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Granite is a hard and dense natural stone formed deep under the earth’s crust when cooling magma compressed mica, feldspar, quartz and other minerals under heat and pressure into an endless array of colors and patterns. Flecked or pebbled patterns are common, as well as streaks that add movement and interest.
Granite countertops are a popular choice in modern kitchens due to their durability as well as variety. For bathrooms and other countertop areas, other, softer stone choices such as marble or limestone are more common.
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GRANITE COUNTERTOPS PROS & CONS
addS value to your kitchen
Granite brings the outdoors in, and any time you can add outside elements to the inside of your home, especially something as eco-friendly as granite, then you add to the value of your home. Although it may not add to the monetary amount of the home’s resale value, it will add appeal to interested buyers if you should ever put your family’s home on the market.
In fact, you would be hard pressed to find a more durable stone-based countertop than granite. It is super tough, which means you would have a hard time scratching or chipping the surface of the stone. A sealer on the stone, applied by a professional for best results, can extend the life of the counter and help it resist stains as well.
earth friendly material
It also retains its natural look. Think about the difference between a plain old rock and one that has been tumbled and polished to retain a high sheen that enhances the natural pattern of the material. The same basic principle applies to your kitchen granite counters, allowing countertops to come in basic, marbled, or speckled patterns.
resists bacteria and dirt
Because the surface of the sealed granite countertop is not porous, meaning things will not soak into it, your kitchen is less likely to be plagued by dirt, bacteria, and other grime commonly found on countertops and in kitchens. The smooth, sealed surface also allows you to clean up messes from kitchen prep and spills easier.
easy to fix in the event that it does scratch or chip
For example, imagine that a cast iron pot comes crashing down on your granite countertop and leaves an unsightly chip in the stone. The professional who installed the countertop in the first place can come out and use a kind of putty dyed to match the exact color of your countertop, then reseal the stone to protect it from spills.
family friendly kitchen countertop material
If you have little ones who like to help in the kitchen but our prone to spilling, or older family members who may do things like set a hot pan directly on the surface of the countertop, granite can take the abuse. And if the family cat has a habit of jumping on counters, then his claws will probably not scratch the surface, either.
Do you need to roll out dough on a flat surface, such as for making cookies or kneading bread? All cooks, whether a professional baker or chef or someone who enjoys culinary arts as a hobby, need a flat surface for cooking and baking. Granite countertops provide this flat surface in the form of a countertop.
Granite countertops may be the most expensive line item in your kitchen renovation budget, but when you consider that they will outlast most other materials in your family’s home then you will realize that granite countertops are not a much of a purchase as they are an investment.
For all their beauty and durability, granite counters do have a few weaknesses. The most concerning problems can occur when the countertops are not sealed correctly or the sealant wears off without the counters being resealed. Granite is porous. This means that unsealed or poorly sealed counters can absorb wine, juice or oil, producing a stain that might be impossible to remove. A poorly-sealed countertop can also harbor bacteria in its pores.
Some treated granite can go 10 years without being sealed, but many countertops will need to be resealed on a yearly basis. When this is overlooked, it won’t take long for granite countertops to begin to show signs of staining.
While these counters are very durable, a heavy object dropped on a corner might crack or chip the granite. This isn’t common, but it can happen under the right circumstances. The final caution is that granite countertop prices are very high.
maintenance & care
Granite is, hands down, the most popular countertop surface chosen for upscale homes. It’s a substantial investment, though most homeowners would agree that the benefits are well worth every penny spent.
The beauty of a granite countertop is unsurpassed, but it’s not just the aesthetic value that makes this such a popular material – it’s the longevity and granite countertop durability.
Granite countertops can last a lifetime, if correctly maintained. Which means it’s vital to learn how to care for it properly!
First Step: Sealing
Like any natural stone, granite needs to be sealed to create a nonporous finish, and protect it from stains. Proper sealing should be part of the installation process, but it will need re-sealing at least once a year. White granite countertops may need sealing more frequently than darker colors, as they are more likely to show stains. To see if your granite countertop needs sealing, just splash a few drops of water on the surface.
If the water beads up, your countertop is in great shape. If the water is absorbed, it’s time to re-seal. Applying sealer is a simple process. First make sure the counter is clean and dry. Following the directions on the container apply the sealer with a clean, dry cloth. Let dry, then apply a second coat. Avoid food preparation on your counter for 24 hours to ensure it is fully cured and water repellent.
When your granite countertop is properly sealed, daily care is a breeze. Just use a soft cloth to dust the surface, or wipe it down with plain water or a mild soap. If your countertop needs extra cleaning, use a specially-formulated stone cleaner with a neutral pH. Never use abrasive cleansers or harsh chemicals.
Despite good preparation and protection, occasionally your granite countertop may need special attention. Oily stains that have soaked into the surface may be removed by applying a paste made with baking soda and dish soap.
Let sit overnight, covered with plastic wrap, then rinse. If your counter has stains that are difficult to remove, or scratches, contact a stone care professional for repair.
Care of Custom Finishes
The polished finish is still the most popular choice, but other finishes are available, such as honed or leathered. These provide some texture, along with a matte finish, and have special care considerations. Since these finishes tend to be more absorbent, a special penetrating sealer is recommended to protect your countertop from stains, bacteria, and moisture.
Despite being sealed properly, these finishes may still show marks or discoloration when wet, particularly on black granite; this is usually harmless and will disappear when the surface dries.
Granite countertops may require a bit more care than other surface materials, such as man-made, manufactured materials – but most homeowners would agree that the extra work and consideration is well worth the effort. With the proper care, your countertop can add value to your home and provide a lifetime of enjoyment.