Granite Countertops Explained In 2020
From Industry Professionals | Since 1996
Today we’re giving you over 50 years worth of combined knowledge on granite countertops. That’s right, we’ve put together a one-of-a-kind article. Our goal is to answer the most common questions we receive from homeowners shopping for new kitchen countertops, specifically in the Washington DC metro area.
We’ve been fabricating and installing granite countertops in our local residential market since 1996. We also started importing our own granite containers around 15 years ago. We’re also proud of the fact that we’ve installed thousands of granite countertops in cities all over Washington DC, Northern Virginia and Maryland.
So yes, our team has a lot of experience in the industry and we can’t wait to share it with you.
For your convenience, we’ve made the navigation of this article super simple. Below you’ll find a Table of Contents which takes you directly to the things you want to know. You’ll also notice a little arrow on the lower right-hand side of the screen that can bring you back to the top at any time. Ready for this?
How did granite become such a popular kitchen countertop material?
Can you believe that The Great Pyramid of Giza consists of an estimated 2.3 million blocks of limestones and granite? That’s right; wow!
What is more interesting to me though, is apparently the largest granite stones in the pyramid were found in the King’s chamber. Proving there was an extremely high value placed on granite stones.
I believe most homeowners are aware of the fact that granite has been used in architectural projects going as far back as 3,000 years. Most of us have heard mentions of natural stones, including granite, as being used by stonemasons throughout history to build castles, churches, cathedrals, statues and many other beautiful structures.
This proves one thing; granite is beautiful, timeless, durable, valuable and historical. Therefore, bringing these elements into your home can be such a great experience.
Now that we understand that, it starts to become clearer that at some point in modern life, granites’ beauty would have to make it (in some way, shape or form) into the homes of millions around the world. This would have to be a place where its beauty could be appreciated, admired and valued.
Honestly, I can’t think of a better place to showcase a beautiful piece of natural granite than a kitchen, and It makes sense. Most of us spend a lot of time in our kitchens performing a variety of different tasks, like; cooking, doing homework, family dinners, watching the news, reading a newspaper, snacking, preparing holiday meals, and of course, inviting neighbors over for some coffee to showoff those brand new countertops.
In the 80’s, granite was just starting to make its way into the kitchen remodeling market as a high-end luxury countertop product. This 1987 LA Times article talks about the things Southern Californians were buying to impress friends at that time. Granite countertops made this list. It seems the starting price back then was $100 per square foot. A price reserved only for [very] exclusive exotic granite colors today.
Since then, the granite industry (like most industries) has evolved and thus matured. Improvements in technology, machinery, and exports have all contributed to reducing the cost of extracting, manufacturing and exporting granite around the globe.
These technological advancements along with their cost reductions made granite countertops much more accessible to the average consumer during the late 90s and throughout the 2000s. Granite is still going strong in the 2010s. I can assure you this will not change anytime soon.
There’s no doubt this is the most common question we get here at Maryland Granite. A quick Google Trends search also reveals the curiosity over time for ‘granite cost’.
I have a feeling you already know the answer to this one… that’s right, it depends!
And although it depends on many different factors, I don’t want to make this more mysterious than it needs to be. So let me give you some actual figures, a starting point if you will.
For instance, one of our best granite countertop deals will cost $1,400 for a standard 40 square foot kitchen. This price includes template, fabrication, material, and installation! Not only that, but it also includes a free single-bowl stainless steel sink, free sink cutout, free standard edging, six (6) granite colors to choose from, and free sealer. We could not have made this offer more comprehensive.
Keep in mind other fabricators in your area will have a completely different price structure. For instance, some will offer a very “low” square foot price but will charge (additionally) for cutouts, edging, sink, sealer, backsplashes etc.
Again, every granite countertop fabricator has a different process, resources and sourcing options that fit their own particular business model. What’s important here, however, is that you take the time to really understand your countertop quote and not be afraid to ask everything it covers.
We believe the $1,400 for a standard 40 square foot kitchen, fully “installed” that is, is a fair starting point to consider on granite countertops cost. Of course, it goes up from there.
Our next two granite discount deals sit at $1,560 and $1,840 for the same size kitchen, with an additional 12 granite colors, totaling 18 different granite colors to choose from our starting granite countertop packages.
Is granite better than quartz?
No countertop surface is better than another in my honest opinion. Granite is not better than quartz… or Corian, Tile or Formica for that matter. Granite, just like all the other kitchen countertop options, is simply a choice.
We always recommend our clients to explore their personal tastes. Your job is to find something you’ll absolutely love having in your kitchen, whether that’s granite, quartz, solid-surface or any other type of product.
Remember that you’ll have to stare at your countertops daily, so be sure to choose something you love.
Is granite safe for my kitchen?
Over the years we have all become more aware and concerned with our exposure to potentially harmful materials. Specifically those we tend to use as construction materials for our homes, or those used as decorations. Granite countertops have been accused of producing large amounts of radon. But there’s no reason to worry. Let me explain.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that “Radon originating in the soil beneath homes is a more common problem and a far larger public health risk than radon from granite building materials.”
A simple search for granite radon research reveals over 300,000 results. Scientists, researchers and industry associations around the world have covered this particular topic many times.
The well-known industry association – Natural Stone Institute – said in their consumer radon article; “There are many sources of radiation in a typical home. Common items such as concrete blocks, televisions, smoke detectors — and even Brazil nuts, bananas and potatoes release measurable levels of radiation.”
Lastly, regardless of whether your home has granite countertops or not, the EPA still recommends testing all homes for radon to help protect yourself and your family, by reducing any potential risk exposure. If this is something you are considering, we recommend starting with their Citizen’s Guide to Radon.
Most popular granite colors?
Over the last year or so we’ve noticed a trend towards lighter color granites. In fact, the lighter the better, our customers tell us. White quartzite has also seen a lot of demand in recent months.
Another trend worth mentioning is black (darker) granite colors with either a honed or leather surface finish.
We’ve asked our customers about this trend. The demand seems to originate from a feeling and experience these darker colors create when matched against a contemporary style kitchen design.
Will granite go out of style?
Remember the “architectural projects going as far back as 3,000 years” mentioned earlier? The Egyptian pyramids?
Yeah, we have no reason to believe that granite countertops will go out of style anytime soon. We work directly with large home builders, homeowners, contractors and kitchen & bath dealers around the entire Washington DC metropolitan area. Trust me, we would be the first to know of such a trend.
How difficult is the maintenance on granite countertops?
Not very difficult actually. There are a handful of things you should always keep in mind to help prolong the life of your granite countertops.
- Wipe down and clean after every use. So if you only cook once or twice per week. That would be our recommended amount of times to clean your granite counters.
- Apply sealer regularly; approximately once every 6 to 8 months. Remember to ask your fabricator about which granite sealer they recommend using. Nowadays with advancements in technology, you can easily add this task to your iPhone or Android calendar and set it to repeat every 6 months! Simple.
- Remember these four words: “soap and warm water”. That’s right. Don’t go breaking your budget buying expensive granite cleaners or “magic potions” that may or may not do a good job. Expert tip: if possible, use a clean microfiber rag (along with the soap and warm water).
Do granite countertops stain?
Not if properly sealed and cared for. However, there are two key things to remember here:
- Wipe down and clean up spills quickly! Don’t wait, don’t let the granite soak in even a microdrop of whatever you spilled on it. Not even water. Why not water? Honestly, simply to help you develop the habit of wiping down anything that spills on your natural stone countertop. Take good care of it.
- Inspect your countertops regularly. Yeah, you just never know when someone may spill juice, soda or food, and not do a very good job cleaning after themselves… if at all. So it doesn’t hurt to carefully inspect your counters occasionally. Don’t be afraid, it only takes a minute. Quickly run your hands through the surface, and glance at the surface from different angles.
Can you place a hot pan on top of granite countertops?
Granite is no stranger to heat. Before granite made it to your beautiful kitchen, it was dug out of the ground, where it spent most likely a few million years. Buried underground, granite was exposed to extreme heat.
So yes, you can absolutely place a hot pan on top of your granite countertops. Just be careful not to ‘bang it’ against the stone. Set it down gently on the surface away from the edge. You don’t want to accidentally hit a soft spot on the edge with a heavy pot and create a chip or crack. That would not be good.
Can you cut directly on top of granite countertops?
Of course, you can. It is very unlikely that a good quality granite stone will scratch just by doing some occasional cutting directly on it. Notice we said ‘occasional’. We don’t recommend making this a daily habit or utilizing your granite countertops as a cutting board.
The reasons for that are straightforward; it will depend on how your particular granite surface reacts to continual cutting. It’s best NOT to find out. Treat it with care. You would not turn your butcher block counter into a cutting board… wait… would you?
There are a couple of great options here though;
- Purchase a cutting board made from the same granite material you chose
- Not all granite fabrication shops offer samples, but if you are able to get your hands on a sample of your chosen granite, put it to the test! Take it home and go at it with different knives and see what happens. Does it scratch? Did it affect the polish at all? Make sure it is at least an 8×8 granite sample.
So there you have it; the ultimate guide to shopping for granite countertops in Washington D.C., Northern Virginia, and Maryland.
A couple of final thoughts that can help you.
A lifetime addition to your home
There is no doubt, granite countertops can be a beautiful addition to your kitchen. The right granite stone can not only add value to your home, but it provides a unique touch of elegance and sophistication that can literally last a lifetime.
Remember, granite is a choice. Ultimately, the countertop product you decide to use should be a reflection of you, your family and personal taste. Take your time and make sure it blends well with your existing (or new) kitchen cabinets, and that it fits well with your overall design (style & deco).
Interested in a free estimate?
If you’re considering replacing your existing kitchen countertops and you live in or near Washington DC (including Northern VA and Maryland), we’d love the opportunity to provide a free estimate on granite countertops for you, no commitment. We can also provide a free quote on quartz countertops if interested as well.
If you are in our local area, we’d also like this opportunity to invite you to visit our granite showroom. We have a huge inventory which consists of over 2,500 slabs. We have a combination of granite, quartz, marble and quartzite slabs in stock at our warehouse in Beltsville Maryland (get directions to our showroom).
No appointment is necessary, but we do recommend you call our team first so we can make sure you won’t have to wait long. Our showroom hours are Monday thru Friday 9AM to 5PM and Saturday 10AM to 5PM (closed on Sundays).
Well, I believe that’s it! If you have any questions, please leave them on the comments below or reach out to us. We’re here to help.
We genuinely and truly wish you luck with your countertop replacement endeavor, and we hope to see you back here soon.