Granite has been used as a building material since ancient times. It is
one of the oldest and most durable building products available, and
will far outlast the building in which it's installed. It has become
the material of choice for today's luxury homes and offices because of
its enduring beauty, and because no synthetic material can yet compare
to its elegance and performance.
Products made of this stone will not depreciate with time and will
continuously add value to any property where they are installed. Unlike
synthetics, granite presents a surface depth that seems almost
three-dimensional. It has a luminance that's absent from other
surfaces. Regardless of its finish, granite creates an immediate
impression of elegance, and is considered a definite plus on any real
estate broker's checklist.
Granite is sold both in tiles and slabs, and is frequently used not
only for kitchen countertops, bar tops, and vanities, but also for
walls, floors, fireplace surrounds, windowsills, and even building
fascia. Its unique variations in color and veining turns make each
specimen a natural work of art. It is cool to the touch, and presents
an image of classic grace and beauty.
Granite, being an igneous rock (formed from volcanic activity), differs
from marble, limestone, and travertine in that those are sedimentary
stones composed mostly of calcite, a relatively soft and common mineral
derived from animal skeletons and shells. Millions of years of
compression and heat below the earth's surface turned them into stone.
Granite is one of the hardest stones available, having a rating of 6 on
the Moh's Measurement of Hardness Scale. In contrast, marble is rated
only a 3. And since their main component is calcium, marble and the
others are more susceptible to damage by acids such as vinegar and
Several factors affect the price of granite, but the most important are
supply and demand. Supply is the affected by the accessibility of the
quarry, the uniformity of the stone within the quarry, and the stone's
workability. A granite that is exquisitely figured, one that contains
rare colors (e.g. blue), or one that is found only in a third world
country will be more costly.
Granite is believed to have been formed as long ago as 300 million
years. It began as a mass of molten rock, estimated at 1300 -1400
degrees F., formed by volcanic activity about 11-12 miles underground.
Forces of nature caused the magma to gradually rise to the surface
where it began to cool very slowly over the next million years or so,
solidifying into granite.
Granite is composed primarily of feldspar, quartz, and mica. It may
also contain hints of muscovite, biotite, hornblende, and pyroxene and
other minerals. These minerals are what give it its various colors. The
white mineral grains in granite are feldspar, our planet's most
abundant rock, which makes up about 60% of the earth's surface. The
light gray, glass-like veins are quartz, and the black, flake-like
veins are biotite or black mica.
Other minerals imbue the stone with a rainbow of colors, depending on
their source, and these varieties are often given unique names. One
coarse grained type, for example, is called pegmatite, which is often
rich in rare elements such as uranium, tungsten, and tantalum.
Granite is crystalline in structure, so it always has tiny pits or
spaces between the various mineral crystals. They are not visible prior
to polishing, and usually remain unobtrusive on finished pieces once
the surface is highly polished. Granite also contains natural fissures
that may appear to be cracks, but they are not structural defects and
will not impair the function or durability of the material. They occur
naturally and are considered to be part of the beauty of stone.
Although granite is very durable when it's installed properly, it's not
unbreakable. It can be chipped or cracked if it's struck a sharp blow
by a heavy object. It can also break if it's dropped during
installation. It is not flexible, and will crack if it is forced to
twist or bend. Therefore, granite should only be handled by
professionals and must always be adequately supported by proper framing
Granite is the least susceptible of all natural products to scratches.
If not abused, it will hold its luster forever. However, harsh
chemicals and abrasive cleaners will dull the surface over time.
Granite will not scorch or burn through ordinary use. It's also
resistance to stains. However, a few varieties may absorb some moisture
with prolonged contact. Usually, no evidence remains when the liquid is
removed and the granite dries, but this could be a problem with dark
pigmented liquids or oils. A stone impregnating sealer should always be applied to its surface after installation.
The quality of granite is highly subjective. The "best" granite is the
one that best suits the need of the buyer, both for aesthetic and
practical reasons. However, it is often rated on its luster when
polished, its surface porosity, and its mingling of colors. The quality
of the finished product lies more in the workmanship of the fabricator
than in the product itself.
Granite is a primordial stone with naturally occurring variations in
color, tone, granularity, pattern, etc. These variations, referred to
as 'movement', should be expected and are the source of its natural
Also, keep in mind that the veining in the granite can effect color
perception. Sometimes two different grain sizes occurring in the same
slab will appear to be of a different color. Mineral concentrations may
cause patches that appear darker or lighter.
Consumers who are less acquainted with the material may expect the
granite ordered to be identical to the sample they were shown. While
the samples are intended to represent the quarry's product, each slab
may differ slightly in color and veining. Indeed, even a single granite
slab will have color variations from one end to the other. This lack of
predictability gives the product its unique character and adds an
element of nature into human-designed spaces. Indeed, each specimen is
an original artwork.