Frequently Asked Questions
Have questions about Granite? Browse through the Frequently Asked Questions below and if you cannot find the answer your are looking for, contact us and our granite experts will be more than happy to help you out.
Granite Countertops FAQ
- What is Granite?
- Why is it so popular?
- Where does granite originate?
- Is granite high maintenance?
- Does heat damage granite?
- Can knives scratch granite?
- Is granite expensive?
- Can granite be repaired?
- Does granite harbor bacteria?
- Does granite emit harmful radiation?
- What is the thickness of the granite used for countertops?
- What surface finishes does granite come with?
- What are the pits in the granite?
- What about the filled lines in the granite slabs?
- Does granite need to be resealed regularly?
- What are prefabricated granite blanks?
- How much can I extend the granite overhang?
- What is the ideal overhang for my bar top or breakfast area?
- How is my dishwasher attached?
- Can I keep my existing tile back splash?
- Do I need to buy full slabs of granite?
- Do seams in Granite show?
- How much does granite weigh?
- How do you attach the granite countertops to my cabinet?
- Do I need to reinforce my cabinets for granite installation?
- Can you level my cabinets?
- Do you sell cabinetry?
- Can your company help me in granite color selection?
- Do I need an appointment?
- What is the area your company works in?
- Do you work with other local stone suppliers if I do not find what I want from your inventory?
What is Granite?
Granite is a naturally found stone composed of several large mineral grains tightly packed together. The main components include Feldspar and Quartz with a mix of other minerals including Biotite and Muscovite.
The minerals Feldspar and Quartz, which are the major components of granite, are harder than steel. This is why throughout human civilization, granite has been used as a building material.
The mica minerals called Biotite and Muscovite are more minor components of granite and give it a glittery appearance.
Why is it so popular?
Granite has emerged as the most popular kitchen countertop material because of its natural beauty and durability.
- The elegance of granite countertops adds value to homes
- Heat, scratch, and stain resistant
- Granite outlasts even the life of the home it is installed in
- Very little maintenance is required
- It is more affordable than many people think because of the abundant supply
Where does granite originate?
Granite is naturally formed in most parts of the world, but it is quarried in significant quantities in Brazil, India, Italy, Africa, Norway, Finland, and China. A majority of the most desirable granite slabs used for kitchen countertops in the USA come from Brazil, India, and Italy.
Is granite high maintenance?
In fact, granite countertops require very little maintenance. You only have to clean them with a mild soap and warm water.
Read How to maintain the beauty of your granite countertops for more information.
Does heat damage granite?
No, granite can withstand very high temperatures. Placing hot pans or a hot kettle will not cause any damage to the granite’s color or stability. However, it is recommended that you use trivets because of other reasons.
Read this blog post for more information.
Can knives scratch granite?
Knives cannot scratch true granite. The only thing harder than granite is diamond. For example, diamond is scored 10 on the MOH’s hardness scale and granite is scored 7. Diamond blades are the only thing that can cleanly cut through granite. Other natural stones like Gneiss and Schist are commonly called granite, but they do not have a MOH score of 7, and they can be probably scratched by knives.
Is granite expensive?
Actually, the entry level granite countertop prices have become very affordable because of the abundant supply of natural granite and modern technology.
Can granite be repaired?
At Arch City Granite, we have been asked if granite can be repaired, if chips or cracks that occur from accidental impacts can be fixed. The answer is yes, they can be repaired by a granite fabricator.
Does granite harbor bacteria?
No, the center for disease control did not find any evidence to suggest that bacteria could grow in granite.
Does granite emit harmful radiation?
At Arch City, we are frequently asked this question by home owners. The answer is granite was tested for Radon emissions and found to emit very insignificant levels of Radon. Granite is found to be safe for usage in homes with out any harmful effects. You can read the report on this research at the website of the Marble Institute of America.
What is the thickness of the granite used for countertops?
St. Louis granite countertop industry uses 3cm (1 ¼”) thick granite for kitchen countertops application. 1 ¼” thickness granite is sturdy enough to be placed directly on the cabinets.
What surface finishes does granite come with?
- Polished: A shiny, glossy surface. This is by far the most popular.
- Honed: A matte finish.
- Brushed: A rough texture. Suitable for outdoor kitchens, though some designers like to use it inside as well.
What are the pits in the granite?
It’s not uncommon to see some small pits on the surface of the granite slabs. These pits are formed during the polishing process, when some of the weaker components of granite, like Biotite, flake off from the surface. This happens at the granite processing plants in different countries where the granite is quarried and polished.
The pits themselves do not make the granite less durable or inferior for use in countertops, but the look and feel of the granite with the pits may bother some clients. It is a better if you discuss these issues with the fabricators before you make the final decision on your stone selection.
We do not recommend that you have the pits filled because no compound can adequately or permanently fill these spaces without visually affecting the surface of the stone. The best practice is to discuss imperfections with your fabricator before selecting the stone, and if you really hate the pits you should consider a granite that has no visual imperfections.
What about the filled lines in the granite slabs?
A good number of granite colors that are very beautiful with a variety of colors and veins that flow in different directions, are not truly “granites” in strict geological terms. Though they are commonly called granites, they are actually Gneiss or Schists stones. True granite stones scale between 6 and 7 on MOH’s scale of hardness (diamond hardness is 10). Whereas, the MOH’s scale for Gneiss and Schist is less than 6.
In order to strengthen these stones to be used as countertops, they undergo a process called resinization, where epoxy resin is used to fill the weak spots of these stones. These slabs, with the visually filled lines, do not break or crack once they are installed, with proper care. If any problem does happen, it will happen during fabrication or transportation.
Mascarello, Copenhagen, Louise Blue, Barricato, Betularie, and many more popular stones belong to this category. A lot of customers do not mind the fill lines and visual imperfections because of the beauty of these natural stones.
If you are a perfectionist, and do not want any imperfections, then you should choose another type of stone.
Does granite need to be resealed regularly?
If you use high quality impregnating sealers like DuPont Bulletproof sealer, you should have to reseal your granite every three years. If you use a cleaning liquid called Revitalizer also made by DuPont, you will not have to reseal your countertops ever. A gallon container of Revitalizer only costs $39, which will lasts 2 to 3 years depending on the size of your countertops.
What are prefabricated granite blanks?
Granite slabs that are cut into particular sizes and have one edge that is polished. They are typically fabricated in countries with cheap labor, like China, and if you decide to use these, you will not have a custom fabricated countertop. Some lower end fabricators use granite blanks to entice customers with a low price.
How much can I extend the granite overhang?
Granite countertops can often be extended beyond the cabinets to give an added functionality to kitchen spaces.
At Arch City Granite this is a question we are asked every day. The standard overhang is 1 ½” from the face frame of the cabinets. This gives a good visual appearance because it creates a ¾” overhang from the door fronts. You can compare this to the 1” overhang typical of the laminate countertops you are looking to replace with granite.
The actual overhang may slightly vary depending on how straight the countertops are installed. Having the cabinets not installed in a straight line is not an uncommon problem. The Arch City Granite measuring person discusses these issues with the homeowners to come to a clear understanding of what variances can be expected.
We can extend the 3 cm granite countertops up to a maximum of 8” from the cabinets unsupported. We can be a little more liberal and extend them 10” with strong granite verities like Tan Brown, Coffee Brown, Black Pearl, and other stronger stones.
We have to be careful when we install upper bar tops that sit on a 5” knee wall. These overhangs have to be supported by steel braces placed under the countertop and then screwed into the wooden studs in the knee wall.
Any granite countertops with more than an 8” overhang should be adequately supported by steel braces.
Extended islands, higher level bar tops, and peninsulas are some of the areas of the kitchen that may have an extended overhang, up to 12”. The placement of wood or metal supports that extend from the cabinets, sometimes called corbels, can hit your knees and are not visually appealing. The ideal solution is to place steel bars, secured adequately, and is a permanent support that is almost invisible and does not hit your knees.
What is the ideal overhang for my bar top or breakfast area?
12” is the ideal overhang for comfortable seating without hitting your knees on the cabinet, however, the overhang does need to be adequately supported.
How is my dishwasher attached?
Dishwashers have to be attached to the under surface of the kitchen countertop to prevent tipping the machine forward when the door is opened. The attachment also prevents vibration during the dishwasher’s operation.
At Arch City Granite, we attach the dishwasher with a well-designed and patented bracket. This attachment is rigid enough to secure the dishwasher safely, while still allowing you to easily remove it in case you need to repair or replace the dishwasher in the future, without having to call a granite fabricator to do so.
Newer dishwasher come with side attachment clips so that the dishwasher can be screwed to the cabinets as well. This has to be done by your cabinet installer or remodeling contractor.
Can I keep my existing tile back splash?
Yes. While replacing the existing laminate countertops, many of our clients choose to keep their current tile backsplash. However, you must consider the following points for better results:
- The thickness of laminate countertops is 1 ½” and granite, marble, or engineered surfaces, like Ceasarstone, are 1 ¼” thick. The replacement causes a visible gap of about ¼” between the new granite countertop and the existing tile. This scenario applies in cases where the tile goes all the way down to the countertops. You can solve this problem by using one of the following methods:
- Applying caulk in the gap with a matching color to the existing grout. The new caulk line will be about a ¼” thickness instead of the tile grout line of about 1/8”. It is barely noticeable and an acceptable compromise.
- If you have kept the grout from the original tile installation, you can use that grout to fill the gap. This is the best case scenario.
- You can purchase and install a trim line from any tile supplier that fits between the tile and the granite countertop. This should be done by your tile installer.
- Installation of a 4” back splash of granite over the existing tile. This is another commonly used option.
- In case the existing tile goes up to the 4” back splash of laminate countertop:
- 4” granite back splashes have to be placed between the granite countertops and the existing tile. You can choose to have 4 ½” height granite back splashes to cover the rough area created by the removal of the existing laminate back splash.
Do I need to buy full slabs of granite?
No, you do not need to buy full slabs. We consider the cost of actual material used in your project. That is the advantage of choosing fabricators like Arch City Granite that not only fabricate and install your countertops but carry a great assortment of granite slabs to choose from.
Do seams in Granite show?
The answer is Yes and No.
Yes, seems are visible if you look carefully at the countertops. However, the goal of a good granite installation company is to make them as inconspicuous as possible.
How much does granite weigh?
Granite weighs about 16 to 17 pounds per square foot.
How do you attach the granite countertops to my cabinet?
The stone countertops are places on the cabinets and, after ensuring that everything is leveled, a bead of silicon is applied at the intersection of the cabinets and the underside of the stone. This is sufficient to hold the countertops in place in a normal situation.
If the cabinets are not leveled, which is not uncommon, we have to place shims underneath the countertops to level them. In this situation our installers place small blocks of wood pieces rinsed in epoxy to stabilize the shims.
Do I need to reinforce my cabinets for granite installation?
No. If you use 3cm (1 ¼”) thick granite which is normal in the St. Louis area, you do not need any special reinforcement. You may need some additional support in the corners of walls that our template specialist (the guy who comes to measure) will be able to explain to you.
Can you level my cabinets?
No, we do not level your cabinets. You will need the help of your carpenter or your contractor for that.
Do you sell cabinetry?
No. But we can refer you to a great cabinet maker who we have worked with many times before.
Can your company help me in granite color selection?
Yes, when you come visit us you will get help making these tough decisions from our in-house designers at no additional cost. Having installed thousands of kitchen countertops in St. Louis metro area, our project managers can also share with you their experiences to enhance your project.
Do I need an appointment?
No. You can visit us at any time during our normal business hours. On Saturdays, it is better if you call us beforehand so that we are able to give you our undivided attention.
What is the area your company works in?
We mainly serve the St. Louis and St. Charles counties, including the Metro east area including Edwardsville and Collinsville, Swansea, Columbia, Waterloo etc., and Alton and other parts of southern Illinois. However, we have had projects as far away as Lake of the Ozarks, and Rolla,Mo. We serve Washington, Pacific in Missouri.
Do you work with other local stone suppliers if I do not find what I want from your inventory?
Yes. We will gladly order the material from other local suppliers and install it for you. In fact, Arch City Granite is located within a 2 mile radius of a majority of the granite importers in St. Louis area and a second location in O’Fallon.