It is a material that has been used for thousands of years as an architectural material. From statues to staircases, natural granite is used in many applications. Throughout its long history, natural granite has been used as a material for many applications. In this article, we will delve into this historic material. As we do, we will see what granite is, what its properties are, and what it is used for today. We will also take a look at the care and maintenance of granite and how to tell if it is right for you.
What Is Granite?
Granite is a natural stone that is formed naturally in the earth. That is the non-technical explanation of what it is. However, Wikipedia defines it this way:
Granite (/ˈɡræn.ɪt/) is a coarse-grained igneous rock composed mostly of quartz, alkali feldspar, and plagioclase. It forms from magma with a high content of silica and alkali metal oxides that slowly cools and solidifies underground. It is common in the Earth's continental crust, where it is found in various kinds of igneous intrusions. These range in size from dikes only a few inches across to batholiths exposed over hundreds of square kilometers.
So to keep it simple, granite is a natural stone (igneous rock) that forms in the earth. Now that we have established what granite is, let's take a look at its properties.
Properties of Granite
Natural granite lies on the hard end of the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. The Mohs scale ranges from 1 to 10 with 10 being the hardest. Natural granite registers anywhere from 6-7 depending on the stone. So it is considered hard and that makes it resistant to scratches.
Another property of granite is that it is available in a variety of colors. Some of the colors that in which you can find granite include:
In addition to the colors above, natural granite can be multicolored consisting of two or more colors. In fact some the more exotic granite is distinctly colored and the patterns are very unique.
Natural granite is used for many important applications. It is versatile and strong so it is used for many purposes. Here are some of the ways in which granite is used:
- Kitchen Countertops
- Wall Cladding
- Building Facades
- Fireplace Surrounds
The list could go on even further. You get the idea though. Anywhere you want to have a hard surface made from a natural stone or man made material, you can use natural granite. Indoor and outdoor applications are both suitable for this rough and tough natural stone.
One use that granite has become known for is kitchen countertops. The strength and durability of natural granite means that it is well suited for use as a kitchen countertop material. Its hardness makes it scratch resistant. It withstands heat nicely and even though it is hard, it is not brittle like other materials. These properties along ewith the wide variety of colors that are available make granite a very popular choice for use as a coutnertop material.
Fabricating Countertops With Granite
Granite fabrication is a skill that requires not only specialized tools, machines, and facilities, but also knowledge and experience. It's true that DIY projects are possible using granite and a few common tools that some already have. However, the finished product may not be as appealing as it is when proper eqipment is used.
One piece of equipment that is, without a doubt, required is the diamond blade. Granite is too hard for a regular blade so diamond blades are used to cut the material into sections so it an be fashioned into a countertop.
Another basic piece of equipment used for fabricating granite countertops is polishing pads. Polishing pads are used for easing hard edges and for creating a polished finish to the slab. Pads are used for wet polishing or dry polishing and come in 3, 5, and 7 step systems.
Care & Maintenance of Granite Counters
Once a granite countertop is fabricated and installed, it is relatively simple to care for and maintain. Following a simple cleaning and sealing routine is usually enough to keep a granite countertop in good condition. The following three step cleaning routine works for many granite owners:
- Periodically seal the stone. The time period between sealer applications will depend on the stone's porosity and wear & tear it receives.
- Daily cleaning with a cleaner formulated so that it does not destroy the sealer you have added to the stone. pH neutral cleaners are the best for daily cleaning.
- If the surface gets a stain, use the appropriate stain remover to draw the stain out of the granite. There are various stain removers and each is designed for a particular kind of stain.
Are Granite Countertops Right for Everyone?
Like everything else, natural granite surfaces are the perfect material for some people. But for others, it is not the ideal material. The answer will depend on a number of factors. However, history shows that this material has proven to be the choice of many in a variety of applications; including the home.