Selecting Granite Countertops
Granite is the premium countertop material for kitchens and bathrooms, adding timeless beauty and durability as well as increased value to the home.
By definition granite is a common, coarse-grained, light-colored, hard igneous rock consisting chiefly of
quartz, orthoclase or microcline, and mica with naturally occurring variations in color and pattern referred to as movement. A granite that has a lot of movement and/or veining in it is best in a kitchen that has a lot of counter space. Every slab of granite varies somewhat within any given color and pattern, even from one end of the slab to the other. This lack of predictability gives the product its unique character and adds an element of nature into human-designed spaces.
There are many levels of granite available. When you go to buy granite, you will be provided with a selection of samples classified as level one (the lowest price), level two or level three (the highest price). Levels do not refer to the quality, but they do indicate color and sometimes the thickness of the granite. Typically, the more exotic the look of the granite, the higher the level and the higher the price.
There are a variety of edges available for granite countertops. The most basic countertop edge is a squared edge, with only a very slight bevel, called a chamfer, to take the sharpness from the corners. A popular modification to this is the quarter round, where the top edge is rounded off, or the double quarter round, where both the top and bottom edges are rounded. Bullnose is a variation where the top edge is rounded more dramatically, and a full bullnose converts the edge of the countertop to a perfect half-circle. Beveled edges are also popular, and can be carved on either the top or bottom edges or both. There are more decorative edges like the ogee, which consists of two graceful, sweeping arches, one concave, and the other convex. Other popular edges include dupont (a straight edge dropping down to a curve), cove (a concave bevel on the top edge), stair tread (a curved undercut lip), and waterfall (three cascading convex arches).
The layout of your countertop such as in an “L” shaped corner can affect the cost. Because granite is sold in rectangular pieces, you can reduce costs by using two pieces of granite seamed together. The visibility of seams will depend on the granularity, color and pattern of the granite. Epoxy mixed with the color that matches the stone is used to join slabs of granite which is then smoothened, leaving only a very thin line visible.
Granite countertops can be one of the chief selling points of your home, but often the cost is offset by the increased value of your home. They are durable, have fairly low-maintenance and have beautiful aesthetic qualities. As with all major remodeling projects, take time to educate yourself and be sure to choose a qualified contractor. The result can be stunning.