The Low-Down on High-Grade Granite Countertops

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The interior of the modern kitchen is illuminated with a gray stone countertop with a luxury washbasin and mixer, fruit orange and flowers, a bottle with red wine, champagne and chocolate

Whether you’re replacing your kitchen counters or installing a new bathroom vanity, granite is an excellent material choice. However, not all slabs are created equal. Before going up for sale, granite receives a rating—low-grade, mid-grade, or high-grade. If you want the most durable, beautiful, long-lasting counters, nothing but the best granite will do. Learn how granite is graded and how to spot high-grade granite from the rest.

Granite Grading System

Rather than having an industry standard for grading granite quality, manufacturers define different grades using an in-house system. Still, every brand determines granite quality using similar factors, such as the presence of soft minerals, the thickness and cut of the slab, its origin, and its overall appearance.

In general, low-grade granite has the highest porosity with less attractive patterns and more visible imperfections. Mid-grade granite has more clearly defined striations and aesthetically pleasing veining, but only high-grade granite has a flawless surface with the most beautiful, unique colors available.

Assessing Granite Slabs for Quality

You want to know that if you opt for a more costly slab of granite, you’re getting what you pay for. Here’s how to check the quality of granite to help you select countertops at a fair price.

  • Granite origin: Location doesn’t necessarily dictate quality, but it can affect the cost. In general, shipping has a smaller impact on the price if a granite slab is mined and fabricated closer to home. It’s also better for the environment if you can reduce the transportation distance.
  • Slab thickness: To sell more countertops, some manufacturers cut slabs measuring less than 1 inch thick. However, for maximum durability, look for slabs of at least 1.25 inches thick.
  • Visual appearance: Lower-quality granite has less beautiful coloration and may even have hairline cracks on the surface. Any dings, dents, or uneven surfaces are an immediate red flag.
  • Porosity: Because it’s a natural stone, the makeup of every granite slab is slightly different. You want the least porous stone possible to reduce staining. To test this, pour a three-inch puddle of water onto the granite surface. If the water darkens the granite before 30 minutes go by, the stone is relatively porous and may require more frequent resealing.
  • Polish quality: Drag a metallic material across the granite surface. If it leaves a mark, the polish could be lacking, and the countertop may not stand up to day-to-day use.

Once you secure a high-grade slab of granite, remember—installation matters. Even the best piece of stone could end up looking bad if it’s poorly cut and installed. With United Granite, you can expect nothing less than the best. We have 22 years of experience serving Virginia, Maryland, DC, and New Jersey, with an extensive inventory of natural and engineered stone, along with one of the shortest lead times in the industry. Contact us in Alexandria, Chantilly, or Fredericksburg, VA, or send us an email for more information about selecting and installing granite countertops.

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