If you’re remodeling your kitchen or picking materials for a new-build, choosing countertops is one of the most important decisions you’ll make.
Countertops not only provide a durable surface for preparing meals, eating, and entertaining, but they’re also one of the first things you see when you walk into the kitchen.
Needless to say, choosing the right countertop material is critical.
While there are several materials gaining popularity lately, granite has been one of the most sought after for the past 20 plus years.
In this guide, I provide a complete and unbiased breakdown of the pros and cons of granite countertops.
I explain each advantage and disadvantage in detail, so you can confidently decide if granite is right for your kitchen.
Let’s get started!
Use the links below to navigate:
- What Is Granite?
- Pro: Natural Material
- Pro: Natural Appearance
- Pro: Variety of Designs
- Pro: Heat Resistant
- Pro: Scratch Resistant
- Pro: Stain Resistant
- Pro: Low-Maintenance
- Pro: Sanitary
- Pro: Versatile
- Pro: Wide Range of Pricing
- Pro: Adds Value to Your Home
- Con: Looks Dated
- Con: Busy Design
- Con: Seams Will Show
- Con: Needs to Be Sealed
- Con: Prone to Cracking
- Con: Prone to Fading
- Con: Cold
- Con: Heavy
- Con: Can Be Expensive
- Con: You’re Stuck With It
- Con: Losing Popularity to Quartz
- Bottom Line: Are Granite Countertops Worth It?
What Is Granite?
Before I discuss the pros and cons of granite countertops, it’s important to know what it is, where it comes from, and how it’s made into countertops.
Granite is an igneous rock that forms from the crystallization of magma beneath the Earth’s surface. It’s mainly composed of quartz and feldspar, but it can also contain mica, amphiboles, and other minerals.
The mineral makeup determines its color and pattern. You can find granite that’s red, pink, brown, blue, grey, or white. And for every color, there are thousands of shades and patterns.
Because of its appealing and unique look, granite is often used for high-end construction, including monuments (Mount Rushmore is mostly granite), stairs, fireplace mantels, floor tiling, and, of course, countertops.
To transform granite into a countertop, engineers first use explosives to remove granite blocks from the Earth. It’s then transported to a factory where it’s cut into slabs. Afterward, machines polish the surfaces. From there, granite slabs are cut and measured to fit into your home and countertop specifications.
Pros of Granite Countertops
The main advantages of granite countertops are that they’re natural, beautiful, low-maintenance, and ultra-durable. But there’s more to know about the benefits of this popular material.
In this section, I will break down each pro in detail, so you know what to expect from granite countertops.
Pro: Natural Material
Granite is a natural stone, and granite countertops don’t contain synthetic resins and additives often found in other countertop materials, such as laminate.
Materials such as quartz are sometimes advertised as natural, but they can contain resins and other synthetic materials. Granite, on the other hand, is 100% natural.
Pro: Natural Appearance
Each piece of granite is unique. You’ll never find two completely identical granite slabs.
The natural stone details provide a warm and luxurious look — the type of design you’d find in a Tuscan villa or French Country chateau.
While granite sometimes has a darker hue, you can find lighter shades if you want a brighter kitchen.
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Pro: Variety of Designs
One of the greatest advantages of granite is the virtually limitless amount of design options.
Since each stone is unique, choosing granite is an opportunity to find something special for your home; something that stands out from the crowd.
It comes in light and dark colors, boasting long, smooth veins and small flecks and grains.
You can find slabs in various colors, including black, white, gray, beige, gold, pink, and blue.
The point is, with granite, you have your choice of options. And, no matter the design of your kitchen, you’ll find something to complement the overall look.
Sure, the sheer number of options can be overwhelming. But for most people, shopping for granite is the most exciting step in the kitchen remodel process.
Pro: Heat Resistant
Granite doesn’t just look pretty; it’s practical, too. It’s heat resistant and durable, even more so than quartz or marble.
In fact, you can place a hot pan (up to 1200°F) directly onto a granite countertop without risk of damage. Doing this with another countertop can cause permanent discoloration and damage. For example, quartz can only handle between 150 and 300°F of heat exposure.
While granite can withstand high heats, I still advise using protective covering between hot items and your countertops.
Pro: Scratch Resistant
Granite countertops are scratch-resistant.
Kitchen countertops are subject to a lot of rigorous use, and, inevitably, knives and other sharp utensils will contact the surface.
The good news: granite countertops won’t scratch. They’re incredibly durable and hold up better than almost every other material.
Even after years of owning your granite countertops, they will still look new. Other options, such as plastic laminate and wooden countertops, scratch easily.
Pro: Stain Resistant
If you spill sauce, wine, vinegar, juice, or any other staining substance, don’t stress.
Not only is granite heat and scratch-resistant, but it’s also naturally stain-resistant. And when well sealed, it’s nearly stain-proof.
Keep in mind; you should always wipe spills within a few minutes. If left on the countertop, acidic substances can degrade the seal and leave the granite more vulnerable to stains.
Day to day, granite doesn’t need any special care.
You can even use harsh chemicals to clean the granite, allowing you to disinfect the kitchen without worrying that you’ll damage your counter.
Though granite can handle harsh cleaners, I don’t recommend using them every day. Instead, use a mild all-purpose cleaner, granite-specific cleaner, or just water and a microfiber cloth for daily cleaning.
Granite countertops need to be sealed, but most arrive pre-sealed, which lasts up to 10 years.
And when it’s time to re-seal, it’s an easy DIY process.
Granite is a sanitary option. When sealed, it becomes non-porous, so bacteria and moisture can’t harbor.
Other materials, like wood and marble, are extremely porous, making it more difficult to sanitize.
Granite is incredibly versatile; you can use it for kitchen countertops, bathroom countertops, walls, floors, and much more. Thanks to its durability and appealing aesthetic, it’s a material you can use throughout your home, inside and out.
If you have a lovely outdoor kitchen area and are looking for a countertop to hold up to the elements, granite is a great option.
As long as the granite is well-sealed, it’s safe for outdoor use. It won’t absorb moisture and withstands the elements.
Pro: Wide Range of Pricing
When granite started gaining popularity in the 90s, it was considered a luxury material reserved for expensive mansions. It was imported into the United States from Italy and came with a hefty price tag.
Since then, other countries such as Brazil, China, and India, have become the largest exporters of granite, and the shipping and cutting processes have evolved.
As a result, granite countertops’ cost has decreased, and it’s become more affordable for most homeowners.
While some granite options are still costly, others are more affordable. Prices range significantly, so you’ll find a slab that works within your budget.
To give you some context, below are the average prices of granite and its primary competing materials, according to HomeAdvisor.com.
- Granite: $40 to $60 per square foot
- Marble: $40 to $100 per square foot
- Quartz: $50 and $150 per square foot
- Soapstone: $70 to $120 per square foot
Note: Prices do not include labor costs.
Pro: Adds Value to Your Home
As long as you choose an attractive and quality design, granite can increase the value of your home, especially if you’re replacing laminate, tile, or other cheap and outdated materials.
Since granite is sustainable, durable, and low-maintenance, it impresses buyers and can raise the selling price of your home.
Cons of Granite Countertops
Although there’s a lot to love about granite countertops, before you order a bunch of slabs, consider some of the disadvantages.
If you are replacing your countertops with granite, the remodeling process isn’t simple. It’s heavy and can crack during the process. Here are some other cons of granite.
Con: Looks Dated
Some granite countertop designs are now considered outdated, especially the darker colors.
The trend nowadays leans towards bright, white, and solid colors. While you can choose a lighter shade of granite, you can’t get a completely solid color (like you can with quartz) because of the natural grains and veining.
Granite is still popular and in-style but choose your design wisely — especially if you’re planning to sell your house in the future. It will turn off interested buyers if they have to update the kitchen because they think the countertops are outdated.
Con: Busy Design
Similar to my last point, granite can often look quite busy.
If you’re going for a more minimalist and modern look, granite won’t fit the bill. There are lots of speckles and veining on granite slabs, with some more extreme than others.
Most people love this natural look, but for many, it’s a drawback. It all depends on the look you are going for.
Con: Seams Will Show
If you have an L or U shaped layout, the slabs will need to be cut and joined together. Therefore, the seams will show.
Good installers can minimize the appearance of seams, but they won’t get rid of them altogether.
Of course, if you are going for granite for a kitchen island counter, this won’t be a problem.
Con: Needs to Be Sealed
Granite is naturally porous, so it needs to be sealed. Most manufacturers will apply the sealer to the countertops before installing, and this initial sealing will last for up to 10 years.
But if the granite doesn’t come sealed, or the seal has worn away, you run the risk of the granite absorbing liquids left on its surface.
Re-sealing is not difficult; follow the sealer manufacturer’s instructions. There are lots of helpful videos online if you need some extra guidance.
Con: Prone to Cracking
If you drop something heavy on your granite countertop, it can crack. Be especially careful with heavy cookware such as cast iron.
The edges of granite, where it’s been cut, is where it’s most likely to crack. Be especially careful around the sink cutout.
If you chip or crack your granite, it should be repaired by a professional. Your manufacturer may use a color-matched epoxy to fill the crack so that it’s unnoticeable.
So you know, risks of cracking come with most countertop materials, including quartz and marble. And, although the risk is pretty slim, be careful with heavy objects.
Con: Prone to Fading
Granite, like any other natural stone, will fade over time, especially if it’s exposed to direct sunlight.
So, if you plan on using granite for an outdoor kitchen countertop, make sure it’s covered. If protecting the granite from the sun is not possible, just be aware that the initial bright shine may slowly dull.
This risk of fading is greater if your granite has been dyed.
Granite can be cold to the touch, especially in winter. So preparing your breakfast on a chilly morning, even indoors, might take you by surprise when you go to touch the countertop. If you leave a warm mug of coffee on cold granite, it may cool down quickly.
Granite is an extremely heavy material. It’s not something you want to install yourself unless you have help. Make sure your cabinetry structure is sturdy enough to handle the load.
If you’re buying the granite countertop from a separate company than the one installing it, make sure you choose a company that guarantees they bring it into the kitchen. You’d be surprised by how many companies drop off the granite slabs outside and expect the homeowners or installers to carry it inside.
Con: Can Be Expensive
Although you can find quality granite for a budget-friendly price, it can still be expensive, especially when opting for a higher-quality slab or unique colors.
According to Home Advisor, the average cost of granite countertops, including labor, is $3,250. For an average-sized kitchen island, expect to pay between $1,200 and $2,100. And, for an average-sized kitchen counter, expect to pay between $1,800 and $3,300.
Con: You’re Stuck With It
Granite is a forever countertop. It will last for decades to come. But if you change your mind, once it’s installed, it’s difficult — nearly impossible — to remove it without damaging the cabinets underneath. If you’re planning to remove granite countertops, prepare to rip up the whole kitchen.
If you’re sure you want granite, choose the design wisely.
Con: Losing Popularity to Quartz
Granite is still popular, but other materials, such as quartz, are gaining popularity due to the more modern look and the ability to customize the appearance.
If you look at trends on Google, you’ll see that searches for “granite countertops” hit a peak in February 2010 and leveled off since then.
In contrast, quartz has been steadily increasing since December 2009. In the last decade, Google searches for “quartz countertops” have increased exponentially and continue to grow.
Quartz is an engineered stone that can be customized to look like any natural or manmade material. It has versatility that granite cannot match. It doesn’t require sealing, either. You can learn more in my guide to the pros and cons of quartz countertops.
Instead of using granite for the entire kitchen, people are mixing quartz and marble with granite. For example, they may purchase a granite island countertop with unique veining but buy solid color quartz for the perimeter.
Besides the aesthetic, quartz is gaining ground on granite due to its superior ability to resist stains.
Consumer Reports tested several substances, including vegetable oil, coffee, chocolate syrup, and grape juice, on both granite and quartz. The goal was to see which material resisted stains more effectively after twenty hours.
Their test showed that both granite and quartz are stain-resistant, but quartz performed best.
What should you make of these results? If you want a stain-resistant material, granite and quartz are both excellent options. But, if you want the most stain-resistant material, go with quartz.
Bottom Line: Are Granite Countertops Worth It?
Granite countertops are all-natural, free of synthetics, and eco-conscious. They’re super durable and available in various designs, providing a low maintenance option both indoors and out.
The main downside of granite countertops is that the warm, natural look goes against today’s bright, sleek, and modern design trend. Keep in mind, though, trends come and go, and granite has been in-style for well over twenty years.
If you’re looking for something unique that will stand out in your kitchen and you enjoy the natural stone look, granite is definitely worth it. If you prefer something lighter with a more solid pattern, you might want to consider quartz or other materials.
If you’re interested in granite countertops but aren’t sure if they’re in your budget, you can get a free estimate from local contractors using this form on HomeAdvisor.com. The quotes are free, and there’s no obligation to buy.
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