Love the look of a solid granite countertop?
A high-end trend from the late 1980’s has become a full-on American obsession. Granite has far outstripped the previous century’s luxury favorite, marble.
Granite prices worldwide have stabilized with the introduction of Brazilian and other granite. Finishing work in China, India and other places supplements that Italian stoneworkers. Real granite is still a long-lasting, durable, natural material for counters.
Despite these advances, some stores are ripping you off with fake granite countertops. Don’t be fooled! Read on to learn how to spot faux granite.
Beautiful, Natural Stone
Granite is formed from molten lava deep beneath the earth. As the lava cools, it crystallizes under the pressure of many tons of the Erath’s crust. The longer the molten rock has to cool, the bigger the grains or flecks of color.
Granite is mostly made up of quartz and potassium feldspar, but there is a wide variety of colors from other trace minerals. Mica is often found in granite as well, is responsible for some dark gray or brown grains and shiny, light-catching flecks. Seismic activity thrusts granite from the depths of the earth to the surface to form hills and mountains like the Colorado Rockies and Vermont’s Green Mountains.
Slabs cut from granite formations come in a wide range of colors. Part of the beauty of granite is the overall evenness of grain and color with natural imperfections up close. Granite is heavy, dense and tough and can last through several lifetimes of wear.
Granite Is the First Choice
Granite has been the #1 choice for luxury countertops since the 1990’s and the trend is still going strong. It’s quite literally rock-hard, chip and scratch resistant, heat resistant and easy to clean. It requires minimal maintenance other than an annual sealing.
Properly sealed, your granite is stain and bacteria resistant. Just clean with soap and water. It will look like new for decades.
Since it is second only to diamond in terms of the hardness, it will probably be the last countertop you ever need. Most other surfaces discolor over time or wear to the point of needing replacement, but granite is long lasting. Even the interior of the Great Pyramid of Giza is granite!
Fake Granite Basics
There are fakes like vinyl films you can roll out to cover a countertop. There are many inexpensive laminates printed to look like granite, too. There are even solid materials created for commercial bathrooms and kitchens with a “granite” finish.
None of these materials even approach the beauty and durability of real granite. A hot pan, a glass dropped onto the surface or an accidental scrape and they are ruined.
There is also engineered stone. It is simply a mix of resins with natural stone chips. From a distance, it most closely resembles granite but does not offer the same look and durability of a natural slab.
Fake vs. Real Granite
At first glance, they might be pretty close, especially if the countertop is already installed. Don’t be fooled! There are five easy “tells” you can use.
A light tap rap on the stone with a bit of metal or a small hammer, on the back of the granite surface, can help you determine its origin. Natural stone like marble and granite produce a ringing sound when tapped.
An engineered composite is created from synthetic resins. When you tap on the back, it makes a dull click. When you tap on the back of a natural stone, granite and marble produce a ringing sound.
2. Check Out the Color and Pattern
The highest quality granite is famous for its even color throughout. However, it the color and pattern are exactly the same throughout, be wary. Natural stone has imperfections. Two pieces cut from the same slab can be very different
If the color appears same throughout the surface or the pattern repeats exactly, it is manmade. Also, while granite does appear in many colors, grays and browns predominate. Very bright or unusual colors, bold or repeating patterns almost always indicate fake granite.
Granite is a natural stone and the veins, colors, and texture on the surface of the slab are part of the unique character.
3. Is it Porous?
Granite is hard and durable, but it does absorb water. A few drops of water should momentarily darken the stone and soak in. Of course, this test doesn’t work with a slab that has been well-sealed.
Fake granite is an engineered composite and is completely nonporous. Resins and stone chips absorb no water. Liquids poured on the stone will not momentarily darken the stone.
4. Look At the Seams
Check the seam of an existing granite countertop installed in your home. If the granite is fake you will notice almost no shift of the pattern at the seam. In fact, with some manufactured products, you might not find a seam at all!
With real granite, there is a change in pattern, although an installation professional makes the transition less dramatic. Professionals completely minimize the pattern shift during installation, but it is still visible if you look for it.
5. Check the prices
The prices for a granite slab in Florida start at a relatively inexpensive $50 a square foot (sometimes less for a remnant) and can reach $2500 per square foot for some of the rarest stone. If the prices seem suspiciously low, you are looking at faux granite pieces or very poor quality stone.
No Fake Granite, Thank You
Now that you can identify the stone you want, come to be awed by the huge selection available. There are reds, blacks, grays, browns and more colors. Origins include the U.S., China, Brazil, Italy, Egypt and other exotic locations.
Make your selection for a lifetime. Your beautiful, unique, natural stone countertop is carefully crafted and will possibly never need replacement. Our experienced sales staff is happy to show you what that means.
International Granite & Stone specializes in custom granite countertops for Tampa Bay and Orlando homes. Contact us today!