Granite is one of the most popular high-end countertop materials used in homes across the country. To get into a kitchen, it must be quarried, cut, processed and installed. Learn more about what it takes to get granite from the quarry to the kitchen.
Taking Raw Granite and Turning it Into a Slab
Granite, formed over millions of years, is essentially molten rock that has been compressed over time. Granite is made up of crystals of interlocking minerals, namely quartz and feldspar, but many other minerals may be found in granite, which form the color and shape of the veins.
Granite is chiseled, drilled and blasted out of quarries in large pieces, and special machines cut these pieces into slabs. In most cases, manufacturers cut granite into slabs that are 4 to 5 feet wide and 7 to 9 feet long. Another machine polishes the granite into a certain thickness, which ranges from about three-quarters of an inch to one and one-quarter inches.
Granite countertops can be custom made to fit any kitchen space; however, it’s also available in pre-cut pieces. The layout of the kitchen will determine which type of granite, custom or pre-cut, is more appropriate for the kitchen.
Granite manufacturers cut most of the granite slabs at the quarry; however, some of the cutting may be performed during installation. Granite is the second-hardest material on earth. As a result, manufacturers use the hardest material to do the job.The machines used to cut granite all have diamond blades. Professionals also manipulate the vibration of the blade when cutting granite to avoid chipping the edges.
Granite may be cut via a wet or dry method. The dry-cut method generates dust, so some installers use a saw with a vacuum attachment to minimize the mess. The edge of the countertop can also be shaped in a curved, beveled, flat or round fashion.
One of the challenges inexperienced contractors make when installing the countertops involves matching the edges — a process that occurs before the slab is brought into the home. Ensuring a job well done means hiring a reputable, experienced professional to edge the slab.
Install granite is an extremely labor-intensive process and requires a meticulous attention to detail when measuring the fit. The process requires a great deal of skill and experience. As a result, it’s generally not a DIY job.
The first step in installing the countertop is to prep the space. The contractor will appliances like the stove and fridge to prevent damage, as well as the sink. Cabinets beneath the counter should be emptied, and all drawers and doors removed. Once the contractor removes the old countertop, then the existing cabinets can be covered with paper or cardboard for protection.
Accurate measurements are essential to a proper granite countertop installation, and the installers will measure the openings for appliances and the sink. During the installation process, the installer will ensure that the edges are flush with the ends of the cabinets, and they may use templates to calculate the cuts for any cook tops or sinks. The backsplash thickness is also an important measurement, and it’s important to ensure that features such as faucet handles will fit once the backsplash is installed.
Seams are an inevitable part of a granite countertop. Most kitchens with granite countertops have at least one seam, as the slabs are generally less than 10 feet. Expert installers know the best areas to locate the seam and ensure that any seams are as inconspicuous as possible. For example, the installer may use shims to lift the slab and ensure the seams is as smooth as possible.
The next step is to seal the connection where the two slabs meets. Silicone allows for contraction and expansion, and then a special epoxy is applied to adhere the granite to the surface underneath. At the seams, the resin is blended with colors to ensure a perfect match with the color of the granite, a process that ensures the seam will be hidden from view.
The process of taking granite from the quarry to the kitchen involves a number of critical steps. From sourcing the granite to cutting to the installation, the labor-intensive process is worth the effort. The exceptional stone offers homeowners a durable material that lasts for decades is one of the most beautiful countertop options available.