Friday, May 30

8 Myths about Granite Countertops

1. "Natural stone's like granite have radiation and can cause cancer."  Granite is a natural stone.  It's been growing in the earth for what could be millions of years.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) website:
"Any type of rock could contain naturally occurring radioactive elements like radium, uranium and thorium. Some pieces of granite contain more of these elements than others, depending on the composition of the molten rock from which they formed."
While yes, granite and other natural stones used for countertops could contain radioactive gases, its unlikely the gases can escape the stone. According to the EPA's website,
"granite is generally not very porous, less radon is likely to escape from it than from a more porous stone such as sandstone. It’s important to know that radon originating in the soil beneath homes is a more common problem and a far larger public health risk than radon from granite building materials. Also, any radon from granite countertops in kitchens or bathrooms is likely to be diluted in the typical home since those rooms are usually well ventilated."
So, while yes this building material does have radiation present, but because of the well ventilated areas and minimal amounts, you will be fine.  As I have told many of my customers, there is more radiation in the world around you. Get the counter top your going to love everyday for the next twenty years!  To read more from the EPA's site, click here

2. "Granite is heat proof!"  No, no it isn't!  Many granite shops will tell you anything to sell a counter top.  They are depending on you to give them your hard earned cash so they can make their mortgage, car payment, or pay for their child's comp soccer.  I am here to tell you the facts, and this is one of my biggest pet peeves.  According to Consentino, one of the biggest suppliers of granite and quartz surfaces states:
"Like all natural stones, natural Granite is subject to thermal shock.  Thermal shock is the sudden change of surface temperature.  It is recommended that you protect your countertop surface from direct heat sources by using placemats, coasters and/or trivets"
So what does this mean?  Thermal shock can cause the stone to crack.  And I am not just talking granite, I am talking all natural stones, and most of the man made ones too, yes, this means you quartz!)  I tell my customers to always use hot pads or trivets.  This even includes the use of hot pads and trivets under heat producing small appliances like crock pots, rice cookers, electric skillets, etc.  So protect yourself and your investment.  Use a hot pad!

3. "Granite wont scratch, so I don't need to use a cutting board."  Yes, your are right, for the most part.  Under normal everyday residential use, the stone shouldn't crack. But like I tell my clients, use a cutting board.  You won't scratch the granite, but you could destroy your Henckel knives.  For the most part, granite is one of the hardest surfaces, scratched only by diamonds or other harder stones.  So if you have a nice set of diamond blades, guess what, you can scratch it.  So again, protect yourself and your stuff, grab a cutting board at Home Goods and chop away. 

4. "All granite requires maintenance/sealing every few months."  Yeah, ten years ago!  Along with cell phones, TV's, and everything else, technology has found it's way into countertops.  They now have a way to bake in a permanent seal into granite.  It is up to you to do your shopping and homework.  Major granite outlets have granite that comes pre-sealed, but make sure the granite comes with a warranty to back up the claims.  (Remember, some shops will tell you anything to make the sale!)  If the granite you want doesn't come with this new technology, don't worry, it's not the end of the world.

Invest in a good sealer.  My personal favorite is called Miracle 511 Impregnator (great name for a sealer right?).  This sealer works much like the baked on sealer, but you can do it at home.  I even recommend using this product after most of the 15 year warranties run out on the pre-sealed stones.  Natural stone is porous, like your skin.  Most inexpensive sealers act like a saran wrap barrier over the stone.  Every time you clean the stone, you are wearing away at that thin layer, causing holes that can let through stains.  The Miracle product actually seeps into the pores of the stone, leaving the sealer in the pores, keeping it out of the cleaners way, and not allowing anywhere for the wine to seep in.  When applied properly, Miracle 511 Impregnator can last up to five years.

Even better, want to know how to tell if your granite needs to be sealed?  Pour a little water on it, in the heavy use areas, like the sink and the cook surface.  Let it sit for ten minutes, then wipe it away.  If a dark spot remains, then it needs to be sealed.  If not, then your good to go. Be careful and test a few areas, just to be safe.  

5. "Granite wont chip or crack."  Sure, granite is a super hard product, and hard to damage.  You should see the machines they use to cut it up to fit your kitchen.  However, think about it.  If you drop a cast iron pan on the edge of your granite, guess what, a chip is coming.  Just scroll Pinterest and see all of the pins on how to repair a granite chip.  As for cracking, aside from Thermal Shock (read above), cracks can happen.  Natural stone has natural fissures and hair line cracks.  That is one reason why some stones have a mesh backing glued on the back, for added stability and strength.  If you hit any of those fissures just right, or stand on it unsecured from below, it can crack.  Again, search Pinterest, there are a million pins suggesting ideas on how to repair cracks and chips.

6. "Natural stone is very expensive." Yes it can be, but there are a million way to get it at a bargain.  Just be cautious.  Bargain granite's can have more of those fissures, and can require more sealing. In all actuality, recycled glass products and quartz tops are often more expensive.  Also, acrylic tops are often not much less, I am talking a couple bucks a square foot.  So get quotes, price it out, and get what you love. 

7. "Natural stone will loose its shine."  This depends on the stone.  With proper care and maintenance, granite won't loose it's shine, but marble will.  Marble is going to patina with age.  This is one of the things I absolutely love about i.  The polish can always be reapplied with a quick trip to the hardware store, or a call to a fabricator.  Or, if you leave it, in a few years, you will have an amazing looking marble.  

8. "Natural stone can harbor bacteria."  As we discussed before, natural stone is porous, and without proper sealing, those pores can hold bacteria.  Protect yourself and your family, if your stone doesn't come pre-sealed, keep it sealed.