Several different stones are sold under the name of commercial granite. Many of these stones are igneous rocks like granite, and a few are metamorphic stones that have a similar density to granite. Because these stones can have different mineral makeups, color, density and structural integrity, granite is typically rated both by the quarry and by the fabricator. These ratings range from one to three or one to four, with level one granite being the best product available.
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Color and Grain
For a granite to be classified as level one, it must be consistent in color and grain with what is normally accepted for a stone. This means that if a stone normally contains only shades of pink, gold and white, it should only contain these colors in a regular variegation across its surface. There will be no marked color change from one end to the next and no abnormal markings like large spots or inconsistent colors. The grain of a level one stone is smooth and consistent. There may be a few surface pits or small surface fissures.
Level one granite is structurally sound. Either the stone was formed naturally with no large pits or fissures or it was filled with an epoxy resin at the factory to fill and seal any large fissures. For a filled granite to be classified as level one, it must have no filled surface fissures and the fill must not be visible in any way that would mar the color or surface texture of the stone. The voids or fissures must also be completely filled, with no areas left open.
A level one granite polishes smoothly. Polishing weaker stones can open the surface of the stone slightly, resulting in tiny pits or pin holes. After a stone has been polished, it should close up tightly so that when viewed from an angle where the light is not hitting it directly, there are no small voids, holes or pits in the surface of the stone. Some stones that contain large amounts of mica, such as Labrador Antique, will frequently have a more open surface once polished than a denser stone like Absolute Black. Some slabs can be doctored to improve surface color and texture and may be sold as level one by some fabricators. If a stone typically labeled level two grade by fabricators is labeled level one by another, the stone may have been doctored.
Price of Level One Granite
Level one granites are sold for a higher price than downgraded granites. Some fabricators will group their stones by level simply to indicate price and not to indicate structure, color or polish superiority of one stone over another. Some level one stones may include blue, emerald and red colored stones with brilliant and unusual color. These stones may sell for between $125 to $300 a square foot. Other level one granites sold for integrity of the stone will range from $40 and up per square foot.
The Fabricator's Choice
There are several times when a granite can be classified. The quarry may classify a block as it is removed from the earth according to its structure and grain. The factory which cuts the block may grade it again based on the color and number of fissures found inside the block and whether or not any fissures could be filled. Finally, the fabricator who purchases these slabs for sale will make a determination of what level they will be ultimately classified as. Some fabricators will downgrade for resin, color or texture while others do not. Shop around and compare the same stone for price, color and quality at multiple shops. If the consensus is that stone is consistently level one, then it more than likely is.