Granite is a material that is used for countertops in kitchens and bathrooms. The attractive stone look and coloring make it a very popular go to option for all your countertop needs. However, granite countertop distributors often do not tell you the disadvantages of the material until after they have sold you one. Much how they gut you with installation fees, when you can easily install a kitchen countertop yourself.
Granite is a stone and it is a very porous stone at that. Granite countertops are very susceptible to stains. Granite is especially susceptible to anything with acid in it. This means acidic foods like tomatoes or lemons will leave temporary stains in your countertop.
Because of its pores, many foods with color additives will leave damaging colored stains on it as well.
What is worse is oils. Most stains will fade or even disappear with time as they evaporate from the pores, but oils never leave. Oil does not evaporate so it will be in those pores forever and leave an almost constantly greasy residue. So if you plan on having a deep fryer in your kitchen or cook foods in oils that splash, forget about ever keeping that countertop clean.
Even water leaves a temporary stain on granite! So you really cannot do anything in your kitchen or bathroom without a cutting board or cover of some kind and what is the point of having a beautiful countertop if you have to hide it.
If you already have granite and have a problem with stains, try some of these suggestions for cleaning it.
By now you have gotten the point, granite is porous. When a granite distributor sells you your slab of granite for the kitchen or bathrooms, they more often than not neglect to tell you that it has to be sealed until after they have installed it.
The good news is most granite distributors have a guy that will come to your home and seal it for you, for a price. The bad news, however; is that same guy has to come every year or so to seal it again, again for a price. That is a yearly expense that you just do not have to have with other countertop options.
If you do not seal your granite countertop, those pores will not just stain terribly, they will also collect bacteria. Do not think a little Lysol will killed the bacteria that was lurking on that uncooked piece of meat you dropped on your granite countertop because it won't. The bacteria that you absent mindedly wiped away with a paper towel just gets pushed deeper into the pores where it will grow and transfer it itself onto anything that it touches. Your food, your plates, you kids, anything it touches.
This essentially makes your countertops into one big petri dish.
If you are a do it yourself sort of person, granite is not for you. If you find yourself needing a simple rectangular cut for a countertop and think you can get a steal from a granite yard, you are getting more than you bargained for.
For one, they will give you unsealed granite and two they will not install it for you. Granite may be a stone full of pores, but it is also ungodly heavy. Installing a piece of granite as a countertop is not a do it yourself type of job. You will need multiple people or even more likely a team of expensive professionals to do it for you.
It is best to just order another kind of countertop from a company that will install it for you, the cost is worth not having the hassle.
You may think you are getting a steal on that slab of granite you are having made into a countertop, but you would be wrong. It is not even because of the major downfalls of the material in general either.
The cheaper you buy your granite, the lower the grade it is. If you get a low grade granite for your countertop, it is going to be very affordable, yes, but it will also be more porous. That is right, the lower the grade, the more porous the stone.
High grade granite is just about as good as any other countertop material out there. You will still need to seal it every year, but it will not have quite so many pores. The downside to a high grade granite is that it is the singularly most expensive countertop material you can buy.
This probably does not need to be said as this point, but granite countertops are a very high maintenance countertop. As well as needing to be sealed once a year at least, they also require a neutral pH balance cleaner. If you use an acidic countertop cleaner on granite countertops, it will stain and wear down the seal on it. This makes it so you have to be sealing it more often.
If you do not want to be constantly checking your kitchen cleaners for a neutral pH balance, which you will most likely have to do internet research on, it is best to find something else.
Alternatives to Granite
Hopefully by now you have been swayed from granite and maybe caught onto another material. The best material for countertops is usually something man made. Laminate is an old classic and very affordable. A countertop provider can get you a countertop in any color combination under the rainbow, including granite lookalikes.
If you are dead set on a stone look, it is recommended that you go for a material called Silestone Quartz. Silestone Quartz is 100% quartz unlike it's man made composite quartz cousin. It is very scratch resistant and is a non-porous surface, making it a ideally low mateniance countertop choice. It also comes in a variety of beautiful colors.
Another fine choice is Corian, it has that nice granite design and color, but is completely man made. Corian has a nice shine, but it will dull over time, though a very long time. The one downside to Corian is that it is prone to scratch marks and scorch marks, so a cutting board is requires for hot pans or vegetable chopping.
You can find more granite alternatives here.