Choosing the Best Kitchen Countertop Material

What are the different grades of granite?

Essentially there are three different grades of granite that range from low-grade to high-grade. The different grades are often distinguished by level-1, level-2. and level-3 and refer to the structural quality of the stone. Level-1 is low grade granite, level-2 is mid-grade, and level-3 is high-grade. There are several details a dealer will look at to determine what grade granite is. Richness and scarcity of color can help determine grade. Uncommon veining or uniqueness may also help determine grade. Pitting, thickness, and marking can also help determine what grade granite is. Some may believe there is an industry standard for grading granite but there is not. Therefore, you will want to purchase granite from a reputable retailer. Aspects of granite grading typically include:

  • Visual appearance
  • Origins
  • Thickness
  • Porosity

How do you maintain granite countertops?

To properly  maintain your granite countertops you should see what is recommended by the manufacturer. As a general rule of thumb, you should steer clear of products with acid or abrasive. While granite countertops are known for their resilience and don’t stain easily, you should always wipe up spills quickly. Rinsing with hot clean water on a regular basis and drying with a paper towel should be done on a regular basis. Since granite can attract soap scum, this should help remove build up. From time to time, granite may need to be resealed. To determine if your countertops need to be resealed, dab some paint thinner on your granite countertops and leave it for 5-10 minutes. When you wipe it away, the stone should not be darkened. If it is, it probably needs to be resealed.

What are common problems with granite countertops?

Like most things, granite is not problem-free. Potential problems with granite can be prevented with proper care and gentle treatment. While granite may have some known problems, it’s still extremely durable and highly recommended. Some common granite problems include:

  • Stains: Liquids can stain granite. It’s important to keep the surface clean and clean up spills in a timely manner. Granite should be resistant to stains if you treat it properly. To avoid any discoloration, wipe up your spills!
  • Etching: Etching can be caused by exposure to vinegar, fruit juice, and ammonia. Properly sealing your countertops can prevent etching. If your granite countertops look dull, you may be experiencing etching. 
  • Chipping: Hard material such as granite can chip. Most commonly chipping occurs near the edges or around areas such as the sink that get the most action. Chipping can be prevented by being cautious when working in the kitchen. 
  • Hazing: Sometimes granite countertops can look hazy. This is usually the result of the wrong cleaning products. Dish soap may also make granite countertops look hazy. Using the proper cleaning products can help prevent hazy granite. 
  • Cracks: Normally, granite does not crack, however, under the weight of a heavy object, it can crack. It may also crack during installation or stress-handling. Granite can crack from hot objects being placed directly on it. 
  • Heat damage: While granite is heat resistant, you won’t want to place hotpot and pans on granite on a regular basis. Permanent marks can be left on granite as a result of heat damage. 

What should I look for when buying granite countertops?

When it comes to selecting granite countertops, the amount of choice may be overwhelming. While you may narrow down your options based on color and style, you will also want to be aware of quality. An individual who does not know much about granite may rely on the wisdom of a sales associate. We highly recommend shopping at a reputable retailer or working with a trusted contractor who can help you make good decisions. Here are a few tips to help you pick the best granite countertops:

  • Buy thick. If possible, buy granite countertops that are 1-inch thick. Thicker granite countertops are more durable, thus making your investment go farther.
  • Be aware of hairline cracks and natural pits. Hairline cracks and natural pits may enhance the look of the stone but they may make it more prone to damage. If you notice imperfections in the stone, ask a  professional what the effects are. 
  • Choose seamless granite. It may cost more money but it will enhance the look. Overtime seams can look worse, causing some homeowners to want to replace within 5-10 years.

Are granite countertops or butcher block countertops more durable for regular kitchen use?

Butcher block and granite each have their own set of pros and cons. While granite may be more durable, butcher block is still the top choice for some homeowners. Butcher block countertops allow you to prepare food directly on the surface. If you are limited on space, the less you have to store, the better. Butcher blocks can be easier to maintain than granite. Wood is easier to restore and does not chip or crack easily. If you are on a budget you may want to consider butcher block as it’s usually cheaper than granite. However, granite can resist heat and water better than butcher block. Granite countertops can create a cooler, more elegant looking kitchen. Since you do not prepare food directly on granite, there is usually less bacteria on the surface.

Is butcher block countertop hard to maintain?

Butcher block countertop is easy to repair and maintain. However, it may not be as easy as granite. Routine maintenance should be performed as well as a surface reseal every 6-12 months. Butcher block surfaces should be treated with mineral oil. In addition you may need to sand down the surface to fill any knicks. Since you can prepare food directly on the surface, you will want to disinfect the surface more often.

How long does a butcher block countertop last?

Butcher block countertops are durable and can last up to 20 years or more. Of course, you will need to properly care for them to get the longest life span. One of the most important parts of caring for butcher block is keeping the surface clean and avoiding leftover debris stuck on the surface. In the early years, it’s especially important to oil the surface.

How thick should butcher block countertops be?

For lasting durability, you should have butcher block countertops that are between 1.5” to 2” thick. However, they can be even thicker than that. 

What type of sink is best with a butcher block countertop?

Most commonly, homeowners that choose butcher block countertops use an undermount sink. Undermount sinks are known for being stable, easy to install, and adaptable in most kitchens. Undermount sinks mount to the underside of the counter. They do not sit on a rim. Since there is no lip or rim, dirt has one less place to get stuck. Using adhesive and brackets, undermount sinks are held onto the underside of the counter. Undermount sinks are often more aesthetically pleasing. 

How do you measure the square footage of kitchen countertops?

Hiring a contractor and design team is one of the best ways to ensure that measurements are properly taken. If you are on a budget or just prefer DIY style, you can calculate kitchen countertop square footage. You will want to multiple length times width divided by 144. If you have a backsplash, you will want to include this in your estimate. At Skipp you can get exact measurements of your kitchen with a 3D scan. Proper measurements and planning can help prepare for a smooth renovation process. It can also help you save money by ensuring you only buy materials for the space you need to cover.

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