The surging demand for granite countertops in home kitchens and bathrooms has broadened the available selection of quality domestic and imported stone from around the world to meet the need.
The September 2017 figures from the U.S. Department of Commerce show imports of foreign granite totaling 116,245 tons. This is in addition to the 500,000 tons of granite mined here in the United States, some of which likewise finds its way into the export market (notably to Canada and China). Top countries exporting granite to the United States include: Brazil (53,128 tons); China (25,461 tons); India (21,056 tons); Spain (6,958 tones) and Italy (3,182 tons).
Granite itself is an igneous rock composed of grains with different colors which are quite noticeable. Granite countertops typically feature particles of quartz and feldspar with lesser amounts of mica, amphiboles and other minerals. The mineral composition of granite give it its characteristic red, pink, gray or white shade with darker grains visible throughout each piece. People recognize the rock type because it’s the most common rock found on the earth’s surface and many other things are made of granite—including paving stone, floor tile, building veneers and cemetery monuments.
It’s considered to be an exceptionally durable stone, and its creation process may have much to do with that. Thousands of years of immense underground pressure go into creating the granites put to these everyday uses, and the strength of granite necessitates the use of diamond tipped saws to cut the stone in quarries and fashion it into things like countertops for kitchens and bathrooms.
While granite’s interior patterns are unique to each piece, and add definite value in cases of domestic or imported stone with characteristics vastly different from the norm, in general granite is grouped according to color. Each color is thought to impart its own qualities.
Though pure white granite is rare, the standard white variety of granite used in some countertops offers the viewer flecks of black, gray, red or blue throughout its surface. Mostly white granite countertops can therefore be especially striking when paired with things like cherry wood cabinets or when used to give small kitchens the illusion of greater space.
Black or dark gray granite countertops can also be quite dramatic to behold in contemporary kitchens featuring light colored wood or cabinets. And although darker granites may be limited to lighter kitchen colors, brown or beige granite may be paired with more festive kitchen colors and styles. The less common red and blue granites adapt well to kitchens with light colored cabinets or those with multi-colored walls. In such cases the visual effect can indeed be stunning.
The bottom line is that granite countertops are a natural, durable, visually pleasing and sensible addition to any home. Plus, they enhance the resale value of homes or commercial buildings they are added to; while at the same time providing unarguably superior work surfaces.
Choosing among the different varieties of quality granite is perhaps the best part.