Granite countertops are a popular and timeless choice for kitchen remodeling. Known for their natural beauty, durability, and style, granite countertops can transform the look of any kitchen. Here is an in-depth guide on everything you need to know about installing granite countertops in your kitchen.
Introduction to Granite Countertops
Granite is one of the most widely used natural stones for countertops due to its unique characteristics:
Aesthetics and Variety
Granite comes in a diverse array of colors and patterns, from solid black to reddish pink with grey veining. No two granite slabs are alike, allowing for one-of-a-kind looks. Granite’s natural patterning provides visual interest and depth.
Granite is incredibly hard and scratch-resistant. It does not etch from citrus or wine and stands up well to heat. With proper sealing, granite countertops can last for decades with minimal signs of use. Granite is not easily susceptible to staining or water damage.
Simple cleaning with soap and water is all that is required for basic upkeep of granite countertops. Re-sealing every 1-2 years will keep granite looking its best. Granite does not require special cleaners or frequent polishing.
Granite countertops increase a home’s value and appeal to buyers. The timeless elegance and durability of granite make it a sound investment in your kitchen remodel.
With the right installer, you can have stunning granite countertops that will hold up for years to come.
Choosing the Right Granite Slab
Selecting the perfect granite slab for your kitchen is an exciting process! Keep the following tips in mind:
- Visit a stone supplier to view granite slabs in-person. This allows you to get a feel for the color variations and patterns available.
- Bring samples home to compare granite colors against your existing kitchen cabinets and floors. Ensure your new countertop will complement your overall kitchen design.
- Consider the style of your kitchen. Bold, dramatic granites work well in modern spaces, while more uniform, neutral granites suit traditional kitchens.
- Mind the gaps. Select a slab with interesting veining and movement to minimize the visibility of seams between sections of countertop.
- Assess durability. Softer granites like whites and light colors will etch and stain more easily than darker, harder granites.
- Set a budget and get quotes. More exotic granites will be pricier than locally-sourced stones. Estimate $40-200 per square foot, installed.
With an endless array of options, it is easy to find the ideal granite to create your dream kitchen!
How to Measure for Granite Countertops
Carefully measuring your existing kitchen countertops is crucial for ordering the correct amount of granite. Here are some tips for measuring:
- Use a steel measuring tape for accuracy. Measure to the nearest 1/8th inch.
- Sketch out the shape of your countertops on graph paper. Mark all dimensions.
- Measure the length and width of each section of countertop separately.
- For L-shaped sections, measure the length of each side. Measure any inside corners separately.
- Note the locations of all cut-outs needed, like sink holes and corners.
- Add together the square footage measurements of each section to determine total square footage.
- Add 10-15% overage to account for polishing, edging, and potential cracks or breaks.
Measuring precisely will ensure your new granite slabs cover all your countertops, with a bit extra for safety. Supply your measurements to the fabricator to place your order.
How Granite Countertops Are Made
Crafting a granite countertop is a multi-step process requiring skilled fabrication. Here is how it is done:
The process begins with customers selecting a granite slab from a supplier. The fabricator can also source the slab. Unique sections of the slab are chosen to highlight interesting patterns and colors.
The slab must be transported safely to the fabricator’s shop. Special equipment is used to hoist and move the heavy material without damaging it.
A digital template is made by laser-scanning the existing countertops. This collects exact measurements and dimensions. For islands and unusual shapes, a physical template is made.
The fabricator uses advanced tools like CNC machines and water jets to cut the granite slab precisely based on measurements. This step forms the basic shape.
Shaping and Polishing
Edges are cut and polished by special machines. Seams between pieces are also carefully cut and smoothed. The surface is refined to a glossy finish.
Every piece is inspected for fit and finish prior to final installation. The customer may also review the pieces at this stage.
The countertop pieces are installed using adhesive and sealant. The installers ensure a perfect fit and make any final adjustments.
With skilled craftsmanship and the latest technology, modern granite fabricators can deliver flawless custom countertops.
Edges Styles for Granite Countertops
One of the finishing touches of a granite countertop is selecting the edge profile. Edge styles provide visual interest and customize the look. Common edge options include:
Eased or Pencil Edge
The simplest rounded edge has a curved shape. This maintains the natural appearance and is easy to fabricate. A low-maintenance classic choice.
With a sloped cut, beveled edges have a hint of style. They work with multiple kitchen aesthetics from traditional to modern.
An elegant double curve inspired by classical architecture. Ogee edges work well in antique, Old World, or farmhouse kitchens.
A rounded overhanging lip profiles creates a subtle waterfall effect. This unique shape complements contemporary and transitional kitchens.
For a bit of drama, the sharknose edge features an emphasized rounded cut. The distinctive shape stands out in sleek, modern spaces.
The squared-off bullnose edge has a half-round shape. It provides a subtle curve with crisp lines. A versatile option fitting any style.
The edge profile impacts aesthetics and functionality. Consult with your fabricator on which edges work best for your kitchen.
Granite Countertop Finishes
Beyond edge styles, the surface finish of the granite itself deserves attention. Granite countertops come in polished, honed, and flamed variations:
The glossy mirrored polish provides maximum shine and reflection. This classic finish beautifully highlights the granite’s colors and patterns. More frequent sealing is required.
A satin smoothness with the gloss taken off. Honed granite has a soft, matte appearance. The muted look hides scratches well. Sealing less frequently is needed.
A high-heat process creates a rough, toasted texture. The uneven ripples refract light uniquely. Flamed granite suits rustic, casual, or outdoor kitchens well.
The finish will impact the overall look and feel of your kitchen. Many choose different finishes on separate areas, like a polished island and honed perimeter tops.
Cost of Granite Countertops
Granite countertops are a premium investment, but worth it for their beauty and longevity. Here are some factors impacting overall costs:
- Stone Type: Rare or imported granites are pricier than locally available types. Unique colors and patterns also fetch higher prices.
- Finish and Edges: Polished finishes and decorative edges add to the fabrication time and costs. Simpler honed finishes and eased edges help reduce expenses.
- Fabrication: Highly experienced fabricators using advanced cutting methods cost more than basic operators. But the results are also superior.
- Installation: Difficult removals of old countertops or plumbing adjustments will increase labor time and complexity.
- Area: Larger surface areas naturally mean higher overall costs. Expect to pay $40-200 per square foot for materials, fabrication, and professional installation.
Your total price will depend on the specifics of your project. Be sure to get an itemized estimate accounting for all the variables. Quality granite countertops are a worthwhile investment that should last for decades when properly installed and maintained.
Granite Countertop Installation
Installing granite countertops requires precision and expertise. Here is an overview of the process:
- The existing countertops and cabinets must be prepared by removing countertops, appliances, sinks, and faucets. Cabinets should be inspected for level and plumbed correctly.
- Granite pieces are brought to the site and dry fit without adhesive to ensure proper shaping and alignment. Minor adjustments can be made.
- Silicone adhesive is applied to the underside of the granite slabs, especially near the seams. Wood support strips reinforce the underside.
- Slabs are eased into place one section at a time. Weights may be used to stabilize large pieces as the adhesive dries. Seams are filled with matching epoxy.
- Once fully secured, the installer inspects for level and caulks all edges. Appliances and plumbing fixtures are reinstalled in their openings.
- Excess adhesive is cleaned away. The countertops are given a final polish and then sealed to protect the granite surface.
Proper installation prevents shifting, cracking, or separation down the line. Take time to find an experienced granite fabricator and installer for the best results.
Caring for Granite Countertops
To keep your granite countertops looking like new for years to come, follow these care and maintenance guidelines:
- Clean frequently with a gentle soap and warm water using a soft cloth or sponge. Rinse well to remove any soap residue.
- Seal granite annually with a penetrating sealer to prevent stains and etching. Re-apply sealer every 1-2 years.
- Do not use abrasive cleansers or harsh chemicals which can dull the granite surface. Avoid bleach, degreasers, and acidic cleaners.
- Rinse spills promptly to keep moisture from penetrating the stone. Blot any wetness immediately.
- Use trivets and hot pads when setting down hot pans to prevent thermal shock or cracking.
- Clean up any spills containing wine, juice, oils, dyes, or other staining agents right away.
- Avoid sliding heavy objects across the countertop which may cause scratches. Lift items instead.
With proper care, your investment in granite countertops will stay looking wonderful for decades while adding timeless beauty to your kitchen.
FAQ About Granite Countertops
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about granite countertops:
Are granite countertops better than quartz or marble?
Granite is generally better than marble, which stains and etches more easily. Quartz is highly durable but lacks granite’s natural beauty. Granite strikes the best balance for most kitchens.
How often does granite need to be sealed?
Sealing granite every 1-2 years is recommended. High-traffic areas may need more frequent sealing. Use a penetrating impregnating sealer for the best protection.
Will granite chip or crack easily?
Quality granite is quite resistant to cracking or chipping when properly installed and cared for. However, excessive force or impact could potentially damage granite.
Can you set hot pans on granite?
Brief contact with hot pans is fine, but prolonged direct heat can damage the sealants. Using trivets is recommended to prevent cracking or discoloration.
How long does granite last?
With proper care and maintenance, granite countertops will easily last 50-100 years. The timeless durability makes granite an excellent investment.
Is granite expensive to install?
The installed cost of granite countertops ranges from $40-200 per square foot. The price depends on the type of granite, complexities of installation, and other project variables.
Can existing countertops be resurfaced with granite?
In some cases, yes – existing countertops can be overlaid with granite by bonding thin granite sheets. This provides cost savings compared to a full replacement.
Granite delivers unmatched performance, longevity, and aesthetics for kitchen countertops. Taking the time to properly install and care for granite will keep it pristine for decades of everyday use.
Granite countertops are a smart, stylish choice to elevate any kitchen. With myriad colors and patterns available, you are guaranteed to find the perfect natural stone to complement your space. Combining timeless elegance with hardy durability, granite countertops increase your home’s functionality and visual appeal.
By ordering precisely measured slabs, trusting expert fabricators, and opting for attractive edge profiles, you can obtain flawlessly installed granite countertops. Follow care and maintenance best practices to protect your investment. Granite delivers lasting quality and craftsmanship. Let granite countertops make your kitchen dreams a reality for years of enjoyment.