Granite continues to be a popular with US homeowners even with the many other options available of kitchen countertops. Engineered quartz, for instance, top the charts worldwide, but US homeowners still largely choose granite countertops. This is evident in the many shows on home design. The question is why.
Granite may have been used as a building material for many centuries, largely because it is extremely tough and plentiful, but it was not a popular dimension stone until just a few decades ago. Most people put a premium on marble countertops, but not granite.
It was not until about the mid-1980s when a popular graphic designer used granite in the kitchen countertops of her New York home that people began to take notice. The New York Times featured it first and later the LA Times.
At that time, it was an unconventional choice, and too expensive for most people. Today, that is no longer the case, due mostly to market forces.
Here are the top 4 reasons for the continued popularity of granite countertops.
1. More supply
Granite as a dimension stone has historically been an Italian export. Back in 1996, the import of granite was at 200,000 metric tons.
As the demand for granite increased in early 2000s, however, more countries began to get into the granite exporting business. Granite covers about 80% of the earth’s surface, so supply was not a problem.
Among the countries that started to export granite, Brazil proved to be the most prolific and aggressive, eventually becoming the source of half of all dimension granite supplies in the US. If you see granite countertops in a home or building, there is a good chance they come from Brazil.
Brazil was not the only player, however. China and India are among the major exporters of granite slabs to the US. By 2006, there was so much granite coming in that it drove the costs per square foot down, lower than locally sourced granite. According to some estimates, the import of granite in 2014 tipped 2 million metric tons, more than 100 times more than 20 years ago. Because it became so affordable, more people could put them in their homes, and even more people wanted to have them.
2. Lower shipping
Back in the day, imported goods were more expensive than local product because shipping them cost so much. However, with the advent of container shipping, imported goods became more much affordable. Countries such as China that could produce goods cheaper could still sell them cheaper than local goods and make a hefty profit even after shipping them great distances.
This had a distinct impact on imported granite as well. As mentioned previously, more countries have taken to exporting granite to the US, and lower shipping costs made them more competitive than locally sourced granite. More suppliers mean a wider variety of granite, so homeowners could choose granite countertops without fear of cookie-cutter results.
3. Better machines
Fabricating granite is not easy. Artisans have to be very precise when cutting holes and hewing edges, and since granite is very tough, doing it by hand can be very laborious. Fortunately, fabricators now have better machines to do the cutting and hewing, so the work can go faster. Of course, it still needs the guiding hand of an experienced fabricator, but machines do most of the heavy lifting. This means lower labor costs, and the savings often passes on to the homeowners.
4. Great timing
The popularity of granite countertops surged sometime during the 2000, roughly around the time of the US housing boom. Some people think this was a coincidence, while others see a cause and effect thing going on.
Because granite was attractive, affordable, and available in many colors and patterns, many designers began incorporating it in their plans, especially in the kitchen. Over time, granite countertops became synonymous with new housing and the modern design, defining the standard for “good” countertops. Many realtors also began using granite countertops as a selling point as more people began considering it a desirable feature in homes for sale.
Another factor that made granite countertops so attractive in the early ay of 2000 was the cost. Since they were relatively expensive, it added value to the home. Of course, the cost of granite countertops have fallen considerably since then, but most people still think granite countertops are luxury items. Add to it the fact that it is a natural product and you are pushing all the right buttons for today’s consumer.
Not everyone like granite, however. Some people consider it overrated, and prefer quartz countertops and other natural stones such as quartzite because of their toughness and non-porosity. While it is true that engineered quartz is more durable than granite, the fact is it is not heat resistant. This is not good when using it for kitchen countertops. Quartzite is heat resistant, but it is much more expensive than granite and it is available in just a few colors. From a practical perspective, granite is still the better option.
Most people are not aware that the top 4 reasons for the continued popularity of granite countertops relate directly to market forces. It is not because of its looks or other obvious qualities as some would argue that there are better choices from that perspective. It might sound mundane, but there it is.
If you have decided that granite is the right material for your home, then you should work with a reliable countertop specialist to help you choose the right slab for your needs. You can always consult KNC Granite in the areas of Washington DC, many areas in Maryland (Baltimore, Annapolis, Bethesda, Rockville) and Virginia (Alexandria, Arlington).
We have a large array of granite and marble slabs from which to choose. You can check actual slabs at our showroom in Lanham, Maryland. Also we carry some of the top brands of engineered stone, including Cambria, Caesarstone, Silestone, and MSI, all of which come with manufacturer warranties.
We do not only supply top-quality engineered and natural 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 for your kitchen countertops.