Updating your home’s bathroom and kitchen countertops will increase the functionality and splendor of your home. With the seemingly endless countertop options, how do you decide on the perfect countertop? First, you must decide on the type of countertop you want. Granite countertops are absolutely stunning and will provide you with many years of enjoyment.
Installing new countertops is an investment that should not be taken lightly. You want a countertop material that offers durability, easy maintenance, and will withstand the test of time. A granite countertop will never become dated. The pattern and colors that are created deep within the earth, creating time tested beauty.
Granite’s neutral color scheme allows you to change the look of your home by changing your paint color and decorative items in your kitchen or bathroom. Rather than choosing a trendy colored countertop, choose a neutral countertop that will withstand the test of time.
Granite provides you with a heatproof, humidity-proof, scratch-resistant countertop that will increase your home’s resale value and provide you with years of enjoyment. A granite countertop’s many benefits make it the perfect choice for kitchens and bathrooms.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Granite Countertops?
The countertops you choose for your home is as personal as you. Natural stone granite countertops offer many advantages; however, they also have some disadvantages that should be considered.
- Scratch Resistant – The Mohs hardness scale rates granite as a seven, which means there are very few things that can scratch granite. Even with daily use, your granite countertops will not show signs of wear.
- Stain Resistant – Granite is porous; however, once it is sealed, it is resistant to stains. If your granite countertops are not sealed, any spills should be wiped up immediately to prevent staining.
- Heat Resistant – Granite can withstand high temperatures, which is why you can set hot pans directly on your countertop. However, you should avoid extreme temperature changes, i.e., placing a hot item on the countertop right after removing a cold item, as this can damage the countertop. Therefore, it is recommended that a trivet be used.
- Maintenance – Granite does require maintenance. Applying a high-quality sealer to your granite countertop will help reduce the porosity of the countertop. A high-quality sealer like Miracle Sealants 511 Porous Plus Sealer will seal your granite countertop for up to twenty years.
- Dull Your Knives – If you cut directly on a granite countertop, your knives will quickly dull. Keep your knives sharp by always using a cutting board.
- Chips and Cracks – Chips and cracks can occur; however, it is rare. To keep your countertop looking great, avoid dropping heavy items on the surface or standing on the countertop. Should a chip or crack occur, there are products on the market that can repair the granite countertop.
- Good Return on Investment – Today’s real estate shoppers are looking for updated kitchens and bathrooms with stone countertops. Whether you’re preparing your home for the real estate market or planning to live in your home forever, granite countertops provide a good return on your investment.
- Cost – The cost of granite has decreased over the years; however, the granite needed for a standard-sized kitchen remains between $3,000 and $4,000. When considering cost, several variables can affect the price, including the edge profile choice, the quality of the granite, the amount of granite needed, and the backsplash chosen.
- Seams – Most granite slabs are nine and a half feet long and five and a half feet wide, which means you will more than likely have two or three seams in a standard kitchen. A colored epoxy is used to adhere to the seams and disguise them.
- Cold – Homeowners often say that granite countertops feel cold to the touch. This coldness is beneficial in the kitchen when working with pastries. Although the counters feel cold, the rich colors in granite countertops create a sense of warmth to an otherwise cold feeling space.
- Undermount Sinks – Undermount sinks are often installed in granite countertops. Undermount sinks do not have a lip where crumbs can gather. Instead, you can wipe crumbs directly into your sink, where they can be washed away.
- Repairs – Although it is rare for a granite countertop to become damaged, it can occur. If this happens, the repairs should only be made by a professional. Although you can find granite repair kits, the repairs should be left to a stone specialist. The specialist will custom color match the epoxy so the repair is virtually invisible.
- Colors – Natural stone countertops like granite have a limited color palette. The color of granite countertops is limited to the minerals and colors found in nature. You can find granite in gray, black, white, beige, brown, and even blue or red.
- Chemical Resistant – Granite is resistant to chemicals, which means acids and bases won’t harm your granite countertops. However, avoid exposing the same area to acids over and over as it can strip away the granite sealer.
How Much Do Granite Countertops Cost?
Many things can affect the cost of granite countertops. Granite is available in several grades and price points. For example, granite tiles can be purchased for as low as $5 per square foot. Conversely, granite countertop slabs can cost $75 or more per square foot. In general, granite countertops will cost between $2,000 to $4,500.
The average cost for granite installations run around $3,000. However, the installation costs can vary based on the edge profile, the layout of your countertops, the number of cutouts needed, and whether you want a backsplash installed. The labor costs for granite countertops will run between $400 and $1,000. The actual cost of labor will vary from location to location. Remember, the least expensive choice may not be the best choice. You want an installer who has the skill necessary to complete the project quickly and correctly.
A Step by Step Guide to Professional Installation
When you are ready to have new granite countertops installed, you will need to contact a countertop installation specialist. The stone specialist will visit your home and take measurements. These measurements will help you know precisely how much granite needs to be purchased.
Each slab of granite is slightly different; therefore, you should see the granite in person. Visit your local granite stone yard to pick out the granite slab that you want to use in your kitchen and bathrooms. Once you have purchased your granite, your installer will begin the process of installing your granite countertops.
The contractor will remove any appliances and sinks that are attached to your old countertop. Then, the contractor will remove the screws that connect your countertop to your cabinets. Once all screws are removed, the countertops will be lifted off the cabinets.
The installer will then remeasure the area and design a template to follow while cutting out the countertop from your granite slab. The installer will use a diamond blade saw to cut the slab into countertop sections.
Then, the edge profile will be cut, and the countertop will be polished. Before the countertop is placed on your base cabinets, a hidden countertop will be installed. This countertop ensures the surface is perfectly level, and the granite slab is supported across the full run of cabinets. A team of installers will then place the granite countertop on the cabinets and ensure it is level. Finally, the countertop contractor will apply a sealant to decrease the stone’s porosity and increase its stain resistance.
Cleaning and Maintaining Granite Countertops
Caring for granite countertops is not difficult. This durable stone surface only requires minimal maintenance to keep it looking great. Spills should be wiped up immediately, the counter should be cleaned daily, and the granite should be sealed.
A sealer soaks into the pores of the granite, creating an effective barrier against stains and moisture. Most penetrating sealers will last ten to twenty years before a new application is needed.
Day to day cleaning should be done using a pH neutral cleaner specifically designed for granite. Avoid using scrubbers or acidic cleaners as they can wear down the surface of the sealant. Windex and vinegar should be avoided; however, mild dish soap can be used.
If a spill occurs, blot it up immediately using a paper towel. Never wipe at a spill as this can spread the spill around your countertop. When a granite countertop has been sealed, it will repel stains. However, the spill should be wiped up quickly to prevent moisture from seeping in the granite’s pores.
Granite Countertop Stain Removal Techniques
If oil, grease, or milk leaves a mark on your granite countertops, make a paste of water and baking soda. Apply the baking soda and water paste to the stain and cover it with plastic wrap. Allow the paste to sit overnight to remove the oil marks.
Watermarks can also appear on granite countertops. Coffee, fruit juices, tea, and wine can leave a mark if it is allowed to penetrate the granite. You can remove it with a hydrogen peroxide and baking soda mixture. Mix hydrogen peroxide and baking soda to form a paste. Apply the peroxide and baking soda paste to the stain, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to sit overnight.
When using any of the stain removal methods, you will need to rinse and dry the countertop thoroughly the next morning. Begin by wiping the surface with a damp cloth and drying using a paper towel. Then, wipe down again using a clean, damp cloth to ensure all traces of the stain remover has been removed.
How to Disinfect Granite Countertops
Granite is naturally bacteria resistant; however, bacteria can sit on the surface of your countertop. You can disinfect your counters with ingredients found in the home. Mix 91 percent isopropyl alcohol with distilled water at a one to one ratio. Pour the disinfecting solution into a spray bottle and douse your counters with the mixture. Allow the countertops to remain wet for around five minutes. Then, wipe the countertop with a clean damp dishcloth.
Dry Your Countertops
Granite countertops should always be dried using a soft dishcloth. If water is allowed to air dry on the surface of the countertop, water spots can form. To dry your counters and keep them sparkling, buff the countertop using a soft dry cloth. Use circular motions, overlapping each circle slightly.
What are the Recommended Granite Sealers?
Granite countertop sealers are designed to penetrate the surface of the granite to increase its resistance to moisture and stains. There are numerous sealants on the market, so how do you know which one to choose? First, you want an impregnating sealer designed explicitly for granite countertops. A high-quality sealer will also increase the shine and depth of the granite colors. Here are the top granite sealers:
- TriNova Granite Sealer and Protector – This formula provides a protective surface that prevents spotting. The formula is easy to apply. Simply spray the surface and smooth the sealer along the countertop with a microfiber cloth and allow it to dry. When thoroughly dried, your granite will be protected. However, the sealer will need to be reapplied every six months.
- Miracle Sealants 511 Porous Plus Sealer – This sealer is designed to seep into the granite countertop surface to seal the pores of the granite. The sealer should be applied using a soft cloth, paintbrush, or a roller. Once you have applied the sealer, allow it to soak in for five minutes and then wipe off any excess sealer. A second coat will need to be applied 3 hours later for full protection. This sealer will need to be reapplied in 10 to 20 years.
Granite countertops are comprised of a variety of minerals that give the countertop its unique coloration. Granite will have small flecks and veining of different colors, giving it its unique color profile. The minerals found in granite are heated deep within the earth’s core. As these minerals cool, they crystallize in various colors and sizes, creating a beautiful slab of marble.
Granite is the perfect choice for countertops in kitchen and bathroom areas due to its durability, low maintenance requirements, and its ability to withstand heat and moisture. Natural stone countertops like granite create a luxurious and sophisticated look. Finally, the maintenance needed for granite countertops is minimal. Simply wipe down daily and apply an impregnating/penetrating sealer as recommended.