Granite is a readily-available, durable material. That makes it an outstanding choice for kitchen countertops, as they take a lot of daily abuse in most homes. The conditions that let the granite stone form also ensure that every piece of granite is unique. If you get a granite countertop installed, no one else will ever have one that looks exactly like yours. What trips a lot of people up is what looks like arbitrary pricing for granite. It’s all the same stuff, isn’t it? Why should one piece of stone cost so much more than another piece of stone? Understanding why granite prices vary so much requires digging into the details a little bit.
First, though, let’s a quick look at what granite is and how it’s formed. Let’s go!
Granite Stone Basics
Granite forms beneath the Earth’s surface as molten rock or magma cools. In the case of granite, the cooling magma crystallizes in layers made up mostly of quartz and a mineral called feldspar. As the stone crystallizes, the other minerals present give the stone its color and patterns. For example, potassium feldspar will give granite a pink color, while amphibole will give it a black or green color. As minerals get trapped in and around the main crystal formation of the rock, it creates grains to create the speckled look common to granite. The same process can also form the mineral veins that make more expensive granite popular.
Place of Origin
The origin location of granite often affects the overall price due to raw shipping costs. Granite stone slabs are produced domestically in several states, including:
- New Hampshire
- South Dakota
A substantial amount of dimensional granite comes from overseas. Some common sources include Brazil, India, and China. The natural density of granite makes it very heavy, which also makes it very expensive to transport. Any given ship, truck, or train can only move so much weight at any time. So even if the cargo hold of a ship only looks half full of granite slabs, the ship may not be able to carry more. Think of it like moving things in the trunk of your car. You can pack lots of groceries in the truck without giving it a thought. If you start loading in bricks, you’ll need to stop long before the trunk is full. Since the shipping company can’t use that empty space, the cost of transportation needs to go up to cover the lost profit. Those costs get passed on to customers as part of the final price.
Some granite has features or imperfections that change the price. For example, granite gets cuts repeatedly between the quarry and when it gets installed in your kitchen. All of that cutting can dislodge some of the minerals in the granite stone and leave it pitted. Fissures are a normal feature in granite, but not everyone likes their appearance. A fissure can resemble a crack, but it’s still a solid piece of the stone. If you run your hand over the fissure, it should feel identical to the rest of the counter. If you can feel a separation, it’s not a fissure. It’s a crack. Fortunately, a professional can match the color and repair cracks in granite with epoxy or resin.
Colors and Patterns
Granite stone comes in several colors and unpredictable patterns. Certain colors are rare, such red granite, and that drives up the price. Blue granite tends to be the priciest stone sold as granite, but it’s not granite. It’s typically Larvikite or Anorthosite. Granite with uniform patterns, particularly in the beige color range, tends to be cheaper. Granite with a unique pattern goes for higher prices. If you find a slab in a rare color with a unique pattern, expect it to command a premium price. This is one spot where personal preference and style of the room play an important role. A unique slab of granite is only worth the price if it fits with the style of your kitchen. Red granite with gold veining probably won’t enhance a kitchen with a light, airy style.
It’s also important to know that the granite itself is only part of your final cost. You need to get the stone cut to fit for your counters. The more complicated the cuts, the higher the price. A granite stone counter for an island, for example, is a straightforward rectangle. Even an L-shaped counter is fairly standard and shouldn’t drive the price up too much. If you want any other kind of shape, the cutting gets more complicated. A curved counter requires a lot more setup. If they need to fuse more than one piece together and have a precise curve, it gets even more complicated. There’s also the edge to consider. A basic round-over or beveled edge is faster and easier to make than a complex edge style, such as an ogee or a french cove. The more difficult the edge style is to make, the more it costs. The more complex edge styles also make repairs very difficult if the stone is ever damaged. You should plan to pay more for installation. A two-person team can probably handle installing a basic butcher block counter. The weight of a large stone counter will require extra people for delivery and positioning, which drives up the cost.
Granite stone is durable and often quite beautiful. It can also be polished to a shine. These qualities make it an excellent choice for your Tampa Bay or Orlando home. The question about pricing that often leaves customers confused boils down to a few essential things. The original location of the stone can push the price up due to shipping costs. The color, uniqueness of the pattern, and the number of imperfections can all alter the price of similar slabs. The details of the fabrication and installation can also push the price up or down. What won’t change is that you’ll end up with a unique countertop that will last you for decades. International Granite & Stone specializes in custom granite countertops for Tampa Bay and Orlando homes.