With its heat-resistant qualities, granite doesn't blister; it's also unlikely to scratch or chip. When used for kitchen countertops, it's far superior to marble, synthetic and laminate. It's also better-looking and has a luminous, dimensional quality when polished.
Granite is made up of interlocking mineral crystals, the most common being feldspar and quartz. But an array of other minerals can be included, and these make each piece of granite unique. Feldspar is the white mineral you see in granite; the light gray veins are quartz; and the black is typically mica [source: Keidel].
Granite is drilled, chiseled and blasted out of quarries in large blocks, and special milling machines then cut it into workable slabs. Typically, a slab of granite is around 4 to 5 feet (1.2 to 1.5 meters) wide and between 7 to 9 feet (2.1 to 2.7 meters) long. Other machines polish the material into a uniform thickness, usually about three-quarters of an inch to 1 1/4 inches (2 to 3 centimeters) [source: Walton].
Turning raw granite into countertops requires special tools. Granite can be custom-made and professionally installed, but it's also available in precut and edged countertops. The kitchen's design, the shapes and sizes of the available precut material and the location of the seams will help determine if you can use precut and edged granite or if you need a custom installation.
Are you convinced that granite is the best choice for your kitchen or bathroom remodeling project?
Most granite cutting takes place at the quarry, but some will probably have to be done at the installation site. It's essential that the proper equipment is used.
To shape the dense material, a standard household skill saw needs to be upgraded with a diamond cutting blade. These are available at major home improvement centers for about $45. Pros also have a trick they use to avoid chipping the edge of the granite, which is caused by the blade's vibration. Collars that act as big washers on both sides of the saw's blade reduce the vibration, allowing a cleaner cut.
When granite is cut dry, a considerable amount of dust is generated. Some installers will use a handheld diamond-bladed radial saw with a vacuum attachment to help minimize the mess. A contour diamond blade is needed to cut out curves like sink openings [source: Walton].
The edge design of the countertop can be shaped in a number of ways: flat, beveled, curved or rounded. But it can be a challenge to cut the edges so they match perfectly or meet precisely in a corner.
Assuming you don't want to fabricate the granite or quartz yourself, calling a local company like Northwest Trends of Spokane to do the work is worth its weight in gold. Typically they'll charge a fee per square foot that includes cutting, edging, profiling and polishing the countertops. Extra fees may apply to sink cutouts (getting these accurately sized for under counter-sink mounts is tricky).
Northwest Trends has been fabricating granite and quartz for over 10 years. We have a seasoned crew www.NWTspokane.com that pays close attention to detail and makes sure every job is perfect, from cutting the stone, to installing it in your home. If you would like more information about pricing or for a free in home estimate call 509.921.9677 or stop in at our showroom located between Pines and Argonne on Montgomery. 11315 E. Montgomery Dr. Spokane Valley, WA 99206.