There are many reasons homeowners choose granite countertops for their kitchen. Top of the list is due to granite’s durability. The natural stone is extremely durable making it ideal for a high use space such as the kitchen. In addition, granite counters are beautiful with a wide variety of styles and colors to choose from. Whether you’re buying a new home or remodeling, granite continues to be a highly sought after countertop material that continues to grow in popularity.
What is granite? Granite is a hard igneous rock that is composed of a mixture of quartz, mica, feldspar and other minerals. It is formed through the crystallization of magma beneath the earth’s surface. This process creates the stunning dark visible streaks in granite’s dominant white, pink or gray color.
It’s versatility and durability makes it a popular choice of material for people who want to remodel and build their houses. The minerals present in the stone produce its distinct beauty adding an appeal to your house that no other stone can surpass. It can be used as a wall treatment, a flooring material or a counter top surface.
The most popular application of granite in houses is as a kitchen counter top or a bathroom vanity sink counter top.
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Some advantages of using granite as a countertop are:
- Granite countertops does not depreciate in value.
- It adds value to your home.
- It is easy to maintain and requires little effort to clean.
- If sealed properly, it is also stain resistant.
- It is sanitary because it is less porous than other natural stones such as marble.
- It is scratch resistant, and does not damage easily from knife marks.
- It can withstand the heat from pots and pans.
- It has a distinct luminous look which makes any space stand out.
- The visual aesthetics it offers are timeless and are limitless.
- It is available in a broad spectrum of colors and patterns which can be used in different design applications.
On the other hand, granite also has several weak properties. Some disadvantages of using granite as a countertop are:
- Granite is more expensive compared to other natural stones.
- It requires periodic sealing to ensure that no liquids will seep into it. Granite countertops which are not properly sealed will absorb stain, dirt and spills.
- Installation is labor intensive.
- If you want to change the look of your room or its color, the whole countertop needs to be ripped off entirely.
- If you are aiming for a uniform look, granite may not be a good option because each slab can be completely different from the other.
- Due to its weight, it requires an additional structural support construction-wise.
Granite Countertops Cost
The cost of buying granite for kitchen countertops will vary wildly depending on the type and rarity of the stone you choose. Another important factor is whether you purchase a solid one piece slab or multiple pieces which can bring down the cost. The downside to using multiple pieces for your kitchen countertop is it will result in an unsightly seam visible on the surface. Purchasing granite remnants is a way to cut costs and potentially get a more expensive piece of granite for less.
Granite Cost per Square foot
The material cost of granite is at $100 to $200 per square foot. Specifically, granite slabs cost around $5 to $15 per square foot, while granite tiles cost $5 to $ 20 per square foot.
Granite Countertops Cost per Square foot
You can purchase granite slab countertops for $50 to $60 per square foot, while granite tiles countertops cost $10 to $40 per square foot.
Due to its size, granite slabs are more cost effective for large surfaces. Granite tiles will work best for kitchens with unique counter shape and lay-out.
Granite Countertops Cost per Square foot when Installed
Because of the labor-intensive process , granite installation also cost higher compared to other countertop materials. Aside from the material itself, additional costs to be considered in installing a granite countertop are as follows:
- Materials (consumables excluding granite) – $400 to $ 600
- Edging – $ 200 to $300
- Seams – $ 200 to $ 300
- Labor – $ 300 to $500
Installing granite countertops may be a bit expensive so make sure to prepare your budget ahead of time. The cost of granite per square foot when installed is around $ 80 to $150 per square foot. It will take about $2000 to $4000 (including the granite) to furnish your kitchen with a granite counter top. Although a bit pricey, granite countertops serve as a great investment because it will last a lifetime.
Factors that Affect the Price of Granite
There are several factors that affect the price of granite. It is generally priced based on how many soft minerals are present in its composition, its color and how it is cut.
- Color. Rare colors such as blue, purple and red are more expensive than other colors. Beige and green have more abundant supply in the market which makes them cheaper.
- Slab size. Larger granite slabs cost more and are more difficult to work with in installation.
- Thickness. Thicker granite is more expensive because it is more durable.
- Origin. Granite usually comes from Brazil, Spain, India, Italy and China – the last two being the most common origin. China manufactures the cheapest because they have lower labor cost. Granite from Italy and Brazil are the most expensive ones. Although two slabs of equal quality may be at par, the country of origin affects the price of the granite considerably. Shipping costs also add up to granite’s market price. For example, Italian granite are priced much lower in Italy because they would take up less expense to be transported from its origin.
- Grading of granite. Granite may either be “low grade”, “mid grade” or “high grade”. Low grade or commercial grade granite have more soft minerals mixed in them, thus making them more susceptible to damage. They have less variation in color. Mid-grade granite has pure colors but does not offer much uniqueness. High grade granite is for those with rare colors and exotic patterns.
Best Places to Buy Granite
The best places to buy granite is from a stone manufacturer rather than a local home improvement store. Exclusive suppliers offer a more diverse range of choices and have a vast available supply ready to order. Some pros of buying from a granite supplier are as follows:
- Buying in bulk from contractors and fabricators can save you a significant amount of money because they can give it to you at a lower price.
- They offer hundreds of material colors, patterns and finishes to choose from. Home improvement stores usually have a limited supply of around 30 options.
- Installation is also offered by local fabricators and contractors. You can ask them for a full contract which includes both the material and labor cost.
Before making a purchase make sure you are dealing with a reputable stone manufacturer who stands by their product. Check to ensure they offer a warranty on their stone that covers potential damage or staining. Make sure you find out how long the warranty is good for and its total amount of coverage. Often a quality stone installer will offer service and customer care for the extension of the warranty period which can protect you if something goes wrong or provide maintenance such as fixing cracks or sealing surface and seams periodically.
It’s also a good idea to make sure the company fabricating and/or installing your granite does not outsource the work to substandard contractors. Make sure they are doing the work themselves so you receive a quality product.
Granite comes in a wide variety of colors and diverse patterns. Veins, grains and flecks of stone beautifully adorn this natural stone which makes it visually appealing and a popular choice for both home owners and designers. Ranging from a spectrum of neutrals to jewel tones, it adds a distinct character to any space.
Here is a list of the most popular granite colors for countertops on the market and some tips to follow in choosing the right type for your need:
- White Granite.White granite is often underestimated as some consider it to be too plain or simple, but what makes it interesting shade is that it has veins and some flecks of stone. Pure white granite is also available in the market but is hard to come by. It also creates a clean, crisp look. As the general rule in design goes, “white makes any space look bigger”, it is suitable for small kitchens.
Cabinet color it is best paired with: Black white or any neutral color
Design concept it is most suited for: Classic or modern kitchens
Visit this page to see the white granite countertops picture gallery.
- Beige Granite. Beige granite is also another versatile color. Its unique look is characterized by the colors which are mixed in it such as black, gray and brown. It offers a timeless look which will surely last over the years.
Cabinet color it is best paired with: Dark and light colored cabinets
Design concept it is most suited for: Classic, Traditional, Victorian, Country
Visit this page to see the beige granite countertops picture gallery.
- Brown Granite. Brown granite generally evokes a warm, inviting feeling. It is cohesive with wood but also creates a deep contrast with light finished cabinetry.
Cabinet color it is best paired with: light colored cabinets (wood finishes such as Oak,Maple, Birch, Light Cherry, Pine and Birch)
Design concept it is most suited for: Country, Rustic
- Black Granite. Black granite is the most elegant and most dramatic of all the colors. It has a very distinct character because of the tiny specks of silver which makes it shine. On the other hand, another option is the “Jet black granite” which is the plain black granite finish that is ultra-shiny and lustrous. If using this color, do not hide its beauty by pairing it with heavily decorated and intricate cabinetry design. Avoid using it with dark cabinetry and use it as a focal point in your kitchen.
Cabinet color it is best paired with: white cabinets
Design concept it is most suited for: Modern, Ultra- Modern
- Red Granite. Red granite is one of the rarest and most unique of all granite colors. Its rich color offer a great contrast to light cabinetry. It can also serve as a bold eye- catching statement piece for your kitchen. If wisely paired with light cabinets and a muted color palette for the walls, this will surely produce a stunning kitchen.
Cabinet color it is best paired with: light colored cabinets
Design concept it is most suited for: Oriental or Asian themed
Lighting is also a vital factor to consider in selecting the pattern and color of granite for your kitchen. For spaces with little or no natural lighting, choose granite that has light colored specks. For areas with ample lighting, dark colors will work best.
Granite Countertop Finishes
Granite countertops have three types of finishes: polished finish, honed finish and flamed finish.
Polished finish is granite which has a glossy shine. It’s mirror like appearance reflects light well making it advisable to be used for areas which one may want to draw attention to. This makes it the most popular choice of granite finish for a kitchen counter top. The flecks of stone present in granite stands out in well lighted areas making spaces appear more elegant and dramatic. Polished granite works well with modern, contemporary kitchens. It is also easier to maintain than the honed finish and the flamed finish. It can also be used as a flooring material for light traffic areas.
Another type is the honed finish which has a buffed or matte appearance. Unlike the polished finish, this has no reflective surface and has a satiny texture. Although lacking luster, it has a smooth texture which makes it easy to clean. When used as a kitchen countertop, it works well in adding a soft look which creates great contrast to high gloss cabinetry.
The last type is the flamed finish which is characterized by its rough texture. This is achieved by heating the stone at a very high temperature, making the stone’s appearance more natural and its color more faded. The levels of sheen vary depending on the hardness of the minerals present in the stone. Flamed finish granite are more typical in muted colors such as gray or shades of brown. It is most commonly used for exterior areas and for surfaces which are prone to moisture and works well with Rustic themed houses.
Granite Edge Types
After selecting the color of your granite counter, another factor that you have to decide on is your counter top’s edge profile. Simply put, the edge profile is the shape the edge takes. It is available in many shapes depending on cost and function. It may be in the form of rounded, semi-circle, square, to name a few. Custom edges are also available in selected fabricators and suppliers, just don’t forget to ask them if you have a distinctive design in mind.
Aside from the aesthetic value it adds to your kitchen, the purpose of a smoothed rounded edge is to prevent granite from chipping off easily, thus adding to the years your counter top will last. Although natural stone is characterized by its durability, unpolished edges lead to long term problems because the stone can crack at inside corners. In terms of maintenance, they are also easier to maintain
Countertops need a rounded over edge to maximize the thickness of the material. The typical thickness for a rounded profile is ¼ inch thick. The required thickness for granite counter tops is at 1-1/2” inches for a rounded profile edge of 1/8 inch.
There are three general classifications for counter top edge profiles: the straight edge, the curved edge and the fancy edge.
Straight edge is the simplest of all profiles wherein the tip of your counter top material follows a simple straight cut.
Curved profiles on the other hand are rounded and may either be basic or fancy. This is an excellent choice for households with children since they lessen the need to worry about getting heads bumped on corners of your counter top. It softens the feel of the room and suits both classic and contemporary kitchen design styles.
Fancy edge is the most intricate and unique of all. It requires skilled workers and years of expertise in handling granite for precise cutting. Generally more expensive than the straight edge and the curved edge, they are more of an investment for the value and character added to your home. These edges have the tendency to be overwhelming if overused. It is best paired with simple cabinetry, creating a perfect design detail for your kitchen. This is a wise choice if you want to create a statement with your countertop.
Below is a list of common edge profiles for your granite counter top:
Eased Edge. Also known as the flat edge or straight edge, this is characterized by a basic square profile showing the full thickness of the stone. It is also the most cost efficient of all making it the most popular choice for people who remodel and design their kitchens. It is clean, streamlined and matches any design style and concept. The corners are also slightly rounded, softened at a 3-centimeter space, to avoid damage to the material.
Pencil Edge.The pencil edge profile as its name suggests, is cut to shape like a pencil. It has a slightly angular edge that rounds into the vertical surface of the stone. It has a softer design than the eased or flat edge because of the rounded square design. It works best with contemporary style spaces.
Bullnose Edge. Completely rounded with both edges curved, the bullnose edge softens the feel of any space. It is half-circle in shape which makes it an appropriate choice for households which are concerned with safe. However, they are less recommended for areas which easily get wet because spilled liquid tends to fall down the cabinets. Ideal application for this edge profile if for island counter tops in the kitchen. Its design is also flexible since it suits both the classic and modern kitchen styles.
Hall Bullnose.As the name suggests, it has a round smooth profile with a flat bottom edge. The rounded off edge adds curve and also suits both the classic and modern style.
Chiseled Edge.The chiseled edge is the most natural looking of all edge profiles. Characterized by a lightly smoothed finish, it looks like a naturally broken piece of stone. The rough edge makes it fit for rustic style kitchens.
Granite Waterfall.The granite waterfall is one of the current design trends in kitchens today. The whole sides of the counter continuously fall of the edge, top to side, following the height of the counter. It is dubbed the “waterfall” because it perfectly ends and flows to the floor creating a whole uniform surface. Paired with streamlined modern cabinets, it offers a clean and sleek statement.
Ogee Edge.The ogee edge is an edge profile wherein the design has 2 sweeping arches: a concave arch that flows into a convex arch. When viewed from the side, it forms an “S” shape. Because of its dramatic outline, it is considered a premium cut and is more expensive.
Bevel Edge.The bevel profile is an edge that has a 45-degree angle, which may be on top or bottom of the counter top edge. The deeper the angle is cut, the wider the surface of the material looks. It is a classic edge treatment that is not only aesthetically pleasing but is functional as well because it is easier to clean. It requires the countertop material to be at least 1 to 1 ½ inches thick. It has a classic luxurious look and works best with classic themed or country themed kitchens.
Other types of edge profiles which aren’t discussed above are variations of the basic types. Here are some of the examples:
- Straight Edge: Straight with apron edge, Radius edge
- Curved Edge: Tuscan curve, Ogee bullnose, Ogee over full bullnose
- Fancy Edge: Versailles edge, Chiseled edge, Roman Ovollo, Ogee over Versailles, Ogee top and bottom, Demi bullnose, Demi bullnose with step-out
Aside from the wide range of edge profiles available in the market, you may also consult your granite supplier for fabricators for custom cut edges for a more unique look for your house.
Granite Tile and Granite Slabs
There are 2 available types of granite counter tops that are available in the market: the tile and the slab. In choosing the type of granite that is best suited for your project, you need to consider several factors. One of which is the area or amount of space that needs to be covered and the other one is installation. Each of the factors will be discussed further in this detailed guide.
Granite slabs are ideal for projects which require a large amount of counter top space. Typically, a standard granite slab is 4 to 5 feet (W: 1.2 meters to 1.5 meters) wide, 7 to 9 feet (L: 2.1 to 2.7 meters) long, with a thickness of 1 ¼ inch (2 to 3 centimeters). Due to its weight, it is not advisable to be used in a DIY / Do-It-Yourself project as it requires an extra work force to lift and set in place. It is advisable to leave the proper handling of granite slabs to professionals. You my either hire a contractor or directly deal with your supplier for the installation.
Granite slabs have incomparable beauty. Because of its size, it produces a whole uniform look without any visible seams and connections. It also eliminates the need to use grout, which makes it less prone to dirt and dust being inserted in between. It works best for projects that require a more modern, contemporary look.
Although more expensive than granite tiles, granite slabs are better in the long run because it is also easier to maintain.
Some practical tips to consider in buying granite are the following:
Examine the material before purchasing. Carefully look out for any hole, hairline cracks,chip marks and uneven surfaces. Presence of such make the material more prone to damage.
Purchase thick granite. This is one of the most practical solutions which will show its reward over time. It is ideal to buy thicker granite because the less thicker ones are more fragile and would require more support. They generally cost more, but serves as a great investment because of its superior quality. Ideal thickness for granite is 1 inch.
Ask for samples. Ask your supplier for available samples of the granite colors and patterns you choose. This is very essential in color matching with your cabinet. You can get a general idea on how your counter would look like if placed against your cabinetry and also lessen the need to go back and forth the supplier in trying to make your final decision on which one to purchase.
Choose seamless granite. Not only do they look more uniform but they are also easier to maintain.
Check the granite’s polish quality. You can do this by using a simple test. Use any metallic object to scratch the surface of the material, if it leaves behind a mark, it indicates a poorly polished granite.
Color match. Each slab of granite is entirely unique from one another, if you want to ensure a more uniform color, purchase slabs coming form the same batch.
Granite Tile is another type of granite that is available in the market. It comes in a more manageable size which makes it also easier to handle. The standard size of granite tiles is usually 12 inches x 12 inches.
Granite tiles are also more cost effective, at about 50 percent less expensive than granite slabs. Since they come in modular sizes, you do not only save on the surface material itself but also the fabrication and installation process. In terms of application, they will work best in counters with a complicated shape. Although more affordable, it takes a longer process of installation by laying the tiles in a particular way.
To join the pieces of granite tiles together, grout is required to cover the seams. The grout must be of the same exact color as the granite and needs to be reapplied regularly to ensure that no food particles or dirt get stuck in between. Another downside of the seams present in granite tiles is that it makes granite tiles of less quality than a whole slab. Design wise, it offers more style options.
A frequently asked question is how thick are granite countertops? Granite is available in a variety of thicknesses, typically ¾ inches (around 1.90 centimeters) to 1-1/4 inches (3.175 centimeters) thick. However, the most ideal thickness for a granite counter top is 1-1/4 inches or 3 centimeters.
As a general rule in the industry, the thicker the granite is, the more expensive it is. In choosing the right thickness of granite for your counter top, there are a number of factors that need to be considered. First is the look or style you want to achieve. Thicker counter tops serve as a great focal point for any kitchen and they best complement modern and contemporary design.
Aside from this, the color of the counter top you choose also affects your decision. Typically, darker colors are usually more available in a thicker variety than the lighter ones. Lastly, the budget you have also plays a vital role in choosing the thickness of your granite counter top. Thicker granite slabs are rarer making them expensive in the market. This is the reason why they are often used for small areas such as an island kitchen counter.
How to Measure Granite Countertops
Measuring your counter top for granite installation only takes little effort. These are the tools you will be needing:
- Pencil or pen
- Tape measure
The general rule to follow is to measure your counter space twice. Estimation must be done carefully, precisely and accurately. Here are some tips you can follow in measuring your counter space:
Draw a diagram of your counter top space. Remember to include the backsplash in your drawing and measurement,
- Include the sink, cooktop or any appliance which will be set into the granite. You need their measurements for the cut-outs on the surface.
- Use a tape measure to measure the length of the counter space (wall to wall). Put the appropriate label of measurement on your drawing/diagram.
- Measure the depth. The standard counter depth is 25.5 inches or around 60 centimeters.
- Measure the backsplash length (this is the same as your counter’s length) and the backsplash height. The standard backsplash height is 4 inches or 10 centimeters.
- Double check your measurements. Keep in mind that this must be done accurately so always check if you measured correctly and labelled the diagram accordingly.
- When all the measurements are complete, compute for the square footage. Follow this simple formula for measurements taken in inches:
(LENGTH of counter x DEPTH of counter) ÷ 144 inches = total square foot for counter top
(HEIGHT of backsplash x LENGTH of backsplash) ÷ 144 inches = total square foot for backsplash
Here’s a sample computation following the given formula. If your counter top’s length is 100 inches and the depth is 29 inches:
(L x D) ÷ 144 = total sq ft
100 in x 29 in = 2900 sq in
2900 sq in ÷ 144 sq in = 20.138 sq ft
Granite Counter Top Installation
Granite counter top installation is a labor-intensive process which requires precise measurements and skilled work. The type of material you use, whether it may be a granite tile or a granite slab will determine the steps you need to follow in installation.
Granite tiles may be a Do-It-Yourself process for someone who has prior experience in laying tiles, while granite slabs are best left to the experts as handling and installation is more tedious. You may hire a contractor or consult your granite supplier for labor cost and assistance that you require.
Some general tips to consider before installing granite:
- Measurements should be taken accurately. As mentioned in the previous topic on “measuring your counter top”, the length, depth and opening for appliances such as the range or hob cooktop and the sink must be precise.
- Color matching is also very important. No granite slab is exactly alike, to ensure that your material has a close color, buy granite which belong to the same batch.
- When in doubt, always hire a professional. Granite counter top installers are well skilled in their craft because of their experience and the years they spent in practice. You may always consult one if needed.
Installing a Granite Slab Counter Top
Here is a step by step guide for projects which use granite slab counter tops.
What you’ll need:
- Tape Measure
- Light cardboard or kraft paper
- ¾” Plywood
- Painter’s tape or masking tape
- Screws ( 1-¼” size)
- Drill bit
- Circular Saw
- Putty knife
- Seam setter
- Silicone sealer
- Polyester based resin
- Caulking and Caulk gun
- Granite Slab
Steps in Installing a Granite Slab Counter Top:
- Order the granite counter top material form your trusted supplier.
- Create a full-size template of the actual measurement of the countertop. You may use paper or light cardboard for this. The reason for such is not all walls are perfectly leveled and a guide will ensue a perfect fit. Include all openings in your template.
- Preparation of cabinets. Granite counter tops require a plywood backing to support the weight of the slab. Typical thickness of the plywood substrate is ¾ inch. Cut plywood to fit on top of the base cabinet Remember to cut in the exact same size without any allowance or overhang. Also, add a clearance in the thickness for the edging.
- Attach the plywood backing onto the base cabinet by using screws. First drill a pilot hole to keep from splitting the face frame of the cabinet. Use 1 ¼” screws to secure it in place and make sure to center the screws.
- Cut the hole for the sink in the plywood substrate. After securing the plywood backing in place, trace the exact outline of the sink onto the plywood then start cutting. Use a jigsaw to cut around the sink hole but make it slightly bigger than the outline you drew, about 1/8 inch is enough. Drop sink in place. Run caulking around the sink rim.
- Preparation of granite counter top. Dry fit the granite counter top on top the base cabinet to ensure an accurate fit. You may require an extra hand in doing this since granite slabs are extremely heavy. To avoid breaking the stone, carry granite in a vertical position. If you need to remove a couple of millimeters for the granite to fit, scribe the material by using an circular saw with a dry-cut segmented blade. Adjustments must also be done with extra care.
- Cut the hole for the sink in your granite countertop. Use the plywood sink hole as your guide. You may use an electric grinder with a diamond blade in cutting through the granite’s surface.
- Install the granite counter top. Set the granite in place on top of the plywood backing.
- Join the granite seams. When you start fitting the granite slabs together, you can tape the edges to protect them. In joining the seams, use a color based epoxy. Tighten the screws and to keep the screws flushed, you may use a seam setter. The epoxy will dry out in an hour and by then you can remove the seam setter. A single edged razor maybe used to shave excess epoxy. Just remember to use even strokes as you hold the razor vertically.
- Attach the granite counter top to the cabinets by using silicone. Apply silicone about the size of a penny with an ideal spacing of 6 to 12 inches apart.
- Put caulking around the perimeter of the counter, where the stone meets the cabinet top.
- Check the seams for any gaps. This may be filled by using a polyester based resin which matches the stone color.
- Apply a granite sealer to protect your stone from oil, stain and spills from seeping into its surface. Ensure a full coverage and let dry for 24 hours
Installing a Granite Tile Counter Top
Here is a step by step guide for projects which use granite tile counter tops.
What you’ll need:
- Tape Measure
- Light cardboard or kraft paper
- ¾” Plywood
- Cement board backing
- Drill bit
- Rubber padded grout float
- Carbide tip scoring tool
- Granite Tiles
Steps in Installing a Granite Tile Counter Top:
Installing granite tile counter tops involves the same preparation process used in installing granite slabs.
- Create a full-size template of the actual measurement of the countertop. You may use paper or light cardboard for this. The reason for such is not all walls are perfectly levelled and a guide will ensue a perfect fit. Include all openings in your template.
- Install the plywood substrate. Granite tile counter tops also require a ¾ inch plywood backing for support. Cut plywood to fit on top of the base cabinet and add the desired overhang. If you want it to look thicker, you may double the plywood. Drill holes and secure the plywood on top of the base cabinets.
- Install the cement backer board. Cover the plywood substrate with a cement backer board. Either cut it with a circular saw or score it with a scoring tool. Screw it on top of the plywood and attach 2” thick cement board strips to edges.
- Cut the hole for the sink in the plywood substrate. Use a jigsaw to cut around the sink hole but make it slightly bigger than the outline you drew, about 1/8 inch is enough. Drop sink in place. Run caulking around the sink rim.
- Lay the granite tiles. Spread thin-set tile adhesive on the cement backer board. Lay tiles outer edges first. For the edging, remember to overhang the tiles.
- Apply grout in between the seams of granite tiles. Use the rubber padded grout float to apply the grout to the seams then wipe off excess with a damp sponge. Allow to dry for 24 hours.
- Apply sealer to the seams. This will serve as an extra protection against dirt and spills.
Image Attribution: Zillow