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Granite Counter Tops: The Hard Truth

by Greg on March 6, 2013

Granite Kitchen Benchtop

We were discussing kitchen benchtops a few days ago, and this article from Wade provides some excellent, further advice on the topic. Be sure to read it, before choosing a  benchtop for your kitchen.

The beauty and class that is associated with granite counter tops is hard to beat. Few other materials add such a rich color and depth to a room (hard wood flooring comes to mind), but there are downsides to granite that need to be considered before making a final decision. The problems arise because granite is a natural product with inherent qualities that can lead to issues that many people don’t realize until it’s too late.

Every Aspect of Granite is Expensive

From the raw material to the finished countertop, no part of granite is cheap. In order to minimize joint lines and to keep the natural colour and grain of the granite intact, granite is shipped in large slabs. These are very heavy, cumbersome, and brittle and special care must be taken to insure the safety of the granite, as well as the workers which results in added costs. For the same reasons, cutting custom granite countertops isn’t a one man job, nor is installing it. Multiple people are required to safely move the granite until it is set in place which ends up costing a lot of man hours.

Repairs Will Not be Easy

While granite is resilient, it is not indestructible. If a break were to occur, simply replacing the broken section is not nearly as easy as it sounds. Since the entire counter is finished with the same coat the entire space is all of a sudden involved in the repair. As mentioned above, granite is a natural product which means that colour and grain varies drastically from one slab to another. This makes it practically impossible to find a match if one section needs to be replaced, and if you want to keep the effect of having a single piece of granite you’ll need to replace the entire countertop – not just the broken piece.

More common are stains to the granites surface. If you’ve ever encountered unfinished granite you know that it is almost crumbly in appearance. This porous surface can easily soak up stains, especially if the finish and sealant has been neglected and the liquid is acidic in nature and allowed to sit. If only the finish and sealant are stained they can be repaired and reapplied by a professional, but if the stain gets into the rock there isn’t much that can be done to get rid of it.

High Density = Tough on Dishes

Granite is hard – duh, right? – that being said, expect to break plenty of wine glasses, plates, and other dishes on the surface. A composite surface or other, more forgiving countertop extends the life of your dishes, while setting down a wine glass or knocking one over is a sure way to break the stem off on granite. This gets to be a bigger issue with young kids who aren’t as gentle, and who are more likely to become injured if something were to break into sharp shards.

In It for the Long Haul

Choosing granite is choosing to stick with it for the long haul. It’s never easy to replace countertops and the weight and hardness of granite adds another headache into the mix. If you think you may want to expand or remodel in the future then waiting to install granite after renovations may be a better idea than going with it initially.

Granite counter tops are popular for a reason, but you shouldn’t buy them just because their trendy or you’ve been told that every house needs granite and hard wood flooring in order to retain value. Make sure you understand both the pros and cons before you go with something that may end up costing much more in the long run. Tour plenty of homes and ask friends who’ve had granite countertops what they think before making a final decision.

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Wade Myer

Wade Myer has worked as a grunt, framer, grunt again, light equipment operator, and building inspector. Finally, he’s getting to write about his experiences on behalf of Steiner Homes who specialize in Valparaiso custom homes.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Brian March 8, 2013 at 4:07 pm

The other problem with stone surfaces is the noise. Just putting a plate down can be noisy and the stone really reflects any noise.

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Chris March 8, 2013 at 6:47 pm

I had absolutely no idea! None of the houses I lived in had a granite benchtop in the kitchen.

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Wade Myer March 12, 2013 at 1:51 am

Good point Brian, I always get busted when I’m trying to make a late night snack.

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