Granite is one of the most well-known materials used for making countertops durable, attractive, and long-lasting. It’s an igneous rock typically composed of quartz and feldspar. Occasionally, there are also traces of mica, amphiboles, and other minerals. Its mineral composition gives the rock a red, gray, pink, or white hue with visibly dark grains throughout. Since granite is an igneous rock, it’s formed by the slow crystallization of magma below the Earth’s surface, making it one of the most abundant materials on the planet!
There are many natural exposures of granite that draw eyes from around the world. Some of these awe-inspiring sites in the United States include Yosemite Valley in CA, Stone Mountain in GA, Pike’s Peak in CO, White Mountains in NH, and scattered throughout areas of South Dakota. The rock is known and loved by all that are fortunate enough to see it.
Granite is, quite literally, hard as a rock. Prior to it becoming a countertop, it has undergone millions of years of compression under the Earth’s surface. The extent that granite must go through makes it incredibly tough and long-lived. It’s difficult to scratch, chip, or even cut because of how difficult its surface is. It also possesses heat resistant qualities, making it remarkably desirable for everyday use. Granite is arguably better-looking and higher quality than marble, synthetic, and laminate materials, especially when polished.
Granite is blasted and drilled out of quarries in large blocks. Special machinery is then used to cut the granite into usable slabs for production. Depending on preference and installation requirements, the slabs will be cut in certain sizes, shapes, and weights. Ultimately, it’s up to you to choose which granite matches best with your design taste, and lifestyle.
Cutting Granite Countertops
Granite cutting will commonly take place in the quarry upon being extracted. However, sometimes it’s necessary for granite to be cut at the installation site to fit the needs of a counter specifically. In order to cut through the extremely dense surface, a diamond cutting blade will be needed. The blade tends to vibrate, chipping the edge of the granite, so we’d recommend hiring a pro to do this part for you. For the ambitious though, you can purchase a collar that acts as a washer on either side of the blade to reduce vibration.
When granite is cut while dry, an immense amount of dust is generated. This tends to be a mess. Some installers may use saws with attached vacuums to minimize dust or clean as they go. For areas of a counter like a sink or other curves, a contoured diamond blade is needed to get the job done. Other sections of countertops, such as the edges, can be customized and cut specifically as well. The main kinds of edges you’ll likely come across are flat, beveled, curved, and rounded. It can be difficult to make corners exact, and hiring a professional installer may be your best bet at getting it right.
Installing Granite Countertops
Installing granite countertops is no easy feat. It requires an immense amount of labor and precision at every corner. Accuracy in measurement and placement is key to making your countertops look their best. Again, we highly recommend using a professional to help you install your stone. If installed incorrectly, granite can break and not hold up for as long as it’s supposed to. Be sure to plan out things like appliances and cabinets prior to installing to ensure any issues later on in your project.
Templates can be used to cut out standard sizes of sinks and cooking surfaces. This way, you can rest assured knowing your appliances will still fit once the counter has been placed down. Oftentimes, backsplashes will come in various thicknesses and need to be accounted for prior to cutting the countertop. Additionally, features like faucets must be able to fit into the counter and not get in the way of the backsplash or any other element. Essentially, plan your design out before buying anything! There’s no use in going through the tiresome efforts of renovation if it won’t turn out exactly how you want it in the end.
To learn more about how granite goes from a rock o a beautiful centerpiece of a home, call one of our specialists today to get started. Check out our other blog posts where we discuss granite and all of its possibilities a bit more in-depth. If you’re considering installing a granite countertop and want to learn it’s backstory, we hope this helps, and best of luck on your next big project!