Granite Countertop Review: Pros and Cons


Granite countertops have become an increasingly popular choice for kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects in recent years. Made from natural stone, granite is valued for its unique colors, patterns, and durability. However, like all countertop materials, granite has both advantages and disadvantages to consider. This article provides an in-depth and unbiased review of granite countertops, including a detailed look at the pros and cons.

What is Granite?

Granite is an igneous rock that forms deep beneath the earth’s surface from cooling magma. It consists primarily of quartz, feldspar, and mica minerals. Granite tends to be extremely hard and dense, making it very durable as a countertop material.

The natural mineral composition of granite leads to a wide variety of colors and patterns. No two granite slabs are exactly alike – each piece has its own distinct look. Granite can be predominately black, pink, gray, white, or combinations of these colors. It often contains veins, spots, and swirls throughout. This unique natural beauty is part of what makes granite so desirable.

Granite countertops are custom fabricated slabs that are cut to size for installation in kitchens, bathrooms, and other areas. The granite is typically sealed to help prevent staining. The thickness, edges, and finish can vary depending on the desired look and budget.

Granite Countertop Pros

There are many benefits that make granite a top choice for countertops:

Extremely Durable and Long-Lasting

Granite is arguably the most durable natural countertop material available. Since it is etched from stone, it has an excellent hardness rating and is highly resistant to scratches, chips, cracks, heat, and stains. With proper care and sealing, granite countertops can easily last 75-100 years or more. This makes granite a wise long-term investment for kitchens and bathrooms.

Unique Natural Beauty

The natural patterns and colors of granite make each slab completely unique. Granite contains mineral deposits that create beautiful veins, spots, and swirls in the stone. No two pieces of granite will ever look the same. For homeowners who want a one-of-a-kind look that is distinctive to their home, granite is an excellent choice.

Adds Value to Home

Granite countertops will add value and appeal to any home, making it a wise investment for homeowners. The National Association of Realtors estimates that granite countertops offer a return on investment of over 80% in home resale value. This is significantly higher than most other countertop options.

Resistant to Heat, Stains, and Bacteria

The dense, nonporous nature of granite makes it very resistant to heat damage. Homeowners can place hot pots and pans directly on granite without worry. Granite is also resistant to staining and etching from acidic foods and liquids. With proper sealing, it does not easily absorb bacteria or moisture. These properties make granite an ideal choice for kitchen and bathroom surfaces.

Available in Wide Range of Colors

From dramatic blacks to calm creams, granite offers one of the widest color palettes among natural stones. Homeowners can choose a granite countertop that aligns with their own personal taste and home decor style. Lighter granites like Pearl, River White, or New Caledonia work well in traditional or farmhouse kitchens, while darker colors like Absolute Black or Ubatuba pair nicely with modern styles.

Easy to Clean and Maintain

Granite requires very little maintenance to keep it looking like new. Simple cleaning with a damp cloth and dish soap is all that is needed for regular cleanings. Compared to other natural stones, granite is less prone to etching and staining. Resealing every 1-3 years will keep granite countertops protected.

Granite Countertop Cons

While granite has many positive attributes, there are some potential downsides to weigh as well:

Expensive Initial Cost

Natural stone countertops like granite tend to be more expensive than man-made options such as quartz, solid surface, laminate, or tile. The material itself is costly, and professional installation is also required. On average, expect to pay $60-$150 per square foot installed for granite countertops. While the initial investment is high, granite’s longevity does mean lower lifetime costs compared to materials that need frequent replacement.

Possible Variation in Color

Since granite slabs contain natural mineral deposits, there can occasionally be some variation between batches or inventory. While installers do their best to achieve uniformity, some adjacent pieces may have slight differences in veins, spots, or overall coloring. For homeowners who want perfect uniformity, other countertop options like quartz or solid surface may be preferable.

Can Chip or Crack if Mistreated

While granite is extremely durable, it can chip if subjected to sharp hard objects. Homeowners need to be cautious about standing on granite or placing excessively heavy pots or appliances on its surface. Granite can also crack under extreme pressure or impact. Care must be taken to avoid damaging blows or excessive force.

Requires Periodic Sealing

To prevent stains from penetrating the granite, resealing is necessary over time. How frequently sealing is needed depends on the quality of the sealer used and the amount of kitchen use. Many professionals recommend resealing every 1-3 years. This maintenance requirement, along with potential cost, is a factor for some homeowners.

Susceptible to Etching

Acidic liquids like citrus, vinegar, or wine can potentially “etch” or dull the surface of granite countertops, leaving light marks. These etching marks are often removable with professional honing. However, granite does require more care around potentially acidic spills compared to other surface options.

Requires Professional Installation

Proper granite installation is not a DIY project for the average homeowner. The heavy material requires special tools for cutting, transporting, and securing to cabinets. Hiring professional installers is a must to ensure safety and proper supporting structures. The need for paid installation drives up the overall project investment.

Can Have Radon Gas Emissions

Granite is a natural stone that was formed underground and contains traces of uranium. As uranium decays, it produces radon gas. In rare cases, radon gas can be emitted from granite countertops and could potentially pose health risks if allowed to accumulate in high concentrations over long periods in poorly ventilated homes. However, studies show radon emissions from granite countertops are minimal and not considered dangerous by most health organizations when reasonable ventilation is present.

Requires Reinforcing for Thin Edges

For a sleek, modern look, granite is often fabricated with thin edges. However, granite edges thinner than 2 cm require metal or composite reinforcing rods to maintain stability and prevent cracks or chips. The reinforcing materials add to fabrication costs.

How to Choose the Best Granite Countertop

Selecting the perfect granite countertop requires careful consideration of color, style, fit, edges, thickness, finish, and other factors. Here are some tips for choosing the best granite countertop for your home:

  • Pick a granite color that aligns with your style: Look at granite slabs in person and select a color and pattern that complements your kitchen or bathroom decor. Be sure to view large slabs to get a sense of the variation.
  • Decide on edges and thickness: Standard granite thickness is 3 cm (1.25 inches), which is suitable for most homes. Thicker countertops are heavier while thinner edges have a sleek look but may require reinforcement. Popular edge styles include simple polished, beveled, ogee, and dupont.
  • Mind the overhang: Standard overhang for granite countertops is 1-1.5″. Ensure cabinets can support the weight of overhangs. Larger overhangs often need corbels or other support structures.
  • Consider ease of maintenance: Opt for granite grades (Igneous, Premium) that resist staining and etching. Ask about sealants that enhance water and oil repellency.
  • Inspect carefully before finalizing: Closely examine the slab for any cracks, chips, coloration differences or other imperfections before finalizing your purchase. Also, double check that measurements match your kitchen layout.
  • Hire experienced professionals: Be sure your installer has extensive experience with granite fabrication and installation. Verify they follow safety procedures for handling the heavy material.
  • Seal regularly: Resealing granite every 1-3 years is highly recommended. Use a silicone-based impregnator that repels water and oil.

Following these tips will help you select a stunning granite countertop that provides lasting function and beauty in your home.

Granite Countertop Pricing Factors

Several factors influence the final price of granite countertops, including:

  • Stone type and rarity – Price typically corresponds with the availability and demand for a particular granite color and pattern. Unique exotic granites tend to be higher priced.
  • Slab size – Larger slabs that yield fewer seams are more costly. Smaller granite pieces that require extensive piecing together tend to be cheaper.
  • Thickness – The standard 3 cm thickness is the most affordable. Go thicker for durability or thinner for sleekness (may require reinforcement).
  • Edges – Straight polished edges are simple and inexpensive. Specialty edges like ogee, dupont, bevel, or bullnose add labor and cost.
  • Cutouts – The number and intricacy of cutouts (sinks, faucets, appliances) impacts fabrication time and pricing.
  • Finish – A polished finish is standard. Other finishes like honed, flamed, or brushed will increase the price.
  • Fabrication – Highly customized orders requiring intricate fabrication will have higher prices than simple slab installations.
  • Transportation distance – Natural stone shipping costs are substantial and passed to the customer. More remote locations pay more.
  • Installation – Simple countertop replacement may start around $40/hour while complex new installs with challenging access could be $100+/hour.

On average, expect to invest $60-$150 per square foot for installed granite countertops. Higher-end exotic granites could be $200+/square foot. Always obtain a detailed quote accounting for your specific project parameters.

Maintaining and Caring for Granite Countertops

To keep granite countertops looking like new for decades, proper maintenance practices are essential:

  • Use coasters under all glasses and a trivet for hot pans to prevent scratches, cracks, and heat damage.
  • Clean frequently with a mild dish soap and water using a soft sponge or cloth. Avoid abrasive cleansers.
  • Blot spills immediately to prevent stains, especially wine, oil, and acidic liquids that may etch.
  • Disinfect granite by wiping down with a diluted bleach cleaner or stone-safe disinfectant.
  • Reseal granite every 1-3 years using a penetrating silicone-based impregnator.
  • Avoid excessive weight or pressure on your countertops that could crack or chip the granite.
  • Inspect sealant yearly for signs of wear and immediately reseal any etched or worn areas.
  • Consider using wax over table/bar areas for extra protection and sheen.
  • Have chips and cracks professionally repaired as soon as possible to prevent further damage.

With routine care, granite countertops remain resilient and require only minimal maintenance over their lifetime. Taking preventative measures helps preserve their natural beauty.

Frequently Asked Questions About Granite Countertops

Here are answers to some of the most common questions homeowners have about granite countertops:

Is granite porous?

Granite is classified as an impervious stone, but it still contains microscopic pores that can absorb liquids if left to pool. Proper sealing fills these pores to prevent staining or bacterial growth.

How thick should granite countertops be?

The standard thickness is 3 cm or 1.25 inches. Thinner granite around 2 cm can work but may be more prone to cracks and often requires reinforcement rods. Over 3 cm is unnecessary in most residential applications.

How much do granite countertops cost?

Expect to pay an average installed price of $60-$150 per square foot for granite countertops. Exotic or high-end custom granite could cost up to $200+/square foot.

What is the best edge for granite countertops?

The most popular granite edges are simple polished, beveled, dupont, and ogee. These provide a clean, elegant appearance. Edge choice depends on personal style preference, kitchen decor, and budget.

How often should I seal my granite countertop?

Resealing granite every 1-3 years is recommended depending on usage levels. Use a penetrating sealer designed for natural stone countertops. More frequent sealing may be needed for heavily used kitchen countertops.

Can you repair a chip or crack in granite?

Yes, minor chips and cracks in granite countertops can often be repaired by professional stone restoration specialists. Repairs involve color-matched epoxy fillers to seamlessly blend the fix.

What finish is best for granite countertops?

A polished finish provides shine and depth while allowing the natural granite patterns to stand out. Honed, flamed, and leathered finishes offer more matte and textured options.

Is it safe to have granite countertops with radon gas emissions?

Trace amounts of radon from granite countertops are insignificant and deemed safe by EPA standards when homes have reasonable ventilation. You can test for radon if concerned.

Is granite stain resistant?

Granite is very stain resistant but not completely stain-proof. With proper sealing and immediate wiping of spills, staining is unlikely. Acidic liquids can potentially etch if left on the surface.

Can you cut on granite countertops?

Yes, granite stands up well to normal knife use for food preparation. Use a cutting board to protect the surface and keep knives sharp. Avoid excessive force that can chip the granite edges.


Granite countertops provide unparalleled durability, natural beauty, and investment value. While granite costs more upfront than other options, it far outpaces their longevity and can last a lifetime when properly cared for. Unique in every slab, granite adds distinctive style to any home or commercial space. Consider both the advantages and possible drawbacks of granite to decide if it is the right choice your space. With routine maintenance, granite countertops offer lasting elegance, performance, and enjoyment for generations to come.