Are you thinking about renovating your kitchen? Doing research on countertop materials? If so, then our Countertop Spotlight series will help you. Today we start with the most popular countertop material: granite.
Finish types: Polished, sandblasted, brushed, flamed.
Origin: Granite is a igneous rock that contains at least 20% quartz by volume, but also some mica and feldspar. It's mined from around the world, including quarries in India, Brazil, Norway, Italy and China. The largest granite quarry in the Unites States is located near Barre, Vermont.
Environmental Impact: Medium. Granite is durable and recyclable, but it requires large amounts of energy for transport, and mining is very resource intensive.
Pros: Each slab is unique, hard, durable, scratch-resistant, impervious to stains, heat, and water when sealed, relatively easy to clean, comes in all colors, still highly covetable with an even higher resale value.
Cons: Expensive, heavy, needs annual resealing, ubiquitous, "granite fatigue."
Installation: Very labor-intensive, expensive.
Price range: $45-$400 per square foot. Varies depending on stone rarity, thickness, origin, and manufacturing labor. Buyer beware: this price often does not include hidden costs like installation, resealing, edge details, templating, and special finishes. A standard size kitchen can expect to pay $2,500+ for a renovation.
Kitchn Reader Reviews: More reviews can be found here:
"I've always found that granite hides dirt, is exceedingly easy to clean, and can have water on it without any finish being ruined, or bubbling of wood/laminate. Plus, lots of the high end manmade materials, like Corian, are now more expensive than granite." - Lotusmoss
"Not liking [granite countertops] may be a First World problem but the ecological implications are not. Unhealthy and unfair working conditions + mining = the cause of some Third World problems and serious ecological ones. Vote with your dollar. Ask your landlord(s) to look at more responsible counters such as recycled glass, reused slate, reused soapstone, etc." - Emmi
"Can't stand the granite in my rental. Don't like the look, but more importantly, it BREAKS STUFF. Even plastic! Drop ANYTHING, it shatters into smithereens." - cimcinnyc
"Whatever their aesthetic issues, I would totally disagree that they are not functional. They are super easy to clean, did not stain when I spilled food coloring gel and didn't notice it until the next day, are great for rolling out dough and I can put hot pans right on them without damage. Despite being somewhat klutzy, I've also managed to not chip or scratch them. I'm certainly not extra careful." - HLG22
Related Kitchn Posts:
• What's the Best Way to Clean Granite Countertops?
• Kitchen Design: A Look at Countertop Edge Profiles
• Reader Intelligence Report: How Much Did Your Kitchen Renovation Cost?
• The Renter's Dilemma: Ugly, Ubiquitous Granite Countertops
Other Recommended Reading
• Granite: Why Every Homeowner Wants a Piece of the Rock | The Washington Post
• What's Lurking In Your Countertop | The New York Times
(Image: Marble Unlimited)