How to shop for Granite Countertops – 5 good tips

Let’s face it, this isn’t something you do every day and once you make a choice, you’re going to live with that choice for a long time. So how to shop for granite countertops? Here are 5 good tips to help you out.

It seems that the interior design industry has been trying to break our attraction to granite for a long time. There certainly are alternatives and some of these alternatives have merit; stainless steel, quartz, wood, silestone but many believe that these options don’t have the same gravitas that granite slabs haveHow to shop for Granite Countertops

How to shop for Granite Countertops

Make sure you choose the right stone

The term granite covers a huge array of stone surfaces with looks as varied as changing clouds in the sky.  Granite is a type of igneous rock formed by whatever indigenous minerals exist around cooling magma.  Think about that a minute and you will understand why there are so many varied looks to granite surfaces and why each granite themed kitchen will look different from another.  Different quarries will evidence different colors streaks of grey, pink, red, green, blue, gold and everything in between.  The uniqueness and rarity of the veining can drive the price considerably.  So to can the method of fabrication and thickness of the stone affect pricing.

Never, ever, never choose your granite from a sample.  You’re basically buying an entire slab so study entire slabs.  Good fabricators will use as much of the slab as possible to match sections as well as to minimize waste.  If you’re going to need to buy two slabs, make sure they are “sister” slabs.  Remember, slabs are cut from massive pieces of stone like a pieces of bread sliced from a loaf.  You will want to pick out two slabs that are back to back to pick up unique patterns.  Do you see how this fabricator took two sister pieces with matching vein patterns and on the vertical piece made the vein mimic steam rising from whatever might be cooking on the stove top rising into the vent hood?  Very creative!  Your choice of fabricator will therefore be very important.  Hence the beauty of granite is from the “movement” that is conveyed in the stone by patterns and veining.  Remember, strong graphic patterns can be energetic while softer color patterns may be more calming.  What do you want to create?

how to shop for granite countertopsHold the dumb end of the tape

You’re going to want to measure the number of square feet of surface area, length multiplied by width.  Don’t forget overhangs, edge allowance, seam allowance, backsplashes etc.  Once you go to your granite store (follow this link for a map to a treasure store of stone yards near Palos Verdes) and tell the salesperson the approximate amount of square footage you need, you will then be directed to some slabs from which to choose.  Final measurements will be done after the fabricator comes on site to measure.   If you’re doing a full kitchen remodel, make sure your cabinets are installed BEFORE you granite surfaces are installed.

Be aware of slab thickness

Nothing screams that you cheaped out your granite than thin cut slabs.  Invest in good thickness; three inches are best and make sure your cabinets can hold the weight.  Think about the type of finish – bullnose, ogee, beveled, raw edge.  And what kind of surface do you want?  Polished? Honed? Leather?  Ask to see samples of this at the stone yard so you get a feel.  And I do mean feel.  Seeing pictures is one thing.  Seeing the same stone with different surface finishes is quite another.

Pick a fabricator that knows geometry

Yes, that’s right, learning geometry in high school really does pay off when it comes to picking the right fabricator.  You want as few of seams as possible so having the stone cut right will become imperative.

Know how to care for your granite surfaces

While granite is heat resistant, please don’t think you can put a burning hot pot directly on top.  Use only granite safe cleaners.  Never use bleach.  I saw these guys on “Shark Tank” and have been a fan of their products for a long time; non-toxic, environmentally safe, and much better germ killing than harsh chemicals – Better Life.  Avoid spilling anything acidic on your granite; if you do, clean up as quickly as possible.  You will have to have someone come by maybe once every year or two to rehone or resurface your granite countertops.  It will cost a few hundred bucks but long run, it will keep your granite looking like new

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