5 Problems with Granite Countertops & A Better Alternative
Granite countertops have been one of the more popular options for kitchens in the last 10 to 15 years. Granite comes in a variety of colors and patterns, has few seams, and creates a beautiful, substantial look in the kitchen.
Granite Countertop Problems
But granite isn’t always the best material out there for the job. For every successfully completed project, there are several others that have inherent problems. From inconsistency to care, granite may not be the material you think it is, and for those that want a material with all the style and none of aforementioned issues, there is another option.
What’s called “granite” in the stone yard, and what you’re purchasing for the kitchen isn’t always necessarily granite. In fact many stones are known as “commercial granite” a term meaning a group of stones quarried for use on countertops and that share similar characteristics, such as containing high levels of quartz, feldspar, silica, and mica.
But, many of these stones labeled and sold as granite are not actually an igneous rock. True granite is produced by volcanic activity, specifically molten rock cooled beneath the surface of the Earth and is actually a fairly durable and low maintenance material. Some stones labeled as granite are also igneous in nature, such as Absolute Black, which is actually a gabbro.
But other stones labeled granite aren’t igneous at all. Some are actually breccias, conglomerate stones, or dolomites - all metamorphic or sedimentary rocks. This inconsistency means that there is no one hardness value, durability, grading, or maintenance for “granite”. Some of these stones are incredibly soft, weak, and porous, while others are so dense that attempting to seal them would actually create a mess, rather than providing additional benefit. Also, all commercial granite is sold and treated equally, so you may never know exactly what it is you’re buying unless you have a degree in geology.
2. Fissures and Pits
Any granite that you purchase, no matter its source or its grade may have natural fissures or pits in its surface. Some of these are harmless; cosmetic cracks or small indentations in the stone. But others could actually weaken the structure and integrity of the countertop.
Fissures are natural cracks that occur in the stone, sometimes occurring where two minerals meet. Pits are small holes or indentations in the stone, sometimes caused when a weaker particle breaks free. Polishing natural stone causes light to bounce off its surface, which can hide many of these imperfections. You may not know that a critical fissure exists until it opens up or forms a wider crack. To get around this, most granites now have a resin applied to the surface prior to polishing which fills in pits and cracks allowing the sale of slabs that would have been class C or essentially unsaleable.
3. Color Variation
For some people, part of the appeal of granite is its wide range of color variation. Color can vary within a granite slab tremendously or subtly, and no two slabs are ever exactly the same. This may mean that you can have a section of markedly different color than the rest of the stone. Or you could have a countertop that shifts in color or pattern from one end to the next. This is natural, and with some wild stones, part of the appeal.
However, color variation isn’t for everyone. The stone sample you fell in love with in a showroom may not be indicative of what your slab will look like when you purchase. Even getting a sample from your particular stone may not show the full color range, which can lead to some surprises once the countertop is installed. If you were choosing other components for the kitchen at the same time, you may discover that the stone doesn’t actually match that well.
Some granites are incredibly durable, able to withstand heat, pressure, and any type of daily use you can put it to. Others, however, may not be nearly as durable as you believe. Some light colored stones, particularly those shipped from China, may be much weaker. These stones can actually sag over time if not supported, particularly at places like overhangs on kitchen islands or “desk” areas where there is an unsupported section of stone.
If a weak area is positioned on a corner, it may even break off if pressure is applied.
Nearly all granites will require some degree of maintenance, with many requiring a great deal. Most stone sold as granite is naturally porous, as well as reactive to things like lemon or tomato juice. This means that a spilled drink could leave a dull spot on the stone, while spilled oils may absorb right into the counter, leaving a permanent stain.
To help prevent these problems, the countertop needs to be sealed regularly and washed with special cleansers. This extra maintenance can be a lot for a busy household that just wants a countertop they can use without worry.
A Better Alternative
The positives of granite countertops include being able to be fabricated to the cabinets, coming a slab form, and having some degree of color and movement. All of these benefits, plus many others are available in quartz countertops.
Quartz is highly durable, consistent, and low maintenance - solving all of the issues inherent with granite. It’s also attractive and comes in a range of patterns and colors. It’s fabricated and installed just like granite, but it won’t require the same level of care.
If you’re looking for a better alternative for your countertops, one that will maintain its beauty and appeal for many years to come, consider quartz countertops for your home, instead of granite.
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