Granite: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Granite: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
So you want granite countertops…. Wait, do you want granite countertops or do you need granite countertops? There’s nothing wrong with using granite for your new countertops if you’ve decided it’s the best fit for you and your lifestyle. However, if you decided on granite after so-and-so told you it would increase the value of your home, you saw it featured on HGTV or the DIY Network, or noticed all your friends had it then it’s time to do a little homework. When it comes to granite there’s the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good
There are advantages to using granite as the material for your countertops. For instance:

  •  It’s heat resistant – Unlike other countertop materials such as wood, solid surface, and laminate granite won’t scorch when hot pots and pans are placed on it. When you’re cooking you can set items taken out of the oven or off of the stove on granite surfaces. However, keep in mind that nothing is 100% heat proof – extreme temperatures could cause granite to crack.
  • It’s scratch resistant – A popular selling point of granite is to say that you can cut directly on granite and your knife will dull before the granite scratches. You probably shouldn’t do that because the best case scenario is a dull knife and the worse is a scratched or stained countertop. However, granite is scratch resistant, and on a daily basis there isn’t much chance of you scratching your countertop. If it’s something you’re worried about, certain colors can help hide scratches that may occur.
  • It provides a one-of-a-kind look – No two slabs of granite are identical. The differences between slabs are especially pronounced in granite that has movement (patterns). This means that even if you and all your friends decided to get the same color of granite your countertops would not look the same.
  • It’s durable – Granite is a tough, long lasting material. It’s not something you’re going to have to replace anytime soon.
  • It’s easy to clean – You can get cleaner made specifically for granite at most hardware stores or you can just use warm water and a little bit of mild soap. Check with your granite supplier to determine the best cleaning method for your countertops. You can also refer to this information from the Marble Institute of America: A Guide to the Care & Cleaning of Natural Stone.
  •  It’s water resistant – If you spill water on some materials and aren’t able to clean it up in a timely manner you could be looking at a damaged or even ruined countertop. Granite is not one of those materials. Water spilt on granite may leave behind water spots, but those can be easily cleaned up with no lasting effects.
The Bad
There are disadvantages to using granite as the material for your countertops. For instance:
  • It may stain – Acidic materials, oils, food coloring, permanent markers, and coffee are just a few of the items that may stain a granite countertop. Generally, the lighter the granite the more apparent staining is. Be conscious of your lifestyle; if you have young children a white granite may not be your best bet. In most cases, stains can be removed, but this could be difficult and costly. 
  • A slab is hard to replace – Chances are that if you choose granite for your kitchen countertops you’ll need more than one slab. Your granite supplier should be able to pick slabs that are similar in terms of color and movement so that you get a consistent look. This isn’t too difficult because granite slabs come in a batch of about 4 that were pulled from the same spot at the same time. The slabs in a batch are similar (although not identical). The real problem is that if one slab in the countertop should crack somewhere down the road it will be difficult if not impossible to find a matching replacement. 
  • It may have visible seams – A seam is where two pieces of granite are joined together. In some countertop materials like solid surface seams are not visible; unfortunately, granite seams can be noticeable. Ask your granite supplier if you’ll have a seam(s), where the seam(s) will be, and what their seam size standards are. 
  • It can crack – Granite can crack if stressed or installed improperly. 
  • There may not be a warranty – Some countertop materials including solid surface and quartz generally come with a manufacturer warranty. Since granite isn’t made by a company there is no manufacturer warranty, but your supplier may offer one. 
  • It may require maintenance – Granite, unlike laminate, solid surface, quartz, and some other countertop materials, is not typically maintenance free. Granite may require regular (one to two times annually) sealing. Check with your granite supplier to determine if your granite should be sealed and how often.  

The Ugly (Truth)
There are a lot of television shows that will have you believe granite countertops will increase the value of your home. Check with some local realtors to see if that’s fact or fiction. In addition, make sure you like granite. Otherwise, you may increase the value of your home only to find yourself stuck with a countertop you don’t enjoy and that doesn’t compliment your lifestyle.

The bottom line is that there are many materials available for countertops including quartz, solid surface, laminate, marble, wood, slate, soapstone, concrete, stainless steel, granite, and recycled materials. All of these materials have their pros and cons. You should pick your countertop material based on what works for you. Maybe that material is granite and maybe it’s not.

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