Thinking of adding granite countertops to your kitchen? If so, you would be installing the material that 75% of homeowners choose for their kitchen, based on a 2012 study by the National Kitchen and Bath Association. Designers predict that granite is at the end of its run as a leader for kitchen surfaces, but consumer buying habits indicate that the market is still strong.
Why is Granite so Popular?
Granite is a natural stone that became a popular choice in homes beginning in 2000. Much more durable than the laminate products, it offers several advantages:
- The range of colors is extensive, while no two pieces are exactly alike, which gives the product a custom feel
- It can be installed with minimal seams, which aids appearance and allows for fewer gathering places for germs
- It is heat resistant up to 250 degrees and less likely to develop unsightly marks from a hot pan, the case with laminates
- Though high priced at the beginning of its popularity, it quickly became available in different grades and accessible to more homeowners
- Since it a natural stone, it needs annual sealing to offset its porosity, but otherwise is easy to maintain
As more consumers opt for greener materials in their homes, this type of stone has come under some fire due to the energy costs of processing it and shipping it to distant locations. Some homeowners who want to use the highest grade of materials perceive it to be less exclusive as price drops have made it within the reach of more buyers. For many remodelers, however, granite remains the “gold standard” for countertops, especially when it is professionally installed to maximize its benefits through proper cutting, fitting, and polishing.
Are There Good Alternatives to Granite Countertops?
Though granite still reigns as the top material for kitchen and bathroom counters, there are several appealing alternatives on the market that share and even exceed its advantages. Quartz, for example, is twice as strong and is more stain resistant. Made of 95% natural quartz with a 5% polyester binder, it is as heat-resistant as granite and non-porous, which makes it resistant to capturing bacteria and mold. The color range is even more extensive, and while it offers beautiful solid colors, it can be engineered to mimic natural stone such as marble or even granite. Marketed under names such as Cambria, CaesarStone, Zodiac, or Silestone, it costs more than granite but the prices are expected to go down as it becomes more popular.
The market is full of other alternatives as well. The modern lineup includes engineered solid surfaces, such as Corian, butcher block, laminates (much improvised from the past), concrete, recycled glass, recycled paper composite, and tile that all offer interesting countertop choices with many desirable properties.
Work With a Professional to Guide your Choice
When considering new counters, work with a reliable contractor or home improvement company to guide your choice of materials. Whether you want classic granite countertops or another material, you will get professional installation plus a better understanding of the wide assortment of materials available today.