Granite has been the most popular countertop material for more than a decade now, and that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon. Once purely a luxury item, granite counters are almost an expectation these days. Homeowners and homebuyers don’t want to settle for anything less.
Buying granite counters isn’t as simple as walking into a big box store and selecting the first piece of stone you like – well, at least it shouldn’t be. Potential buyers should do thorough research first in order to truly understand what they’re purchasing.
Step 1 – Understand Your Options
Some people think they want granite just because that’s what everyone else wants. Your neighbors love their granite counters, and every house hunter on HGTV puts granite on the top of their wish list.
There are plenty of stone counters that aren’t granite, including quartz, marble, limestone and travertine. Familiarize yourself with these options before settling on granite. Some offer a similar look with a lower price tag.
Granite is beautiful, and you might find that it’s your favorite. But it never hurts to be educated about all of your options.
Step 2 – Pick a Color
If you decide to go with granite, it’s time to start thinking about color. Granite comes in a variety of neutrals, from beige and tan to brown and black. It also comes in bold hues such as blue and red. But you shouldn’t choose a color based on looks alone.
The quality, characteristics and performance of granite are affected by the color. Light-colored granites are softer and more porous, so they require the protection of several coats of sealer. However, lighter colors tend to have more intricate patterns that hide stains and dirt. Darker granites require little or no sealer, but the more uniform patterns tend to show off dirt, stains and imperfections.
That being said, you should pay attention to how the color compliments the rest of your kitchen. Answering these questions should help:
- How big is your kitchen? Dark countertops make kitchens look smaller and light countertops make them look bigger.
- Are the kitchen cabinets light or dark? The combo of dark cabinets and dark counters is dramatic at best, depressing at worst. Generally, you want some contrast between the cabinets and counters.
- Does the kitchen get much natural light? If so, you can probably swing dark countertops. If not, go with a lighter color.
Step 3 – Consider the Quality
Not all granite countertops are alike. Look for granite with a grade of “first quality.” First quality granite is free of defects and has consistent color and granularity. Second quality granite will have some visible defects and inconsistencies, while commercial grade may have significant defects.
Beyond that, make sure you do a comprehensive visual inspection of the granite. Look for the telltale signs of cheap granite, including inconsistent coloring, hairline cracks, and holes or pits. If the defects are obvious, move on.