Table of Contents:

Countertop Types

What Is Granite?

Basic or Exotic?

Granite Finishes

Maintenance and Sealing

Granite Edging

How Much Does Granite Cost?

What To Do With Granite Remnants Like bubbling magma in the volcanoes that formed them, granite countertops are hot, hot, hot right now in Denver, Colorado and the rest of the country. It’s easy to see why. Granite countertops are natural, beautiful and durable. According to Bess Tracy from Vivi Realty , kitchens with granite countertops in Colorado can add an estimated $5000 value to your home.

Perhaps more valuable, though, is how much faster they can help you move your house off the market. With granite being the market standard, you’re losing value by not having it.  

But is granite your best option? We think so, but we’ll go over your options.

So whether you’re looking to flip a house or renovate your own, let us help you figure out your Colorado countertops with: The Ultimate Guide to Colorado Countertops.

What Are The Different Types Of Countertops?

Although we recommend granite because it’s beautiful, any smart shopper compares their options before making a final purchase. So before we convince you of how great granite is, let’s first go over some different countertop types and kitchen countertop materials that you might want to first consider:

  • Quartzite Countertops: Quartzite is another natural stone that is actually harder than granite. This hardness, coupled with the fact that it is usually white or grey, is its claim to fame. It’s an elegant looking piece of stone, but lacks the variety in flow and movement that granite has. If you want a white countertop so hard that you could cut glass with it, then quartzite is the way to go. Like granite, it will need to be sealed every year or so. You can see our selection of Quartzite countertops here
  • Quartz Countertops: Somehow this imitation granite is becoming popular. Quartz is an engineered stone, meaning that it is a blend of natural stone and synthetic materials like plastic and glue. According to BHG this makes it as hard as granite, and low-maintenance, too, because it won’t need to be sealed. But in our 42 years of business we’ve seen man-made products come and go, and while it’s early in quartz’s lifespan to know how things will shake out, we prefer trusting the natural strength and beauty of granite. Sealing granite is easy, and that’s about the only thing that sets them apart.
  • Marble Countertops: great for baking, yet not for other stains, marble is a porous stone that will need be periodically re-sealed. Because marble has limestone in it you have to stay on top of your spills, especially acidic ones like wine, or they will stain your marble countertops. Still, if a little maintenance isn’t a drawback, then the elegance of a white or grey marble countertop can look stunning with, say, some maple cabinets.
  • Butcher Block Countertops: I hate to do it, but I have to put the trendy butcher block on… the butcher block. You can’t beat a thick, rustic butcher block that harkens back to the days of Mrs. Carson salting her meats for a long winter. Problem is, butcher block countertops don’t do so well in Colorado’s dry climate. If you still can’t do without them, then you’ll have to stay current with oils and creams and remember that you can’t put that scalding hot cast-iron directly on top of it. In short, butcher blocks will show their wear and tear, and, because wood is so porous, will not resist bacteria well. Better to save the wood for fencing and decking. If can’t live without butcher blocks, though, then you should head over to Kristi Linauers’ blog to get some great inspiration!

 

  • Stainless Steel: Resistant to stains, high heat and bacteria, a stainless steel countertop is the ultimate in function over form. Their biggest downside is that they will inevitably scratch over time, but hey, that’s just part of their character, right? Great for an industrial-modern look, think RINO, but not exactly the mountain modern style that’s popular right now. They are a “loud” countertop.
  • Laminate Countertops: Good ole’ laminate. You’ve been with us for a long time now. Also known as formica countertops, laminate is a composite, ie plastic, material that’s biggest benefit is price. But you get what you pay for: bad heat resistance, propensity to scratches and an overall cheap look and feel.
  • Soapstone Countertops: while they won’t require sealants, soapstone countertops are “soft” because they’re composed mostly of talc. Think chalk. But, because they’re soft, they can be shaped into sinks if you want your counter to be one piece. And while they are resistant to heat and bacteria, they do chip easily due to their softness. It’s a tough call in the end, but my vote is still with granite.  

All Things Granite

What is Granite?

Granite is Yosemite Valley. Granite is Mount Rushmore. It’s Pike’s Peak and it should be your next Colorado countertop.

Granite is the most common igneous rock (ie. formed from lava) on Earth. Igneous rocks were also the first rocks on Earth.

That means when you choose granite, you are using something older than the dinosaurs for your countertops–not a puddle of synthetic materials like quartz. Call us nerds, but we think that’s amazing! Granite gets its unique color variations from the differing amounts of quartz, feldspar and mica that are present during its millennials-long formation.

…if only millennials didn’t take as long as granite to mature. Most granite in the U.S. comes from Massachusetts, Georgia, New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Idaho.

Outside of the U.S. it comes mostly from exotic places like Brazil and India.

But it’s not the quarry location that determines if a piece of granite is classified as basic or exotic. Rather, it’s the characteristics endowed on it during its formation.

Basic Granite or Exotic Granite

We classify granite as basic or exotic depending on its patterning. Basic granite is a slab with a uniform pattern. The basic pattern lacks movement, which is a prominent feature in exotic slabs. “Movement” or “flow” describes streaking in the stone that forms when the magma solidifies in different ways. 

For example:

A very popular basic granite slab that we have is Santa Cecilia. It is uniform and, therefore, cutting it up and placing it around your home is a very straightforward affair. But Santa Cecilia has less of the one-of-a-kind exoticism that many people want from their granite countertops in Colorado. For many, though, uniformity trumps exoticism.

Compare Santa Cecilia to one of our exotic granite slabs like Sedna Magma, and the difference speaks for itself.

When you look at a slab of exotic granite, you see the awesome power of Earth science. This becomes a conversation piece, a focal point. 

In the end, it’s a matter of preference. Some really like the uniformity of a “basic” slab of granite, while others like to bask in the varied features of an exotic slab. Basic granite: notice the uniformity in the pattern Exotic granite: notice the movement in the stone

Granite Finishes

Granite slabs come in 3 styles, or finishes, consisting of honed, leathered and polished. These all have to do with how the granite is polished and buffed at the end of the quarrying process.

Honed Granite

Honed granite is polished but not fully buffed. This gives it a slightly cloudy, matted finish that fits well in casual, low-profile homes or for people that don’t want the mirror-like reflectiveness of fully polished granite.

BGH claimed that honed granite is more susceptible to staining because it’s more absorbent and therefore will need to be sealed more frequently than polished granite. If you’re the type of family that doesn’t let spills lie for too long, then a honed finish shouldn’t be a major turn off.   

Polished Granite

Pretty self-explanatory. Polished granite has a shiny, glossy finish. The polished look is classy and very popular, and while it will show fingerprints more than the other finishes, it will also make the colors darker and richer, and your granite will “pop” more than a honed or leathered finish will. If you aren’t quite sure what finish to get, then you can’t go wrong with the industry standard: polished. 

Leathered Granite

Leathered granite is the least buffed and polished finish that granite can have. If you’re a tatctile person then you will probably like leathered granite because it has a slightly rough, natural feel to it. Other homeowners claim that it hides crumbs and smears much better than polished granite and is therefore lower maintenance. Leathered granite would fit well into rustic, earthy style homes because it’s closer to what the stone looks like when it’s cut from the Earth.

Granite Countertops: Maintenance and Sealing

Many people are put off from buying granite because they think it will require a lot of maintenance, and they especially don’t want to reseal their granite.

But maintenance should be the last thing that deters you from buying granite.

Maintaining and sealing granite is as easy as spray, let sit and wipe off. Also, it depends on what type of granite you have. Darker granites are less porous and more resistant to stains, while lighter granite, especially marble or quartzite, stain more easily because they have more limestone in them.

That’s why it’s important  to clean up your acidic spills (think wine, lemon juice, vinegar) as quickly as possible. Acidic substances eat away at limestone.

When spills happen (they invariably will) you should blot them when a paper towel or rag before wiping them up completely with water and then patting them dry. If you are in the camp that wants their granite countertops to stay as flawless as the day you bought them, then you should avoid placing hot pans, silver and ceramics directly on granite because they will eventually dull the shine. But hey, if you have honed or leathered granite then this won’t be a problem!

Daily Care

Many contractors will tell you to use dish soap or windex to clean your granite countertops, but there is a better solution. Dish soap is fine, but over time a soap scum will develop that you will eventually have to remove with other chemicals. Windex, ironically, will dull your granite after repeated use as well.

The best, natural, non-commercial solution is to use denatured alcohol. The Granite Care Pro recommends this method after years of working with granite because it will degrease, clean and shine your countertops all while evaporating almost instantaneously. That’s a win-win! He also recommends other natural, commercial products.

Now that you know how to properly clean your granite, let’s look at how to reseal them.

Resealing Granite Countertops

Most granite slabs come with an initial seal, but you should always do a quick test before you start heavily using them. We’ve written about it here (link) before, but a quick recap is:

  1. Put a tablespoon of water on your granite countertop.
  2. Set a timer for 15 minutes but keep tabs on the puddle.
  3. If the water is absorbed within 5 minutes then you definitely need to seal.
  4. Within 5-10 minutes then seal it in about 6 months.
  5. Within 10 minutes and you can check again in a year’s time.

And that’s it.

Granite is a porous rock and therefore will absorb substances. That’s why an impregnating sealant is a better choice than a strictly topical one. An impregnator will seep into the granite and plug up the pores, therefore making it resistant to stains and wear.

Take a look at the MB-4 Granite Impregnator and read more about it here.

Again, lighter granite will need to be resealed more frequently, about every 6 months, while darker granite is more like 1-2 years. Just do a quick water test if you have doubts. Otherwise, the sealant just sprays on, sits, and wipes clean. Hassle-free.

Chip Repair and Re-Shines

Repairing an almost unheard of chip in your granite is more of an advanced job, but can still be done by you DIY’ers. Reshining is a simple job. Once again, I’ll send you over to Scott for tips and products to use.

Useful Resources:

You’re So Edgy: Granite Edging Styles

So you’ve determined if you like basic or exotic granite patterns more. You’ve chosen the perfect color to match the rest of your kitchen and now you just have to decide on the edging of your granite. Who knew there would be some many decisions to make!?

We suggest not being overwhelmed by the amount of granite edging options that exist. Not everyone’s kitchen needs to be a Romanesque statue, right? Click here to be overwhelmed.

Often crippled by decision-making ourselves, we’ve taken the liberty to narrow the options down to the most common/popular granite edging styles.

Here at Granite Liquidators, we offer the 3 most common granite edging styles:

  1. Bullnose: this nice rounded edge adds a little extra protection for the young ones running around.
  2. Bevel: ⅛” to 1” bevels add angles to the granite so that it catches light in unique ways. This is a formal, nice edging.
  3. Flat Polish: this is the standard, flat squared edging that is a safe, timeless look. Good for house flips.

These are by far the most popular granite edging types. A bonus would be the OGee edge which looks particularly elegant on a marble or quartzite slab. At the end of the day, though, none of the edging types will break the bank, so you can request any that stand out to you. Just ask us more about them.

How Much Does Granite Cost?

Good to know: when we talk about granite fabricators we are referring to the contractor who will cut your granite to fit your project, apply the edging and install everything for you.

We built our business behind the idea that granite pricing is more complicated than it needs to be. A lot of big box stores will quote you a price per square foot that doesn’t make the cost of the granite and the cost of installation transparent. They won’t separate the costs so that you know what you are actually paying for.

That’s why we wanted to do things differently. We were one of the first granite suppliers in Colorado to give upfront pricing on our website. In our opinion, this makes the shopping experience easier and more straightforward.

After all, every smart shopper wants to compare prices, and we are confident that most will come back to us when they discover how competitive our granite prices are.

The granite market tends to stay pretty stable. The mountains aren’t going anywhere, right? Many places will quote you per square foot, but we like to quote the price of the slab because you get the whole slab no matter what.

The average cost of our granite slabs is $1000 without installation. Basic granite slabs start at $599 and the very exotic slabs can reach $2500 and more. You’ll find, though, that many of our exotic slabs are priced much lower than our competitors’ slabs.

When we quote you, we take the price of the slab that you like, and add it to the cost of installation for the square footage of your project. Our long list of trusted fabricators charges about $25/square foot. So if we wanted to calculate the average cost of kitchen countertops in Colorado it would look like this:

Price of Basic Slab (Santa Cecilia) = $599 

+

Average Kitchen Countertop Square Footage = 40 sq. feet

40 sq feet x $25/sq foot for installation = $1000

Slab ($599) + Installation ($1000) = $1599 plus tax.

Knowing these prices can help you decide if you want to get the slab and installation from us, one or the other, or neither. But we’re confident you will want both because we work hard to keep our prices competitive.

What To Do With Granite Remnants?

We often get calls from customers wanting a granite remnant because their project is small, and we do usually have a limited supply (slabs damaged in transport). But it is few and far between when the stars align and the remnant fits the customer’s needs.

Many projects don’t require a full slab of granite, and so many homeowners will have granite remnants leftover. This is just the nature of the beast and can’t be avoided. With a little creativity or entrepreneurial spirit, though, there are many things that you can do with your granite remnants. Pinterest is full of ideas, some of our favorites being:

  1. Turn dresser into a kitchen island
  2. Make a remnant cutting board
  3. Mini storage shelves in your kitchen closet
  4. Make a cheese board
  5. Break it up and make a small pathway
  6. Make some nice kitchen inlays
  7. Make a granite chess board
  8. Make coasters

a granite remnant project

Get more ideas here:

A word of advice is to brainstorm these ideas before your countertop installation is complete so that you can coordinate with your granite fabricator to make any remnant cuts that you might need.

A Parting Note

Well there you have it; you’re countertop expert now! We hope this guide has been useful for you, and that it makes choosing your next Colorado countertop a pleasant and enlightening experience. We’re always here to help at Granite Liquidators so please, whether you live in Colorado or not, give us a call with any questions or doubts that you have.

Here are a few more resources: