Colorful Facts about Granite Countertops
As a homeowner, you want to make your kitchen as attractive and functional as possible. Because you spend a lot of time in it. On the other hand, you want to keep the costs as low as possible when doing renovations. A good way to have the best of both worlds is to replace your kitchen countertops with one of the best materials you can afford, and that usually means granite. The question is what color you should choose for your granite countertops.
Granite comes in a wide variety of colors, so that can be a problem. A few color facts about granite countertops and granite in general might help you choose the right ones for your kitchen countertops.
Basic granite facts
Granite is a natural stone formed from magma subjected to immense heat and pressure over millions of years. This is a type of rock called igneous, and it is extremely durable and dense. Magma contains different minerals, and the type of minerals present will depend on the location of the granite. The word itself comes from the Latin word “granum,” which refers to the grain or crystals on the base rock you can see with the naked eye.
The most abundant minerals in the magma will form the base of the rock, and other minerals in smaller quantities will form the crystals.
One of the minerals you will definitely find in granite is quartz. Because granite will always be at least 20% quartz. In some samples, you will find that as much as 60% of it is quartz. Quartz is a one of the hardest minerals on earth, and is principally responsible for the durability of granite. However, quartz is either white or without color, so it will not have a particular impact on the colorfulness of granite.
Other minerals you might find in a particular kind of granite that do have color include plagioclase feldspar (white, gray), potassium feldspar (pink, red), biotite (black, brown), muscovite (yellow), and amphiboles (green, black, brown). Among these commonly found minerals, a rather large percentage of feldspar, between 10 and 65%, will most likely be present.
Other minerals may also be present such as amazonite (green), and these will have some effect on the overall color of the base rock, veins, streaks, and crystals in a particular granite slab. The mineral composition will also determine the relative durability of the stone. Generally, the higher the amount of quartz in the granite, the more durable it is.
A brief description of some of the most common granite colors commercially available from your local granite supplier follows below.
You might most easily recognize spotted or speckled gray kitchen countertops as granite. Because this is one of the most common granite color family available. In terms of composition, it has equal parts of quartz, gray plagioclase feldspar, and gray amphiboles. This makes this particular type of granite quite durable, and the speckled look is a favorite among homeowners with contemporary and modern kitchens.
White granite is also common, although completely white granite is not. If you see solid white kitchen countertops at a neighbor’s home or in online images claiming they are granite, in all probability they are not. It is most likely to be an engineered stone such as white quartz.
In most cases, white granite will have very thin gray streaks or very light gray crystals interspersed so widely that they are almost unnoticeable. In composition, common white granite is equal parts of white plagioclase feldspar and white quartz, with some gray amphiboles thrown in. You will usually find white granite in areas where other minerals were not present in the magma, or the conditions precluded the formation of more amphiboles.
You can find black granite in some places, but just like white granite, it will not be completely, uncompromisingly black. It is again most likely engineered stone, or perhaps one of the granitoid types of rock normally thought of as granite such as gabbro or basalt. These are not true granite, but share many of the characteristics of granite, so they are still excellent options for kitchen countertops.
For true black granite, you can expect a significant number of streaks and specks of white quartz amongst the biotite minerals that make it black. Even then, it may not be true granite, but gneiss, such as Cosmic Black. If you want mostly black kitchen countertops, consider gabbro or engineered quartz instead.
Pink granite takes its color from the presence of large amounts of potassium feldspar with a predominantly pink color. You will often see pink granite with speckles of white, black, brown, and gray from its complement of quartz, amphiboles, and feldspar. In many cases, large streaks of gray or brown may obscure the pink base. So, it is important to check the actual slab for these unexpected characteristics to make sure it is what you want.
Red granite may be identical to pink granite in terms of composition, except that the potassium feldspar is more red than pink. The darker color might be a result of the presence of iron oxide in the mineral, which gives it its vibrant hue.
True granite typically comes in neutral and light base colors, and bolder, more vibrant hues are accents. Blue granite, especially the dark blue ones, is probably not true granite. In most cases, blue granite is monzonite or anorthosite, both of which are also igneous rocks like granite, but with much less quartz than that of true granite. The blue color probably comes from blue labradorite, a type of plagioclase feldspar.
The fact that blue granite is an igneous rock means it is durable because of the nature of its formation. However, the low percentage of quartz (about 5% in monzonite) or its complete absence (in anorthosite) means it is probably not as durable as true granite. That said, if you want the beauty of blue granite in your kitchen, there is no real reason not to get it.
Unlike blue granite, true granite can be predominantly green, although it is quite rare to find one that has enough amazonite to make it a distinct green. Much more common, although not true granite, is marble with a large amount of serpentine in the mix, or soapstone. You can usually tell it is soapstone because it has a milky texture. In either case, it is not true granite, although it still quite durable and definitely beautiful.
In many cases, suppliers refer to granite slabs by something other by color. You will most probably hear about some of the more common ones when visiting a showroom, including:
Giallo Ornamental– white with swirls
Santa Cecilia – deep red and dark streaks
Uba Tuba– dark granite from Brazil (Ubatuba is a municipality) with large amounts of biotite or muscovite
Venetian Gold – earth tones with red and black specks
Choosing among these different types of granite can be overwhelming. Fortunately, KNC Granite in Maryland and Virginia can help you.
KNC Granite is a local company with a large collection of natural stones. You can check actual granite and marble slabs at our showroom in Lanham, Maryland, as well as representative samples for engineered stone from the top brands in the industry including Cambria, Caesarstone, Silestone, and MSI, all of which come with manufacturer warranties.
We deal directly with stone manufacturers and fabricators, so we can give you the best prices possible. In fact, we have a best price guarantee. Additionally, you only pay for what you use, so it does not matter how big or small your project is; you will not be forced to buy a whole slab.
We do not only supply top-quality stones, however. We are experts at fabricating and installing kitchen counters or bathroom vanities. Also we specialize in kitchen remodeling and bathroom upgrade projects, delivering on time and on budget.
Give us a call or email us for your free in-home consultation and quote.