Granite countertops are beautiful features for any home kitchen or bathroom. Granite is even a great surface for dining tables and other furniture. It is hardy, long lasting, and certainly gorgeous to look at.
As with many materials, many people might not know exactly how granite countertops are made. After all, it takes more than just finding granite and slicing it into slabs. There is a lot of craftsmanship and dedicated work that goes into creating granite countertops. That is why, when you are searching for new granite countertops, you should only seek out those that not only retain the natural beauty of granite but were crafted excellently for optimal visual appeal and many years of practical use.
So how exactly are granite countertops made? What are the steps between discovering hidden mountain rock and perfectly installing countertops in a modern kitchen? Read on for the step-by-step breakdown.
First, the stone is mined from the earth. Granite is typically found in enormous chunks under the surfaces of mountainous earth. Italy, India, and Brazil are some of the few countries in which granite naturally occurs. While some granite can actually be mined from the ocean, these pieces are extremely difficult to find and surface. Therefore, they are very high-end pieces.
Next, these large chunks are cut into rough blocks with huge mechanical saws. Then, each individual block is sliced like several pieces of cheese into individual pieces. These pieces are usually labeled so that they can be finished and sold together. This is ideal for those who are looking to cover a large surface with several slabs of granite with a uniform appearance. Because granite occurs naturally and is not color-treated, 2 slabs of granite from a different chunk would look drastically different.
Smoothing and Polishing
After they have been sliced into rough countertop-like slabs, each slab is rubbed with precious metals. This smooths the granite, polishes it, and reveals the unique hues and shine in every piece. Only at this point is the granite shipped to stores for installation in American homes and businesses.
When you visit stores offering granite slabs, you will be faced with a number of excellent options. Unique shades and shapes of granite will be available. Once you select a piece that stands out to you, the slab can be customized. First, though, a template must be made.
A template will be based on the exact measurements of the surface and any cutouts–for sinks and hardware for example–that are needed. The templates also need to accommodate for seams, backsplashes, and any overhang. You can also select whether you would like the edges to be straight or curved. Next, the template will be applied to the slab and it will be cut, smoothed, and polished accordingly. Diamond-laced saws are about the only thing strong enough to penetrate the strong granite; specialized stone routers will be used to shape and smooth the edges.
The process of fixing granite slabs for countertops is known as fabrication. During this process, a craftsman will evaluate the slab for any flaws such as chips or cracks.
The furniture–typically cabinets–will then need to be fitted with support brackets and other features in order to prepare for the installation of a heavy stone top.
Because the finished countertop slabs will still weigh several hundred pounds, they are typically moved with cranes or forklifts to the installation site. Then, experts will install the granite, which requires delicate care, precision, and secure adhesion.