Granite countertops are a popular choice for kitchens due to their beauty, durability and style. With unique natural patterns, granite provides an elegant look that enhances the value of your home. Understanding the characteristics, pros and cons, costs, and care required for granite countertops will help you determine if they are the right choice for your kitchen remodel or new home construction.

What is Granite?

Granite is an igneous rock that forms when magma cools slowly underground. It consists mainly of quartz and feldspar minerals with small amounts of mica, amphiboles, and other minerals. The mineral composition gives granite its hardness and strength. The varying combinations of minerals result in the unique colors, patterns and textures seen in granite slabs.

Granite’s compressed formation process makes it incredibly hard and durable. In fact, granite is one of the toughest structural stones with a Mohs hardness rating of 6 to 7 out of 10. The durability and rarity of natural granite is what makes it a luxury material.

Pros of Granite Countertops

There are many benefits that make granite a premier choice for kitchen countertops:

Aesthetically Pleasing

The natural beauty of granite is one of its biggest advantages. With mesmerizing swirling patterns and striking colors, granite adds style and luxury to any kitchen. No two granite slabs are exactly alike due to the random mineral distribution when it formed underground. The unique patterning ensures your kitchen has one-of-a-kind countertops.

Granite comes in a diverse array of colors from vivid blue to subdued beige. Popular options include black, white, greens, reds, grays and tan. With so many colors and patterns available, it’s easy to find the perfect granite to complement your kitchen’s decor.

Extremely Durable

Granite is arguably the most durable material for countertops. Its compressed mineral composition gives granite unrivaled strength and longevity.

It has excellent scratch, stain and heat resistance. Only diamonds are harder than granite. So it won’t easily scratch, chip or crack from regular kitchen usage. You don’t have to worry about discoloration or damage from hot pots or spills either. With proper sealing, granite can withstand years of cooking and cleaning while retaining its original beauty.

Adds Value to Your Home

Granite countertops increase resale value and appeal to potential home buyers. The luxurious and sophisticated look of granite makes kitchens and bathrooms look high-end. Granite countertops can recoup more than 80% of their cost at resale. Upgrading to granite improves home value beyond the initial investment.

Easy Maintenance

Routine care of granite countertops is simple. You just need to regularly clean surfaces with a damp microfiber cloth and pH-neutral stone cleaner. Annual sealing provides added protection by preventing liquids from penetrating and staining the granite. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or harsh chemicals that could etch or dull the surface. With proper care, granite countertops will stay looking new for decades.

Cons of Granite Countertops

Despite the advantages, there are some potential downsides to weigh regarding granite countertops:

Expensive Initial Cost

Natural granite is one of the most expensive countertop materials. Prices start around $40 per square foot installed. More exotic granite types can cost over $100 per square foot. The final price depends on the granite color and pattern plus fabrication and installation costs.

While granite’s resale value partially offsets the initial expense, the high upfront cost makes it inaccessible for some budgets. Granite is an investment that typically requires professional installation, adding to the total cost.

Prone to Staining and Etching

All granite contains some pores that make it susceptible to stains from oil, grease and acidic liquids. Sealing the surface provides a protective barrier but wears off over time. Failing to reseal granite makes it more prone to staining or etching.

Acidic substances like citrus, vinegar, wine and tomato sauce can etch light colored granites. This removes the polish leaving a dull spot. Etching and staining do not directly affect granite but rather the finish. Proper sealing and cleaning reduces this risk.

Can Chip from Impact

Granite’s extreme hardness comes with a tradeoff. The brittle mineral composition means granite can chip if subjected to hard impact. Dropping heavy cast iron cookware directly on granite countertops risks chipping the surface. The good news is small chips are fairly simple to repair by a professional.

Requires Periodic Sealing

To prevent stains from penetrating, granite needs resealing every 1 to 3 years using a penetrating sealer. If left unsealed, liquids can seep into granite leaving permanent discoloration. The sealing process is easy but failing to do it regularly can lead to stubborn stains.

Needs Specialized Installation

Installing granite is challenging due to the heavy slabs weighing hundreds of pounds. The stone requires precise cutting to custom fit each application. Most homeowners hire professional granite fabricators and installers to ensure proper handling and fitting.

Cost of Granite Countertops

Granite countertop cost depends on the slab quality, edge profiles, cutouts needed, installation location and professional fees. Here is a closer look at the different components that influence overall granite countertop pricing:

  • Granite Material – The stone slab itself makes up a significant portion of the total cost at $40 to over $100 per square foot. Unique imported granite, thicker slabs, large pieces and premium surfacing finishes drive the stone price higher.
  • Edge Styles – The edge profile and treatments add $10 to $30 per linear foot. Popular edges like eased, beveled, ogee and DuPont contribute to the fabrication time and cost. Ornate edges or multiple profiles increase expense.
  • Cutouts and Seams – Making cutouts for sinks and cooktops takes special tools and time. Minimizing seams also requires careful slab layout and planning. More complex cuts and fewer seams mean higher fabrication costs.
  • Installation – Hiring a professional installer costs $40 to $80 per hour for labor. Typical countertop installation takes 2 to 3 installers up to 8 hours. Total fees can range from a few hundred dollars up to over $1000 depending on location and complexity.
  • Sealing – Granite sealers cost around $15 per 16 oz bottle. A typical kitchen requires 2 or more bottles. Expect to pay $30 to $50 for sealing supplies.

Taken together, a 30 square foot medium grade granite countertop installation with common edge, a few cutouts and professional sealing will total $2,500 to $4,500. High-end granite with fancy edges, maximum size pieces and premium installation could cost $10,000 to $15,000.

You can save on granite countertops by selecting affordable granite slabs, standard edges and doing your own sealing. But compromising on quality to reduce expenses too much often leads to disappointment. Focus on picking timeless, durable granite within your budget.

How to Choose Granite Countertops

Picking the perfect granite countertop for your kitchen requires consideration of color, pattern, finish and buying location. Keep the following tips in mind:

  • Examine granite slabs in person to see the true color variations. Photos don’t always capture the details accurately.
  • Bring samples of cabinetry, flooring and paint colors to see how the granite complements your kitchen’s design.
  • Look at large full slabs whenever possible since smaller samples hide imperfections.
  • Choose granite with interesting but not overpowering patterns to avoid looking too busy.
  • Consider a leathered or honed granite finish for a soft matte look compared to polished.
  • Pick a reputable granite supplier that provides reasonable customer reviews and vacuum sealed packaging.
  • Remember that medium tone and darker granites help hide stains and wear better over time.

Take your time deciding and take home samples to see how lighting affects the appearance at different times of day. Narrow down your top choices to pick the perfect granite.

How to Care for Granite Countertops

Caring for granite countertops doesn’t require much effort, just some simple routine maintenance:


  • Use a damp microfiber cloth to wipe the countertop. Only use gentle pH-neutral stone cleaners, not harsh chemicals.
  • Rinse away spills like wine or fruit juices immediately to avoid staining.
  • Deep clean granite occasionally with a penetrating stone cleaner to remove residue buildup.
  • Reseal every 1 to 3 years with a penetrating sealer made for natural stone.

Preventative Measures

  • Always use cutting boards, trivets and hot pads rather than cutting or putting hot items directly on the granite.
  • Apply sealer regularly according to manufacturer recommendations to guard against stains.
  • Avoid exposing granite to chemicals like paint removers, oven cleaners or drain openers that can etch the surface.
  • Lift heavy objects when moving them across granite to prevent scratching or breaking the stone.

Follow these simple care guidelines, and your granite countertops will stay beautiful for life. Contact a professional stone restoration company for deep cleaning or stain removal needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about granite kitchen countertops:

Is granite better than quartz or marble for countertops?

Granite is better than marble because it is much harder and stain resistant. However, quartz counters are highly scratch and stain resistant. Granite offers natural beauty with more variation while quartz provides uniformity. Ultimately it comes down to your personal preferences.

How thick should granite countertops be?

A 3 cm (1.25 inch) thickness works well for most kitchen countertops. Thicker 2 cm (3/4 inch) granite can crack under impact. Go thicker (3.5 cm+) for heavy usage areas like large islands. The slab thickness affects cost, weight and fabrication considerations.

Should I get granite from big box stores or local suppliers?

Buying directly through a local granite fabricator and installer typically results in better prices, selection and service. Big box stores have more limited inventory and often act as middlemen. However, watch for sales events at the home improvement warehouses too.

Can granite stain from red wine or oil?

Yes, granite can stain from prolonged exposure to oils and wines due to its porous nature. The good news is oils create a topical stain only on the finish. Wines with deep color pigments like red wine can lead to stubborn stains. Proper sealing prevents most staining issues.

How long does it take to install kitchen granite countertops?

The typical timeline for countertop installation is 2 to 3 weeks: 1 week for templating & manufacturing, followed by 1 to 2 days for installation. Rushing fabrication risks errors so allow proper time. The installer can complete most kitchen countertop projects within a day or two.

Enhance Your Kitchen with Gorgeous Granite Countertops

Granite beautifully transforms kitchens with its elegant natural designs. The unmatched durability and value enhancement from granite countertops make it a remodeling investment that pays dividends. Pay attention to proper installation, sealing and care to get the most out of your granite countertops. With the right granite selection and routine maintenance, you can enjoy stunning, functional countertops that last.