Choosing a material for your countertops can be intimidating. There are multitudes of choices and even more opinions on all those options. Granite is a popular material. And while there are pros and cons to it, there are many reasons granite makes good countertops. Plus, if you are planning on selling your home in several years, remodeling and adding granite can increase your home value. It is also a desirable feature that most homeowners want in their new home.
First of all, granite is natural. It doesn’t contain any plastics or chemicals, unlike some man-made alternatives. Granite is a type of stone that is cut out of the earth. While it is a natural resource, it takes thousands of years to form, so it is not considered a renewable resource. Because it is naturally occurring, there is not as wide of a variety in the colors as there are with mad-mad materials. Whites, blacks, greys, and beiges are the most common colors, but you can get blues, reds, greens, and yellows as well.
Because granite is a type of stone, it will last for many years, maybe even longer than your house. Granite is harder than marble or soapstone so it is less likely to scratch or chip. Also, unlike marble or soapstone, if you do get damage to your granite countertop, it can most likely be repaired. Granite is a very dense material, with the darker colors being denser than the lighter ones. All stone counters should be sealed, but the denser the material the less sealant it needs and the less often you need to re-apply, as long as you take care of it.
Laminate countertops are just a thin veneer on a flexible base that is glued to the countertop. This thin layer can easily get scratched, be damaged by water or even just wear off. Granite is much thicker, usually ¾ inch to 1 ¼ inch thick. You will not wear through a slab of stone.
Granite is one of the most durable options out there for countertops. Especially if it’s sealed properly. A seal, which is usually done by the supplier, keeps things from being absorbed. It won’t make your granite stain-proof, but it will give you extra time to get things cleaned up before they stain. Before you decide on a particular color or style of granite, you should do some testing. Obtain a sample of each of the types you are considering.
Once the samples have been wiped free of dust, lay them out on a flat surface and drip some lemon juice and some cooking oil on them. Pay attention to how long it takes for the liquids to soak in. If they soak in immediately, you know that granite will need a lot of sealing and may not be suitable for use in a kitchen or bathroom. If it does absorb, but it takes a minute or two, you have a good candidate. If the drops of juice and oil haven’t absorbed after 30 minutes, you have a very dense piece that won’t need much sealing. Then wipe off the lemon juice and oil and make sure there are no spots, stains or dull marks left by the liquid. If you do have spots, that could indicate the presence of other minerals in that piece that make it undesirable for kitchen use.
Cleaning and Maintaining
Once you have chosen and installed your new granite countertop, you will want to take the best care of it you can to make your investment lasts as long as possible while looking beautiful. Follow these steps for a great looking counter.
1. Wash only with warm water, with or without soap
Using household cleaners or natural cleaners like vinegar can leave streaks and break down your sealer. Most of the time, a quick wipe with soap and water is all you need. To prevent the build-up of soap, dry your counter with a towel after washing it. You can also find disinfecting cleaners specifically made to be used on granite that will not break down the sealant and can even re-seal as you use it.
2. Use a cutting board
While your granite will most likely not scratch if you cut directly on the countertop, there is always the possibility. More likely it will just dull your knives and leave a metal residue on your counter.
3. Clean up spills right away
When sealed properly, you have more time to get things cleaned up, but it’s still important to make sure nothing is left sitting for long periods. This could cause staining or spotting.
4. Use a hot pad
Yes, you could just set a hot pan directly from the oven right onto your counter, but you shouldn’t. There is always the possibility that the thermal shock, heating one area and not another, can cause cracks. If you do set hot pans on your counter, be careful! Once you move the pan, you can still get burned on the counter.
How often you need to re-seal will depend on your specific piece of granite and how you have treated it. To find out if your seal is still good, do the water test. Pour about ¼ cup water onto your counter – preferably in a high use area. Watch the time and see how long it takes to absorb. If the water soaks in immediately your seal is gone. If it takes a few minutes, you are going to want to re-seal soon. If the water hasn’t absorbed after 30 minutes, you are just fine.
As you can see, granite can be a beautiful, long-lasting and natural addition to your kitchen, especially if cared for properly. For more information about the benefits of granite in your home, contact www.affordablegraniteandstone.com.