Q: What is granite? What is its normal application?
A: Granite and granite-like stones are formed of very hard minerals such as quartz, feldspar and mica. Granite is ideal for kitchen countertops, because its polish is resistant to scratching and acids such as citrus and vinegar. It’s also commonly used for countertops, floor tiles, wall tiles, fireplaces, columns, balustrades, water tables, steps, thresholds and windowsills.
Q: Can granite countertops be damaged?
A: Granite countertops are more resistant to damage than most other materials, but like any solid surface, high-impact blows can harm them. Because of its crystalline structure, granite can chip if struck by sharp, hard objects. Unsealed granite countertops can also absorb certain stains, such as oil, which can cause dark spots and discoloration.
Q: Can I cut on my granite countertop?
A: Yes. However, granite is harder than most knife blades and will dull them quickly if you use the countertop as a cutting surface. Also, if you don’t seal your countertop at least once a year (every 90 days for heavy usage), you could potentially stain it. Never chop on your countertop; use a wooden or plastic cutting board.
Q: What is flamed granite?
A: Granite is flamed by applying blowtorch-strength heat to the surface of the stone. This melts the surface and shatters some of the crystals, leaving a highly textured, non-slippery surface that’s ideal for exterior paving.
Q: What is honed granite?
A: Honed granite is created when the polishing process is halted just before a reflective, shiny surface is achieved. This gives a softer, matte appearance to the stone.
Q: My granite sample has pits on the surface. Will my countertops have these?
A: Granite is crystalline in structure, so it always has tiny pits, which are essentially spaces between the mineral crystals. You don’t see them on a larger piece because the overall appearance is polished and mirror-like. Granite countertops sometimes have natural fissures as well—they may look like cracks, but they’re a naturally occurring result of the immense heat and pressure that formed the granite millions of years ago. These characteristics are part of the natural beauty of stone and won’t impair the function or durability of the material.
Q: Can I put a marble countertop in my kitchen?
A: Marble countertops can be scratched more easily than harder stone such as granite, and they’re more prone to damage caused by acidic foods. Marble is sometimes used in the kitchen as a pastry slab—its perfectly smooth, cool surface is good for rolling dough and piecrusts. However, keep in mind that the ideal material for kitchen countertops is granite.
Q: What is honed marble or limestone, and where can it be used?
A: Honed marble or limestone has a matte or satin finish rather than a highly reflective polish. This is achieved at the factory by stopping just short of the last stage of polishing. Honed marble doesn’t show etching as readily; some prefer it because it has a less formal, softer appearance than polished stone.
Q: What is etching?
A: Etching occurs when acid comes in contact with a polished marble or limestone surface. This causes a chemical reaction that removes the polish, or roughens the surface of honed stone. Green marbles, such as the ‘jades’ from China, are resistant to etching, and granite is impervious to common household acids.
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