Granite is formed over millions of years from compressed molten rock under the Earth's surface, and is extremely hard and durable. It is an igneous rock and is formed from magma.|
Granite is made up of interlocking mineral crystals, the most common being feldspar and quartz. But an array of other minerals can be included, and these make each piece of granite unique. Feldspar is the white mineral you see in granite; the light grey veins are quartz; and the black is typically mica [source: Keidel]. The word granite comes from the Latin granum, a grain, in reference to the coarse-grained structure of such a crystalline rock.
Granite is drilled, chiselled and blasted out of quarries in large blocks, and special milling machines then cut it into workable slabs. Typically, a slab of granite is around 1.8 meters wide and between 3 meters long. Other machines polish the material into a uniform thickness, usually about 20 to 30 millimetres [source: Walton].
Granite is not always a uniform thickness. Customers should be aware that their slab may vary in thickness as much as a quarter inch over the length of the slab. The installer must compensate for these variations with additional support, as needed, at the time the granite is installed. Most granite cutting takes place at the quarry and factory, but some may need to be done at the installation site, however, when granite is cut dry a considerable amount of dust is generated.
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.
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 citrus beverages.
Granite is sold both in tiles and slabs, and is frequently used not only for kitchen worktops, bar tops, and vanities, but also for walls, floors, fireplace surrounds, windowsills, and even building fascia. Its unique variations in colour and veining makes each specimen a natural work of art. It is cool to the touch, and presents an image of classic grace and beauty. 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 or cabinetry.
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. With its heat-resistant qualities, granite doesn't blister; it's also unlikely to scratch or chip. When used for kitchen worktops, it's far superior to marble, and laminate. It also has a luminous, dimensional quality when polished.
Granite will not scorch or burn through ordinary use. Since granite was formed by extreme heat and pressure, it won't be affected by heat from a cooker top or frying pan. An open flame placed under the granite has no melting effect and will not leave any burned or scarred marks, it's also resistant 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 sealer should always be applied to its surface during the fabrication process.
Granite is most susceptible to cracks during shipping and installation. Once it has been properly installed, normal use will not harm it. Because of its crystalline structure, however, it can chip if it's subjected to blows by hard, sharp objects such as a meat cleaver. A trained professional can sometimes repair a chip with a granite dust and epoxy mixture, but no repair will be completely invisible Knives can be used to cut directly on the granite without harming it, but granite is harder than knife blades and will dull them very quickly. Always cut and chop on a wooden or plastic cutting board.
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. Nearly all examples are quite suitable for counters, floors, and walls. There are lower grades available, but few are sold by reputable suppliers. The quality of the finished product lies more in the workmanship of the supplier than in the product itself.
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 a 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.
CARE AND MAINTENANCE
Re-sealing is necessary at least once every three years.
Any sealant around sinks, cooktops, and seams should also be checked periodically for signs of deterioration. See our online store for a selection of recommended products. Please feel free to contact us for further advise. To prepare the granite for sealing all that's required is a thorough cleaning with mild detergent and water. Wipe off with a clean cloth and wait at least a couple of hours to let it dry completely. Remember to look for water spots before sealing as these must be removed otherwise they will become a permanent feature. The sealant can then be applied then wiped.
Keeping it Clean
General cleaning needs only warm water and a mild liquid detergent, but most general purpose cleaners will etch or damage the stone or degrade the sealer, therefore removing protective properties and becoming susceptible to stains. Maintenance cleaning with a pH-balanced, neutral cleaner will help remove soils that normal dusting or damp mopping leave behind. It also helps keep your stone free of dust and dry, sandy soil to minimize wear patterns from everyday use on some softer stones.
Specially designed cleaners for stone will also never break down the protective sealer. In fact, some cleaners contain protective properties which reinforce the sealer and prolong stain resistance.
For heavier cleaning jobs, using cleaners formulated for stone will effectively remove tough grime and messes yet be gentle on the surface. Dulled or lightly scratched areas can be restored by using automotive rubbing compound and waxing with liquid wax.
• Denatured alcohol will remove most adhesives and residue, and will not harm the finish, but acetone and lacquer thinner will damage the surface.
• Scouring powders, abrasive cleaners and steel wool pads will scratch and dull the finish.
• Cleaning products containing lemon, vinegar or other acids may etch the stone - this includes many common liquid cleaners such as Windex.
• Never allow acidic foods such as lemons, vinegar (including salad dressings) or pineapple juice to remain on the surface of the countertop. They will stain and may etch the stone.
• Use only sealers and cleaning products designed specifically for natural stone For further advice please feel free to contact us.
There’s no point in installing beautiful granite worktops and not taking an interest in the best way to care for it. If you do this properly, there’s no reason why they should not last a lifetime. The guide below will help you keep your granite worktops looking pristine and stunning.
Should I Cut Things On Granite?
We advise you to use a chopping board, as we would with any kitchen surface. Granite surfaces are hard and durable, and yes, you can cut on it without making scratches, but it’s not good for your sharp knives. If cutting is done repeatedly you will start to see signs of wear and tear so it’s best to get into the habit of using a board.
What About Hot or Heavy Pans?
Granite is highly heat resistant but it can be damaged under certain circumstances. We advise not putting pans on the surface as, again, it can cause wear over time. Be especially careful with heavy pans such as cast iron ones, and don’t drag these across the surface – bashing them against the edge of your granite worktops can cause chips. If you have granite near your sink then be careful with your heavy pans.
Will my Granite Worktops Stain?
Granite is a natural stone and many variations are, to some degree, porous. As a rule, dark granite is less porous than light and needs to be sealed once in a while over its lifetime. While they are normally fully sealed before they are installed, you should try to: • Avoid acidic liquids like lemon, wine, vinegar and particularly nail varnish and any solvent or oil based substances. • If you do get oil or grease on your top, ensure that you clean it away as soon as possible.
How Do I Clean My Granite Worktops?
• Clean with warm and soapy water.
• You can bring up the shine with a chamois leather or normal cloth.
• Don’t use abrasive scrubbers or cleaners that are bleach based as they will strip away any sealant over time.
When you have your granite worktops installed, our stone masons will explain the do's and don’ts of caring for your units and they’ll be able to answer any additional questions you may have.