Everything you need to know about granite countertops
In the eyes of many homeowners, granite remains the definitive “stone” countertop. Durable, beautiful, and practical, granite countertops are enduringly popular. Many homeowners will be remodeling their kitchens and bathrooms this year, and many of them will go with granite.
This article will get into the details and break down everything there is to know about granite, from their cost to their post-installation maintenance and upkeep. By reading this article, you should be able to make an informed decision ahead of your own kitchen remodel.
Granite Countertop Colors
The colors found in granite have everything to do with how it’s formed and where it comes from. Granite is natural stone, cut from quarries around the world. It’s igneous, which means it’s a byproduct of volcanic activity. As the magma slowly cools, it hardens into stone. The exact nature of this process differs from location to location, which is what gives granite its variety.
No two slabs of granite are exactly the same, as that would require the magma that formed it to have cooled in precisely the same way. This is one of the appealing things about granite: your countertop truly is one-of-a-kind.
Depending on where it’s quarried, granite can come in a wide variety of colors. These include earthy tones like beiges and browns, but also whites, blacks, blues, and even pink or coral varieties.
It’s important to note that the options aren’t exactly endless: with granite, you’re limited to those colors produced through natural processes. This is different from quartz countertops, which—due to their manufacturing process—can be made to look like just about anything, in nearly any color.
Related Article: Everything You Need To Know About Quartz Countertops
Granite Countertop Prices
Once considered a luxury item, the increased number of stone quarries worldwide has brought the price of granite down significantly. According to data collected by HomeAdvisor, most homeowners pay about $2,000 to $3,000 for new granite countertops.
They’re generally less expensive than marble and about as expensive as most quartz varieties—although high-end quartz can end up costing much more than high-end granite!
Slab Vs. Prefabricated Granite
If you’re comparing the cost of granite countertops, you might see two words coming up again-and-again: “slab” and “prefabricated.” Slab granite is exactly what it sounds like: you’re buying an uncut, unadulterated slab of stone that you’ll then need to have prefabricated and cut to the dimensions of your kitchen. When you buy prefabricated granite, you’re just skipping a few of those steps: the granite comes pre-cut and pre-fabricated for common kitchen dimensions.
Related Article: Granite Slab Versus Prefabricated Granite—Which Is Better?
You’ll typically see that prefabricated granite is less expensive than slab granite. Unless you need highly customized pieces—such as you would use for a kitchen island—prefabricated granite might be a good way to lower the cost of installation. Talk to your contractor about your options on this front.
Granite Countertop Pros & Cons
Just like quartz, granite has its pros and cons. Here’s what you need to know about granite countertops before you buy:
Why buy granite?
- Granite is durable and long-lasting. Granite is an incredibly hard material, which means it stands up to cuts, drops, and just about any other type of damage you can do to it. As long as you don’t go out of your way to damage your countertops, they should last for many, many years.
- Granite is beautiful. There’s a certain unmatched beauty to natural stone and its unique veining. If you’re all about the look of stone, then you’ll want to go with granite.
- Granite is heat-resistant. Your kitchen countertops aren’t just there to look nice. They also need to be practical. Granite is heat-resistant, which means hot pots and pans can go directly on the surface without damaging the countertop.
Potential downside of granite
- Absorbs moisture. Granite is a porous stone. If you don’t clean up spills quickly, they could potentially stain the countertop. To prevent this, you’ll need to regularly reseal your countertops. We’ve included more on this below.
- Limited colors. As mentioned above, granite countertops only come in as many colors and styles as there are in nature. While this still represents a wide spectrum of colors and options, quartz may have the more precise look you had in mind.
- Maintenance required. Unlike quartz countertops, granite regularly needs to be resealed to lock out moisture and protect the stone’s surface.
Granite Countertop Maintenance
Like all countertops, granite requires some care and attention. Here’s how to best maintain granite countertops so they retain their beauty for many years to come.
Cleaning granite countertops
This one’s relatively straightforward. Simply take a washcloth, paper towel, or sponge, and use it to wash the countertop with a small amount of soap and water. There’s no need for special cleaning chemicals—in fact, unless you’re using a product specifically marketed for granite, it’s better to be safe-than-sorry and avoid using spray cleaners.
Related Article: How You Can Keep Your Granite Looking Brand-New
Resealing granite countertops
Granite needs to be resealed every so often to restore the protective layer that keeps moisture—and stains—from getting into the stone. How often does granite need to be resealed? Ideally, you should reseal your countertops every 6-12 months: more often if you use your kitchen regularly to cook and prep food, and less often if you only use it every so often.
The good news here is that resealing your granite countertops is incredibly easy. You’ll need to start by removing everything from the countertop, and then thoroughly wiping them clean with a sponge, soap, and water. Then, apply the store bought granite resealer using the instructions on the bottle. Typically, you’ll just wipe this on and give it about 15-30 minutes to dry.
Granite countertop heat resistance
As mentioned above, granite is a heat-resistant material. Most homeowners put hot pots and pans right on its surface without any long-term problems. However, there are limitations here: long-term exposure to heat—such as that from an open flame or an appliance—can damage or weaken granite. However, such incidents are relatively rare.
If you’re regularly putting hot objects onto your granite’s surface, you’ll probably need to reseal your granite more often (every six months) than less. That’s because heat can wear down the protective layer faster.
Granite countertop sun resistance
In most cases, it’s okay to install granite outside, where it’ll be exposed to sunlight. This makes it an ideal choice for built-in grills or countertop seating. Unlike quartz—which can be damaged by sunlight—granite doesn’t typically fade or discolor when exposed to UV rays.
However, double-check that the sealing product you’re using will stand up to intense sunlight.
Where can I find granite countertops near me?
If you’re just starting out, your best bet is to begin your search at local wholesalers. Granite countertop wholesalers—like us!—directly import their granite from the quarries, which means they cut out the pricey middlemen most retailers and contractors deal with. This means you get high-quality granite for a whole lot less than you’d pay otherwise.
There’s another big benefit to working with a wholesaler: selection. Since they buy and sell in bulk, direct importers have an incentive to maintain a wide, diverse selection of countertops on-site. That means more color and style options for your kitchen (or bathroom).
Plus, many wholesalers also import cabinets, flooring, backsplashes, and other accessories, so you can shop for everything your kitchen needs in one place, potentially bundling products together.
Comparing granite quotes
Buying granite involves more than just accepting the lowest bid. Consider the following:
- What does the price include? Does your quote for new countertops include the cost of fabrication or installation? Make sure you’re comparing oranges-to-oranges when you compare quotes.
- Is the granite high-quality? There are three different grades of granite: 1, 2, and 3. The first is low-quality granite, suitable for apartments, condos, and some commercial applications. The second is mid-quality granite. The third grade includes high-end granite and high-quality stone. Generally speaking, stick to grades 2 and 3.
- What is their selection? Low prices don’t matter if the contractor or retailer doesn’t have a wide selection of granite for you to choose from. Make sure their selection has what you’re looking for in your new kitchen.
Your guide to buying new granite countertops
Check out our new infographic to learn more about granite and what makes it the right fit for your project: