What is the difference between granite countertops, granite worktops and granite benches? Quite simply, nothing! In general granite countertops is used mostly in the U.S.A and Canada and granite worktops in most of the rest of the English speaking world, however granite benches in Australia and New Zealand, but for industrial and project applications most English speaking countries do tend to use granite countertops as a generic default description for hotel reception countertops and bar countertops.
No matter your description the material you select should be fabricated from the same granite quarried from the same place however do check that your supplier really does know the origin of the material and if you have any doubts, ask us!
The past fifteen years has seen a boom in granite usage in the kitchen and bathroom by builders and in construction projects as well as home remodellers spurred on by numerous television makeover programs. Just why these TV experts have suddenly found the beauty and cost-effectiveness in granite is difficult to fathom, nonetheless they have realised that aesthetically it is an ideal material for both domestic and commercial design and especially so when considering their easy care and the perceived added value as a home improvement investment, even though granite countertops are more costly than the standard inferior MDF equivalents.
To learn more about granite petrology and other natural stone go here. Granite is found all over the world, and as a preferred material, granite has been used by many different societies for the construction of monuments, temples and other public buildings. The sarcophagus in The Great Pyramid of Giza is made from Aswan Red granite and this, plus other granites, are still quarried and still available today.
Owing to the hardness of granite no one is really sure when, or who, first perfected the gloss polishing of granite. Certainly it was exhibited in 1851 in London at The Great Exhibition of the Industry of all Nations. It is believed that the Egyptians used emery to work granite however no one is too sure.
Being the hardest of all commercial stones, rivalled only by diamonds, granite is an excellent material for countertops and favoured by both professional and domestic chefs since the excellent surface can withstand hot pots and the rolling of dough. The wide range and beauty of the natural colours complement the many tones of wood and cabinets from traditional old English country farmhouses to contemporary stainless steel styles. If colour and character is your remit then you have found it in granite.
In Europe, without doubt, the most popular colours are the darkest and especially so black whether it be Absolute Black or Black Galaxy. Important information regarding black granites read here. In the U.S.A. the current trend (2005-7) is towards granites with veins or more commonly known as "movement". When using granites with a lot of movement great care in the selection of the slabs to be used must be excercised to ensure careful matching and flow of the material. Your fabricator should be able to assist you with this selection however do bear in mind that no two slabs are exactly the same.
Whilst granite is a great choice for countertops there are many myths that abound:
Not all granites are "true" granites however for commercial purposes they are grouped together.
Not all black granites are the same.
Granite will scratch and chip when abused however it can be repaired.
Granite can stain however it is possible for it to be removed.
Not all granites need to be sealed.
If a granite needs to be sealed, do it since this will avoid most absorption problems.
Sealing correctly is not a five minute job. Take care and time and do it properly.
Granite sealed correctly will last for many years before "topping up".
Granite does not contain harmful radon gases.
Granite does not come from only mountainous regions.
Thin and long narrow lengths of granite will break easily.
If the granite surface is not correctly prepared (bottomed out) it may lose its polish.
Granite is not expensive in comparison to other so-called quality materials.
Granite is not difficult to clean, mild soap and water is all that is generally required.
Granite is not man-made and does not come from a factory mould! Each piece is unique.
Obviously granite countertops costs more than cheap man-made surfaces however, depending upon the material chosen, finished 3 cm slabs for the more popular granite colours will cost between Euro 300 to 600 per square metre. If this seems expensive consider that the main costs are in the quarrying of the stone, the cutting and polishing of the block into slab, the container transportation in ocean-going vessels, more transportation to the wholesalers yard, yet more transportation to the stonemason's/fabricator's yard for further cutting and polishing to your dimensions!
Fashion trends sometimes create a shortage of some of the more popular materials however do ensure that you are happy with the colour and quality of your chosen granite before parting with hard-earned cash!
The beauty & elegance of granite is a result of its natural origins, most will contain colour variations, natural surface marks and blemishes. The veining and colour may vary slightly within the same slab even though your selected slab(s) may have been cut from the same raw block. These variations are to be expected and add to the unique character and natural beauty of the installation in your home or work environment.
The fabrication of the slabs into your dream countertop is not a do-it-yourself project! The machinery and tools used cost many thousands of Euros/Dollars and great skill and care is required to learn how to use them however incredible accuracy can be acheived to make the perfect bespoke fit. Special care must be taken when transporting the completed countertops since they are very delicate and the cabinet base units must be checked to ensure if they require reinforcing prior to the slab being set perfectly level. A granite countertop could break during normal use if it is not fitted correctly.
The durability, elegance and timeless beauty of granite countertops, whether for an home improvement or commercial project, ensures that interior designers, architects and homeowners will have an ever-increasing and even more exotic choice of granites from which to select.
All information on this site is provided for informational purposes only.
© Copyright The Stone Network 2006, Updated May 2007