Text by Lori Broadfoot
If you are looking to create a touch of drama and natural beauty in your home, you may want to consider adding granite to your décor. Imported from mines all over the world, including Brazil, India, South Africa, as well as North and South America, granite can be cut and engineered locally into countertops, mantles, vanities and furniture.
The stone can be found in over a hundred naturally-occurring colours; browns, taupes, blacks, reds, yellows and greens, and the quartz content can make it look like it has little stars in it.
Before deciding if granite will suit your tastes it’s best viewed as a full slab of the stone, not just a small sample. Irregularities and striations of colour and naturally occurring fractures and veins make each piece of granite unique. The huge slabs are an inch and a quarter thick, with surface measurements from 66” to 126”. Prices will vary depending on where it comes from, and how hard it is to mine, but there is generally no difference in quality between colours.
A kitchen countertop is one of the most dramatic uses for granite in a home. No special preparation need be made to cabinets before a granite countertop is applied; you may even replace an old top and with a new granite one. The stone weighs around 18-20 pounds per square foot, which may sound heavy, but a countertop is supported at all edges so it shouldn’t require any additional reinforcements.
A template of the countertop is created on-site and is then used to cut the slab to exact size, using a laser guide and a diamond saw. The edges are then polished to whatever finish a customer may desire–beveled, square, rounded, quarter-bevel, bull-nose and others; with a style to suit any décor. The surface of a granite piece can be polished to a high gloss, or one of the new matte or ‘leather’ finishes. From template to installation can be anywhere from 7 to 10 days for most colour choices.
A granite countertop can be used as a cutting board, it won’t dull knives and hot pots can be placed directly on the surface. A factory sealant may be applied to the stone, and the counter can be resealed every few years, depending on how the piece is used and the type of stone. The best cleaner for a granite surface is a mild, neutral detergent, or a solution of vinegar and water for removing streaks and oils.
Sinks are under-mounted and bolted right to the stone surface, suitable for either kitchen or bathroom applications. Sinks themselves can also be manufactured from a granite composite, with colours to coordinate with the natural stone.
A product called Caesarstone, an engineered stone surfacing material, combining the beauty and durability of quartz and held together with polyester resins can be used in applications such as curved surfaces, where a natural stone slab may not work. This unique product comes from Israel in 6’x9’ slabs, which weighs about 700 pounds. Rare colour selections are also available, some containing blue agate, rose quartz or carnelian gemstones. A single slab of one of these distinctive choices can cost up to $10,000, but you are guaranteed a one-of-a-kind piece.
The uses for granite are bound only by a person’s imagination, and some examples are for shelves, complete tables, or fireplaces, mantles and hearths, as well as countertops and bathroom vanities. With exotic colour names like Shivikashi, Angola Black and Tuscan Sun to choose from, it’s easy to be inspired by the natural beauty that granite will bring to your home.