All About Granite
how granite is formed
Granite is formed as a result of the slow crystallization of molten rock deep within the earth's crust millions of years ago. Basically it is magma that did not erupt and stayed under the ground, cooling very, very slowly. According to scientific theory (the Marble Institute of America), the newest piece of granite on the planet is almost 750 million years old! It is mined from quarries around the world in large blocks that are then cut into slabs. These slabs are polished and distributed to stone suppliers. Stone fabricators such as rock and stone purchase these slabs from the stone suppliers and install them in your home or office.
Although granite is rated 5 stars for most resistances, this does not mean that it is impervious to damage. We recommend that you take care of your granite countertops. To prevent scratching, use cutting boards and avoid scraping heavy object across the top. To prevent staining, clean up spills as soon as possible. If you intend using chemicals on the surface, we recommend that you confirm with your stone fabricator that the surface type is resistant to the chemicals.
granite scratch resistance
Granite is the one of the hardest natural stones found on earth! In fact, granite slabs can only be cut with expensive diamond tipped saws. This hardness gives granite one of the highest scratch resistances of all countertop materials and puts it on par with engineered stone. It resists scratches from objects such as knives, pots, plates, and mugs. Granite scores a hardness rating of approximately 7 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. When installed in a kitchen, the use of cutting boards is recommended because cutting on granite will dull knives.
granite heat resistance
Of all the countertop materials available, granite has one of the greatest resistances to heat, making it especially popular for kitchen tops and braai areas! Hot pots can be placed directly on the surface without the damaging or discolouring the granite.
granite stain resistance
Granite has low porosity. However, sealing the surface with a penetrating stone sealant is recommended to protect the granite from water patches and stains. This sealant is absorbed into the stone giving it a much higher resistance to staining. Stone fabricators should apply a quality sealant before and after the installation of your granite countertops.
granite resistance to weathering
Granite is resistant to weathering, which makes it an ideal choice for outdoor accessories, such as built-in braai areas and wall cladding.
granite cleanliness & hygiene
When it comes to the hygiene of your countertops, granite is the way to go. Some manufacturers of man-made countertop materials and natural stone imitations mislead the public about the porosity of granite leading to problems with bacteria build-up. When in fact, granite is one of the most cleanable countertop materials available, being over 1000 times more cleanable than plastic laminate. A study done by the Hospitality Institute of Technology conducted by Dr. Snyder in 1999, showed that granite had the greatest reduction of E. Coli bacteria after washing and rinsing with water.
surface micro-organisms eliminated by normal cleaning:
A follow-up study was conducted by Dr. Snyder again in 2006, where four widely used countertop materials were compared – two granites, one marble and one quartz surface (engineered stone). The study showed that all are easily cleaned to meet FDA sanitizer criteria of 5-log reduction pathogens on the surface. “Overall, there was no statistical difference in reduction after wash and rinse for any of the four stone surfaces,” said Dr. O. Peter Snyder, Jr., president of the Hospitality Institute.
Granite has a natural crystal-like, elegant appearance, consisting of quartz, feldspar, and other minerals including mica. This network of interlocking crystals and minerals gives granite its depth, unique patterns, beautiful colours, and sparkling glitter-like characteristic. When polished, flat reflective surfaces of feldspar and flakes of mica reflect light in a twinkling pattern as the angle of light may change. The actual size of the crystals in granite may vary, which explains why some granite appears more crystalline than others. Some granite also contains gemstones and pearl flakes which enrich the surface appearance. For example, in the close-up above of Ivory White, red garnet gemstones appear in dark red speckles and flashes of light reflect off the feldspar and mica flakes. This natural aesthetic appeal is unmatched by any of the man-made stone imitations.
Granite is ageless and always contemporary. Today's leading architects know its unique qualities and are using it more extensively than ever before.
colours & patterns
Granite usually has a "speckly" or "swirled" pattern appearance and comes in a wide array of colours, ranging from dark blacks to variegated browns, deep reds, shimmering blues, and pearly light whites or greys. The variety of colours come from their complex and varied origins.
It is important to realise that being a natural stone, there will always be variations in colour and formation in each and every slab - some granite patterns are very consistent, whilst others exhibit "waves" of movement and colour in the stone.
granite’s surface & touch
Another visually stunning appeal of granite countertops is the surface’s high gloss shine which really brings out the depth of the colour and pattern of the stone. This shine is the actual stone polished to a mirror-finish, not by something coated on the surface. Therefore, polished granite will keep its beautiful high gloss shine for decades! Granite has a solid, smooth, cool, sophisticated stone feel.
Granite, which was once found only in very expensive high-end kitchens is more commonplace today and is by far the most popular natural stone countertop material. Granite countertop prices have reduced due to technological advances, improved methods of quarrying, and widespread popularity.
Although prices are still on the higher end of the countertop market, the value-for-money and durability of granite makes it a more cost effective option than any cheaper alternative. Granite will retain its beauty for decades, improve the long term home experience, and increase the value of your property. This makes granite a sensible, long-term economical solution and investment. The price of granite countertops varies. Expect to pay between R1500 and over R3500 per m2, depending on the colour, availability and complexity of the installation.
granite in application
Granite kitchen countertops Granite gives a kitchen a natural modern beauty. It is durable enough to withstand the everyday life of a modern kitchen, easy to clean, hygienic, and will look as good today as it will years from now. Normal kitchen knives, cutlery, and cookware can all be used on granite kitchen countertops without the worry of scratching the surface. Granite kitchen countertops have a high heat resistance, so hot pots can be placed directly onto the surface straight from the stove or oven. For a visually stunning and extremely low maintenance kitchen, granite is one of the best countertop materials available.
granite in the bathroom
Granite makes a bathroom stand out with a lasting natural beauty. It’s water and stain resistance makes it a good choice for all bathroom surfaces. Aside from using granite for bathroom vanity units, it can also be used for the floors of the bathroom as well. However, like any other smooth surface floor, the polished surface of granite can be slippery when wet. A honed granite surface is recommended for such applications.
Granite can also be used for bar tops, fireplace surrounds, table tops, reception countertops, floor tiles, exterior applications such as braai areas, jacuzzi and pool surrounds, wall cladding and more...
granite vs. engineered stone
The durability qualities of granite and engineered stone are very similar. They both have a high scratch resistance, high stain resistances, are equally hygienic, easy to clean, and both will maintain their beauty for decades to come. However, there are some main differences between them, see below.
natural vs. man-made look & feel
Granite is a natural stone and engineered stone is man-made. Being man-made, the colours and patterns of engineered stone are highly consistent and uniform throughout the surface. Engineered stone has a man-made crushed stone look, whereas granite exhibits a more natural crystalline look and feel with patterns that are more randomised, some highly consistent and others displaying “waves of movement”.
heat resistance difference
Engineered stone is not as heat resistant as granite. This means that hot cookware cannot be placed directly on the surface of engineered stone without running the risk of damaging or discolouring the surface.
Engineered stone is generally more expensive than granite.
granite vs. marble
Granite and marble are both natural stone, which have a high resistance to heat, are equally hygienic, and both will maintain their beauty for decades to come. However, there are some main differences between them, see below.
scratch resistance difference
Granite has a much higher scratch resistance than marble. This makes granite the more durable option for countertops in high traffic areas or where a lot of cutting will be done. To give you a comparison, marble scores a hardness rating between 2.5 and 5 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, whereas granite scores a rating of approximately 7 out of 10.
Stain Resistance Difference
Granite is not as porous as marble and when both are sealed with a penetrating stone sealant, marble is more vulnerable to staining. Extra care needs to be taken with marble and spills need to be cleaned quickly.
Generally granite and marble have a very different aesthetic. Marble has a much finer crystalline structure, the patterns appear smoother, and distinct veining of minerals within marble set it apart. However, it is not uncommon to mistake some exotic granite types for marble, and some marble for granite.
Granite and marble fall within a similar price range.
granite vs. synthetic surface
Granite and synthetic surfaces are two very different countertop materials. Granite is a natural stone and synthetic surfaces are a man-made acrylic plastic. Some of the main differences are described below.
scratch resistance difference
Granite has a much higher scratch resistance than synthetic surfaces. This makes granite the more durable option for countertops in kitchens or high traffic areas.
stain resistance difference
Although granite won’t stain easily, synthetic surfaces are slightly more stain resistant than granite. However, all surface types can stain and it is recommended that any spills be wiped up quickly.
Granite is a natural stone and synthetic surfaces are man-made. Being man-made, the colours and patterns of synthetic surfaces are highly consistent and uniform throughout the surface. Synthetic surfaces have a man-made plastic look, whereas granite exhibits a more natural crystalline look. In addition, synthetic countertops are made from an acrylic plastic and are seamless, unlike granite countertops where seams are visible.
Synthetic surfaces are on par with the more expensive granite colours.