Information About Natural Granite
One of the most widely known materials used for kitchen countertops is granite. People ask for it when purhasing homes. If a home does not have it installed, many choose to remodel and install it. Natural granite offers a variety of benefits. In this article we will take a look at granite from different aspects. Along the way, we will also briefly consider some practical aspects of working with and caring for this popular and intriguing countertop material.
What Is Granite?
It can be easy to overlook (even for those familiar with natural stone) the fact that there is more than one definition of granite. The glossary of terms published by the Natural Stone Institute includes the following three definitions of the term granite:
Granite (commercial definition)
A term that includes granite (as defined below) plus gneiss, gneissic granite, gran-ite gneiss, and the rock species known to petrologists as syenite, monzonite, and granodiorite, species intermediate be-tween them, the gneissic varieties and gneisses of corresponding mineralogic compositions and the corresponding va-rieties of porphyritic textures. The term commercial granite shall also include other feldspathic crystalline rocks of similar textures, containing minor amounts of accessory minerals, used for special decorative purposes, and known to petrologists as anorthosite and larvikite.
Granite (scientific definition)
A visibly granular, crystalline rock of pre-dominantly interlocking texture com-posed essentially of alkalic feldspars and quartz. Feldspar is generally present in excess of quartz, and accessory minerals (chiefly micas, hornblende, or more rarely pyroxene) are commonly present. The alkalic feldspars may be present (1) as individual mineral species, (2) as iso-morphous or mechanical intergrowths with each other, or (3) as chemical inter-growths with the lime feldspar molecule, but 80 + 3% of the feldspar must be composed of the potash or soda feldspar molecules.
A very hard, crystalline, igneous rock, gray to pink in color, composed of feldspar, quartz, and lesser amounts of dark ferro-magnesium materials. Gneiss and black "granites" are similar to true granites in structure and texture, but are composed of different minerals. Commercial and scientific definitions of the granite group are explained in detail in ASTM C119.
As you can see from those definitions, it can get pretty detailed (and for some people, confusing) when you begin to look at geological terms related to granite. As a result, we will keep the term granite easy to understand. We will simply refer to the material as granite (like the third of the above definitions) or natural granite. When we talk about granite we also mean it to be the material quarried from the ground and cut into slabs for use.
One of the reasons that natural granite has become a tried and true, reliable choice for so many consumers is that it has desirable properties. Let's look briefly at some of the traits that buyers like about granite.
The first characteristic of granite that we will mention is its hardness. Granite is composed of very hard substances that make it very resistant to chipping and scratching. This is a quality that is valuable for a kitchen countertop to have. Eating and serving food from a countertop is bound to cause some scratches if the material of the surface cannot withstand it. Granite resists scratches that could come from eating utensils, serving utensils, and even kitchen knives.
Another feature of natural granite that makes it popular is the wide array of colors in which you can find the material. Virtually every color can be found or even created. Because of the many color options available, natural granite has become one of the most popular materials for kitchen and bathroom countertops.
When installing kitchen countertops or bathroom vanity tops using granite, fabricators use color matched granite adhesive that is formulated to coordinate with whichever color of granite is being installed. There truly is a large amount of granite colors available. The challenge is trying to find just the right one for your project since the best stone glue depends on which stone you are bonding.
Suppliers of Granite
So where can you get granite? Usually granite is available through a supplier. Here is a short list of some granite suppliers you can find using a search engine on the Internet:
Most consumers need not search for a supplier. Designers will often times have some that they are familiar with and trust for that part of the project. Designers also can give you access to another type of stone professional that plays an important role in the process.
It is not difficult to find a variety of professional stone fabricators for just about every state in the United States. The same is probably true of other nations as well. You can search online to find a granite fabricator or use one of many resources for stone pros.
Working with a granite fabricator allows you give and get input on your project. This is what some people want and there are those that do not want to mess with it. If you are the type that likes to have projects done and you to be "hands-off" then you might want to work with a designer. But working with a fabricator can really help you fine tune your project.
Granite Care and Maintenance
As mentioned earlier, granite is a durable stone that can last for many, many years. But how is a long life for grnaite surfaces achieved? Primarily through a care and maintenance routine that consists of two parts. They are:
- Sealing Granite
- Using the Proper Cleaner
Sealing Natural Granite
The first part of maintaining natural granite is making sure that it is regularly sealed. How often does granite need to be sealed? It depends on the stone. Each slab of granite varies in porosity. So one stone may be more or less porous than the next. Additionally, the sealer you apply can be destroyed by other solutions that are used on the surface. Finally, your stone may have been sealed when it was installed.
How To Know Whether Granite Needs to be Sealed
Determining whether your granite is ready for sealing is as simple as asking it how thirsty it is. This is done using a water test. To perform the test, follow these steps:
- Be sure the surface of the granite is clean and free of debris.
- Choose a few places on the surface of the stone that are used the most.
- Using distilled water (using water with minerals in it could be deterimental), pour some small puddles of water on the stone in the areas selected in step 2.
- Observe the puddles of distilled water. The faster the stone absorbs the water, the "thirstier" it is.
- After observing the puddles of water for 30 minutes without the stone absorbing the water, you can have the assurance that your stone is adequately sealed. Any darkening of the stone while the water is on it indicates that the stone is absorbing the water.
Sealing natural granite is relatively easy and does not require a professional to do the job. Rather, it can be a do-it-yourself project that only requires purchasing the proper sealer for natural granite and applying it to the surface of your stone.
Using the Right Granite Cleaner
The second aspect of maintaining natural granite is using the right cleaner. Periodically sealing natural stone like we just described only works well if the proper cleaning solutions are used. Using harsh cleaners that are acidic will remove the sealer from the stone's surface. Therefore, it is recommended that a pH neutral cleaner be used to clean the surface. By simply using the appropriate cleaner you preserve the hard work and time you invest in keeping your countertop protected from stains.
Is Natural Granite the Best Countertop Material?
There are many materials used for coutnertops these days. Quartzite, DEKTON®, and engineered quartz are just a few of the other materials that are used for fabricating countertops. So the question naturally comes up, "Is natural granite the best countertop material?" The answer to that question will vary depending on whom you ask. However, this article highlights some of the reasons why many people would say that it is.
Another factor involved in determining whether granite is the best countertop material is making sure the consumer knows how to properly care for and maintain the granite surface.
This article is not meant to be an all inclusive resource for natural granite. Instead, it has been published to describe some basic, actionable information about the material.