Tough, practical, beautiful.. no wonder granite is the top choice for worktops. Check out our expert guide to make sure you get the granite that's right for your kitchen.
Granite is a classic luxury worktop. Made mainly from minerals quartz and feldspar, it is an incredibly hardwearing stone, ideal for kitchens. But its price – determined by the rarity of the stone, where it comes from and the labour involved in its production – makes it an investment buy rather than a cheap fix.
Granite is produced naturally in a variety of colours and patterns, determined by the mix of quartz, mica and feldspar. Most are naturally dark, but the lighter varieties are porous and can stain.
To achieve different finishes, the stone’s surface is worked with diamond pads, starting with the roughest and getting finer until the required look is produced. A high-shine, polished finish brings out the brilliant colours and shine which comes from the reflection of the stone’s crystals.
For a contemporary honed finish, polished stone is buffed to create a flat, low-sheen surface. Sandblasted granite gives a raw, textured surface. This is more porous than a polished surface and is not suitable for hardworking areas. Some granite can also be given a flamed or brushed finish, where the face of the stone is burnt off then worked with nylon brushes.
Shaping your worksurface edge will give an extra style statement. Chunky worktops up to 100mm thick are an increasingly popular choice. Granite is expensive, so to keep costs down a sandwich of granite and marble is created. A 20mm layer of granite forms the top of the worksurface, then a 100mm-long piece is fixed along the front edge. Finally, the underside is built up with marble, chosen for its stability and resistance to heat.
Fitting your worktop
When granite is fitted, pieces are normally butt-jointed so there is no adhesive or grout line visible. The joint is closed with clear silicone gel which forms a lasting seal. To achieve a more complicated shape such as a curve or a cut-out for a hob or sink, MDF templates will need to be produced by a skilled carpenter.
How to care for your granite worktop
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Clean granite with stone soap or a mild dishwashing liquid diluted in warm water. Use a clean, soft cloth, remove the detergent from the surface with a second cloth soaked in cold water, then wipe dry. Blot up any spills before they soak into the surface. For more serious problems such as discoloration or hard-to-remove stains, contact your stone supplier or a restoration specialist.