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Countertop Quandary Ė Why Choose Granite?

Mike Rutkowski

So, youíve decided to take the kitchen-remodeling plunge!  Youíve already made the tough decisions about new cabinets, flooring, wall covering, appliances, and a little detail known as the budget. Now you must choose the best countertop material for your dream kitchen.  There are an intimidating number of options including laminate, granite, engineered stone (quartz), solid surface material such as Corian, ceramic tile, butcher block, stainless steel and even concrete.  Reviewing the pros and cons of each could easily fill entire article by itself, but letís cut to the chase. Most kitchen designers and builders prefer granite for high-end kitchen projects based upon four key criteria:  practicality, maintenance, selection and value.

First, letís look at the practical reason to put granite in your kitchen. Unlike laminate and solid surface materials, granite resists heat and will not melt or scorch when coming into contact with a searing pot or frying pan. Health conscious consumers already know that granite is one of the easiest surfaces to keep clean and germ free as it resists bacteria. Granite is also very hard and dense, making it nearly impossible to scratch under normal conditions.

Despite its durability, granite and all natural stone is somewhat porous and should be sealed annually to protect it from spills and stains. Also, if you were to hammer or intentionally abuse it, granite could possibly chip, however, a good fabricator can repair minor chips with colored epoxy, making it nearly impossible to detect.

Now consider maintenance.  Engineered stone gets high marks as a non-porous material that never needs to be sealed.  While this is true, quartz slabs come in limited colors and most patterns are completely uniform; some would even say a bit boring.  On the other hand, granite comes in many exciting colors, patterns and can be easily sealed in just a few minutes. Best of all, granite cleans up easy with a mild kitchen detergent and a clean water rinse.

As for selection, granite canít be beat. There are literally hundreds of different varieties of granite to choose from in a wide assortment of colors, patterns and finishes including polished, honed, brushed, antique and flamed.  Man-made materials simply cannot compare to the classic beauty and elegance of natural stone such as granite. That is perhaps why granite outsells other materials by 20:1 in most high-end  kitchen remodels.

Finally, consider the value of a granite countertop over the lifetime of your kitchen.    While the average price per square foot of granite is higher than laminate, granite holds itís value much better and significantly outperforms other materials when it comes to resale.  Realtor On-line Magazine recently published their 2005 Cost vs. Value Report in which they cited that homeowners who remodel with upscale materials including stone countertops could expect to recover (on average) 84.8 % of their investment.  Not bad.
In summary, if you simply need a low cost countertop for an average kitchen, there are many alternatives.  However, kitchen professionals and builders prefer granite for high-end projects.  Given the large selection and durability of granite, most homeowners are willing to invest about $15 and just a few minutes each year to seal their counter tops for maximum protection. So in reality, there is no quandary at all.  Granite rules in the high-end kitchen.


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