When buying or selling a home, perhaps no design detail is quite as important as a functional, beautiful kitchen. One of the quickest ways to achieve the aesthetic you desire in this space is by adding a custom countertop, such as granite or other natural stone, because it really takes things up a notch and adds elegance and sophistication. Granite countertops are available in literally thousands of colors and varieties, with prices that are just as varied. Here, we will discuss everything you need to know about buying and maintaining a granite countertop to help you better decide if this is the material for you.
Before choosing a granite variety, you must start by measuring the surface to cover to get a good idea of just how much material you will need. Once you have those measurements, usually communicated in square feet, you are ready to start looking at slabs. Larger intact granite slabs are more expensive per square foot; smaller slabs will generally be less per square foot. Generally speaking, granite can be as little as $15 a square foot all the way up to around $200 a square foot depending on variety, quality, and slab size. The hugely expensive granites tend to be very exotic in appearance, featuring unsual colors and strange patterns that work well with large, lavish kitchens. Many of the less expensive varieties are more understated but are well-suited to the average kitchen.
Choosing a Variety
When selecting the type of granite to use for your countertops, you need to first consider price and then think about the aesthetic you are going for in your kitchen or bathroom. Do you want a countertop that stands out and demands attention, or something that looks great but is a little less obvious? Granite countertops can be simple and almost completely uniform in color, or they can be dramatic and brazen, making you feel like you’re looking at a bamboo forest or view of deep space. If you like the look of marble, there are several granite types that look very similar without the expense. You also need to consider the color of your cabinets, floors, and appliances and select a granite countertop that works well with your existing palette.
Once you select your granite slab, you will need to decide on an edge profile. This is simply the way that the edges of the slab are cut to give your countertop a finished appearance. Common edge profiles include the following:
- Bevel Edge – A squared edge with the upper corner shaved off at an angle
- Demi Bullnose Edge – A sloping, rounded edge with a square lower angle
- Half Bullnose Edge – A curved upper edge that is more squared than the demi bullnose
- Full Bullnose Edge – A rounded edge at both top and bottom
- Dupont Edge – A short squared top edge that is finished with a curved outward angle below
- Ogee Edge – A horizontal S-shaped edge
- Standard Eased Edge – A squared edge at the top and bottom
- Waterfall Edge – An edge finished in three rounded stair steps
Pros & Cons
Granite countertops are beautiful, durable, and long lasting, but they are not for everyone. Of course granite countertops have pros and cons to consider before deciding if granite countertops are right for your home.
- Appearance – Granite countertops look better than just about any other option. They are stylish, classic, and clean in appearance.
- Durability – Granite is resistant to heat, bacteria, and water, requiring little in the way of maintenance of care.
- Variety – With thousands of color and design options, you are almost guaranteed to find a variety that works for you and your kitchen.
- Expense – Compared to laminate countertops, granite is a lot pricier, requiring quite a large upfront payout that may be beyond the reach of some budgets.
- Variety – Yes, this is also a pro, but variety within a particular variety of granite can be problematic if your countertop needs a section replaced. You may be unable to find a perfect match in the future.
- Brittleness – Granite is a stone, and if a large amount of force is applied in the wrong place, it can crack, but the odds of cracking granite are slim.
The day to day maintenance with granite is quite simple, requiring little more than a wet sponge. You can also use mild detergents or kitchen cleaners that are safe for stone for bigger messes or disinfection. After cleaning, you should wipe the countertops dry to avoid any water damage. Avoid using harsh abrasives that may harm a polished granite surface. You should also apply sealant on a regular schedule to seal off any cracks or crevices that could absorb water or other liquids. Liquids left in place for an extended period of time can damage and stain granite countertops, so be sure to use coasters under beverages and wipe up spills as soon as possible.
While home improvement stores do carry granite in some areas, the best place to buy granite countertops is at a stone specialty store. Most of these are locally based and have large showrooms with numerous slabs to choose from. You should also look at wholesalers online to get a good idea of the prices you can expect to pay. Be sure to shop around and compare prices to find the best deal, and be sure to ask about delivery and/or shipping costs to get a good idea of your final price. If your kitchen counter is large, you may have to have two or more pieces joined together at a seam, so be prepared to ask how this is handled when purchasing your slab.
Once you’ve selected your granite slab your going to want to have your granite countertops installed. For the most part, showrooms, retailers, wholesalers, usually have fabrication and installation teams to handle your granite countertops installation. The installation isn’t exactly the ideal do-it-yourself job as you need special tools, these tools can set you back quite a bit considering you may never use them again. However with the emergence of easier to install modular granite countertops, obtaining the beauty of granite on the cheap is becoming exponentially more do-able then ever before.
A Final Word
Granite countertops can be a fantastic addition to your home, provided they fit within your budget and blend well with your home’s color scheme. Shop around, find what you want, and go for it. Granite will enhance your home’s value and provide you with years of beauty and use, no matter which style you choose.