Identifying the Quality and Grade of Granite

Kitchen with Giallo Ornamental granite countertops

Granite Shown: Giallo Ornamental

Granite is a popular choice for residential kitchens, and for good reason! When you pick the right type, you can count on its durability and scratch-resistant surface to hold up to everyday use for years to come. Plus, granite comes in many different colors and patterns so you are sure to find something that suits your style.

Below we’ve highlighted some of the different attributes that affect the grade of granite so you can easily spot the quality of a slab when you’re on the hunt for the perfect countertop!

Thickness

Kitchen with New Venetian Gold granite countertops

Granite Shown: New Venetian Gold

The standard thickness for granite countertops is 1 to 1¼ inch, which provides the thickness necessary for durable kitchen countertops. Thin granite is considered lower quality because it’s more likely to crack and chip after years of use. Low-grade granite is typically less than ¾ inch thick, and often requires a piece of plywood backing to provide additional strength. In addition to durability, thicker granite provides a higher-quality and more substantial look than that of thinner granite.

Country of Origin

Some of the highest grade, most expensive granite usually comes from India, Brazil, or Italy, while the lower-grade or commercial-grade granite often comes from China. This is purely based on geology and the conditions of the land in these different countries.

Because the origin of granite impacts the quality and grade, it also largely impacts the cost. You have to factor in cost of labor and the cost to import the granite to the U.S.

Edges

Kitchen with San Benedicto granite countertops

Granite Shown: San Benedicto in a leather finish

An easy way to spot lower-quality granite is by looking for a poorly executed laminated edge. This type of edge is created by gluing additional stone underneath the edge of a countertop to make it appear thicker. This is typically only done on countertops that are less than one inch thick and therefore less durable, but occasionally is done on thicker, more high-quality countertops to achieve a dramatic look. While a "thicker slab" look can be mimicked using a laminated edge, time will only make the seam more obvious, and the edge does nothing to provide additional durability of the countertop as a whole, making it susceptible to cracks.

In addition to a laminated edge, there are so many different edge types available.

Basic Edges

  • Straight or square
  • Quarter round
  • Bevel

Premium Edges

  • Half bullnose
  • Full bullnose
  • Double quarter round
  • Double bevel

Custom Edges

  • Waterfall
  • Ogee
  • Cove
countertop-edges-diagram-R1

Porosity

The actual makeup of granite can vary, altering its porosity or ability to absorb liquids. Porosity affects grade in that more porous types of granite will become faded and dull over time. An easy way to test the porosity of granite is to administer the lemon test. Squeeze a drop of lemon juice onto the granite, and the longer it takes to absorb – the less porous the material is.

Granite is commonly sealed after installation to reduce or eliminate porosity and should be re-sealed every year or every couple of years, depending on the specific type of granite you have. American Wood Reface seals all granite countertops we install to reduce or eliminate porosity, and we are happy to assist you with resealing when the time comes.

Color

Kitchen with Neptune Bordeaux granite countertops

Granite Shown: Neptune Bordeaux

Granite comes in many different colors, but some are more rare than others, making them more expensive. Colors that are commonly seen in homes like beige, tan, brown, and black tend to be less expensive because they are more readily available. But colors like blue, purple, and red are much less common and therefore more expensive.

In addition, color can also determine durability. Colors like red and brown tend to be harder, whereas white and gray are typically softer and more likely to chip or crack. However, just because some colors are considered higher grade than others doesn’t mean you should avoid those colors. Just make sure you pick a good cut of granite with ample thickness and durability.

Polish

In addition to the style of the edges of countertops, polish is a good sign of quality. Polished edges are common on most countertops, but a perfectly polished edge with no scratches or milky finish shows whether or not it’s a high-end granite countertop. Milky or cloudy is not a finish you want for your granite—you want it to sparkle and shine, and have a consistent finish throughout, so a milky edge is a sign of a lower-quality countertop.

Many people tend to wrap their fingers around the edges when they’re standing near the counter, allowing them to feel the underside of the granite, so another sign of quality is when the bottom of those edges are polished.

Get Started On Your Kitchen Transformation

We transformed this kitchen by trading the dated laminate countertops with wood edges for a beautiful, neutral granite that gives the space a high-quality look while also improving durability. Looking to upgrade your kitchen? Contact us today to request a free in-home consultation.

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