones ideal for the outdoors. These help us make use of granites that best fits our design and needed function.
How Much Does Granite Cost?
Here in the Philippines, a typical 3/4 ″ thick slab costs around Php2,000 to Php8,000 per piece. The unit cost of granite per square meter varies based on the color. A lot of factors affect these prices. These include the stone's origin, grade, thickness, and dimension. And, like any other product, supply and demand dictate the prices too. These factors only count the cost of the materials alone.
Keep in mind that the installation costs separately. Your local supplier will charge you based on your project's degree of difficulty. Thus, expect to pay a little more if your countertop has a fancy edge or a lot of cutouts. We know it is tempting to install it all by yourself, but it must be done by a professional only. Granite installation requires skill, strength, experience, and some specialized tools. With DIY, the only way you can save money is if you do it correctly. Otherwise, you will need to buy a slab replacement, which will, of course, cost you more.
Granite's longevity makes it a lifetime investment. It is a one-time purchase which will serve its purpose for a long time. Hence, it is a lot more reasonable to have in your kitchen than replacing a Formica every ten years.
How Do I Take Care of My Granite Countertop?
Some, but not all, granites require regular application of stone sealer. Depending on the color of your granite countertop, you may (or may not) need to seal once or twice a year to protect it from staining.
Even if your granite does not require any sealing, it is always best to use coasters and trays under glasses and bottles. Should any spill or drip happen, wipe them off immediately. Always use a cutting board when cooking. Never cut directly on your countertop's surface as it will only dull your kitchen knife.
To clean, use a mild soap or a special stone care product and a soft, tidy cloth. Do not use vinegar, ammonia, or bleach. Also, avoid acidic cleaners as they may wear off the applied sealer.
Whether you are using granite for your countertop or stairs, there is always a color that matches your interior. Not only does it complement your living space, but it also increases the resale value of your home. A granite countertop is a selling point should you decide to put your house on the market. Furthermore, it provides a working surface that lasts a lifetime.