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Buying Granite Countertops: Secrets And Insider Tips

May 27, 2008
Granite countertops have been the most popular choice for kitchens and bathrooms for years now, but it wasn't always that way. Not too long ago granite was somewhat rare and expensive since it was so hard to quarry and cut. Now that effective techniques and machinery has been developed, the price of granite has come way down and the availability has skyrocketed.

Today granite is imported to the United States from quarries around the world. With over 2700 varieties of granite, there is seemingly no end to your choices for color and pattern. But not all granite is the same.

Advantages Of Granite Countertops

In general, granite is nature's most perfect countertop. It's been created over millions of years and as a consequence has a hard, generally impervious surface. You can drop things on it, spill stuff on it, set hot pans and cut on granite without damaging it.

Some of these activities are not recommended because in extreme circumstance you could cause damage, but the risk is low. Granite is very tough and durable.However, many stones with similar qualities are sold as granite, but are not true geological granite.

They are not "fake" granite. Scientifically speaking, they simply are not classified as granite, however in your kitchen they perform very similar to granite... some are even better than granite. So, it's important to remember that performance can vary with different colors or species of granite.

For instance, some granite counter tops should be sealed to retard staining, but many granite varieties are naturally non-porous, nearly impossible to stain and don't need sealing at all. Of course, these dense varieties are the best countertop for your kitchen.

Unfortunately, many designers, sales people and industry professionals fail to provide the complete information you need to make the best choice. Either they assume all granite is the same or just don't know how to tell the difference.

You can perform simple tests to determine if the granite you like is a good choice. (Find more information on testing at the website below.)

Dis-advantages To Granite

You will get a tiny seam where the different slabs of granite have been placed together. Most likely you will also have a break in the color and pattern due to the seam. However, in most cases, the break can be minimized with good planning by the fabricator when cutting the slab and matching similar sections during installation.

Proper installation and support is paramount. Installing granite is not a do-it-yourself job. Granite is very hard, but if not handled, installed or supported properly, cracks can develop.

You must seal many types of granite as soon as it is installed in order to avoid staining. You will also have to reseal it on a regular basis every 3 to 5 years. This is not a difficult or complicated process and it only takes about an hour. So... you must maintain the surface, but that is true with any surface and no surface is perfect.

Just remember.... you can test your granite samples to avoid ones that are too porous for the kitchen (yes, there are a few) and choose a granite that doesn't need to be sealed or one that won't need sealing but every 3-5 years.

TIP: Go to the granite importer's warehouse with your designer or fabricator and pick out the exact slab that you want to ensure you get the color and pattern you like and so you can test a sample of it.

Even among granites with the same color and name, from the same quarry, there are variations from slab to slab. Most people view that as a benefit since your counter top will be truly one-of-a-kind.

Price

Granite counter tops are most commonly sold by the square foot of the slab needed to cover your entire countertop including leftover scraps. Currently the price varies, depending on the quality and supply of the granite you choose, from an approximate low of about $25/sq. ft. to a high of about $125 per square foot including edge detail.

Edges come in a variety of styles to match your design theme whether ornate or sleek. Some of the fancier edges are created by gluing or laminating the edge for greater thickness and then cut to style.

All in all, you really can't go wrong with granite. And now that you know what to look for, you'll buy the best. There are other surfaces that are very good, but when comparing all the pros and cons, none are better than granite.
About the Author
Author Ryan Burden publishes CountertopSpecialty.com, which provides expert guidance and information on custom countertops and backsplashes AND . . . produces a nice income. Perhaps YOU have a business or passion that you'd like to turn into online profits. Learn how with Websites That Work.
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