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How fragile are granite countertops?

Can you put anything hot on them? Do they crack or stain easily?

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  1. Granite countertops are not fragile. I've never had a stain in mine after 5 years of use and I've set hot pots on them with no problems. I've never heard of a granite countertop cracking from use. Cracks do happen sometimes during installation if the guys screw it up and drop or somehow twist the long pieces of granite.

    1. You'll get a lot of differing opinions on this. Different granites behave differently - some are much more prone to staining, chipping, cracking, etc. than others. When I went to choose granite for my kitchen, the yards had samples of various materials that you could take home and test for staining. I chose a light colored granite with a lot of movement (speckles, etc.) in my kitchen, and although I was a bit worried about stains, they haven't been a problem. Sealing the granite regularly helps with that. My granite does seem to chip rather easily (I've knocked bits out of it in high-traffic areas, like near the dishwasher, etc.) but because of the color and movement you can't see the chips. Cracking hasn't been an issue and I do sit hot things on my granite, although many people say you shouldn't.

      7 Replies
      1. re: biondanonima

        Sealing: That brings up another question. How can I tell if the counter has been sealed or if I need to seal/reseal it?

        1. re: mucho gordo

          Can't help you with seal or reseal.If you go to sites on the subject that include granite for floors,fireplace mantels or splash backs the information will be (?) divided about sealing.

          To check a specific piece for after market sealing in a very discreet place ; acetone on a q-tip rubbed somewhere you can live with will tell you.

          1. re: mucho gordo

            Whoever installs your countertop will tell you if it has been sealed...but they will certainly seal it again if there are any seams.

            1. re: escondido123

              We bought the house 5 months ago. It came with the granite counters. I have no idea who installed or sealed it. Could have been the original builder. There are some seams. Is that all there is to it? What material do I use?

              1. re: mucho gordo

                Go to your hardware store and get a sealer for granite. It will give you all the instructions and it's not very difficult. My concern would be at the seams where you can get stains that soak in if it hasn't been sealed.

          2. re: biondanonima

            going on 12 years with our granite kitchen, as we bought it. no idea if it was sealed or not. It's dark green and gray with flecks of white. we haven't sealed, we just sponge it down. every once in a while I add a bit of bleach since I use it for kneading bread and rolling pastry. never had a problem with any kind of stain or any kind of hot pot on it. no chips.

            1. re: Madrid

              Hola Madrid -

              We seem to be on the same page.
              No seal, no mess, no clean-up problems.

              Baking: Yes, flour can leave traces on jet black granite when I knead. One wipe with a large wet sponge usually does the job: My wife will tell me if I missed any flour dust.

              We have coastal property in Brasil, and found a remarkable white and gold striations granite up in Ceara state. Measured our dining table for 10 and had the fabricators make a granite slab with bull nosed edging that was then lowered down over onto the table.

              The fruit shown on the granite is Cashew nut fruit, which develops the nut at the bottom of each fruit. The fruit can be eaten or juiced and tastes like a cross between a pear and mint. If you ever get the chance, it is worth sampling. The tree grow prolifically in the Fortaleza, and Porto Das Dunas area.

              Verified indestructible, as we rent out that one unit year round. 7 years rental now to families and children = No problems.

              There is also a pure white granite there with chartreuse flecks available, but more porous, and easier to stain, or so we were told.

              There are amazing varieties of Brasilian granite !

          3. I don't consider granite countertops to be fragile at all. I sealed mine when I put it in four years ago and haven't sealed it since. No staining, no cracking.

            1. Granite is actually quite robust as a counter surface. It doesn't stain easily and in fact most granites will not stain (marble on the other hand is a different issue). Granite, because it's all stone and not particularly hydroscopic, takes a great deal of heat, certianly the temperature of a hot pot out of the oven or off the stove top isn't going to be enough heat to cause thermal expansion and cracks. If it's not installed properly, that is supported well around the edges, it could crack from excessive weight or pounding, that will also depend on the thickness you had installed, obviously the thicker the stone the more abuse it can take in that regard.

              Many exotic granites have fishers in them that are filled with resin and a ground stone mixture, these are typically mounted on a mesh backing which allows for the use of such stones in a kitchen or bath. These would be the most likely to be fragile, but even these are quite robust.

              1. I think there's granite and then there's granite .............................. as other posters have responded, different types and grades have different properties. I'll add that thickness will also affect performance. EX: thin granite 12" X 12" tiles are more prone to cracking problems than large 3cm thick slabs. Proper installation is imperative. It is also wise to personally inspect each piece of granite before fabrication for porosity, cracks, etc. which is why buying from a Big Box store is dicey.

                Dropping a hot, heavy pot (think LC or cast iron) on thin, porous tiles will likely result in cracking. Dropping the same hot heavy LC pot on my very thick 12 ft slabs has never produced so much as a scratch (it did, however, dent the floor!)

                I have put 550 degree pizza stones directly onto the granite counter -- cracked the pizza stone, granite was fine. Ten years later, after some serious cooking in this kitchen, there are no problems at all with the granite. I have never resealed it and there are no stains -- maybe being dark green with a lot of swirls and movement has something to do with it. I would make this choice again in a heartbeat.

                1. Not at all!-have granite countertops 9+ years old, I wipe up after use, but haven't resealed, & I have no problem w/ staining, I routinely put hot pans or cookie sheets on the countertops, w/ no problem.
                  The best thing in the house we bought was the granite countertops, totally no maintenance & beautiful....wish I could say the same about other parts of the house....

                  1. The granite in our kitchen for the past 12 years has been fantastic. Others have commented on the sturdiness of granite. My $.02 worth is to hire a reputable fabricator. The fabricator who installed our countertops visited our home twice, before starting on the job. First, to measure the countertop, second to prepare a paper pattern of where the cooktop, sink, faucets etc. would be located. All this before he even suggested that we visit the local tile & stone yard to select the slabs to be used for our countertops. Installation went smoothly, and quickly. Everything fit properly.
                    As to sturdiness of granite, I've pounded veal, chicken, and what have you over the years, no cracks (but we have the thickest slabs available).And I'm no lightweight with a mallet.
                    We do have a few, very few, "chips", where the quartz chips in the granite have come out. But my former boss, a real nitpicker, couldn't find them until I pointed them out to him.
                    Sealed the slabs after five years, a real disaster, left them more cloudy than when we started. Fixed it with WD-40. Now use WD-40 exclusively to clean/protect the surface, say once every 4 - 5 years .

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: AZGrandpa

                      Have quite a few square feet of granite in the kitchen and wet bar, going on about 12 years. . No cracks & no stains. Only use warm water and Cinch to clean. Have never had to re-seal.

                      Agree, must get a good installer who will make sure cabinets are installed / shimmed properly to handle the weight and also avoid seams when ever possible.

                      Also look at Travertine stone tiles as a back splash. After being cut, it can be belt sanded to produce factory rounded edges making decorative design much easier. Seals great & looks natural coming down to the granite.

                      1. re: Tom34

                        Was just thinking about this thread. I have heard of people who choose the very expensive fancy thin edge profile which have cracked after being hit hard with something like a cast iron pan. For a working kitchen I would avoid the fancy thin edges. Save them for the bathrooms where there are no pots and pans.

                    2. I've had my granite for 3 or 4 years now and I take hot roasting pans right out of the oven and put them on the granite with no problems at all. I think I remember the installers sealing it (it's just a matter of spreading on and wiping off some special sealant liquid, but it's only supposed to last around 6 months and I've never done it since.
                      BUT - you have to be smart about it. If something like vinegar or lemon juice, or a cleanser like bleach or ammonia, or a stainer like mustard, gets on the counter - wash it off. I'm not saying you must wipe down everything right away, but don't leave it overnight planning to clean up some time the next day.
                      Also, you really should try to bring home a sample to test. As another poster pointed out, there are granites and there are granites. Not every stone sold is granite has the identical composition. The place where I bought my granite had small 6 inch square samples. Try to get some and test them - leave some soy sauce, mustard, red wine etc. on overnight. To really give it a workout, put a wet glass of water on the sauces, and check the next day. You'd be surprised at how differently different types of granite are affected.

                      1. You have to remember that your piece of granite was part of a mountain for hundreds of millions of years and is still unbroken. That said, don't drop a bowling ball on it.

                        1. I've had more problems with people setting glass things down too hard and they break because it has no resilience.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: wekick

                            Expensive stem ware can be a problem especially if guests have filled it several times.

                          2. .....Very mixed feelings on this subject:

                            Granite hardness depends on the color as I have been told. The darker the granite, the stronger and more dense the color. If you have lighter counters they need to be watched carefully........having said this I did just purchase a lot of granite and picked a lighter color called wine river.

                            Wine River is a striated grey/beige color with pieces of garnet (hence the name wine). It is beautiful but I am seeing a few little chips going on. It is heartbreaking.

                            What I have learned about buying granite is that if you do not feel comfortable with the peole you are dealing with walk away fast. I should have. So watch yourselves when you deal with these people. Crooks......

                            There are tons of hidden costs to that the greedy jerks will try to get you to pay especially the back splashes, delivery charges, gas surcharge, etc.

                            My dealer seemingly did not know how to calculate linear feet aparently since this wife told me that I owed them an additional $2000+ for backsplash which equaled to 89 ft however when I and my cabinet guy calculated this cost, we got 6.59 linear feet.

                            An astonishing difference in price I say READ your contracts, if you feel even the least bit slimmed by the people you are getting your granite from run away fast.....trust your gut. I had a 'horrible' experience and will never own granite again. My sales person and his wife were so slimmy we are still talking about it. Creepy and super strange people.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: rbluvsfood

                              Thats a shame you had such a bad experience. Real granite is what the competition tries to mimic and often charges more in the process.

                              Your sales people should have discussed the pitfalls of a light stone counter top, especially in a working kitchen which most folks on this site have.

                              My granite is a golden color and has been bullet proof. I used tumbled travertine as a back splash. Sealed the travertine very well and never a problem.

                            2. We can not keep anything hot directly on the granite but this does not mean that granite is fragile. This stone is quite sturdy and easy to clean.

                              1. Our granite countertops have been incredibly durable. We put in our kitchen about 11 years ago. Our granite is on the darker side - it's called "Dakota Mahogany." Kind of a deep grayish brown with flecks of clayish red - very multi-colored but muted if this makes sense. Anyway, we don't handle it with kid gloves at all and it is in perfect shape!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: RabbiBeth

                                  We have had them for about 15 years, no problems. We use warm water to clean them and about once a week we use Cinch on them which is sealer friendly.

                                  I think the fragile issue comes from ornate tapered edges. We cook / entertain regularly, heavy pots and pans banging around and stuck with the 1/4 inch 45 degree taper......no problems.....looks like the day it went in.

                                2. Considering granite is over 300 million years old and are so stable someone decided they should now be used indoors, I think you're ok.

                                  1. Hola Muchogordo _

                                    I like granite, and have extensive granite in 3 properties.

                                    Kitchen counters, cabinet counters, bathroom counters, dining tabletop, floor tiles, and mirror frames.

                                    I had the kitchens professionally installed, but my wife and I had the granite milled, and bought the tools doing the bathrooms ourselves. We even tented the kitchen once to fit a larger cooktop, and still made a mess using a diamond bladed circular saw.

                                    PROS: The material looks good, cleans well, and lasts.

                                    Hot pots and pans are not a problem. Just the same we have always used trivets.

                                    They will stain with wine yes, but can be cleaned up with a solution of bleach powder (Bon Ami, or Ajax ?) and two drops of bleach on the powder, and then covered with plastic wrap for a few hours.

                                    CONS: For counters, you need a substrate material between the counter and the cabinet. We used marine plywood, screwed into the top of the cabinet.

                                    Our finished and milled granite was then delivered, and twice, one of the countertop milled slabs was broken, even when carried by two people. After the first incident, we insisted that the finished granite delivered in the future be packaged onto thick plywood. Insisting and actually getting done as we asked are two different things.

                                    The second incident resulted from the fact that the plywood board was not attached, and slipped off. Not even taped. When it was pulled off the delivery truck, we heard and saw it crack and break in two, right in front of us.

                                    One rule to follow:
                                    The more ornate the bullnose edging, the more thick the substrate needed to move the milled countertop.

                                    1. Just wondering if anyone uses Method brand granite cleaner on their granite islands/countertops. (Target carries Method cleaners.)


                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: soccermom13

                                        Never used that. The installer (30 plus yrs in business) said to use Cinch. No issues after about yrs of doing so.

                                        1. re: Tom34

                                          Hey Tom,

                                          Thank you VERY much. I am a granite newbie and I'm terrified that I will do the wrong thing. We are buying a previously owned condo, and I don't think the owners are going to pass along any "how to care for" info.

                                          Is this the Cinch you are referring to?

                                          Thanks again.

                                          1. re: soccermom13

                                            Yes, thats it.

                                            I am an anti clutter person which I think is not a bad way to be with expensive counters. I use a bar rag which seems to have a lot of "pull" to it .....with hot water for everyday cleanup.

                                            Once a week or so I wipe down every square inch with Cinch which only takes a minute or 2 because of the lack of clutter.

                                            1. re: Tom34

                                              Just hot water every day? Not a hot-soapy dishwater wipe followed by a hot water wipe?

                                              And thanks for the Cinch info.

                                              1. re: soccermom13

                                                Hot water seems to lift everything but grease. I am sure some mild dish washing detergent gets used from time to time.

                                                Cinch is the go to for big messes & thorough weekly cleaning. It leaves a nice shine & a very clean smell & we were told its very easy on the sealer.

                                      2. I don't personally have an answer to the question, but just wanted to share this story.

                                        I live in an old house that used to have ugly, outdated kitchen counters with faded cream-colored tiles and muddy grout. After 25 years of living here, my parents decided to renovate the kitchen and replace the counters with black granite.

                                        Now, they cover nearly all the surfaces of the granite counters with paper towels and dish towels to protect the surface, and it drives me nuts. What's the point of a renovation if you're going to hide everything? The towels are all different sizes and colors too, so it just looks like a big mess.

                                        However fragile granite might be, I don't think it needs this kind of babying.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: erichalias

                                          Hi erichalias -

                                          You are correct. Granite does not require babying.

                                          The surfaces are cut and polished professionally. Here in Europe, granite counters have been used for centuries, matte or highly polished, and without any sealing either. We get by just fine.

                                          Ask your parents (nicely) if they would consider covering any nearby mountains with towels. That is after all what their countertops are made from.

                                          I do understand the thinking behind this.

                                          I have neighbours who have carpeting in vehicles, covered by carpeted car mats, which are then covered by rubber car mats, to protect the carpeted car mats !