The selection of granite countertops comes with pros and cons, like nearly every other consumer choice. Many people agree that polished granite carries with it a ‘wow factor’. But recent media stories have raised questions about granite as a health risk, so it is important to separate fact from fiction.
Is Granite a Health Risk?
Granite has not been shown to be a health risk. All natural rock has the potential to emit radiation; however, the EPA has not listed granite countertops as a significant source of radon in the home. It is radon in the air, not trapped in stone that has the potential to be a health hazard. The agency recommends that concerned homeowners use a radon test kit. Considering health factors that don’t include radon, granite cleans easily and is resistant to bacterial contamination.
What about Value?
Architects value granite for its permanence. Interior designers value it for the color range. Homeowners like that the addition of granite increases a home’s value, and everyone who has ever wielded spray cleaner and a sponge can appreciate its ease of maintenance. Granite countertops should last the lifetime of the home and do not need to be replaced after a few years like lower value countertops.
How Rugged Is It?
The degree of porosity in a granite countertop will depend upon how the original rock was formed, but a properly sealed granite countertop provides excellent stain resistance. Staining can be a problem on unsealed granite or when spills are allowed to remain on the surface over time. Granite is strong but brittle. This makes it highly resistant to normal wear and tear, but it can chip or crack under force. It resists heat from normal baking temperature well.
Granite is a heavy substance that requires proper structural support. It cannot span large areas unaided and long runs of countertop will require seams. Installation labor is intensive and can be expensive as well. Sealants must be applied and maintained to preserve the aesthetic appearance of a countertop.
Granite is a natural product and costs can vary widely with the source. Color choice, excavation costs, and transportation differences are unique to each quarry. As a rule, granite is cost-competitive with Silestone® and stainless steel. It costs about 10% more than man-made stone and is significantly higher than plastic laminates.
“Granite Countertop Care.” Granite Countertops, Granite Tools, Granite Slabs, Granite Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 July 2010. http://www.georgiagraniteassociation.com/html/granite_care.html.
Karam, P. Andrew, and Brian J. Vetter. “Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM) and Technologically Enhanced NORM (TENORM).” Marble Institute. Health Physics Society Professional Development School, 16 July 2010. Web. 21 July 2010. www.marble-institute.com/industryresources/Chap10_HPS.pdf .
Worth, Houston & Dallas-Fort, and Texas Granite Countertops Specialist. “Granite Countertop Benefits, – Trans Atlantic Granites – Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth.” Granite Countertops / Counter Tops – Trans Atlantic Granites – Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 July 2010. http://www.transatlanticgranites.com/benefits.htm.