Granite Countertop Buyer’s Guide – Everything You Need To Know
There are countless decisions you need to make when planning a kitchen remodel—from selecting the right kitchen cabinets and sink features to the layout, color, and appliances you want in the room. One of the most important choices that you make is what type of countertops would work best in your kitchen, and granite counters have become a desirable, beautiful, and high-value option over recent years.
The skyrocketing popularity of granite has brought it to the forefront of the remodeling and design industry, but that doesn’t mean that it’s an easy process to find the right stone counters for your home! With the diversity and appeal of granite countertops, you need to know exactly what you are looking for when you begin to shop around for the perfect slab, and that comes from breaking down all of the must-know factors that you need to consider throughout the process.
Benefits of Choosing Granite Counters
When you walk into your kitchen, you want to be wowed by the impressive beauty of the space—after all, kitchen remodeling is a big expense, and you want to get the most out of your budget! Choosing granite countertops is one way to make a major impact on both the style and functionality of your kitchen.
As a natural stone material, granite is made up of at least 20% quartz, as well as other minerals such as mica and feldspar. This gives it an innate ability to hold-up to the heaviest wear and tear from a busy household, and there are a few key benefits that have helped granite counters climb to the top of the “must-have” list with kitchen remodeling.
Beautiful Color & Finish
Typically, the first thing that draws people to granite is its incredible color and the natural variation of its appearance. Whatever color scheme you are going for in the kitchen, you are likely to find a beautiful slab that matches your vision. Available in a rainbow of colors, depending on the unique composition, source, and quality of the stone, granite countertops can also be finished in a number of different ways to help you achieve the look that you want, including:
You can’t build a functional kitchen simply on style—the products and materials you choose also need to be able to withstand decades of heavy use, wear and tear, and cleaning. While granite is known for its beauty, it is also renowned for its extreme durability. This natural stone can withstand heat of up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit—so you can stop worrying about putting hot pans on your counters—and it is also resistant to scratches, water, and staining with proper care and sealing.
Minimal Upkeep Requirements
The kitchen in a home is used multiple times a day, which is bound to mean that you also spend a lot of your life cleaning up the space. Unlike some countertop materials that require special care and materials for cleaning, granite is overall an easy-to-maintain choice.
Routine care involves just a quick wipe-down with a soft cloth and warm water after use, and you can also buy cleaners that are made specifically for natural stone like granite. Your granite countertops will typically be sealed at installation, but you will still need to consider resealing every year or two to keep your counters looking like new.
The Factors that Determine Granite Countertop Cost
With all of the advantages of having granite counters in the kitchen, it might seem like it is the obvious choice for any homeowner! However, the quality and benefits of this stone come at a price, and cost is often the deciding factor in whether or not you’ll be able to afford to upgrade your home with this beautiful natural stone. Additionally, most suppliers require that you purchase a whole slab, even if you don’t need it, so you have to be highly strategic with your kitchen design so that you can get your money’s worth by incorporating as much of the slab as possible.
Granite countertops are available in a broad spectrum of price points, and there are many different factors that go into determining exactly what the slab of your dreams will end up costing you:
- Color Differences: Color might not seem like it should have a big effect on price, but with granite, it certainly does! Natural-hue stones and earth tones are more common and generally available at a lower price point. However, granite comes in a rainbow of different hues, and rare colors, such as blue, are typically priced much higher. Some granite slabs also include semiprecious stones, which, while stunning in the kitchen, can really make the price go up.
- Availability: Due to the fact that granite is a natural material and not man-made, it has to be mined from sources around the world. That means that events on the other side of the globe can easily have a big impact in how much you end up paying for your granite counters, and factors like seasonal restrictions and political unrest can make granite scarcer—and more expensive.
- Mining Source: Granite can be found in locations all over the globe, but the majority of granite is mined in Brazil or India. Granite from India is affordable, dense, and available in large slabs. Brazilian granite is easier to come by and known for its beautiful appearance. Granite slabs that come from China, however, are more commonly dyed—so be careful when it comes to quality!
- Stone Composition: The term “granite” refers to many different types of dense stones that rank on a 7 or 8 on the Mohs Scale of Mineral Hardness and are resistant to acids. Some types of granite contain high amounts of other minerals, such as iron, that can make up the majority of the stone. Other types of granite are close to another stone material, like marble, and could be classified under either name.
What You Need to Know Before You Start Shopping
While granite countertops can give your home a very specific look, the board scope of what is available with this material can leave you scrambling to stay on top of things when it is time to start shopping. Working with a professional contractor and designer is a smart choice to make sure that you are getting a slab of granite that will work for the needs of your project—without busting your budget.
When you’re ready to start checking out what’s available at a granite supplier near you, you’ll want to pay extra attention to:
- Choosing a Color: If you have the name of a specific color of granite in mind, remember that these names aren’t universal! Suppliers and quarries can have different names for the same type of stone, so it is important to take a close look at the slab in person instead of purchasing it based on the name of its color alone.
- Understanding the Language: Understanding the lingo of the industry is where a professional can really benefit you while shopping for granite countertops. Words that you are likely to hear include Japurana, which refers to a flowing pattern in the granite, and Giallo, which is Italian for a golden color.
- Knowing the Dos and Don’ts: Purchasing a granite slab is a big investment, and you want to be fully prepared before taking the plunge! Before you contact your first supplier, make sure you understand what you should and should not do during the process:
- DON’T go for dyed slabs—seek out stone that naturally showcases your preferred color.
- DO get to know your supplier and the fabricator to make the shopping process easier
- DON’T be afraid to ask questions! The more you know, the better the results will be.
- DO get started choosing your slab early to work the whole piece into your design.
- DON’T hesitate on buying—slabs are one-of-a-kind, and once they’re gone, they’re gone.
There is no question that granite countertops can turn a simple kitchen into a show-stopping room of the house, and their impressive benefits can make them one of the best investments you make in your remodel! As long as you understand what you are looking for, how to navigate the ever-changing granite market, and take the time to make your decision, you can end up with beautiful and functional granite countertops that last for a lifetime.
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