It’s no wonder that granite has been used for thousands of years in every conceivable application where it has needed to be exposed to the elements.
There are not many materials that have more varied uses than granite. It can be a boring and uninteresting stone, or quite colorful and beautiful. The only endearing trait that makes it exceptional is its permanence. Before it was commonly used for kitchen countertops, it had a long history of use in many other places.
Due to its seeming invincibility, granite has long been the choice for headstones. This is true in almost every country where granite can be quarried and used. In centuries past, granite was most often used in a very coarse form, and many tombstones had no identifying letters.
Finely polished and dimensionally milled tombstones are made almost exclusively of granite, whether they commemorate a pauper or a king.
A true definition of granite: a coarse-grained igneous rock made up of crystals, containing feldspar and quartz. In practice, many similar materials can be called granite. When the definition is downgraded to mean feldspar rock with interlocking crystals that can be seen with the naked eye, we have material that is of a lower standard.
Some materials that are considered granites under the second meaning are gneiss, granodiorite, gabbro, anorthosite, monzonite, and syenite. While this can be a bit tricky, in certain applications the material with the pure meaning is needed.
Granite Construction Uses
Many tall buildings have a granite base, and it is often used on building exteriors in commercial applications. Depending on the effect required, granite can be rough, smooth or polished to suit the builder’s intentions. Cut granite stones are also very common in bridge construction.
Granite that has a rough textured face will generally have smooth ends, tops, and bottoms so that the stones fit well together. Granite is used both as a structural and cladding material.
Whenever possible, engineers prefer the use of granite curbs over concrete. Granite is much more attractive and strong as well.
Granite in the Home
One of the most popular uses of granite is for countertops. At one time these were very expensive because there were only a few facilities that had the machinery to cut and finish the material. However, the demand for these durable surfaces has led many workshops to invest in equipment to make their own tops and this, in turn, has produced more craftsmen who have the expertise to work with granite.
The consumer is the winner as more cabinetmakers enter the field of granite tops. It is now much faster to have cabinets fitted with stone countertops than it was a few years ago. If you have an existing kitchen to retrofit with granite countertops, you may only have to wait two or three days, whereas once it would have taken two weeks or more for the countertops to be shipped and installed.
Demand and availability have also produced a more competitive market, and granite countertops are more affordable than ever. While by no means inexpensive, they are now more affordable for the average homeowner.
With the manufacture of more granite slabs, there is a much wider selection of colors available. Most consumers want to choose the slabs their tops are made from, not just select from a range of colors. This provides a more personal touch to the build process.
Because each piece of granite is different from the next, each new homeowner has a completely unique countertop from all the countertops out there. The careful homeowner can expect to maintain granite countertops as long as he owns his home; not many other materials are as durable.
It’s easy to see why so many satisfied customers choose granite as their countertop choice, with many finding other uses for this material in their homes. The fact that granite is the most common rock found on the face of the earth does not detract from its mass appeal.
The next time you look at a picture of Mount Rushmore, remember that you can have that same timeless material installed in your own home.