Welcome to our ultimate guide to granite countertops! This guide will cover the different types of granite available to you, the approximate costs of purchasing and installing granite, and much more.
Granite is a fantastic material for countertops, whether they’re in your bathroom, kitchen, or in a home bar area. It’s incredibly durable: you can set hot pans and pots on it, spill wine on it without staining, and (if it’s sealed properly) you can even skip the cutting board!
Of course, granite is much more than just durable. Its natural beauty and glossy shine are timeless. Granite is certainly not just a trend. It’s always been popular and a sought-after material for counters. An investment in granite ensures that you won’t need to update your countertops again.
Granite comes in hundreds of colors and patterns; the veins, swirls, and colors of each slab are utterly different, so your countertops will be utterly unique.
If you’re looking to upgrade before selling your home, granite is a fantastic option because buyers are often more willing to pay a premium price to get access to granite countertops.
All Images and Content Used with Permission by Arch City Granite.
Types of Granite Countertops
Typically, we think of granite slab countertops whenever someone mentions granite. That’s the most popular option, but it doesn’t mean that professionally installed granite is your only option.
Tiled Granite – granite tiles are placed edge to edge and secured with epoxy, creating the countertop. This type of granite counter is very affordable and DIY friendly. The tiles look high-quality, they are granite after all, they tend to be much more difficult to clean because of the many seams created during installation.
In addition, tiled granite isn’t a popular option, as it’s still pricey compared to other tiled countertop looks, and many homeowners tend to think that if they’re spending all that money on granite, they may as well go big! (Source: Granite Countertops Cost Guide)
Modular Granite – this is the mid-range option that can be a great pick if your kitchen happens to be a standard size. These pre-cut mini slabs are already fabricated into standard sizes and shapes that may fit your kitchen’s layout. In this case, you can get your granite countertops for a great price! (Source: Granite Countertops Cost Guide)
Of course, if your kitchen does not meet the standard sizes, you can still choose to fit pieces together, but you’ll end up with large seams that may look unsightly. Modular granite is a good option for DIYers, since the miniature slabs are much lighter and easier to install than a slab of granite.
Slab Granite – this is the most expensive and elegant option; a solid piece of granite fabricated off site and customized to fit your kitchen’s countertop dimensions. Slab granite is always installed by a professional, as it is immensely heavy and difficult to install properly. And with the price you’ll be paying for slab granite, you’ll definitely want to make sure your granite doesn’t get cracked or broken while it’s being installed!
Slab granite tends to be in uniform pieces to reduce or eliminate seams, which is reflected in the price. While the stone’s price isn’t much higher, you’re paying for customization, fabrication, and transportation as well as installation. You can purchase slab granite at local stone yards, high-end kitchen and bathroom stores, and even at big name retail chains like Lowe’s and Home Depot. (Source: Granite Countertops Cost Guide)
Cost can vary pretty widely between the three different types of granite countertops.
Tiled Granite – expect to pay bettween $4-$19 per square foot. DIY kits that contain the tiles and a matching backsplash are available for about $150 each section. Using several kits to complete the job, you should expect to pay between $500 and $1400 for the entire kitchen. Of course, the kits don’t include mortar or the tools you’ll need to complete the installation. Expect the cost to increase by $100 to $400. (Source: Granite Countertops Cost Guide)
Modular Granite – with modular granite, look to pay between $25-$100 per square foot. An average sized counter should cost between $750 and $3,000 if you install it yourself, depending on the rarity of the color you choose, along with any added customization. Modular granite slabs typically come polished, sealed, and with a standard edge, and may also come with a matching backsplash. (Source: Granite Countertops Cost Guide)
Slab Granite – as the most expensive option, slab granite should cost you between $60-$100 per square foot. The pricing depends squarely on the rarity of the color or pattern you choose, the edge option you choose, the level of customization, and thickness. The price may also change depending on backsplash, custom cuts, sealing, finishing, or fitting for an undermount sink.
Completely installed, a 30 foot slab should cost around $1,800-$3,000, with larger kitchens, of course, costing more. Be wary of companies who advertise ultra-low prices, as those prices probably don’t include sealing, backsplashes, or edging. You will always get exactly what you pay for with granite. (Source: Granite Countertops Cost Guide).
Granite Colors and Designs
While granite comes in a ton of different colors and designs, several colors really stick out as popular. These are colors that are easy to pair with preexisting cabinets or paint colors.
White – while you might want to shy away from white countertops because you assume that it will look plain and featureless, this really isn’t the case with granite. White granite will always have other colors mixed in, which will add interest. White granite looks great with any wooden cabinetry, or with white or black cabinets.
Beige – although similar in color to white, beige granite tends to be a tad more welcoming to homeowners. Beige granite tends to have more spots of brown, black, and gray mixed in, which can give you more flexibility when decorating. Beige is a popular color used in traditional, country, and other classic design styles.
Brown – while darker than beige and much more limited in complimentary colors, brown is a super popular option, especially when paired with lighter wooden cabinets. Brown works great in country and rustic style kitchens since they tend to feel so warm and homey. Your granite won’t contrast too strongly, instead highlighting the woodwork of the room.
Black – black is a dramatic choice, and the dark color tends not to show the veining the way lighter colors do, so black is a great choice for those who want more of a solid color. When the light hits any granite, you’ll see sparkles, but this will be even more evident in black granite. If you do choose black granite, pair it with white cabinets for a striking contrast. Black and white is the winning combination for modern style kitchens.
Jewel-Toned – this is an exotic choice that looks best when used as a focal point in an otherwise toned-down kitchen. Red or green based granite looks great in Asian style kitchens, but you should be careful with which cabinetry you pair them with. If the cabinets are too bright, they will clash with your granite.
This lovely beige granite is filled with brown veining and spots of gray. It looks beautiful with the rich dark cabinetry.
The veining and circular patterns of this dark brown granite draw the eye to the large kitchen island. A red glass tile backsplash pulls warmer colors out of the darker granite, while the white cabinetry keeps the kitchen bright and airy.
Another look at beige granite. This island is two-tiered with a small granite backsplash between the two tiers.
This white granite has a heavy pattern of light beige and gray veining and swirls. The color is light enough to be stunning against simple dark cabinets.
This black granite looks smooth and pure, and goes well with the black appliances. The rich red wooden cabinets add stunning contrast.
A closer look at this beige granite shows the copper, grey, and light beige veining throughout.
This darker granite relies on lighter streaks to bring in warmer tones from the oak cabinets and the paint color.
This black granite has small white speckles in it that make it look like the starry night sky.
The jewel tones of this granite draw the eye. Peacock blue and brown stand out against the lightly textured white tile backsplash.
The circular spots and rich veining of this gray granite looks incredible in this cream kitchen.
If you’re really looking for dramatic, black granite with rich gold veining might be exactly what you need. Pair something this showy with simple cabinets and let it shine.
The pattern on this brown granite has a very symmetrical pattern to it, which makes it great against the oak cabinetry in this traditional kitchen.
A beautiful white granite with gray veining and a custom stacked edge. This is just one of several incredible edge designs.
Another rich cream granite with light brown and black veining. A stacked edge and a gentle curve on one edge are incredibly elegant. A simple glass vase with white roses is the perfect accompaniment.
Another look at the above granite. Note the intricate details on the island, which is a different color than the main set of cabinetry.
Granite with a copper undertone go well with any cabinets with a slight reddish tone. In yellow lights, these light oak cabinets take on a warm red glow.
Another possible option, although it will increase the cost, is to extend your granite over the edge of one side of your cabinets and down to the floor.
Granite with brighter colors and more variation are fantastic as focal points, even in home bar areas.
White granite with several long veins is another classic look. When paired with a much more showy gray and white mosaic tile backsplash, it really stands out.
If you need a large amount of granite for a large kitchen, consider choosing a more muted granite so that the pattern doesn’t get overwhelming.
Measuring and Fitting
While you should have professionals do the final measuring to ensure complete accuracy, we want to make it easy for you to estimate the cost of your new countertops. Do not use these measurements to buy or fabricate granite.
Begin by taking measurements of your countertops in inches. Next, calculate the square feet from that measurement. For example, if your countertop’s length is 108 inches, and the depth of a standard countertop on a 24 inch deep cabinet is 25.5;
108 inches x 25.5 inches = 2,754
Divide this by 144, which will equal 19.12 square feet. Use this estimate to set a budget for your new granite countertops. Below you’ll find several examples of common kitchen layouts that may help you estimate the size of your own kitchen.
Granite Countertop Edging
While you don’t have these options with tile granite or modular granite, slab granite gives you the opportunity to further customize your new granite countertops by changing the shape of the visible edge of your counters. There are tons of different options to choose from, but remember that they may change the cost of your countertops.
Eased Edge – a straight edge with a 5mm radius on the top and slightly eased on the bottom. This is the most commonly used edge, and what you’ll typically see with modular granite.
Top and Bottom Rounded Edge – this edge is contemporary, with two rounded corners at the end.
Bevel Edge – typically done in 1/4″ or 1/2″ bevels, this is another popular contemporary edge with a modern, slanting edge.
Roman Round Edge – although this is called Roman Round, it has a very subtle arch at one end that can make the stone appear thicker. This looks great in contemporary kitchens.
Chiseled or Rock Edge – this involves a natural edge that was carefully chipped away. The projections are smooth, not sharp, but the result is beautiful and natural. Perfect for outdoor, contemporary, or even rustic kitchens.
Half Round Transitional Edge – this edge has a soft curve on the top and a slightly eased edge on the bottom. It’s a popular look for both contemporary and traditional kitchens.
Full Bullnose Transitional Edge – This fully rounded edge goes well with any style kitchen, but is used most often for countertops with upper bar areas.
Ogee Traditional Edge – as the second most popular edge, the Ogee edge is beautiful and elegant. Kitchen designers tend to use Ogee edges on kitchen islands and a half round on the perimeter countertops.
Elite Traditional Edge – this 3 stepped edge is beautiful and typically used on islands or as part of a laminated edge.
Roman Elite Traditional Edge – this is similar to the elite edge, but the curves are slightly different. Like the elite, it is typically used on an island or as part of a laminated edge.
Laminated or Stacked Edge – this thick edge is composed of two slabs attached together. Two different edge styles can be combined here for a truly unique look. This edge is the most expensive, so discuss it with your supplier before deciding on it.
How to Care for Granite Countertops
Since granite is such a large investment, it’s important that you know how to take care of it once you have it installed. Granite is very durable, but to keep it looking as good as it did when it was first installed, you’ll need to make sure it’s cleaned regularly.
You can clean your granite countertops with just mild hand soap and warm water. After cleaning, wipe the counter dry with a clean, soft cloth. If you’d prefer to buy a cleaning agent, you can try Revitalizer by DuPont. You can use Revitalizer on a regular basis.
Why Revitalizer? It has a small amount of stone sealer in it, which will bring out the shine and protect the surface by replacing traces of sealant lost during use. It’s not incredibly expensive either. A gallon, which will last you around 2-3 years, costs around $39.
Do NOT use:
- Liquids containing bleach or ammonia
- Liquids containing vinegar, lemon juice, or other acids
Simply cleaning with soap and water or Revitalizer is all you need. Although granite is resistant to stains, you may choose to use coasters for glasses; particularly when drinking alcohol, wine, or citrus juices.
How to Select the Right Granite
Choosing the right granite for your kitchen design is a challenge for most homeowners, and that’s not surprising, seeing as how many different colors and patterns are available on the market.
Many different granite slabs might look fantastic in your kitchen, but you need to decide which granite is “your granite.” You’ll be coordinating the granite with your cabinets, floor color, appliance color, and even paint color to achieve the look you’re going for.
When going to look at granite, bring a picture of your kitchen to look at. If you’re not concerned with repainting, bring a swatch of your new color and a cabinet door to compare with the granite. It never hurts to be prepared!
Check out this video on selecting the perfect granite.
How to Seal Granite Countertops
Although your countertops come sealed, every now and then you should seal them again to ensure they stay looking great. The best part is, you can do it easily in about 20 minutes.
First, remove all objects from your counters and clean them with a soft cloth. Make sure that all debris are removed from the countertop. You can use your hand to feel the top.
After the counters are clean, put on kitchen gloves and spray the stone sealer on the granite. Be generous with the spray and make sure there’s a good layer of the liquid on your counters, as it will need to penetrate the pores of your granite.
After about 15 minutes, wipe off the excess with a clean, dry cloth. Should you get any hazy spots after wiping, pour a small amount of sealant on the spot and wipe off the haze.
After 24 hours the sealer will be in full effect. You may repeat the process once more after 2 to 3 days to get the maximum stain repellent effect.
Check out this video to see instructions on how to seal your granite!
How to Remove Stains from Granite Countertops
No matter how stain resistant granite is, from time to time you will end up with a stain. So if you spill wine, citrus juice, or food on your counter, don’t wipe it up.
Instead, blot the area with a paper towel before cleaning with mild soap and water. If you still end up with a stain after cleaning, there are several ways to remove the stain.
Organic Stains – stains caused by coffee, tea, wine, fruit juice, or food that can cause brown stains. To remove this stain, clean the area with 12% hydrogen peroxide after wiping down the stain with a clean cloth.
Oil-based Stains – these stains are caused by nail polish, cosmetics, milk, or cooking oil, and can make the stone darker. These stains are harder to remove, and require a special poultice compound. DuPont sells this compound for around $8 per tin.
Watch this video to see more on how to remove stains from granite!
Choosing Sinks for Granite Countertops
If you’re going so far as to replace your countertops, why not get a brand new sink to go with it? There are some guidelines to picking the perfect sink to go along with granite. Consider if the sink will contribute to the visual appeal of the kitchen, how functional it’s going to be, how durable, and of course, does it fit your budget?
Stainless Steel Sinks – these are by far the most popular pick for granite and quartz countertops. They are durable, match most faucets, and do not rust, chip, or stain. When shopping for stainless steel, remember that the lower the sink’s gage, the thicker it is. 16 gage is thicker than 18 gage, the industry standard.
Composite Granite Sinks – these sinks are getting more and more popular because of their beauty and durability. Like the countertops, they come in a wide variety of colors to compliment your counters. These were much more expensive when they were first introduced, but the price has dropped to a more affordable point of between $350 and $395.
Enamel-Coated Cast Iron Sinks – cast iron is elegant and durable, but used to be expensive. As lighter, more cost effective options came into the market, their price has dropped. They are arguably still the most attractive sinks available, and are popularly used in the farmhouse style.
However, over time the enamel coating can wear off, exposing the black iron beneath. They also are extremely heavy and require extra bracing.
Copper Sinks – this beautiful metal is popular for ornamental sinks. Beware of purchasing a cheap sink though, copper sinks can be contaminated with mercury or lead. If you choose a copper sink, purchase it from a reputable manufacturer.
Under Mount Sinks – the most popular choice is to install the sink below the granite for a smooth and finished look. Around 98% of homeowners choose this seamless option.
Top Mount Sinks – also called “drop in” sinks, these are an unpopular choice for granite, but are the only choice for laminate countertops due to water exposure. While most people choose under mount sinks, if you really love your top mount sink, you can certainly keep it.
Choosing the Size of Your Sink
While is is mostly a matter of personal preference, you should consider the size of your kitchen and your cabinetry. If you have existing cabinets, try to pick a sink about the same size as your current sink.
If you’re designing a new kitchen, consult your cabinet maker to ensure the sink you want will fit, or if it doesn’t, that the cabinets can be modified accordingly.
For example, if your sink’s depth doesn’t allow for a faucet, you may need to bump your sink out a little.
Ideal Depth of the Bowl
The depth of an under mount sink ranges from 7 inches to 10 inches, but the ideal depth for more comfortable use is between 8.5 inches and 9 inches.
Keep in mind that the effective depth of your sink will be around 1.25 inches deeper than planner because it’s under the granite. A sink that is too deep may strain your back or neck while you wash dishes.
If you choose a double-bowl sink, you can choose to install a garbage disposal on either side you like. Think about how you wash your dishes, and place the disposal on whichever side you tend to wash your dishes in. If one side is larger than another, install the disposal on the larger side.
All Images and Content Used with Permission by Arch City Granite.