10 FAQs About Granite Countertops

For many reasons, granite continues to be the material of choice for homeowners remodeling their kitchens and offices. Its durability and elegant appearance make it a top contender for countertop selections year after year. 

Below are 10 frequently asked questions about this luxurious surface, with answers from some of the top fabricators and remodelers in the industry. 

What is a sealer and how do I know when it is time to apply one to my countertops? 

"A sealer is like a coat of armor for your countertop. Natural stone can be dense or porous, and is absorbent to some degree. Stones that have more swirls or veins tend to be more porous and absorbent. Sealer will decrease the opportunity for something to stain or harm your surface. A protected stone will be easier to clean, resist staining, and provide a safer and healthier environment. By sealing your stone, you will more easily retain the natural beauty of the surface.

To test your countertop's sealant, apply a drop of water at least ½-inch in diameter to the stone and let stand for at least 15 minutes. Cover with a glass to reduce evaporation. If the stone does not darken then it is probably sealed against water-based stains. To ensure the beauty and longevity of your stone, we recommend sealing your stone yearly." 

-Marble & Granite, Inc.

What is the difference between marble and granite? 

"Although both are stones and quarried from the earth, granite and marble (and marble’s relatives – limestone, onyx and travertine) are very different from each other. Granite is formed deep in the earth’s mantle at extremely high temperatures. It is a very hard, resistant stone made of crystallized minerals. The marble family – limestone, travertine, marble, onyx – start out as sediment – animal skeletons and shells, plant matter, silt – at the bottom of bodies of water. After millions of years this solidifies (lithifies) into stone. Because its main component is calcium, it can be affected by acids such as vinegar and citrus."  

-Great Lakes Granite & Marble

Can you heat a granite countertop? 

"There is a solution out there for homeowners who are unhappy with the cold feel of their beautiful stone surface, one that doesn’t involve the installment of brand new countertops. Stick-on heating mats for granite and stone countertops are becoming a popular luxury item for both existing and new countertop installations. The ultra-thin mats simply stick on underneath the stone, warming up the surface about twenty-five degrees."

-FeelsWarm Countertop Heaters

Do all granite countertops need to be sealed? 

"No, only those that are porous. Although granite is the hardest stone known to man, its porosity varies from quarry to quarry and from slab to slab. But this characteristic is easily checked by pouring a little water on it in an inconspicuous location. If it sits there for 30 minutes, the countertop does not need to be sealed. If it absorbs rapidly, the countertop should be sealed." 

-Cutting Edge Kitchens

Can knives scratch granite? 

"Knives cannot scratch true granite.  The only thing harder than granite is diamond.  For example, diamond is scored 10 on the MOH’s hardness scale and granite is scored 7.  Diamond blades are the only thing that can cleanly cut through granite.  Other natural stones like Gneiss and Schist are commonly called granite, but they do not have a MOH score of 7, and they can be probably scratched by knives."

-Arch City Granite & Marble, Inc.

Why does some granite have small pits in it? 

"Pitting is a common characteristic of many types of granite. This occurs because granite is comprised of many different minerals, all with varying degrees of hardness. The difference in hardness results in the top layers of the softest minerals flaking out during the slab polishing process."

-Northstar Granite Tops 

How easy is it to care for granite countertops & how do I clean off spills? 

"Very easy! Just wipe your granite countertops with a mixture made of mild soap and water, or you can use an ammonia-free window cleaner. That will keep them looking new for years to come. For spills, immediately blot the spill with a paper towel; do not wipe. If you see a stain (which will be rare), flush the area with a mix of plain water and a mild soap. Then dry the area with a soft towel. Repeat if needed."

-Minneapolis Granite

How can I prevent cracks and chips to my countertops? 

"Cracks and chips can be prevented by avoiding heavy traffic on the edge of a countertop (i.e., you shouldn’t sit on the overhang of a breakfast bar) and minimizing heat exposure. Do not set a hot pot or pan directly on your stone’s surface; always use a trivet as a barrier. The shock of heat exposure can weaken your stone surface and cause cracking.

If a crack does appear in your countertop, have a professional repair it immediately. Without immediate attention, the crack can continue to spread and eventually lead to a portion of your countertop breaking off completely."

-Marva Marble

What are those tiny hairline cracks on the surface of my granite? 

"Granite, which is crystalline in structure, sometimes has natural fissures which may look like cracks, but are not structural defects and are a naturally occurring result of the immense heat and pressure that formed the granite eons ago. These characteristics are part of the natural beauty of stone and will not impair the function or durability of the material. A product of nature cannot be expected to look manmade."

-The Top Shop

What is the process for a standard installation of granite countertops? 

"Installation is usually 5-7 business days after digital measure. 

  1. Removal of existing countertops.
  2. Preparation of area for new sinks (if applicable) and countertops.
  3. Final preparation/review of new countertops to insure quality.
  4. New countertop placement and installation.
  5. Sealing of countertop into place.
  6. Final cleaning of new countertops to ensure no residue remains from the installation process.
  7. Final preparation of countertop for plumber/installation of faucets.
  8. Final inspection before departure to ensure all aspects of installation have been completed properly."

-TTS Granite, Inc.