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How fragile are granite countertops?

mucho gordo Sep 4, 2012 09:19 AM

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

  1. r
    Rick Sep 4, 2012 09:33 AM

    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. biondanonima Sep 4, 2012 09:40 AM

      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.

      5 Replies
      1. re: biondanonima
        mucho gordo Sep 4, 2012 03:50 PM

        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
          l
          lcool Sep 4, 2012 04:25 PM

          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
            e
            escondido123 Sep 4, 2012 06:10 PM

            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
              mucho gordo Sep 4, 2012 06:43 PM

              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
                e
                escondido123 Sep 4, 2012 08:25 PM

                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. e
          escondido123 Sep 4, 2012 09:58 AM

          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. m
            mikie Sep 4, 2012 11:26 AM

            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. s
              Sherri Sep 4, 2012 11:44 AM

              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. t
                thistle5 Sep 4, 2012 04:47 PM

                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. a
                  AZGrandpa Sep 4, 2012 04:49 PM

                  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
                    t
                    Tom34 Sep 4, 2012 07:15 PM

                    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
                      t
                      Tom34 Sep 10, 2012 12:26 PM

                      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. h
                    helou Oct 25, 2012 02:09 PM

                    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. k
                      kagemusha49 Oct 25, 2012 02:21 PM

                      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. wekick Oct 25, 2012 02:29 PM

                        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
                          t
                          Tom34 Oct 25, 2012 10:01 PM

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

                        2. r
                          rbluvsfood Apr 2, 2013 08:30 PM

                          .....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
                            t
                            Tom34 Apr 2, 2013 09:01 PM

                            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.

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