News and Information from Natural Stone Blog
Granite Countertops Natural Stone Beautiful
Granite counter tops are becoming more and more ubiquitous. You see granite countertops in kitchens, upon bathroom vanities, and adding a sense of prestige in executive offices. But, you are only seeing the finished product, without any indication of the long history of the material used. When you look at that magnificent slab of rock in your kitchen, bathroom or boardroom, have you ever thought of the path it took to get there? It is truly a fascinating story, which started millions of years ago and deep below the surface of the earth.
Man finds, harvests, transports, finishes, and sells granite, but man does not create it. Granite is natural stone, a natural creation.
Granite is an igneous rock, and one of the most common rocks in the upper level of the earth's surface. Granite starts its journey many miles deep within the earth's crust, as boiling, molten rock (magma), the result of volcanic activity. This magma is forced upwards by the extreme internal pressure of the earth. As the magma cools, over the course of millions of years, the core elements (minerals) that composed the magma become granite. The percentages of the various minerals determine the coloration, strength, and hardness of the granite.The rate at which it cools determines the granite's pattern and size of the grain of the stone. These elements can also determine the quality of the stone.
Granite is a very hard stone. The abundance of quartz, one of nature's hardest stones, in the composition of granite gives it its strength and hardness. Quartz can be up to 60% of the total volume of the granite. Feldspar is another mineral abundant in the composition of granite, ranging up to about 35% of the whole volume. Typically, the more quartz contained in a selection of granite, the harder the granite will be. Other minerals found in granite are much softer than quartz or feldspar, such as hornblende and a number of different types of mica. The minerals found in granite, other than quartz and feldspar, are known as accessory minerals.
How granite is mined is a fascinating story in its own right. The steps from finding the granite to showing guests your new granite countertops are numerous, and will be discussed in greater detail in subsequent articles. I have added a couple of videos that do a very good job of covering the topic. Even though the costs of mining granite has gone down due to new technologies that make it safer and more efficient, it is still amazing to me that we can afford it at all.
The bottom line is that granite is a beautiful stone. It can be totally unique from slab to slab due to the minerals present in the source magma, how slowly that magma cooled, and how much pressure was present as it cooled. The percentage of how much quartz present in a given slab of granite determines the hardness and strength. The presence of other minerals can change the size of the grains, patterns and colors.