Granite

An excellent choice for kitchen countertops, floors, and other heavily used surfaces

Exact and current extraction figures are not available, as data collection from many countries is difficult. Statistics from various sources indicate that the granite quarried in the countries of China, India, and Brazil comprises approximately 2/3 of the granite used worldwide. There are granite quarries in operation in dozens of countries, and it is one of the most popular natural stones on the market. New granite resources are continually being located and developed throughout the world.

Granite has long enjoyed use as an exterior cladding and pavement material, and its inherent strength, abrasion resistance and superior weathering durability are likely to keep it one of the preeminent material selections available to today's architects. Granite has also been employed as the traditional material for municipal curbs, where its strength and durability have been documented with decades of vehicular abuse. In the northern climates where snow melting chemicals are used heavily, granite has resisted the attack of these caustic agents.

Being one of the hardest of the dimension stone types, granite was historically avoided by the smaller, local stone fabricating shops, who favored marbles and limestones due to their easier working properties. A recent boom in the supply of affordable machinery and abrasives technologies eliminated these previous difficulties in fabrication. The use of granite has skyrocketed in residential interior applications as a result. Available in a striking array of colors, granite's durability, longevity, and economy make it ideal for kitchen countertops and other heavily used surfaces, including table tops and floors.

Some synthetic surfaces scratch easily, while the hardness of the minerals comprising most granites surpasses that of the utensils that are used on them, resulting in excellent scratch resistance. Granite is typically heat resistant up to temperatures of ±250°C (±480°F), although direct application of localized heat sources is discouraged, since strong thermal gradients within the stone can initiate cracking. Studies of bacteria retention on common countertop surfaces have proven granite to be superior to the majority of surfaces employed for that purposes (Ref: MIA Technical Bulletins).

Absorption rates (% water, by weight) of stones in this group range from 0.05% to 0.40%, indicating that the available pore volume capable of harboring a staining agent is very slight. Impregnating repellents are sometimes used to further increase the stain resistance of these materials.