The word “granite” comes from the Latin word “granum” or grain that refers to the crystalline grains of the various component minerals found in granite. Black granite and green granite gained popularity in the early days of granite kitchen countertops. Many new condominium developments in Clearwater and across the country feature black granite countertops.
Black granite is actually a misnomer for a related group of intrusive igneous rocks called gabbro. While geologists have different standards for what can be called “granite”, the construction and home renovation industry commonly lump together all naturally occurring, harder than marble rocks quarried in slabs as granite.
Stone has been around for billions of years, man has used stone for millions of years, but it wasn’t until the late 1990’s that everything changed. Prior to that, almost all stonework was for commercial/monument purposes. In other words, unless you were building a shrine, it was just too expensive for everyday applications.
It was then, that cutting tools began to use diamond-wire saw blades. The machines that utilized this technology quickly became commonplace at (and near) the quarries in almost 50 different countries around the world. This allowed for the quadrupling of efficiency in extracting, slabbing, and transporting stones.
Commonly asked questions:
There is some concern that materials sold as granite countertops or as building material may be hazardous to health. Dan Steck of St. Johns University, has stated that approximately 5% of all granite will be of concern, with the caveat that only a tiny percentage of the tens of thousands of granite slab types have been tested. Various resources from national geological survey organizations are accessible online to assist in assessing the risk factors in granite country and design rules relating, in particular, to preventing accumulation of radon gas in enclosed basements and dwellings.
A study of granite countertops was done (initiated and paid for by the Marble Institute of America) in November 2008 by National Health and Engineering Inc of USA. In this test, all of the 39 full size granite slabs that were measured for the study showed radiation levels well below the European Union safety standards (section 188.8.131.52 of the National Health and Engineering study) and radon emission levels well below the average outdoor radon concentrations in the US.
Not too long ago, granite countertops were a rarity; today, because of greater availability and an increased number of fabricators, granite tops are more common and affordable. Granite is available in a variety of colors, sinks can be undermounted and a variety of edgings can be crafted. Since each piece is unique, you may want to visit the fabricator to select the exact slabs for your kitchen. Seams are slightly more evident in granite, and hot grease can stain unsealed tops, but overall, granite requires very little maintenance. Expect to spend $60 to $125 per square foot, installed.
Almost all granite tops are installed professionally, since fabrication and installation require specialized tools and skills. It’s simply not worth it for a do-it-yourselfer to invest the time and dollars required, especially for a project that’s usually a once-in-a-lifetime affair. If you want to roll up your sleeves, pick up a paintbrush or hammer, but leave these tops to the pros.