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Frequently Asked Questions About Granite Countertops
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Are you looking for answers to questions that you have about granite countertops?

If you’re like other homeowners in cities throughout Maryland, Northern Virginia, and Washington DC who is looking for a change in their kitchen counters, then read this page to learn everything you’d need to know about granite counters.

Would you like to get started on installing new counters today? Click here to fill out our online request form.

If you’d like to talk to a sales representative about picking the perfect countertop for your home, give us a call at 410-712-0601 and ask any granite countertop questions you might have.

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What is granite?

Solid, durable, natural, warm and beautiful are just a few words about granite countertops that describe its uniqueness. Granite is an igneous rock that is formed under the earth’s surface from its magma, which is composed of a variety of minerals such as: quartz, feldspar, and mica. Granite got its name from the Latin word “granum”, which means grain. This is because it is a coarse-grained mineral and is classified as such by mineralogists. Granite gains its own unique and distinct texture from this grainy feature.

Granite is available in a variety of colors that include black, red and yellow depending on where it was formed. There are also different types of finishes that help to create unique slabs of granite that are ideal for distinctive and unique countertop surfaces.

Granite, like most other natural stones (e.g. marble, limestone, etc.), is hundreds and thousands of years old. When learning about granite countertops, you should know that just about all natural stones possess a porous surface. This means, if they aren’t sealed properly, they can be penetrated by liquids such as water and oil. Granite is the second hardest natural stone when it is compared to the diamond. It is more than strong enough for everyday use which is just one of the reasons it is an optimal material for countertops.

Where does granite come from?

Granite comes from far below the earth’s surface and forms during a process that can take upwards of thousands of years. Over a long period of time, liquid magma is forced back and forth between different layers of rock. When it finally cools, it forms a solid layer of granite rock. Granite acquires its signature crystalline appearance from the trace mineral elements that are still attached to the surface after its cooling process. It is during this process that granite becomes an extremely hard and durable stone, making it perfect for countertops and vanities.

Learning about granite countertops is a long process. It helps to discover where granite gets its features to better understand and appreciate its beauty. Granite’s features depend on where in the world that particular portion of rock was formed. Although granite is distributed vastly throughout the world, it is generally manufactured in countries such as Africa, Spain, India, Brazil, China and Norway where there are high volumes of the stone. Amazingly, knowledgeable experts are able to determine specifically where a particular piece of granite came from based solely on its color alone. Generally speaking, red and black granite is found in Egypt or a desert within the United States. White granite with gray specks is generally from China and finally, blue granite is generally from the coast of Africa.

Granite’s overall color is influenced,mainly, by the minerals that are fused inside each slab. For example, quartz adds a soft white color, while feldspar will add a blue or a green tint to the granite.

Can you tell me something about granite quarries?

When learning about granite countertops, you should learn their origins once the rock itself is formed. Granite is usually always mined in quarries, which are basically large pits or, in other words, excavation sites. The direction in which the granite rock will break is the easiest way to determine how a quarry will be set up and organized in order to obtain the largest possible amount of granite.

At most quarries throughout the world, diamonds are used in order to cut the granite. This is done because diamonds arethe only stone harder enough to cut the granite.

The final step in the quarrying of granite is cutting it into useable sizes. This is usually accomplished by using wire saws. If the granite is going to be used for countertops and bathroom vanities, it is measured, cut and polished into manageable shapes and sizes.

What are the different types of granite finishes?

There is a large variety of ways to go about granite countertops production. Granite surfaces are finished in many ways. They can be polished, honed, flamed or brushed; each technique will add its own unique look and texture to the stone.

A polished finish is definitely the most common because of a few key factors involved. Polished finishes will help to give your home a distinct and elegant look. This type of finish is a great choice, especially for kitchens.A polished finish is easier to maintain than most other finishes and its sparkling appearance brings out the all of the color in your granite. Granite’s polished finish can often be described as both shiny and mirror-like.

Honed finishes are slowly becoming more and more popular for newly installed granite countertops. This type of finish is smooth and also less shiny than the polished finishes. Its less shimmering appearance gives your home a slightly more causal and contemporary feel while still maintaining the elegant feel granite is known for providing.

A drawback of honed finishes is they are, unfortunately, known to show more stains when compared to other finishes. Don’t let this deter you from this choice however; as long as you make any  effort to clean, maintain and care for your countertops, they will be just fine. There are also certain sealers and various types of treatments that will help keep your beautiful honed countertops stain free. Just like all other granite countertops and finishes, honed countertops are extremely durable and,if taken care of, will last a lifetime.

Another way to go about granite countertops production is to give them a flamed finish.

Flamed finishes are created by exposing a piece of granite to extremely intense heat followed immediately by intense cooling. This exposure to extreme temperature change causes the granite to melt, and in the process, shatter some crystals. This leaves the granite with a highly textured surface. Flamed finishes are generally seen in an industrial environment because of the traction benefits. Despite their usual use, flamed finish granite countertops  are also a great choice for your home. Flamed finishes are the perfect solution if you are interested in a surface that is textured and slip resistant.

Brushed finishes, which are also known as antiqued finishes, are created by gently brushing the granite’s surface which develops a worn-in look throughout the stone. This finish can give your countertops a more dramatic look when compared to the other finishes.

What are the pros and cons about granite countertops?

The choosing of a material for your kitchen countertops or bathroom vanities should be done with extreme caution since these surfaces can drastically shape the look and feel of a room. Remember that these surfaces must also endure a large amount of everyday wear and tear. Like other types of countertop materials, granite has pros and cons that must be weighed. There are several features that are unique to granite that help contribute to its recent rise in popularity.

GRANITE COUNTERTOP PROS:

      • Granite is the countertop material of choice
      • Granite contains a mixture of natural beauty as well as elegance.
      • Can hold up to heat and is resilient against scratches.
      • Provides a permanent and substantial look.
      • Extremely durable.
      • Offered in more affordable versions.
      • Extreme Uniqueness: No two pieces of granite are identical.
      • Coloration will remain constant; your granite counter to will always remain just as bright and as vibrant as the day it was installed.

GRANITE COUNTERTOP CONS:

      • Granite can be pricy; when it is installed in whole and solid pieces it can be amongst the most expensive countertop options.
      • Granite requires that you use a cutting board.
      • It’s porous: even with proper sealing and regular resealing, it can still stain.
      • Requires resealing more often than most other surfaces.
      • If any part of the granite cracks, that entire section will need to be replaced.

What is the best way to go about granite countertops maintenance?

Once granite is originally sealed, it is quite easy to maintain. The first sealing of granite is one of the most important because granite is naturally porous and will stain very easily without it. After you seal your countertop, your granite is protected and is now ready for use. Remember that it is imperative that you reseal your granite counters at minimum once per year. This can be done either on your own or can be done by a professional. Either way it will help to ensure that your granite countertops remain stain free. If there is a spill, make sure to clean it up before the stain gets a chance to seep into the surface. Because of its porous nature, granite is somewhat absorbent and even when sealed can still absorb stains if spills are left untouched for any extended period of time.

Generally, you are able to clean your granite countertop using just a soft clean cloth alongside a neutral cleaner. You should definitely consider the use of a disinfectant type cleaner that is specially designed for granite. The use of regular cleaning products on your countertop should absolutely be avoided at all costs. These chemicals will take the seal right off and leave behind it the vulnerable and porous surface of the natural granite stone unprotected and exposed.We encourage you to call your stone dealer with any questions or about countertop maintenance, care or even cleaning.

Tell me about granite countertops repair.

Unfortunately, most cases involving cracked granite will require that the affected section of stone is completely replaced.

How long can I expect my granite countertops to last?

There’s something you should know about granite countertops. When they enter your home, they are already hundreds or thousands of years old. The best part about granite is that it will most likely last another thousand years.

Granite is an extremely impressive stone. Granite is tough, stain and scratch resistant and can handle some serious heat. Granite can withstand temperatures up to 900 degrees Fahrenheit (482.22 degrees Celsius) without causing damage. Experts will tell you that cutting on your counters won’t hurt the countertops at all, it will only dull your knives. Short of trying to cut your granite with a diamond or, more dramatically, smashing it with a sledge hammer, it will not break or even crack. These statements are just some of the evidence available that will prove that you’re granite countertops can last a lifetime.

Can granite countertops add value to my home?

We know about granite countertops, and let us tell you that countertops made of natural stone, especially those made of granite, add a great amount of resale value to your current home, more so than any other available material. We can also tell you that granite countertops can last you a lifetime. This means, after the costs involved with the initial installation, along with with proper maintenance and care, your granite countertops will never have to be replaced.

If your heart is set on granite countertops, but you still have some concerns involving the cost,we can offer you several recommendations that will help to lower the expense. One way to decrease granite costs is to be selective on where the granite is imported from. For example, there are experts who say that purchasing granite that is imported from Italy will tend to be one of the most expensive options. On the other hand purchasing granite that is imported from China is less expensive and will ultimately save you money.

Cost is one thing about granite countertops that can still be a problem for some consumers. If granite countertops continue to escape your price range, there is always hope for the future. For example, it is often seen with a variety of products, as their popularity rises and the quantity and demand of the product increases, the price tends to lower. In addition to this, new quarries are being discovered each and every year. The increase in product choices and quantity of raw materials help keep prices down.

What colors are available?

It can be discerned that granite is a perfect countertop material because of its unrivaled durability, but lets not forget about its spectacular aesthetic appeal. Granite is very versatile when it comes to visual appearance. It can offer an elegant and luxurious look, or a casual and contemporary appearance, depending on your choice of color and finish. The best part about the appearance of granite countertops is the simple fact that its luster will never fade or dull over time.

One of the things that we know about granite countertops is that there are seemingly endless color options for granite. Each individual piece of granite is one of a kind; no two pieces will ever be identical. Colors range from greens, to blues, blacks, pinks, whites and even yellows, like we said, the options are endless. Granite slabs also vary greatly in patterns, there are some that have very large, intricate designs and movements while there are others that are much more subtle.

We have taken the liberty of listing all of the colors for granite countertops that we know about. Granite countertops colors and their basic characteristics are described in the list below.

Brown /Beige – These are very neutral tones and will easily compliment the other colors in your kitchen and/or bathroom. Brown and Beige tend to be the most popular color choices because they are not only complimentary colors but also provide a more comfortable and traditional look.

Yellow / Gold– Yellow and Gold countertops have the ability to brighten up any room.  Yellow and Gold countertops also add a warm appearance along with a rich and luxurious style.

Red – Red granite has the ability to create both a striking and a romantic feel.  Reds are also know to draw people into the room and they will absolutely spice up the style of your home.

Black– Black provides an extremely modern, clean and sleek appearance. Black granite countertops can either be plain by nature or can also incorporate very interesting patterns as well as additional colors.

Blue and Green– Blue and Green tones tend to be very vibrant and very lively.  Bright greens and striking blues have the ability to give any room a rare and exotic feeling. These colors are generally found inside other color counters from whites to reds and even blacks.

White– White countertops have the ability to give a room a more soothing feel or a more modern and elegant feel dependingon how the rest of the room is decorated. White generally matches with all other colors and will give smaller rooms a more spacious appearance.

Looking for Countertop Color Samples?
Shop by Color, Type or Manufacturer at our Swatch Gallery

Tell me about granite countertops installation.

Granite countertops should absolutely be installed by a certified professional to ensure that they are installed properly. Even thoughhiring a professionalto install your granite countertops will add to the total cost of the project, in the long run, it is definitely worth it to have it done correctly. The incorrect installation of granite countertops can easily lead to very serious and expensive problems.

How do granite countertops prices compare to those of other materials?

The lower-end of the granite countertops spectrum include every affordable options when compared to the prices of other materials.

Concrete Cost: $75-200 per sqft
Soapstone Cost: $50-200 per sqft
Solid Surface Cost: $40-150 per sqft
Engineered Stone Cost: $40-125 per sqft
Granite Cost: $30-200 per sqft
Marble Cost: $30-100 per sqft
Laminate Cost: $5-20 per sqft

Worried about granite countertops costs? Don’t count them out quite yet. There are many strategies you should consider if you want granite but think you may not be able to afford it.

      • You should have your granite slabs installed in several sectioned pieces as opposed to one big solid piece. This will give you an identical natural beauty but will make it much less expensive than installing a solid slab while also making repairs easier.
      • Granite counters can vary greatly in quality. Factors that will have an affect on granite countertop quality include some of the following: geological origin, color, veins or patterns, thickness of the slab, the amount of soft minerals that can be found within the stone, and the current fashion trends surrounding granite countertops. These will all have a strong impact on the prices of your granite countertops.
      • Luna Pearl is a type of stone that is offered by several different companies. It looks and feels the same as granite from both near and faras well as under certain lighting conditions. One of the big benefits to Luna Pearl is its less expensive cost when compared to other types of granite.
      • Make sure that you pay attention to the number of cuts and seams within the stone slabs you are ordering. The more cuts and seams involved the less the price.
      • Be sure to inquire with your installation professionals as to if you will be charged for wasted materials acquired in the installation process.
      • Hire certified and reliable professionals. Failing to properly install a new piece of granite can create a variety of extremely serious and expensive problems.

I’m wondering about granite countertops thickness. What are the variations in thickness between granite slabs? Between different granite materials?

Granite is available in a wide variety of thicknesses.  The most popular thickness is a 3 cm, or 1-1/4”, thickness but it is also available in a 2 cm, or 3/4” thickness.

The weight of a slab varies, of course, in relation to its thickness. The weight of a granite slab is generally 12-13 lbs per sqft in a 2 cm thickness and 18-19 lbs per sqft in a 3 cm thickness.For example, an 8-foot countertop slab that is 3 cm thick will weigh somewhere between 144-152 lbs. The granite thicknesses can vary as much as +/- 3 mm throughout the slab. Due to the fact that granite tends to not be a uniform thickness throughout the whole slab, installers will compensate for the width variations with added support.

Laminate is generally made up of 1/8” thick panels attached to a ¾” thick wooden product.  Solid surface countertop material normally comes in three different standard thicknesses, they are: ¼”, ½”, or ¾”. Soapstone is usually 1-1/4” thick, marble is usually 1-3/4” to 2”, concrete material is generally 1-1/2” to 2”, and finally, engineered stone usually comes in 1-1/4” thickness.

Now that I know all about granite countertops, I am ready to buy my own! What is the first step?

You may start your journey by looking at through different granite color samples either online or in a brochure. This will help to give you a general idea of what you want, however, it is strongly recommended that you go and look at your choices in person before you come to a final decision. This is very, very important since granite colors and patterns often look much different in person than they do in photographs. The most common and easily found place to view a variety granite samples is at some type of granite wholesale warehouse.

Make sure that when you are viewing the granite samples you are in a place that has adequate lighting as this can play a role in how granite countertops look. Also, if you are revamping your current kitchen, you may want to consider bringing along a kitchen cabinet door or another piece of your kitchen so you can see how it looks next to granite.

By seeing and learning about granite countertops first hand in person, you will gain a sense of exactly how they will look and feel in your own kitchen or bathroom. Some providers will even offer to let you choose the exact slab of granite that will eventually be installed in your home! Remember that granite very capable of lasting a lifetime, so take your time when choosing and by all means, enjoy the process.

I have more questions. Who can I talk to?

When you’re ready to buy granite countertops, get in touch with us today by calling 410-712-0601 or click here to reach us online

At Express Countertops, our help staff can help you get exactly what you want from your new kitchen counters so that you’re able to personalize your kitchen and turn it into something that’s truly yours.

With our service, you can have your new countertops installed and turning heads in 1 week – GUARANTEED!

We offer brand name, high quality kitchen countertops at affordable prices for homeowners in places like Arlington, Baltimore, Fairfax, and many other cities throughout the Maryland/DC/Northern Virginia area, so we’re confident that we have the right kitchen remodeling solution for you as well.

Get in touch with us today and find out for yourself!

 

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