It isn’t much of a wonder that granite has been in use for thousands of years in every conceivable application where there has been a need for exposure to the elements.
There aren’t many materials that have more varied uses than granite. It can be both a dull and uninteresting stone, or quite colorful and beautiful. The one endearing trait that makes it exceptional is its permanence. Before it was rather commonly used for kitchen countertops, it had a long history of use in many other locations.
Due to its seeming invincibility, granite has long been the choice for tombstones. This is true in almost every country where granite can be mined and used. In past centuries, granite was more often used in a very rough form, and many head stones didn’t have identifying lettering on them.
Finely polished and dimensionally milled tombstones are almost exclusively made from granite, whether memorializing a pauper or a king.
A true definition of granite: an igneous rock that is coarse-grained and made up of crystals, which contain feldspar and quartz. In practice, many similar materials may be called granite. When the definition is degraded to mean rock with feldspar in it with interlocking crystals that can be seen with the naked eye, we have material that is of a lesser standard.
Some materials that are considered granite under the second meaning are gneiss, granodiorite, gabbro, anorthosite, monzonite, and syenite. While this might be splitting hairs a bit, in certain applications the material with the pure meaning is needed.
Construction Uses of Granite
Many tall buildings have a foundation of granite, and it is often used on building exteriors in commercial applications. Depending on the required effect, granite may be rough, smooth, or polished to fit the builder’s intentions. Cut granite stones are very common in the construction of bridges, too.
Granite that has a rough textured face will generally have smooth ends, tops, and bottoms so that the stones fit tightly together. Granite is used both as a structural and a facing material.
Whenever possible, engineers prefer the use of granite curbs over that of concrete. Granite is far more attractive and stronger as well.
Granite in the Home
One of the most popular uses for granite is for countertops. At one time, these were very expensive because there were only a few facilities that had the machinery to cut and finish the material. However, the demand for these durable surfaces has led many shops to invest in equipment to make their own tops, and this in turn has produced more craftsmen who have the expertise to work with granite.
The consumer is the winner as more cabinet makers enter the field of granite tops. It is now much faster to have cabinets fitted with stone countertops than just a few years ago. If you have an existing kitchen to retrofit with granite tops, you may only have to wait for two or three days, where it once would have taken two weeks or longer for the tops to be shipped and installed.
The demand and availability has also produced a more competitive marketplace, and granite tops are more affordable than they have ever been. Although they are by no means inexpensive, they are now more within reach of the average homeowner.
With more granite slabs being manufactured, there is a much wider selection of colors available. Most consumers want to choose the slabs that their tops are made from, not just select from a range of colors. This provides a more personal touch to the construction process.
Because every piece of granite is different from every other, each new owner has a countertop completely unique from every other one in existence. The careful homeowner can expect to keep granite tops for as long as they own their home; not many other materials are that durable.
It’s easy to see why so many satisfied customers choose granite as their countertop choice, and many find other uses for this material throughout their homes. Just because granite is the most common of rock found on the face of the earth doesn’t detract one bit from its appeal to the masses.
The next time you look at a picture of Mount Rushmore, just remember that you can have that same ageless material installed in your own home.