Without a doubt, beautiful countertops are one of the most eye-catching features of a kitchen or bathroom. However, choosing the right countertop material for your home or office can be as daunting as it is exciting – especially when common myths get in the way of the truth.
Common granite countertop myths range from harmless to simply flat out wrong. And if you accept them at face value, you might end up choosing a material that doesn’t suit your space’s unique needs.
In this blog, we’ll address some of the most common myths surrounding granite countertops to help you separate fact from fiction.
MYTH #1: GRANITE IS OUT, QUARTZ IS IN
Once upon a time, granite countertops were the ultimate luxury statement in a kitchen or bathroom, and it’s easy to see why: granite adds to the overall value of the home because it’s extremely durable and has a distinctive, high-quality look.
As granite became more accessible over the years, however, its “luxurious” characteristic began to change, as did design trends. The rise of manmade products that can mimic the natural patterns found in granite, like quartz, also seemingly took away from the novelty of granite since they addressed more of the consumer demands for certain patterns or colors.
Does this mean granite is on its way out the door?
Not at all. Mother Nature is always in style.
Both granite and quartz offer their own unique advantages. For example, granite is formed in intense heat and is naturally impervious to high temperatures, so hot pots and pans won’t scar its surface (though they may damage any sealant).
Quartz countertops are easy to maintain (their nonporous nature means they never require sealant) and come in a wide variety of solid and patterned colors, but they do not boast the same level of heat resistance as granite. The resins used to give quartz countertops their flexibility and shape can potentially be damaged by repeated exposure to high levels of heat. Therefore, quartz manufacturers recommend using a hot pad or trivet and not taking things from the stovetop or oven and placing them directly on the countertop.
Bottom line? Both quartz and granite have their own advantages and unique aesthetics and can beautifully complement your home or office. Just be sure to assess the particular needs of the room your countertops will occupy in order to make the best-fitting choice.
MYTH #2: GRANITE AND MARBLE ARE PRACTICALLY THE SAME
Since they are both natural stone, you might have heard that granite and marble are almost interchangeable. But the two materials are actually very different.
Marble is a hard-crystalline metamorphic form of limestone that appears naturally in a wide range of colors and features elegant veining. On the other hand, granite is an igneous rock consisting mainly of quartz, mica and feldspar that typically bears a granular or flecked appearance. One of the biggest differences between granite and marble is their porosity. Basically, marble is softer and more porous than granite.
Since marble is a softer material than granite, it requires more care to maintain its original luster and surface quality and can acquire a worn look or patina over time in heavy use areas.
MYTH #3: GRANITE COUNTERTOPS ARE HIGH MAINTENANCE
Because they are natural stone, there’s a misconception that granite countertops are high maintenance.
In reality, granite is stain, scratch, heat and chemical resistant. It’s among the hardest countertop materials available and therefore not easily damaged. Sealants are applied to natural stone like granite to provide additional protection against staining.
To maintain granite’s showroom look, sealing is an important step. Contrary to what this common myth would have you expect, however, granite may not need to be sealed very often. It depends on your color. Lighter colors are typically more porous, therefore they generally require more frequent sealing than a darker, more dense color. Sealing is a simple, wipe on/wipe off process that you can do yourself probably in a few minutes. But if you don’t want to worry about that at all, there are sealants on the market that give a lifetime warranty against staining with just one single application at an additional cost. Ask your granite fabricator for more information.
On a daily basis, dusting, promptly wiping up spills and using potholders or trivets are the extent of maintenance for granite. These methods of care are common to most countertop materials.
MYTH #4: GRANITE IS UNSAFE FOR FOOD PREP
Although it’s generally considered best practice to use a cutting board when preparing food, you’ll wear out the edge of your knife before damaging your granite countertop. This has led to granite countertops becoming an ideal choice for areas with food-related work.
However, there is an alarming myth that granite harbors harmful bacteria and is therefore unsafe for food.
It is a myth.
Because granite countertops are generally less porous than other types of natural stone (and usually sealed), they are resistant to bacterial growth and easy to keep clean.
Keep in mind, however, that constant application of disinfectants may affect your granite countertops’ sealant. A granite countertop without sealant is more susceptible to staining, so the use of a cutting board when preparing or cutting food is recommended. In most cases, warm and soapy water is all that granite countertops require for cleaning.
MYTH #5: GRANITE COUNTERTOPS EMIT RADON
Another more troubling myth out there is that granite countertops emit unhealthy levels of radon, a naturally-occurring radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer.
Like many myths, this one took a small grain of truth and blew it out of proportion – way out. It’s true that granite may contain naturally occurring radioactive elements like radium, uranium and thorium … but so do other rocks. These are just the resulting byproducts of the natural breakdown of stone and rock. Granite is naturally made in the earth and may contain more or less of some of these elements than others.
Still feeling alarmed? Don’t worry. Since granite isn’t very porous and is typically used in well-ventilated areas like kitchens or bathrooms, any radon it contains isn’t likely to escape in quantities large enough to cause problems. In fact, well water and the soil underneath a building’s foundation pose much greater risks of radon exposure.
The final verdict? Robert Emery, DrPH, vice president of safety, health, environment, and risk management at the University of Texas, says, “From published scientific literature, it seems that the amount of radon from granite countertops is minuscule. The decision whether to use it or rip it out if it’s already in a house you buy really becomes a personal decision about what products you bring into your home — similar to whether to use traditional paints or those with only no or low-VOC compounds.”
WHAT’S THE TAKE-AWAY?
Despite what any myths might say, granite countertops make elegant, timeless and durable additions to any home or office. Now that we’ve addressed some of the most common granite countertop myths, we hope you feel more informed in your countertop decisions.