Fascinating Color Facts about Granite Countertops
Granite continues to be one of the top materials for countertops despite the availability of a host of intriguing new materials such as quartz. However, choosing one for your kitchen or bathroom is not easy, primarily because there are so many choices. Analysis paralysis is a good way to describe it when trying to choose the right color granite for your home improvement project.
It is no wonder, really, because granite makes up about 80% of the Earth’s crust. It is present in most parts of the world, and each area produces unique types of granite that people have been using for centuries. Despite its popularity, though, most people know anything about granite except that they make great countertops, floor tiles, wall cladding, and memorials.
Below are a few fascinating color facts about granite countertops. These should help you make a choice for your own home.
Before delving into facts about specific granite colors, you should know a bit about where granite comes from and how it forms. It will give you some insight into why granite is so abundant, durable, beautiful, and unique.
First, granite is an igneous rock. This means the base material is magma, which is basically melted or semi-melted mix of minerals, gases, solid rock, and a hot liquid base. It is different from lava, which reaches the surface of the Earth. Magma stays under the surface, where it slowly cools over millions of years to form granite and other igneous rocks.
This is the key difference between granite and volcanic rock. When lava flows and cools on the surface of the Earth, it does so rapidly, so they are quite brittle and porous. An example of volcanic rock is pumice.
Granite forms from magma that stays under the surface, so it does so over millions of years under extremely high temperature and pressure. These extreme conditions result in a very durable and dense product. This slow process also accounts for the visible crystals and mineral grains on the stone. In fact, the word granite comes from the word “granum,” the Latin word for grain.
However, that is not the only reason you see these grains. Magma is a mix of many things, and when it comes to granite. These may include feldspar, potassium feldspar, quartz, biotite, muscovite, and amphiboles. Feldspar and quartz are whitish while potassium feldspar is pinkish. Biotite can be shades of brown or black, muscovite is yellowish, while amphiboles can be colorless, brown, green, black, white, blue, or yellow.
When granite forms, the final color and design will depend on the combination of these materials. You will often see granite that is predominantly gray, white, pink, yellow, or black because it has more of one of the minerals above than others do. For instance, granite that has a large percentage of muscovite will be predominantly yellow.
In general, granite will have anywhere from 20% to 60% of quartz and from 10% to 65% of feldspar, which are white or transparent. The remainder of the mix may be 5% to 15% muscovite or biotite, with smaller quantities of amphiboles and potassium feldspar. The final mix will determine not only the color of the granite, but its overall durability as well. In most cases, the higher the quartz content, the more durable it is.
Granite suppliers quarry the stone from the source and cut it before sending it out to distributors and retailers all over the world. It is available in many colors, but a few are more common than others are. Here are some of the granite colors you might find commercially.
One of the most common colors of granite you will find in the US is white speckled generously with gray. In composition, this has equal parts of quartz, feldspar, and amphiboles. The amphiboles account for the speckles and streaks of gray over a white background, and it is one of the more durable types of granite. This makes it especially ideal for use as kitchen countertops.
White granite is not actually all white, although it is largely composed of feldspar and quartz, which are both milky white. In most cases, you will find widely dispersed dark specks or streaks representing amphiboles. In all likelihood, you will find white granite where dark amphiboles and other colored minerals or substances were not present at the time of its formation. Pure white granite is unlikely to be true granite. It may not even be a natural stone. If someone claims a pure white kitchen counter is granite, it is most probably a manmade product.
As with white granite, true black granite will not be all black. Black granite has a large proportion of biotite, but it still has to have at least 20% quartz in its makeup to qualify as one. This means that true black granite will have streaks of a lighter color. Completely black granite is most likely not true granite, but one of the granitoids such as gabbro or basalt. The good news is these granitoids tend to have many of the best features of granite, so it is still a good choice for kitchen countertops. It is also possible that it is not a natural stone, but an engineered product.
Pink granite is composed of quartz, amphiboles, white feldspar, and a rather large quantity of potassium feldspar. Potassium feldspar is most common in low-temperature regions, so pink granite often comes from the colder parts of the US and other temperate countries. Pink granite is similar to speckled gray granite in that it has generous specks and streaks of darker minerals. The difference is in the background color.
Red granite is actually pink granite. The only difference is the potassium feldspar in it, which is usually a light pink color, is much darker. In some instances, red granite comes about because of the introduction of iron oxide into the mix during formation.
You will often see granite with greenish streaks or crystals. These would probably be due to amphiboles in the mix. However, mostly green granite is somewhat rare. This only happens when the mix contains a large amount of amazonite, a type of green feldspar also valued as a gem. Amazonite is quite rare, and despite its name, you will not find it in Brazil. You might find green granite in some showrooms. But these are most probably some other type of stone, such as soapstone or marble that contains a large amount of serpentine.
These fascinating color facts about granite countertops should give you a new appreciation of the different slabs you see in the showroom of your local countertop specialists. At Granite ASAP, we know everything there is to know about granite and other stones. And we can help you choose the right one for your kitchen countertop.
We carry a wide range of natural stone slabs as well as the top brands in engineered quartz in the country. Over 100 colors of granite and marble slabs are available for inspection at our Chantilly, Virginia showroom. . You can choose what you want and we will deliver it ASAP!
If you prefer engineered stone, we can offer you products from the Cambria, Caesarstone, Silestone, and MSI brands, each one carrying the manufacturer’s warranty.
We service the state of Virginia, including the cities of Alexandria, Arlington, Falls Church, Fairfax, Chantilly, Herndon, Centreville, Tysons, and Washington DC.
You can check out the website and chat with us online. Give us a call to request a free estimate!