Updated May 25th 2021 | New Advice, New Pictures
Will a granite countertop outlast other materials, or is it just an aesthetic choice? Granite is one of the trendiest materials for counters on the market today. You’ve probably seen granite kitchens in magazines or on your favorite home decorating shows. However, is granite durable enough to make the cost worth it?
You might have a lot of questions that you want to be answered before you invest in granite counters. In this guide, we’ll give a thorough look at how durable granite is, and how it stands up to quartz, another trendy counter material. Keep reading before you upgrade your kitchen counters!
What is Granite and Where Does it Come From?
Granite is a type of igneous rock. Igneous rocks are one of three major rock types, and they’re made when lava or magma cools down and becomes solid. Granite, in particular, is made primarily from a mix of feldspar, quartz, and micas, and other trace minerals.
This mixture is what makes granite so desirable for counters. It has a lovely appearance that mixes different colors and patterns together, so each piece is unique. The longer it took for the lava or magma to cool into granite, the bigger the crystals of minerals are. When it’s formed, it’s buried beneath many layers of sediment and rock, which create enough heat to melt all these different elements together.
However, the granite used for countertops has been lifted to near the surface of the Earth, where it can be taken from a quarry and installed, eventually, in a kitchen. When the granite moves from the high temperatures and pressure below the Earth to the surface, it sometimes will expand and even crack. These cracks can make a countertop weaker. Changes in temperature throughout the seasons can also weaken a piece of granite. These pieces are much less desirable for counters.
Quartz vs Granite Kitchens
Many people think of quartz as the pink or white bits of sand that you might find on the beach. Quartz is a strong mineral that stands up well to weather. In places where the rocks have seen a lot of weathering, such as the beach, quartz tends to be dominant. That’s because the other rocks couldn’t hold up to the weather as long as quartz can.
However, quartz for counters can’t simply be gathered from quarries the way granite can. If you buy a quartz countertop, you’re actually buying a man-made item. It’ll be comprised mainly of quartz, but there’s also some polymers, resins, and pigments mixed in. This type of engineered stone is extremely durable and has no cracks or pores. It also uses a pigment that naturally comes from quartz arenite, not from artificial sources, so the color is accurate to what you’d see in nature.
Granite and Radon Concerns
When you’re trying to decide if granite counters are the best choice for your kitchen, you’ll probably spend some time doing research. Unfortunately, not all of the information you’ll find is valuable.
There are many sources of misleading information about the dangers of radon in granite. Radon, a radioactive gas, naturally exists inside granite. Radon comes from radium, which becomes radon as it decays. Since granite can contain tiny amounts of radium, it can also end up with tiny amounts of radon.
However, the amount of radon in granite pieces used for counters is minimal. It’s not enough to pose a threat to humans. Quartz generally has less radon, but it’s not necessarily radon-free, either. Keep in mind, however, that a bit of radiation is around us all the time. Finding a tiny bit in a building material actually doesn’t need to be concerning.
Is Granite the Best Choice?
If you’re trying to choose between quartz and granite, the price is one obvious consideration. But aside from that, the most important question to ask yourself is whether or not you’ll be happy with a manmade material.
Quartz is stronger than granite when used for counters. This is in part because it’s manmade and doesn’t have any seams or cracks. But if you wanted a natural substance in your kitchen, you might not be satisfied with quartz.
Many people find the natural beauty of granite more appealing. There’s also the joy of choosing between unique, natural patterns in granite until you find the one that fits your kitchen best. With quartz, your options are artificial, and there are fewer of them. That said, if you want a counter that’s simple to maintain and clean, and that can’t get stained or damaged, you might be happier with quartz. Granite is quite durable, but that doesn’t mean it’s impervious to harm.
What Damages Granite Counters?
Granite is one of the most durable options for counters, but you’ll need to be careful with certain items. Your knives won’t ruin the counters – instead, the counter is more likely to ruin your knife. Granite is very hard, and it will quickly make your knives dull if you cut on it.
However, any high-impact hit to the counter is likely to damage it. Granite can chip more easily than other materials because it’s made of a lot of crystals pressed together. It will also absorb liquids if you don’t seal it, which can lead to stains. But can you put hot pans on granite? Yes – granite is formed under intense heat, so hot things won’t affect it.
Are Granite Counters Right for You?
There is no single perfect material for counters. However, granite’s hardness and natural beauty make granite counters one of the most popular choices today. It’s quite durable, even though it’s not the most durable material on the market.