For many decades, granite countertops have been the definition of home luxury and durability. Many homeowners come in knowing they want granite counters and have an idea of the colors of granite they might like, but are surprised to learn just how many types of granite their are to choose from. Why so many colors, compositions, and patterns in something so simple and beautiful as a granite countertop? The reason is cooler than you think.
What Granite Is Made Of and Why It’s So Beautiful
Granite is created by intrusive magma flow – which means that magma intruded on other rocks and minerals – binding them into an impossibly hard and uniquely grained composite rock formation. When magma pushes below the surface, it can displace softer minerals and then form around the hard minerals that remained in place.
This is what gives granite its unique grains, because the grains are made of the other minerals that were encased in pure magma underneath the surface of the earth. In fact, the name “granite” comes from the Latin word for grain. Made from intrusive magma flow, granite is an igneous rock formed when magma intruded on other minerals underground. This differentiates it from obsidian which is extrusive igneous that is 100% cooled lava (outside the volcano) and far too brittle for countertops. Because of its solid yet composite nature, granite is unbelievably sturdy for practical use – the second hardest natural stone after diamonds.
Interestingly, because of the crystalline structure of rocks, the size of the grains inside your granite are determined by how quickly the magma cooled while other minerals settled within the molten mass.
The Difference in Granite Color
So what gives granite such a wide range of colors ranging between white, black, gray, and pink?
The color and grain of your granite are defined by the composition of the magma and the minerals within. Different colors and grains of granite tend to come from quarries in different parts of the world where the mineral content of the natural stone changes from region to region. For example, white granites are more likely to come from India or Brazil.
The baseline color of granite is primarily influenced by the mineral makeup of the region, tinting the cooling stone composite. This is similar to how local minerals can affect the formation of corundum into different gemstones.
The color of your grains, however, is a direct result of the stone minerals that were encased by the original magma flow. To qualify as granite, the stone must contain at least 20% quartz in either veins or chips, but feldspar, micas, and other types of stone are also quite common – varying from region to region.
Choosing the Right Granite for Your Home
So now that we’ve explored where granite comes from, let’s talk about choosing the right one from over 300 granite varieties available from our selection alone. We advise that you think of your granite like paint colors – with so many to choose from, your personal preference should be your guide.
Your Baseline Granite Color
Always start with your baseline color. You likely already have an idea of the kitchen or bathroom design, including the color of the countertops. While granite is natural and each slab is unique, you can absolutely choose your color scheme. Granites come in a range of white, cream, gold, brown, black, gray, and pink. Highly grainy granites often eschew a baseline color for a prominent two- or three-tone palette instead.
Decide if you want light or dark counters, then choose your range of granite colors based on what will look best in your interior design.
Your Preferred Grain Color Scheme
Now sort your granite options by the colors included in the grains. Naturally, you will want to compliment the accent colors already in your room design. For example, black granite with amber-colored grains might be the perfect topper for your black-and-gold style bathroom. While cream-colored granite with blue grains will look perfect in a blue kitchen of any shade. There is even granite that looks like tiger stripes.
The Size and Type of Grain You Desire
There are so many styles and grain-sizes to choose from, so let your personal sense of beauty guide you. Some granites have waving veins, creating a subtle sense of movement in the rock itself, while others have a distinct pattern of stone chips throughout. The size of grain is often larger for higher “grades” of granite.
The Thickness of Your Countertop Slab
Lastly, determine the thickness of the granite slab you’d like to be your countertop. Again, the “grade” of granite will influence how thick the stone is cut and whether it needs a backboard for stability. Thinner slabs (3/8 inch) are more affordable for the beauty of granite while thicker slabs, understandably, are more durable and long-lasting.
Learning About the Granite You Choose
When you’ve chosen a granite – or have a list of finalists – ask about where it came from. Bring back the fascination of science and the luxury of exotic stone by learning which region your favorite granites were quarried in and the mineral composites that form the beautiful grains you fell in love with. Not only will this help you make a final decision and spur an interesting conversation, it will also become a priceless story to tell about your brand new countertops.
When someone casually compliments your new beautiful kitchen or bathroom design, you can tell them about how your granite came from India, Brazil, China, Canada, or North Carolina. You can talk about the quartz content and the veins of biotite crystal – whatever is most true and elegant about your personal choice of granite slab. Not only will your countertop design be beautiful and enduring, it will come with a story.
Which Granite Countertop is Best for Your Home?
Not sure where to start? We have helped thousands of homeowners choose the perfect granite for their kitchen and bathroom designs. Check out our granite gallery to see how each color and style of granite countertop looks in real kitchen examples. Contact us today to begin your countertop consultation with an enthusiastic granite expert. We look forward to making your vision of a beautiful home into reality.