Granite countertops offer extreme strength and durability, with colors ranging from the palest pinks to deep shades of gray and black. Once you've splurged on the perfect slab of granite for your home, the last thing you want to deal with are unexpected blotches and imperfections in your new countertop. Understanding how granite forms can help prepare you for the possible color and finish variations in granite countertops so you can choose the right countertop to fit your needs.
Granite is formed when hot magma within the Earth cools under extreme pressure, giving the material its crystalline, granular structure. As the granite cools, it bonds with minerals in the Earth, including hornblende, feldspar, quartz and mica. The concentration of these minerals helps give granite its color and pattern. Different concentrations of these and other minerals result in wide color and pattern variations in granite from one quarry to the next.
Each slab of granite features a unique composition. Even two slabs of granite pulled from the same quarry won't have exactly the same composition and mineral content. Each forms in its own way, with its own distinct pattern of grains and crystals. While these grains, crystals and colors can come together to form a work of art, they can also create blotches and imperfections in the material. These imperfections can take the form of color splotches, light or dark spots, fissures or even textural impacts like pitting or grittiness.
Grades and Quality
While there is no universal grading system for granite, many distributors classify granite slabs into one of three basic grades. First Choice or Grade A granite features no visible imperfections, no fillers and a high-gloss shine. When you purchase a First Choice slab, you should be able to install it without any polishing, filling or preparation. Commercial granite slabs typically feature defects and imperfections like hairline cracks, blotches and cloudiness, making them more appropriate for flooring or commercial jobs than for kitchen countertops. Second Quality granite features many defects and blotches, and is not suitable for residential countertops. Narrowing your search based on these classifications and inspecting your slab in person before you buy can help you avoid certain types of imperfections in your granite.
While some buyers embrace the imperfections in granite as the work of Mother Nature, others prefer a more perfect product, free from blotches and imperfections. If you like the look of granite but want a more perfect, uniform finish, consider quartz countertops. Quartz consists of at least 93 percent crushed stone bound together by resins and polymers to create uniform, consistent color. This perfection comes at a price, however, as quartz countertops tend to cost more than granite and other natural stone, according to The Family Handyman.
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