What is granite?
Granite is defined as a visibly granular, igneous rock generally ranging in color from pink to light or dark gray and consisting mostly of quartz and feldspars accompanied by one or more dark minerals. The texture is typically homogenous but may be gneissic or porphytic. Some dark granular igneous rocks, though not properly granite, are included in this definition.
Where does granite come from and how is it quarried?
Granite, is quarried at different locations throughout the world. Hundreds of colors and patterns are available from such countries as Italy, Spain, France, China, Brazil, and The United States. Typically, blocks are extracted from the granite quarry located high in the mountains on the outskirts of a major city. These blocks, averaging 9 feet by 5 feet by 5 feet deep in size are transported down the mountain to the fabrication plant in the city. Once at the plant, these blocks are either cut into tiles or slabs. Slabs sizes usually vary depending on overall block size. Average slab sizes are usually 9 feet by 5 feet and are typically 3/4" (2cm) or more in thickness. After the tiles or slabs are cut, they are sent through a large multi-head polishing machine, which puts a natural shine on the face of the stone using abrasive compound bricks or diamond polishing discs. Tiles are usually beveled as a final finishing step. Several other finishes can be applied to the slabs or tiles at this time such as a honed finish or, on some granite, a flamed finish. By far,the most popular finish tends to be the high polish.
How should I maintain my granite counter top?
The first and most important step is to make sure your granite counter tops are sealed using a good grade, silicone-based, impregnating sealer. A good coat of sealer will help prevent staining from liquids that are spilled on the surface. A good stone soap or stone polish should be used for on going maintenance. Do not use abrasive cleansers or harsh ammonia based cleaners. If you do not have access to stone maintenance products, a mild soap such as dishwashing soap and water will suffice.
What colors are granites available in?
Granites are available in a wide range of colors and veining. There are beige colors, Emerald green tones, Reds, Blacks, Violets, Mauves and a host of others. The color of the stone is dependent upon what region of the world the stone comes from. Some colors have been in use for hundreds of years; others are fairly new to the market. Some stones are available in slabs and tiles; others are only available in either slab or tile but not both. The size of the quarry, its location, accessibility and demand for the material will affect pricing. Labor costs in various countries also affects material costs. Technology is not the same in all countries, so beware of stones manufactured with inferior and outdated technology. These materials are usually not difficult to spot
What should I know about color variation & veining?
When granite is purchased within the same lot or bundle, variations in color and veining should be expected and considered. In this situation, each slab or tile when viewed overall will look like it belongs with the remainder of the lot. In most cases, bundles of slabs are cut consecutively from the same block so as to keep color and veining consistent. When granite is purchased at different times or from different lots and bundles, extreme variation in color and veining can occur. As quarrying continues, materials from different sections of the quarry or from different depths of the quarry can vary greatly. In certain cases, quarries have run out of certain shades or the veining has changed so drastically that current lots no longer match previous lots. For these reasons, it is important to purchase sufficient quantities at the same time or verify that additional material of the same lot is indeed available for a later purchase. Being a natural stone, variations from shipment to shipment or lot to lot cannot be controlled or predicted.
What can granite be used for?
Due to it's high density, acid resistance, low absorption rate, and scratch resistance, granite can be used for a wide range of applications including floors, fireplaces, furniture and kitchen counter tops. One of the leading uses of granite is for kitchen counter tops. Hundreds of colors and patterns are available as well as numerous edge details to allow granite to fit in with any kitchen design scheme.
Will there be seams in my kitchen counter tops?
Granite is a stone and because of this, seams cannot be "melted" together. There will of course have to be seams in a typical granite project but if a quality fabricator and installer is used, these seams will be minimized. The location and quantity of seams depends on the project design and slab sizes. It helps to have some idea of typical slab sizes during the design stages of a kitchen. Consult with your kitchen designer or architect to layout your kitchen in order to minimize these seams later on. Seams are normally filled with a color matched polyester adhesive to blend as close as possible. If seams are cut and filled properly, they will not stand out and be an eye sore. If the appearance of seams is a concern, please ask your fabricator/installer to see samples of a typical finished seam
Is the shine and surface appearance of all granite alike?
Not all granites are alike. Different minerals polish out differently. Some minerals will not shine as much as the quartz and feldspar found in granite. When shopping for granite, take a close look at the shine and surface texture. Some granites have minute fissures in between the various granules which is normal and will not trap liquids or food particles. If this is a concern, please direct questions to the stone salesperson or your fabricator/installer prior to fabrication and installation.