Do you like granite countertops? I know I do, especially honed finished ones, despite them being a little harder to maintain than those that are polished. While the igneous rock been in use since antiquity for construction, its use as a kitchen top is relatively recent.
Starting out as an expensive but glamorous option in the 1987, globalization and the cheap labour it made available, better logistics, diamond-edged saws and computerized manufacturing has brought its price down a great deal. Today, what used to be purely a luxury product can now be found in many average households.
Granite countertops are synonymous with quality, beauty and durability. However, it’s not perfect, and it’s important to understand the pros and cons of granite countertops before getting one.
Rock solid, granite is a hard material. It’s hard enough that it’s not recommended to cut directly on its surface with steel knives because it will dull the edges of the knives! This makes it very resistant to scratching and cutting damage. In addition, granite countertops are highly resistant to heat, and hot pots and pans will not damage its surface (granite has a melting point of 1210 – 1260 degrees Celsius; a hot pan is about 177 – 232 degrees Celsius).
There’s a good reason why people were willing to pay top-dollar to have a heavy slab of stone cut out from the earth, shaped and processed with specialized equipment, then shipped long distances – granite countertops are highly regarded for their beauty. Some like it shiny and polished, others prefer it honed and natural looking. A few others appreciate the uniqueness that each slab is.
Assuming it contains negligible amounts of calcium, granite countertops will not react with acids. In contrast to marble, which will fizzle and get visibly etched when it comes into contact with acid, you don’t have to worry that mild acids like those found in foods doing a number on your favourite granite countertop.
One of granite’s strengths is also its weaknesses. Rigid and brittle, hard impacts and pressures can chip and crack it. While it’s repairable, the structural integrity of the stone cannot be fully restored, and a severely cracked piece will have to be replaced entirely. Badly installed granite countertops with insufficient gap space in between the seams can cause it to crack under the effect of weathering.
Granite, like most natural stones, are entirely covered in small holes called pores. Generally regarded as the biggest downside to natural stone, these pores if left unsealed allow liquids to seep into the material and leave stains that will be difficult to remove. More worrying, however, is the potential for these pores to get clogged up with bacteria and pose a health hazard.
Although far cheaper than they were 20 years ago, a granite countertop is still quite expensive. They typically cost 50 percent more than solid surfaces and about 300 percent more than laminates. And because granite is a hard and heavy material, it is difficult to transport and install, which adds to labour cost.