Previously considered the privilege of high-end kitchens, granite now commands a strong hold over the countertop market. Price drops over the years, though seemingly insignificant, have brought it in the realm of affordability for the larger majority of homeowners. Besides, granite countertops often raise the value of the properties in which they’re installed.
It’s easy to go on and on when discussing the wonders of granite countertops. But if you’re considering them, there is no discounting the fact that they represent a hefty investment. With that in mind there are several important things to know when you are looking to install granite countertops.
Formed by the solidification of magma underground over millions of years, granite is rock-solid in the literal sense. It ranks second to diamond in terms of hardness of natural materials. That makes it the obvious choice for the kitchen; it can hold up better than just about every other option. On paper, a granite countertop might be the last one you will ever need.
Granite, while having the ability to put up with all sorts of use, isn’t entirely unbreakable. As a matter of fact, no material is — even the most resilient substance will give when subjected to extreme forces. Granite is known to chip (or even crack) in certain circumstances. So it’s quite possible that your countertops will break when heavy objects are dropped on the surface. And that’s before you take into account any weaknesses that may exist within.
There’s a fine line between use and abuse as far as the kitchen goes. While your granite countertops might be suitable for rolling out pastry, refrain from using them as a cutting board. Doing so will blunt your knives quickly or, worse, cause you to cut yourself accidentally.
In addition, you should know better than to place hot pans on your counters straight from the cooker/oven. Not that they’ll melt or laminate the way wood does; on the contrary, granite can hold up to quite a lot of heat. The catch? Sudden and extreme changes in temperature will degrade the finish on your countertops or cause cracks underneath. On the flip side, it should come as a delight that granite doesn’t require too much in maintenance (more on that shortly).
Sounds obvious, but this arguably tops the list of important things to know when you are looking to install granite countertops. Being a natural stone, granite comes in thousands of patterns and colors. While it’s important that you pick the right style, there are more important factors to keep in mind when shopping:
-Grade: Based on appearance and strength, granite comes in 3 grades (Commercial, Premium and Exotic). Stones in the latter category, while being the most expensive, will carry superior characteristics like scratch resistance.
-Size: Choosing large pieces for your countertops means you’ll part with more than you would for smaller sections. It’s worth noting that the latter would result in more seams during installation.
Fabrication is the other key consideration when comparing options for your kitchen. This refers to the process of cutting, edging and finishing slabs to ensure your countertops look great. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, you don’t want to invest in a high-quality slab only to shortchange yourself in the fabrication — be sure to engage the best fabricator you can find.
Other than that, you will want to inquire about the kind of products to use for polishing your slabs. Ask the fabricator to provide instructions for cleaning and caring for your counters. You’ll also want to know if it’ll be necessary to reseal the counters in future — some manufacturers recommend doing so every 5 years.
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