Unlike other materials, granite’s cost isn’t the best indicator of its quality. Comprised of quartz, feldspar and mica along with other minerals, this rock’s value is determined by how many soft minerals are present, its color and how it is cut. Learn the basics of how granite is categorised and have a thorough discussion with a reputable supplier to find the best quality counter for your home.
There is no set industry-wide grading system to reflect the quality of individual granite slabs; however, retailers typically group slabs by grades set in-house. Low-grade granite, referred to as commercial or second choice, has excess soft minerals mixed into the stone and less color variation than higher rated products. Mid-grade granite features clear colors and somewhat interesting patterns, yet it doesn’t deliver much uniqueness. Exotic or high-end labels are reserved for stones with one-of-a-kind colors, variations and patterns. The most marked difference in durability, and thus quality, occurs when comparing low-grade granite with higher grades, as the excess soft minerals in the stone make it more prone to damage. These labels vary drastically between suppliers: a high-end retailer’s lowest grade granite can be on par quality-wise with the highest grade carried by a discount store.
Origin and Cost
The cost of a slab is not the best indicator of quality. The country of origin drastically alters the price of granite, even when comparing two slabs of equal caliber. China tends to produce the cheapest stones due to reduced labor costs, while granite from Italy and Brazil is more costly. The distance from where you’re purchasing the stone is also a factor because granite is heavy, thus expensive to ship.
Thicker granite is of higher quality than thinner slabs. One and a quarter inch granite is preferred for counters, providing the durability most homeowners are after along with the visual “heft” that many expect from a natural stone. Granite is extracted in huge chunks and then moved to a production facility where it’s cut into slabs. To get more counters out of one stone, some manufacturers cut thinner sections. This reduces durability, especially if the slab is less than an inch thick.